Getting the Kids Involved in Cooking Dinner: My New Mission

My husband and I were watching a documentary a few weeks ago and it occurred to me that in my attempt to be highly organized and extremely prepared I was ruining my kids future! Well, not really. But I did make the decision to start getting the kids involved in cooking dinner.

here is how it happened:

Like I said, we were watching a documentary. This isn’t uncommon for me. I absolutely love documentaries and will watch one about absolutely any topic. I particularly like ones about food right now. On this night we were watching “Fat, Sick, and nearly dead 2”. Haven’t seen it? It’s on Netflix, go have a look. I promise it’s worth it. One of the guests being interviewed was a psychologist or something and he was talking about how the body reacts to the preparation of food. Basically he was saying that while preparing a meal your brain is sending messages to all your organs getting them ready to process the food you are about to eat. OK. I get that. Then I started thinking about our dinners. I use my slow cooker every day. We are very rarely at home in the afternoons and I have a little one who has, in the past, made cooking very difficult. Dinner had become my most stressful time of the day. Sound familiar? You can read more about my nightly struggle here: My Crockpot: I finally learned that dinners don’t have to be stressful  The solution to my dinner troubles was to start prepping meals for the week and using the slow cooker.

But my kids were never seeing me cook dinner. It might as well have been magic to them. Or, even worse,  just the same as delivery! They never got to see the work and joy that went into preparing a home cooked meal for my family. Plus I began to feel like they were missing out on learning valuable skills. Cooking, measuring, patience, following instructions, team work, taking turns and basic kitchen safety are all extremely valuable life lessons that can be learned while in the kitchen.

So what to do?  I sat down with my schedule and decided that since we didn’t have any obligations on Wednesday afternoons (one of only 2 days during the week that we don’t have to be somewhere) I would set aside that afternoon as a “stay at home afternoon” and the kids would help me cook dinner.

Now the trick is to come up with healthy meals with limited prep and mess that the kids can actively participate in the preparation.

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This is the first week that I have implemented the new plan and I think this recipe is pretty perfect. Limited prep and it’s super easy.

Cauliflower Vegetable Alfredo

Ingredients:

  • Pasta noodles (it doesn’t matter what kind)
  • 1 pack of mushrooms
  • a cup of chopped green beans
  • 1 medium head of cauliflower
  • 1 tbsp garlic powder
  • 1 tbsp onion powder
  • 1 tbsp yellow mustard
  • the juice of 1 lemon
  • 1 cup of almond milk
  • pinch of salt

To start I cut and sauteed the mushrooms and green beans. I did this while the kids played because I didn’t want them to be around the fire (my daughter is only 1 1/2 years old). I also cut the cauliflower into big chunks and steamed it until it was fork tender.

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When the cauliflower was done I invited the kids into the kitchen. They were in charge of blending. I started the noodles cooking (on the burner farthest away from them) and they took turns (with lots and lots of supervision) putting the remaining ingredients into the blender. The blender is tricky because they both love it. The compromise is that my son turns it on and my daughter turns up the speed.

After everything was well blended and nice and creamy I told the kids to push their chairs back to the table and I would bring them dinner.

All there was left for me to do was to mix everything together and serve it.

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This pasta was a huge hit! My normally fussy son ate three servings including the green beans (but not the mushrooms) and my daughter had 2 servings and all of my sons rejected mushrooms.

My son said that it tasted better because he made it.   SCORE!!!!

So this will be our Wed. “thing”. It was really fun cooking with them and I suppose the slow cooker can have one night per week off.

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I hope to post a new  “cooking with the kids” adventure every Wednesday.

Stay tuned!!

 

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