The actress, who's partnered with Uncle Ben's to tout the benefits of cooking as a family, looks forward to nightly dinners with her 6-year-old

By Kate Hogan
September 20, 2018 03:48 PM

Some of Anna Faris‘ favorite memories were made in her mother’s kitchen.

“That’s how we bonded,” Faris, 41, tells PEOPLE. “She was an amazing cook, and we would spend time together cooking.”

It’s a tradition Faris and her mother, Karen, have continued with the actress’s son Jack, 6, who’s been helping out in the kitchen since he was just 2 years old. (Dad is Faris’ ex, Chris Pratt.)

“I have adorable pictures of him in a little chef’s hat and apron, breaking eggs,” Faris says. “Just the act of creating something … Jack loves doing it. And it helps him try new foods when he’s made it, too. I love that he’s not afraid to try new things.”

Credit: Michael Kovac/Getty

The family cooking fun is part of what inspired Faris to team with Uncle Ben’s for the Homework Pass Challenge, a program launching at 12 schools around the country that allows kids to swap out a week of homework for a week of cooking with their families.

“It was such an important part of my childhood, and I think it’s a life skill, a way to learn to be self sufficient,” Faris explains of why she partnered with Uncle Ben’s. “I want Jack to go off to college and not have his dorm mates complain about how disgusting the bathroom is … I want him to learn things.”

Credit: Michael Kovac/Getty

Though as a kindergartener, Jack doesn’t have homework — “I’m sort of dreading that,” she jokes — family dinners are already a part of his life.

“We try really hard. It’s difficult but we make it a priority,” Faris says. “I had family dinner every night growing up … my mom would always make something healthy like salmon with rice and broccoli. I’d clean up, and would find wads of chewed-up broccoli under the table that had fallen out of my brother’s napkin!”

Regardless of the grossness, “it was the one time we were really able to be together,” she says. “We didn’t always get along, but it was great. I look back on that and I really want that for Jack.”

For now, Jack is settling into kindergarten — almost too well for Mom. “He’s always been a pretty outgoing kid, but after walking to school the first day I was bracing myself for a little emotion, and he was like ‘Bye Mom! Bye Dad! See you!’ ”

He’s already starting to show a bit of sass, too. “He used air quotes the other day … I don’t remember the context but it was something controversial, and he said, ‘That’s not controversial’ and put it in air quotes,” she recalls with a laugh. “I feel like when you’re a parent it’s those little things that jar you … you realize your kid is getting older and knows things that surprise you, and you think, ‘Oh this is jarring — what else do you know?!’ “