I don't cook, and I am totally envious when I see mom friends post incredible dishes they make for their kids on social media. As a result, I make impulsive purchases to acquire cooking tools that gather dust in my cabinets.
Like some mamas, I am just not interested in cooking. I enjoy it when it is an activity, an experiment, but not a task.
Most of the people in my generation growing up in Asia have a live-in nanny or take-out is merely a block away. Also eating out is a social thing with friends and families. And traditionally, Asian parents didn't encourage their children to learn how to cook, because in their mind it is "wasting time,"—kids should focus on studying and school. Especially for boys, messing around in the kitchen was definitely a no when I was growing up. (Clearly that's an old notion—nowadays, cooking is the enhanced value proposition for men because sexier men cook.)
Now I am a mother of a picky toddler and an infant migrating to solid food. Even though I don't cook, my kids still need to eat! This is how I do it:
- Watch and collect ideas from cooking YouTube channel Tasty: I enjoy watching and collecting these nicely done cooking videos for future inspiration. The video editing technique they use makes everything looks so easy! I have a "cooking idea folder" where I collect video clips from Tasty Japan and Emmy Made in Japan. What makes them different is that besides being exotic and yummy, it's all about presentation—they make food too adorable to eat. And I can't resist buying all those cooking gears and molds—once a while, my kids get to eat one, or two, or three Panda rice balls.
- Order mobile food: I order from a wide array of restaurants with a single tap on my phone. I actually prefer "new delivery" (e.g., Foodora) vs. the traditional "aggregators" (e.g., GrubHub) just because the delivery service and timing is much more predictable when you have hungry kids at home. The essential difference is "new delivery" has its own logistics for delivery from gourmet restaurants and "aggregators" pass the order to the restaurant to fulfill.
Make sushi: We are not talking about rainbow rolls or caterpillar rolls here. Avocado and salmon rolls are easy, healthy and achievable at home. Simply buy a sushi making kit, get some fresh avocado and sushi-grade salmon and follow a YouTube video.
Buy great kids' party food: Call me bold, but even thought I don't cook, I am brave enough to throw in a kids' birthday party with 60+ guests. I've tried out a variety of things from different places, and the winners are the ones that are easy to bake, steam, heat up or put together. Just to name a few from my shopping list that are super popular among little kiddos:
- H Mart: Crab or shrimp shumai, chicken teriyaki bao, mini seafood dumplings, Ramule (kids soft drink with a crystal ball inside of the funky bottle). And it looks like H Mart is going to add a West Loop location this summer, making my party-shopping route more streamlined.
- Costco: Beef bibimbap (Korean beef rice), party-size quinoa, crispy vegetable spring rolls
- Trader Joe's: Corn dog, veggie pizza bites, shrimp toast, macaroons (in the box)