It's time to come together as a family in the kitchen! Take the stress off just one person doing everything and start cooking together. Use our helpful tips to make it go smoothly and involve everybody!

African American family cooking together, from Shelf Cooking

When you're single, cooking by yourself is just a fact of life. But when you're in a relationship or have a family with multiple mouths to feed, that's no longer the case. Once you move from only feeding yourself to feeding others as well, that's a total game-changer in not only meal planning, but cooking as well!

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However, the responsibilities don't all have to fall just on you! If you've somehow come to find that you're the one who does all the planning, cooking, and cleaning for your meals, then it's time to change the game. Cooking together as a family is crucial. Whether it's just you and your sweetie, you and your kids, or a big family of 10, jump on the family meal prep train and let's get to gettin'!


Woman cooking on the stove while man chops carrots, from Shelf Cooking

Before we talk about the how, let's talk about the why real quick! Cooking together as a family (whatever that term may mean for you) is so important for multiple reasons:

  • It Takes the Stress Off One Person – We all know how stressful it is to be the only one who does everything. We're talking about the kitchen inventory, meal planning all 3 meals (plus snacks), the grocery list, going to the store, putting it all away, meal prep, and cooking all the meals. We believe that basically anybody who is eating the food can help out!
  • Good Bonding Time – Sometimes the only time you have together as a family is at dinner and over the weekend. Meal planning and cooking together is the perfect time to spend some QT with the ones you love the most.
  • Teaches Kids/Tweens/Teens Good Life Skills – Your kids will need to be able to do all of this when they're out on their own! Don't make them learn the hard way once they leave the nest; that could lead to a life of never really knowing how to meal plan the right way. Honestly, the same goes for newlyweds as well! If they're living with you and eating, then they need these amazing life skills to be able to help out.
  • Easy DIY Cooking Class at Home – Cooking together gives you the perfect opportunity to teach those who don't know how to cook. They can start off by helping you meal plan and do the smaller things in the kitchen. Then they can move on up to where they can eventually take over!

Starting to see why cooking together is so important? We promise you'll never regret it! Take the time to teach your family how to help out and pull their weight in the kitchen!


Woman's hands chopping herbs on a cutting board, from Shelf Cooking

The transition to cooking together doesn't have to be hard! The best way to get started is to have everybody in the kitchen when it's time to get ‘er done. Meal planning and cooking may take a little longer in the beginning… But it won't take much time at all before you're less stressed and your family is more involved!

Here are some tried and true ways to institute family meal prep and start cooking together:

  • Get the Family Involved in Meal Planning – Whether you're meal planning for two, meal planning with kids, or meal planning with teenagers, get. them. involved! Sit everybody down and go over how to meal plan using ingredients you already have. This is key to them being able to help out and take the stress off you! Once they know how, they'll be able to decide what meals they want to cook based on what you already have.
  • Turn It Into a Party – Life is always more fun with music! Crank your disco ball speaker up with your favorite tunes! Cooking together in the kitchen doesn't have to be boring, so dance and sing while working. It'll make it go quicker for those who aren't huge fans of cooking and you'll really form some fun memories!
  • Split Up Meals – If there's just two of you eating, then split the meals up evenly so you both have an even number of meals to prep and make. Have one person be in charge while the other is the assistant. Don't forget to include any leftovers nights!
  • Give Kids/Teens Their Own Night – When your kids are old enough, then they also get added into the rotation of being in charge! They'll be able to plan the meal and cook with supervision if needed.
  • Everybody Keeps Up with Kitchen Inventory – The kitchen inventory is a big part of meal planning! Teach everybody how to keep up with the kitchen inventory printables any time they add or remove food.
  • Communication – This will help things go smoothly during family meal prep and cooking together! It will also keep you from making the same type of dish or plan on using the only a single filet of fish.
  • Make a Clean-Up Schedule – Don't forget about cleaning the kitchen when you're done! There are a few ways to do this… Everybody pitches in and has a certain duty every night. Whoever was the assistant in the kitchen is in charge of cleaning while the other brings everything to them. You can also rotate it weekly. Do whatever works, as long as everybody is involved!

Pro Tip: When you're meal planning as a family and figuring out what meals you want to make, don't forget to write down who is in charge of making that meal! Write it on your weekly meal planning printable and put it on a night they don't have any extracurricular activities.

Alright, well there you have it! Everything you need to know about instituting family meal prep and cooking together. What's your favorite music to blast while cooking together? Let us know in the comments!

Image with text that reads "11 reasons to meal prep as a family" from Shelf Cooking

Looking for more great ideas?

Enjoy this time together!