How to share a heritage of preparedness with your kids
by Misty Marsh
I love food – and not just because I love to eat (though I do love that too). I love food because it connects me to people.
Shepard’s Pie probably wouldn’t be a favorite meal of mine (I mean c’mon – canned tomato soup, potatoes, meat and green beans?) except for the fact that my mom made it for me all the time growing up. It reminds me of her service, love, patience and generosity.
It binds me to her.
Sweet and Sour Meatballs remind me of my mother-in-law because she made them for me the first time we met.
I make Korean Chicken for my husband even though I don’t love it because his Grandma made it for him.
And my 6 year old daughter recently told me she loves how taco salad smells because it makes her think of me (I eat it for lunch 2-3 times a week).
Food is powerful that way. It becomes a tradition of sorts that draws us closer to each other.
I love taking that tradition one step further by cooking the foods we love together as a family.
Now, let’s be realistic, I don’t love trying to make dinner with all four of my cute kids trying to “help” while simultaneously telling me what they want for their birthday, asking for a drink of chocolate milk and help with their homework.
But I do love cooking with my kids one on one – teaching them tricks I’ve learned: How to bring out the flavor in onions or how to tone down the saltiness in a too-salty soup. They love it when they finally learn to crack and egg perfectly or that THREE 1/3 cups = 1 cup, and I love the joy in their cute faces.
I want these memories to bind my children to me in the future. I want them to think of me when they make their first meal as a college student. I want them to think of me as they teach their own children to cook a family favorite. I want my grandkids – and their kids – to be connected to me in this way.
Another time when I want these memories to serve and uplift my children is in dark times. As members of the LDS church, we are encouraged to have “food storage” – or extra food set aside in case of natural disaster, job loss or other disasters large and small.
Simply having a “food storage” is another righteous tradition I want to pass onto my children. I want them to have memories (as I do) of running down to the basement (instead of running to McDonalds) mid-recipe when I realize I’m missing an ingredient.
Having extra food downstairs and a garden in the backyard is something so “normal” to my children that they are surprised to hear that not everyone does the same. I love that. I love that they will likely teach their children to be self-reliant as well – I want that tradition to pass on through the generations.
But beyond just having a food storage, I want my food storage to capitalize on all those positive memories and emotions that we’ve built around our family meals.
As I’ve built my food storage, I’ve done so using recipes my children know and love.
I’m hoping if we ever face a job loss or disaster that preparing and eating meals we are familiar with – meals that have positive memories attached – will again help unify and bind us as a family. I hope that those meals will be a comfort and a respite from difficult times.
But basing my food storage on meals we love has other, every day benefits as well.
If my child or husband has a bad day, I can whip up their favorite meal or dessert without going to the grocery store. And all the positive emotions associated with that meal help ease their pain.
Plus, as I cook with my kids, I’m not just teaching them how to cook in general. Nor am I teaching them just to have food storage. I’m teaching them how to use to use their food storage – Yet one more tradition I hope they pass on.
I’ll end where I started – I love food. I love to eat it. I love to store it. But most of all, I love to share it with my family and bind my children and future generations to me through it.
Misty Marsh is a mother to four beautiful and energetic children all born within 3 years of each other. There is never a dull moment in their home and always a reason to laugh. Since early 2011, she has worked to help busy families prepare for emergencies over on her website Simple Family Preparedness.