9 Tips from a Pro Chef for Cooking for the Whole Family
We always get a satisfying feeling from cooking a meal that has everyone begging for seconds. But when the kiddos don’t want to eat what adults eat, you can end up cooking two or three different menus, just for one meal. Patricia Wong, founder of PBS’s YouTube cooking series Farm to Table Family, is showing everyone how to cook beautiful and tasty meals for their whole family. Don’t you wanna steal some cooking secrets from her? We thought so. We chatted with Patricia about her advice for busy moms, how to cook with kid assistants and the best ingredients to use in meals.
1. Plan Around What Your Kid Loves: One of the easiest things you can do is create meal plans based on what your kid likes. Patricia tells us, “I know ‘interactive’ foods that involve dipping and slurping will always go over well.” Her most recent success was Japanese soba noodles and sauce. Her children couldn’t get enough of dipping their noodles into the sauce. If your kiddos are having an awesome time, then they’re highly likely to eat what’s in front of them.
2. Taste Is Important: Patricia gets right to the point when she tells us, “When food tastes good, it will be eaten.” Tiny tots and young children are little food connoisseurs, just like you. Fresh veggies and fruits pack flavors that taste great, so serve them plates loaded with high-quality ingredients.
3. Get Your Kids Involved: In her videos, Patricia shows us how to get kids involved in the kitchen, but she knows that it can still be hard to keep up with them. She advises us, “It’s important to pre-measure and chop ingredients. That way you can get right to the fun stuff: pouring, sprinkling, stirring and shaking.” And it’s not just your kiddos — Patricia tells us, “Kids are like tornados in the kitchen.”
4. Don’t Be a Perfectionist: Patricia says to throw perfection out the window when it comes to cooking with your kids, sharing, “Go in with the mindset that while mistakes will be made, and the counters will be messy, you’ll also give your kids a wonderful experience.”
5. Use Fresh Ingredients: We all know using fresh ingredients is super important and great for your body, but it can be hard to find them, especially in the middle of a long, cold winter season. Patricia suggests checking this “Seasonal Ingredient Map” to see what’s fresh in your local area and familiarizing yourself with all the ingredients that are in season.
6. Change Up Your Cooking Method: If it’s hard to find fresh ingredients, Patricia encourages changing things up and trying different cooking methods. “Slow-cooking techniques, such as braising, can turn subpar produce into flavorful meals. I also like the idea of preserving fruits and vegetables when they’re abundant. This is an old-fashioned technique that has become trendy in the last few years.”
7. Whip Up Your Own Recipe: When you’re cooking for your whole family, modify the recipe in a way that works for your family. Patricia says she’s always thinking about the freshest ingredients, cut of meats and “superfoods” that can go in the meals that she makes. One example she gave us was substituting kale for basil in pesto. “It was absolutely delicious, packed with nutrients and very flavorful. Adding more flavors and nutrients is key for more healthy and yummy foods that all of your family members will enjoy.”
8. Try New Recipes: Patricia encourages you to save some time on the weekend to try new recipes, because you’ll have more chances to try and test new flavors, ingredients and cooking methods to expand your cooking repertoire.
9. Bring Your Style into the Kitchen: Aside from being a fantastic cook, Patricia is also stylish in the kitchen. Of course, we asked Patricia where to shop. She said she turns to her stylist friend Levi Sawyer for styling tips and inspiration. They shop at J.Crew, Madewell, Vince and local boutiques in Los Angeles area, like Mohawk General Store. For cute dishware, she opts for Marimekko and Kate Spade. Rustic ceramic mixing bowls and cookware are from Sur La Table, Williams Sonoma and March.
Which secret tip is inspirational to you? Have you seen her YouTube videos? Tell us which vids are your favorites in the comments below!