Most nights, by the time my husband and I get home, our top priority is hanging out with our kids, not dinner. I mean, we all EAT dinner, and, you know, like food, and all, but whipping up elaborate meals is definitely on the backburner. (SEE WHAT I DID THERE?) We're more about what we can get done quickly and with some redeeming nutritional value that - most importantly - the kids will eat. Stir frys get a lot of play in our kitchen, as do roasted vegetables with chicken, and I will fully admit that there are occasional nights where my husband and I walk in, have no desire to cook, and totally order pizza. (It's for the lycopene and calcium, I tell you!)
I recently read --with complete and utter awe -- a post about a mom who prepares 46 freeze-ahead meals in four hours. I know. I KNOW. I was amazed, too. I am nowhere near that organized, nor do I have the freezer space, but the post got me thinking. My mom taught me how to cook at a very young age, and aside from the occasional foray into cookie making, my kids don't have anything to do with what goes on in the kitchen. Granted, they're only three and five, but it's never too early to start. Right?
In the past, I have tried (and failed) at meal planning for the week, but what about on a much smaller scale? And what if I got the kids involved? I decided to make lasagna with their help. Lasagna is easy, it's very forgiving/flexible (like if someone, let's say my son, got a little aggressive with the garlic), and it's actually fun to make, what with all the layering. What's more, my kids ADORE lasagna. How much more would they love it if they helped to make it? (And...doubled the recipe so we could stick one in the freezer?)
I put this to the test one recent Sunday. The kids were thrilled to help out, each fighting for a turn with the mixing bowl. The beauty and ease of making a dish like this with kids is in its imprecision. No 1/8 teaspoon measurements, no egg separating...just simplicity. I was even able to mix in a full package of frozen chopped spinach into the cheese mixture, and they barely even noticed. They did a great job, and helped me to layer it all together, bouncing up and down with excitement about "their" lasagna.
As you could imagine, they were thrilled when it came out of the oven.They pronounced it to be the "best ever," and went back for more, so proud of what they had helped to make. And of course, we have our extra one (cut into smaller, more defrosting-friendly sections, and carefully wrapped andtucked into the freezer), too. A success all around, I would say.
What about you? Do you put aside time to cook with your kids?
My son is 3, and I have tried cookign with him, but he gets excited and tries dumping everything in the bowl...and I mean everything. He found some old cereal sitting in a bowl int he sink, and thought it would be a good idea to add to Mommy's bowl. Luckily I caught him before he did it. YUCK!