It’s Your Night!

It's_Your_NightWhen my kiddos were little, I would eagerly soak up wisdom I found in other homeschooling families. What worked for them, what didn’t; ideas I wanted to incorporate into our own family’s routine. One of the funnest ideas I heard was ‘It’s Your Night!’

My friend has several daughters. Once her daughters entered high school, her girls found themselves responsible for dinner one night a week. From start to finish, one meal a week, their job was to handle dinner.

Planning Dinner

One of the many important aspects of cooking dinner once a week, was for the girls to plan the meal for themselves. They needed to learn how to decide on a meal which could be made within a given budget, thus teaching them to be financially responsible. They needed to take into consideration food allergies, what their family liked or disliked, and how long it would take them to make the meal.

Shopping for Dinner

After their menu was approved, the girls would need to turn over their grocery list to their mother, who would then do the shopping for them and make sure the girls had what they needed.

Cooking Dinner

From prepping to the actual cooking, the girls did all the work. They cut, chopped, grated, and cleaned everything for the entire meal themselves. The girls learned how to manage their evenings, ensuring they had enough time at the end of their day to prep and serve dinner at a reasonable hour. They learned how to cook, and developed their own methods of working around the kitchen.

Serving Dinner

Besides cooking of the actual dinner, the girls were also taught how to set a table and serve dinner to their family. They learned proper table setting, how to make clever name cards (for fancier meals), fun napkins folds, and more. The girls would go out of their way to make their tables look special, fun, and meaningful.

Cleaning Dinner

Just as mom would do, the girls were also responsible for cleaning up after dinner was over. They would clear the table, wash the dishes, and make sure the kitchen was just as they had found it before starting the meal. Clean and tidy is the goal!

…..

While, at first, these girls needed help and encouragement from their mother, they soon began to develop their own rhythm. They could cook almost as well as their mother and took pride in their night. They learned appreciation for all mom does on her own nights in the kitchen; this was laying good groundwork for when they were managing their own homes.

These girls are now fully grown, married and with families of their own. I can see the results of the discipleship their mother so lovingly took care to provide. These young ladies are wonderful hostesses who still love creating a lovely table. In fact, they often host holiday meals to perfection.

This year, my oldest is starting high school. I think it’s high time we started implementing ‘It’s Your Night’ in our own family! Together, we will pick one night of the week (not necessarily the same night each week) for her to work her magic. At first we’ll work together to help her become familiar with creating a meal entirely on her own (the kids already help on smaller scales now). As she progresses, she will be working completely on her own.

Hopefully she will learn to not only enjoy these nights but start looking forward to them; making each meal her own. I know she can do it. I’m very much looking forward to seeing how well she does. And, after all, it means one less night a week for me!

🔔Time to Chime In: How often are your high schoolers in the kitchen?

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25 thoughts on “It’s Your Night!

  1. Although we’ve never had a night when the littles do All the cooking, all of my boys have acted as sous chefs for me since they were old enough to fetch pans and ingredients from the pantry. I don’t want them growing up thinking they have to have a woman in order to get themselves fed, so I teach them everything I can about how to cook for themselves. 🙂 But they do have dish night. ‘Cause mama needs a break sometimes!

    Liked by 3 people

  2. my boys all learned how to do the basics. two of them now enjoy cooking and are way more creative than i am. one really important skill for them to learn is grocery shopping. the two of ours that went away to college wanted me to teach them how to shop so they could save money!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. My daughter is 11 and has taken care of entire meals, this year, all on her own. She is very capable and it all started when I was unwell and couldn’t use my hands. She took directions, step by step and is now really confident with a couple of recipes, enough to cook on her own. I love watching her skills grow and her brave sometimes strange meal combinations!

    Liked by 2 people

  4. I love, love, this!!!! My little five year old girl loves being in the kitchen. She always wants to be my helper. We have this little song going on. “Mommy and Kaylee in the Kitchen….” It’s adorable. This lovely post encourages me to embrace this wholeheartedly. This little girl does have the gift of hospitality. She decorated her Nana’s room when she came to town. She sets up tea parties for us. And today after reading this – I’m going to go shopping get my girl decorations for the table settings. Thank you – I am so inspired. Sometimes I forget how big the little things in life really are.

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  5. We started giving Grace the joy of making dinner once a week when she was about 10…she started out with very simple meals and worked her way up (with guidance, of course) to cooking pretty much anything independently. It’s very nice for me to have one night a week to sit back and relax. 😉

    Liked by 1 person

  6. My ten year old loves to cook and has been asking recently about doing Ann entire meal himself. My five year old is always in the kitchen with me. He cracks eggs for breakfast, makes jello, stirs and mixes and pours 🙂 the 13 year old likes to make quesadillas for everyone. When we were growing up (I’m the oldest of five girls), my mom said we would try this one night a week plan out. I went first. Let’s say it was meatloaf because I don’t recall. All I know is the following night, my sister made KING CRAB LEGS and a salad with Belgian endive lettuce and some fancy dessert. The next night the next sister made some seafood dish with fancy sides. I guess it was an expensive adventure of each sister trying to one up the previous one that it didn’t last long!

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  7. We have a menu plan that is democratically created, giving our homeschoolers the chance to have some input. This is known in our house as their ‘dinner day.’ I’ll assist, but mostly it’s our two high schoolers who want to cook when mum’s at work. Sometimes the younger crew will pitch in. Once a week, or fortnight (time pending) we will sit down and brainstorm creative cooking ideas, like a Looney lunch. Then we breeze through recipes we love, or cook books from The Hairy Bikers, Jamie Oliver, River Cottage, or even Miss Kay’s Commander Kitchen. Throw in the family favourite, Thai cookbook, called ‘Cooking with Poo’ and some Indian dishes like Korma and we’ve got a fairly broad culturally informed menu. As an incentive, generally, the one who cooks doesn’t have to wash up. This seems to work well, although, it’s not without it’s drawbacks.

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    • Generally speaking, we all pitch in ideas for menu planning; everyone voicing their opinions on what they’d like. The kids usually can be found in the kitchen helping me prepare meals and even cooking certain dishes on their own.

      However, recently, our oldest daughter has taken the initiative (like your high schoolers) to simply make meals for me. It’s a pleasure to see her actively look for ways to help and serve her family.

      I like your ‘Looney lunch’ ideas! I will generally ask the kiddos what they want for lunch and we make it, but coming up with something different might be fun as well.

      As for cookbooks, I think my kiddos have a fetish for them. They’ve collected American Girl cookbooks, Little House cookbooks, dessert cookbooks, and more. We might even have Star Wars recipe ideas in my personal collection. Anything with incredible photos and easy to follow instructions is a great idea.

      We’ve tried food from just about every country, but our favorites tend to be Chinese, Spanish, Cuban, and Mexican. (Mommy likes Indian, too, but I seem to be alone in this.)

      Liked by 1 person

  8. I love this too. I’m really thankful my mom and dad taught me all of the cooking skills I use today. I was really surprised to learn that some of the girls on my dorm wing couldn’t even bake a frozen pizza or Mac&Cheese.
    My kids aren’t in high school yet-the oldest is only 6- but they all help with the meals in some way. I also let them pick a vegetable and fruit from the store when we go (within budget), and they put it on the belt. This is so exciting to them!
    I do want them to have fun being kids, but a lot of their pretend play is mimicking me and their dad. 🙂

    I think I’ll start “It’s Your Night” now, but give them a lot of help. My oldest loves looking through cookbooks. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  9. My parents assigned me a night to cook each week. I remember my brothers complaining because I found a recipe and made the same thing over and over. Haha. I like the idea of putting together a shopping list and sticking to a budget. My parents always were stocked up on food so I just found a recipe that used what we had on hand.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. The Daughter has made a few meals, prompted by badge requirements for AHG, but while we’ve talked about assigning her a night, we haven’t followed through on it. She often bakes for us, so she has a decent working knowledge of the kitchen, but it’s time to stretch a little. Thanks for the reminder!

    Liked by 1 person

  11. My parents home educated me and one of jobs once (or twice) a week was to cook the dinner for my family of 6. It didn’t occur to me that it was such a great and important skill to learn I just got on with it. Roll on several years later I met my husband and he simply hadn’t a clue how to cook, not just big meals but anything at all. I just kept saying ‘how could your Mum not teach you?’ I’m still amazed even now.

    Liked by 1 person

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