Surprise Cooking

After using Hello Fresh for six months, my kids were ready for a new challenge. Enter the Chopped Challenge. I do not encourage competition between my two kiddos. They dislike it immensely, and I’ve learned it’s best to foster their camaraderie. So no one is technically “chopped,” and I don’t even call it that. I call it “surprise cooking.”

Personalizing spring rolls from chopped ingredients

On the morning of their challenge, I unveil the ingredients, giving them hours of the day to figure out what they want to do. I’ve had years of experience cooking, but there’s no need for immediate pressure if they’re stumped. “You’re starting at 5 o’clock,” I say. And there’s been no need to ask twice, even when they’re chatting online with friends. One day I forgot, and they put iPads away and told me they were starting.

When my kids are super into things like this, I try to roll along, and adjust quickly. As soon as they’d tried it once, they wanted to do it “2-3 times a week, and possibly for lunch and a breakfast.” Ooookay, then. I wasn’t ready for this much help that also required me to do 1,000 dishes. But it’s great experience, and I can see they’re getting confidence from all they can do in the kitchen.

I personally am averse to food waste. I recycle, I compost, I eat leftovers, I cobble meals from the weird scraps, I feed the kids’ leftovers to chickens. So I had to wrestle with this challenge. Telling myself it’s not that much extra cost for inedible results wasn’t the issue; it was the potential waste of food. And while they might peel off more carrot than necessary, my fears haven’t really found any footing in the reality.

They’re doing well, and I am crafting ingredient lists for next week – breakfast, lunch and dinner – right now.

This article features Rosetta’s pictures of her plates, which she loves to style and take, unprompted, based on the stylized meal photos included in the Hello Fresh boxes.

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