I wasn’t into having my kids help me cook dinner. Then one day as they were eating I heard someone say,“Well, this is good, but the broccoli was cooked a little too long. It’s not as bright as it should be.”

What?! Are they really judging my cooking? Insert my wide eye stare here. Then I chuckled. I mean, how many kids care about the bright green color of their broccoli?!

Turns out my girls enjoy playing MasterChef Junior, Top Chef Junior, Chopped Junior AND Kids Baking Championship. All of the kids reality TV cooking shows. Those weekends of binge-watching have really made an impression.

So now they get to be on all sides – planning, cooking and judging.

With planning, they get some say on what we eat. They can suggest ingredients and recipes, choose spices, and research dishes. Watching kid cooking shows has also opened up their minds to choices in the grocery store.

With cooking, the show has inspired them to try new combinations, recipes and spices. They love studying how the contestants put together ingredients and flavors that are not what you would expect, to create something amazing. They also care about whisking versus stirring. I didn’t care about this until I was married for many years, lol!

With judging, they understand the importance of being honest but not cruel. They can say they don’t care for something, but it has to be in a nice way. And the feedback has to come with suggestions on how to make it better. It’s a lesson in giving feedback in a compassionate way, even if it’s not good news.

If you’re looking for ways to get your kids more involved with dinnertime, try binge watching kids reality TV cooking shows, then cooking. Okay, binge watching is not necessary. Either way, you may be pleasantly surprised with the results. Even if it means they’ll be critiquing your cooking, lol!

Here’s to some quality family time in front of the TV… and in the kitchen.


Since we’re talking dinner, here are a few of our dinner time rules. They don’t necessarily add fun, but they do encourage the kids to try everything on their plate. Hence rule #1.

Everyone has to at least try everything on the plate. The only foods exempt are foods that can cause a medical issue. For instance, the youngest can sometimes get away with saying something is too spicy, but only if it’s spicy.

No one is ever forced to eat all of their food. They can stop eating at anytime. However, they can only get dessert if they eat dinner. I’ve explained that they should only eat until they are comfortably full. Anything more than that is not healthy. Dessert will be there the next day.

Seconds are fine, but if they ask for seconds they have to eat it.

Dinner suggestions are encouraged, but the healthier the suggestion the more likely it is to happen. If it was up to my oldest we would eat mac ’n cheese with every dinner. Luckily it is not up to her. However, my middle has requested stuffed peppers this week, so that’s been added to our menu.