Food and Cooking Activities

Judy's daughter eating spaghetti

The parent's view

Those who know me, know I love food. I love eating food, cooking food, eating out, watching cooking shows and reading recipe books. Yes, reading recipe books for fun! Some of my favourite books aren’t filled with glossy pictures and recipes, instead they are filled with the narrative of the recipe and the memories they evoke.

All things food and cooking sustain and energise me both physically and emotionally. It provides a place for me to be creative, find flow, express gratitude, and show love to my family. It’s also something my family enjoys doing.

My attitude towards cooking and food hasn’t always been this way though. Somewhere along the way I lost the joy of cooking. Life got busy, I had two children, worked full time, renovated houses and had NO time. Food and cooking had become another ‘chore’ for me and in the busyness of life, I fell out of love with the whole process. My dinners became boring, repetitive and totally lacking in love. Party pies, steamed rice, peas and corn became a regular meal. However, a few years ago after completing an activity on identifying my core values, my love for cooking was reignited.

Through the activity I discovered my top three values as: caring for others, enjoying food, and, creating beauty. Thus, a cookbook for my family containing a collection of family recipes, family photos and inspiring quotes was born – ‘Recipes for Life’. The process of creating the book tapped into my core values and was an absolute joy to make and a fun way to connect with the family.

The making of the book reminded me to accept the reality and busyness of my life but also created space for me to ritualize my values and, gave meaning and purpose to a daily activity. My hope is, one day, my children will look back at this book with fondness and get lost in the memories and narrative of what cooking and food meant to us as a family. I must have inspired something in my children because as I write this, my 20 year-old daughter is voluntarily making pork wontons (from scratch and without a recipe) for dinner.

In recent weeks, I’ve needed to ‘ground myself’ and connect with my family, thus, I have been busy in the kitchen and another cookbook of family favourite recipes is in the making. If food and cooking is your or your family’s passion, why not make one yourself.

Start off by collecting favourite family recipes, family photos and quotes from your children. It can be as simple as handwriting recipes in a notebook, pasting in photos and getting the kids to draw pictures or write a quote. Or, you could use Snapfish to create a photo book of your recipes.

We would love to see your creations. Please send your photos to us on

Judy Hand
Mum & Office Administrator at the Institute of Positive Education

Download some of Judy's favourite family recipes

The wellbeing benefits

There is so much research linking pursuit of creative passions and wellbeing that it is hard to know where to begin here. We have evidence, for example that:

  • creative inspiration is contagious (Thrash et al., 2016);
  • creativity is a skill we get better at through practice (Beaty et al., 2018);
  • engaging in everyday creative activities (including cooking!) increases the amount of positive emotions we feel and elevates our overall sense of wellbeing (Conner et al., 2018).

Here’s the thing, for many, cooking is as much about people and family and community and mindfulness and engagement and connection as it is about food. If you think of in that sense, baking and sharing choc-chip cookies (in moderation, of course!) is a delicious and powerful wellbeing intervention.

David Bott
Dad & Associate Director at the Institute of Positive Education

Other resources to help you connect with your family through food


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