Roger Mooking knows a thing or two about family meal planning . When he’s not judging Chopped Canada or developing creative dishes for Twist By Roger Mooking, a new restaurant at Toronto Pearson Airport, he’s a busy father to four girls. That’s right, four girls under the age of 10! That means getting all four kids to try new flavours at mealtime — not an easy feat.
We connected with the family man who shared his tips on grocery shopping, getting kids excited about food and introducing new flavours.
On Having a Plan
“We shop once a week, usually early Saturday mornings when the grocery store is empty but well stocked for a busy day. It’s the best time to go if you can get up early on a Saturday — folks with kids are used to getting up early for the most part! Then we spot shop as needed during the week.”
On Introducing New Foods
“We always buy a new item every week that we’ve never tried before. It might be a type of cheese, a kind of cracker, a new brand of yogurt, a different pasta or noodle — anything. It’s about introducing new flavours to the kids; sometimes it’s successful sometimes it’s not.”
On Getting Kids Involved
“I always encourage the kids to go grocery shopping with me. Sometimes we all go (including my wife Leslie), sometimes it’s just one or two kids, and sometimes it’s just me. But when the kids are involved, they usually ask to buy something that piques their curiosity. I like to include them in the cooking process, too. Cooking is one of the most important life skills we can teach them”
On Saving On the Grocery Bill
“I like to peruse the specials displays to see if there is any good value there. Often you can find specials on great quality products that just might have a shorter shelf life. The grocery stores tend to mark down those items to get them off the shelves quickly before they spoil.”
On Buying Quality Food
“We tend to buy for quality over price. Quality and value can co exist though! I usually buy what looks the freshest and build meals around that.”
This interview has been edited and condensed.