Cooking with Kids – Subscription kits we’ve loved

I’ve cooked with my kids since Wilder, 10-months-old, could stand on a sturdy IKEA stool, my arm looped behind him for safety, and play in a bowl of flour. We made enormous messes and left the dogs to lick the floors. He never lost his love for mixing and peering into bowls; in fact, it bloomed into a love of kitchen experiments. When he was four, I channeled his knife fixation into chef work, watching videos about different types of dice. He still remembers how to make an apple swan, knowledge that self-purged from my memory almost immediately.

When he asked to cook more, I felt excited. I am more of a whimsical cook — nothing turns out precisely the same because I am always tossing in leftover bits or exchanging spices. We browsed my vast cookbook collection together, but he was overwhelmed. Not enough pictures; too many choices.

So, three years ago, we subscribed to Raddish Kids, a kids’ cooking box, mostly because I liked the diversity in the cook’s hands and how they added a second set of children’s tools to the bundle. “We won’t have to fight over tools now that there are two things!” I thought, and of course I was wrong. Raddish kits cost $24/month, plus more to upgrade and double the tools for multiple children.

Raddish thought everything through. By the time the box arrived, I’d received a shopping list with a preview of the recipes, including substitutions for dietary restrictions. I had time to buy ingredients AND mentally prepare myself. The kids, aged 7 and 5, loved opening these kits to see the tools and the patches for their aprons. There are talking points and cue cards for each themed box, but we used just the recipes and tools. The exception being how much we loved the box with all the French words for each item of tableware.

Raddish sent separate recipes under a theme that sometimes combined into one meal, but just as often didn’t. So one child couldn’t work on a soup while the other kneaded cracker dough, for example. We were often crafting a single recipe, spreading the box out over three different meals. It didn’t leave enough jobs for two kids.

I have fond memories of our two years of Raddish kits because their recipes were made for kids. Often the kids’ eyes would round with the wonders they presented – like bat and cat Halloween cookie recipes with shaped cutters! Still in use! We have several recipes that we still pull out and make occasionally. But there were plenty of recipes that we never made, even once, even after I got ingredients.

If you want to subscribe, Raddish Kids is running a great Black Friday deal now. I get zero kickback for your interest.


This time, when Wilder asked to cook, to re-subscribe to Raddish, I thought, “There has to be another choice by now.” And there were. While I considered, my sister-in-law sent me a discount code for Hello Fresh. I signed up the same day.

We do two meals per week on alternating weeks, which costs about $80 per box for four people. They’ve all been incredibly filling, sometimes with leftovers.

Each child chooses a meal. They’re in charge of “their” meal and can assign tasks. This usually means that kid cooks the protein, and their sibling preps a side. But because the whole meal is contained in the delivery, I do not have to shop. My role is recipe reader, the caller of the chaos that happens next, provider of utensils and dishes.

Sample meal choices from the week of December 2, 2020. Their pictures look pretty appetizing, and our final results are… not the same.

I love how excited they are to make the meals! I am a cookbook collector, but they needed one oversized recipe card with short directions. Cooking gets my 8yo and 10yo into the kitchen at 5pm, buzzing around a recipe. We chat and prep and add heat. Occasionally we’re done by 6, when we aim to have dinner on the table, and sometimes it’s much longer. That part doesn’t bother me much because they’re cooking and excited about the process, about their control over everything and about making something new. We haven’t gotten any repeat recipes.

Click here to subscribe for a $50 discount to Hello Fresh. I will also get $10 off if you use this link, so thank you for that.


Assessment

Sometimes it still feels like too much. It’s overwhelming to delegate to two different people at varying skill and patience levels, to tidy the floors and to wash up the extra dishes afterward. I thought I wanted help in the kitchen, and this is how I’ll eventually get it. So I summon my energy, pace out the recipes, and take a walk beforehand.

But I appreciate the ease of Hello Fresh compared to Raddish Kids, simply because I don’t have to prep and shop in advance of the kit. My kids are older now too, so they don’t need a tool or patch to get them excited anymore. They just like to cook.

They’re learning so much about measurements and heat, how each thing cooks, the timing, spices and flavors, and how much prep dishes take. In this work, their kinesthetic needs are filled too. Witnessing myriad chemical reactions will create two great cooks, with confidence and pride abloom. It’s already working.

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