If you ever see any of my social media posts, you won’t find pictures of fancy, made from scratch desserts or dishes. Cooking from scratch is not something I’m very good at. My skill set is closer to burning the Campbell’s soup to the bottom of the pot so badly that the pot ends up in garbage.
That’s okay, because I make a mean cookie by just adding water, or with a bit more effort, by the way of some oil and an egg, I can produce yummy cupcakes as well. With either activity, our children usually participate and we always have a great time emptying boxes of cake mix and cracking eggs into the bowl. The results are usually edible, but there have been enough burnt goodies that one of the kids will check to make sure the timer is on and ask specifically that I watch carefully so that nothing burns.
In the school yard at afternoon pick up, it takes a lot of confidence to openly admit that you bake from a box. Making things from scratch and topping them with Pinterest worthy designs is just one more thing the ‘Perfect Mommy Culture’ has added to our to do list. Ironically, my grandmother’s stress of trying to live up to being the ‘Ideal Mother’ involved being able to brag that you could afford to buy the instant Jello in a box.
For me it’s more about the memories of baking with our kids, and I no longer get hung up on the method. Like anything there are pros and cons of baking from a box. One of the pros is that the time it takes to empty to contents of the box, add the water and the eggs is about the length of the attention span our kids have for the actual baking part. They just want to get to the decorating part.
The cons are our kids might be missing out on learning a life skill and the ingredients are not organically grown. Hopefully we have some time to teach them to cook for themselves and with regard to all the bad ingredients on the box, I think sugar is sugar and wonder, do kids really love their desserts filled with sweet potato and zucchini?
Pros and cons aside, we always have a great time making a mess and creating something together. The icing on the proverbial cake is our oldest son, who is 12 and isn’t home as much to participate in the baking, always arrives home grabs a freshly baked add water cookie and declares that I make the best cookies ever! He doesn’t care how they were baked - he cares that I took the time to bake them.
If I ever question myself or feel I’m not ‘keeping up with the Jones’ on the playground, I remember that heartfelt declaration and it now gives me the confidence to proudly tell anyone who asks that I do indeed bake from a box. I think it is important to let your kids be your barometer. Are they happy with cookies made by adding water? They are, so I’ll keep doing what I’m doing.