Well before I taught him to make Oreo truffles or a cream cheese pound cake (and realized he enjoyed hearing; Did you make that?) he was interested in what I was doing in the kitchen. He always wanted to “help you cook”. And honestly, I always intended to let him but there just never seemed to be enough time. So this summer I signed my teenage son up for HelloFresh to give him something to do besides video games and it was seriously the most genius idea I’ve ever had.
Before we go any further I feel I should tell you right up front that this post is in no way sponsored or endorsed by HelloFresh. And, admittedly, I was a little hesitant to share it with you since it varies so greatly from my usual content. But when my real-life friends found out what I was doing they signed themselves, their parents and their teenagers up for HelloFresh, too and I thought; hmm, maybe I’ve got something here.
I have included at $40 off your first box coupon (and $20 off for us) below if you decide you’d like to try it, too.
Another confession is, I am not as patient a parent in the kitchen, or, indeed anywhere, as I would like to be. I even clipped out a list of 5 reminders from a forgotten magazine to remind myself of that.
5 rules for parents when cooking with kids (from the kids)
- Don’t correct us all the time. That just makes us want to run out and never come back. (Guilty)
- Don’t get made if we fail. A smart guy once said “we learn from our mistakes.” We believe that guy. (Not too guilty)
- Don’t rush us! Learning takes time; try to relax for a minute. (Relax? What’s that?)
- It’s ok to get tired or lose interest. (Which they will do if can’t ever abide by 1-3)
- And what’s wrong with being messy? It’s actually more fun that way. You’ll see. (Oh gah. I swear I try. I really do.)
So every night he came into the kitchen and asked if could help and every night that I said, Maybe another night. Tonight I’ve got to hurry. I felt increasingly guilty. When he started watching food shows I knew I was eventually going to have to give in.
By the time summer rolled around in late May I was already dreading the sibling rivalries and my refereeing of video game time. That’s when I had an idea. What if I sent my teenager to cooking summer camp! Except, if one existed, I couldn’t find one. And if I had, in all likelihood it would have cost hundreds of dollars, I wouldn’t have been able to afford it.
That’s when I saw yet another one of those commercials about meal subscription box services and, after receiving obligatory advice from my Facebook friends, I decided on HelloFresh.
When I told him about his at-home-summer-cooking-camp he was far more excited than I had even anticipated. He met the UPS driver at the front door every Monday. He diligently opened each and every box as they arrived. He put away each meal in the fridge and decided what we’d have which night. He even put away the recyclables.
Side note: Every box comes with TWO reusable ice packs perfect for packing your cooler. And since they’re reusable you literally never have to go buy ice again.
Each bag comes individually labeled and contains everything you need (minus the occasional olive oil) to complete your meal: vegetables, protein, and condiments. Each meal comes with recipes instructions, complete with photos and helpful tips that are easy for anyone to understand. Even if you’ve never really cooked a day in your life.
The very first night, as I sat on the sofa snuggling with my youngest and enjoying a glass of wine, my 13-year-old was in the kitchen preparing Lobster Ravioli.
Without my “help”.
Without me standing over him.
Without worrying if he was doing it right.
All that to say, without my. constant. interference.
And you know what? It was amazing. It might have been the first time in my whole life that I didn’t mind doing the dishes. I didn’t mind cleaning up those random bits of food that always manage to find their way in between the stove and your countertops. And you know something else? I actually relaxed. It’s true.
And I learned some stuff.
I learned it’s a lot easier to eat healthy in just 30 minutes than I ever thought possible. And a lot more delicious, too.
I learned that eventually, you have let your kids be independent and that can’t happen if you’re always hovering while they’re trying to make decisions. You have to let them make messes and learn how to fix it when things don’t go according to plan. Or a recipe.
And you have to trust them, even if they make a mess while trying.
And he learned some stuff, too.
He learned about Microplaners. And he (and his knuckles) learned why they’re sometimes better to use than a grater.
He learned that mincing very finely or grating ginger isn’t just a suggestion and that ginger doesn’t taste very good as chunks in your pork dumplings.
He learned what happens when you accidentally leave a spatula on a hot burner.
He learned to remember burners are hot even you turn them off.
He learned the difference between shallots and onions and that he likes onions (and shallots) a lot more than he thought.
He learned that sometimes you need to follow the directions exactly and he learned that sometimes there’s room for improvisation and artistic flare.
He learned that less is more.
But most importantly, he learned that he doesn’t always need me. And, more importantly, I learned that, too.
Side note: I learned that if you let a kid fix his own creamed kale he will think it is the most amazing dish on earth. Could you imagine trying to serve your kid creamed kale yourself?
All for the cost of feeding one teenager and his mother at a fast food joint, about $10 per meal.
To date he’s made: Crushed Peppercorn Steak, Lobster Ravioli, Shrimp Lo Mein, Turkey Sausage Pasta Penne, Steak Fajitas with Kiwi Salsa and a whole host of other delicious things that even I’ve never tried.
He even made Frico Cheeseburgers. Do you know what Frico Cheese is? My 13-year-old does!
He has the HelloFresh app on his phone and each week he chooses what he wants to cook the following week. He usually doesn’t even consult me. And to be honest, I kind of like it that way!
Originally I only intended to use HelloFresh for the summer as a fun learning tool. you can cancel your subscription anytime. With homework and after school activities he doesn’t have to cook every night anymore. But now that they’re back in school, I have to be honest I don’t think I could live without it.
I got to prepare my very first HelloFresh meal last night!
If you think your family could benefit from HelloFresh, too, you can give them a try with the coupon link below. It will give you $40 off your first box and us $20 off of ours. Happy cooking, memory making, and independence forging!
Start having fun in the kitchen and save $40 on your first box, use the promo code: JCAROL7 Or, click here.
Awesome!!! I’m still learning some of these things too (leaving a spatula on a hot burner… grating ginger…), and I’m twice as old as your son. The learning never stops.
Ahh we are all always learning. And that’s the best part! Thanks, Mimi 😉
Katie K says
You should definitely give PeachDish meal kits a shot. They’re based in Atlanta and source as locally and sustainably as possible, a lot from small scale farmers in the area… and they include a long list of their changing suppliers with every shipment for transparency! Southern-inspired recipes with a few more exotic, and all super yummy and approachable!
That’s cool! Never heard of them. I’ll check it out!