No, Christians don’t have some weird recipes only we know (although there are a few potluck recipes I question!). We can though, use our cooking to do more than fill someone’s stomach. I hope as we teach our children to cook, we are also teaching them how to serve with what they produce.
I know, quite a few of you are now having a mild panic attack. You just realized you have never made a concentrated effort to teach any of your children to cook. At best, one of them can pop popcorn in the microwave and there is at least an even chance one of them can boil water, but that’s about it. The idea of using what they produce in the kitchen to serve others is a fantasy from another day and time.
I am going to challenge you to take back your kitchen for the Lord. If you are like me, this may mean cleaning out a few cabinets or a trip to the grocery first, but that’s okay. Clear an afternoon for you and all of our children to do some good old Christian cooking. You can use some of the ideas below or come up with your own.
The idea isn’t to compete with professionally prepared food. Instead, you are spending quality time with your children teaching them important skills they can use to serve others. Your family is also working together as a team to serve those who need to be shown God’s love. While you are serving them, you might want to include an encouraging scripture with your finished masterpieces to point those whom you serve back to God.
Here are some of my favorite ways to serve with food:
1. Bake a simple dessert to thank someone for their service to God and/or your family. Desserts are great beginning dishes to cook with children. Have each child take a turn adding ingredients and stirring. Don’t be afraid to use box mixes. I wouldn’t even consider baking an angel food cake without a mix. It’s just too much trouble and expense. Most people can’t tell the difference. Even if they can, they will just be grateful someone thought of them.
2. Bake some muffins to encourage someone. Is there someone your family knows who is feeling a little blue lately? Maybe it is a homesick college freshman or a military person on temporary assignment away from his family. The person is not in a major crisis, but a nice muffin basket would remind them they are loved by God and the people in their lives.
3. Take a meal to someone who is homebound or elderly. My grandparents were able to stay in their own home until they were about 90 years old. One of the reasons they were able to do so was because wonderful people would stop by with hot or frozen meals my grandparents only had to reheat. Meals are often welcomed by new moms or people who have recently had surgery. If you decide to take on this more advanced way of serving with food, you may need to teach your children some food safety skills. They need to learn how to cook, transport and store food safely. The last thing an elderly or sick person needs is a bad case of food poisoning! You may also want to call ahead and see what the person wants and needs to or can’t eat because of special dietary needs. After completing this task with you a few times, you can rest assured your children can cook at least one healthy meal safely when they are on their own!
4. Take a basket of individually wrapped baked goods to someone waiting in the hospital. Does your family know someone who will be sitting in the hospital all day waiting for a loved one to come out of surgery? It is nice to have healthy snack foods to keep from having to leave and get food. I have also found people offer it to those waiting with them and as a way to thank the doctors and nurses who are caring for their loved one. Try to include foods which aren’t particularly messy. Package them in individual portions in plastic baggies. Include some paper plates and/or napkins in the basket. You can include homemade snack mixes, muffins, cookies, brownies and other baked goods that are neat and don’t need refrigeration. (Avoid using nuts in any of your recipes as so many people have nut allergies.)
5. Bake a loaf or two of bread and invite someone over to help devour it as it comes out of the oven. Most people absolutely love fresh bread, especially hot out of the oven. There are many simple bread recipes you can use. Waiting for the dough to rise can teach your children a lot of biblical principles (remember the verse about the yeast?). Hospitality is becoming a lost art form and our society is missing out on the joys of being together in someone’s home. As long as your house is not in danger of being condemned for filthy conditions, must people never notice a little dust. Besides they will be too busy enjoying that hot bread and your family’s company to care!
6. Find an international recipe and invite your children’s friends over to help cook and eat the result. Want to have an eternal impact on your children’s friends? Spending time with them gives you an opportunity to give them godly wisdom and guidance. Kids love to cook and they might just enjoy the mystery of cooking a special new dish. Give them clues about the country while they cook and eat. See if they can guess the country correctly before the end of the evening. You may want to pick a country where your congregation supports missionaries. In my experience, children who have cooked the unusual food are much more likely to actually try eating that same food!
7. Bake a batch of brownies and take them to your new neighbors. When you deliver them, make sure you and your children invite the family to attend Church with you next Sunday. For those of you cooking challenged, box mix brownies are about as simple as it gets. I have learned over the years, that this is one mix where it pays to splurge. Go for the richest looking and sounding mix and you will usually have good results. (If they give you a choice, cake-like brownies are easier to cut.)
Have you found other ways to teach your children to cook and serve others at the same time? I would love to hear what you have done with your family. You may give other moms some great ideas when you share in a comment below.