The glory of cooking for kids



It’s tough cooking for little kids and a minister whose schedule always varies, especially when life demands fast, cheap, healthful, and easy-to-make meals. I’ve never discussed cooking before, so today I’ll talk about the glory of cooking for kids.

There is no glory of cooking for kids. I don’t like cooking. I don’t like to babysit a meal that’ll get devoured in ten minutes anyway. So I like baking. A lot. Throw something remotely edible in the oven, and forget about it until you smell smoke or the timer rings, whichever comes first.

I want to bake healthy fare, but when I make stuff like organic carob granola bars with quinoa and flax, my kids’ poop turns green. Another challenge is that each of my kids eats a different version of the same meal. The twins eat natural peanut butter and fruit preserve sandwiches on whole-wheat bread. Jake will only accept preserves; Josh only wants peanut butter. Needless to say, they often make their own sandwiches.

This is helpful because I make 30 lunches a week. But my kids get bored with sandwiches, and I don’t believe cooking gurus who gush that sushi and salads are perfect for school lunches.

Consequently, I often just throw lots of prepared healthy stuff in the lunchbox. My go-to items are apples, chocolate-roasted almonds, yogurt, Archer Farms all-fruit leather, Babybel cheese rounds (especially Gouda), applesauce, mandarin oranges, bananas, pretzels, grapes, baby carrots, whole-wheat mac ‘n’ cheese, Spaghetti-Os, and low-sodium chicken noodle soup.

For a treat, the kids get gummy worms or brownies with pureed squash mixed in. (Wring it out first, and they’ll never taste it.) They also love Monster Mix from Target, which is already divided into packs. Fine, sneer at me for not dividing food myself and saving money, but I figure I’m saving money because we rarely eat out.

I just thought of the term “defensive cooking,” because that’s what I do much of the time. Before I cooked defensively, I heard the refrigerator or pantry door squeak open twenty times a day, and then, when I made dinner, nobody was hungry.

In my next column, I’ll discuss defensive cooking, my family’s custom of Tea at Three, and the Great Satans of Housekeeping, popcorn and pretzels. (Fruit punch, I’ve got my eye on you.)

I calculate I make 212 meals a month, so I need some new ideas–I’m sure my kids would agree! Go to my blog at, and leave a comment with your best meal ideas. If I like your comment, you’ll find it in my next column.

And don’t forget to enter my blog slogan contest, which you’ll find at the above Web address. The winner gets $50; you have until Sept. 30.


About Rebecca Bailey

* Columnist, The Times of Northwest Indiana, for three years. * Professor for twelve years. * Mom of four teeny kids. * Voted "Most Dramatic," Castle Junior High School eighth grade, 1984. * Failed to diaper her first child before he projectile-pooped on the curtains. * Accidentally splattered her white Jack Russell Terrier with her red hair dye, which did not come out.

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