Cooking With Your Kids This Thanksgiving

By Peggy Baron

Photo courtesy of Libby's

Photo courtesy of Libby's

Thanksgiving can be a little stressful when you have company coming and you have to cook the whole meal. Sure the company is bringing a pie and will help with the dishes and clean up, but you’ve got a whole lot of work ahead of you when you wake up on that special Thursday morning. Don’t despair and stress – rally the troops!

If you’re reading this, you’ve probably got one or two or more children running around that house don’t you? Put them to work and give them all jobs. Just don’t mention the words “work” or “job.” Kids like to be helpful, especially when they see how much you appreciate it. Let them help!

First off, you need to have a plan. Take some time before Thursday morning to plot everything out. Of course you know what you want to prepare and serve – you do the same thing every year, don’t you? So that’s the easy part. Really look at each recipe and see what’s involved. You could probably do it in your sleep, but your kids can’t. Assign a recipe to each child, depending on their skill level. You may even want to find an easier version of the recipe. Go over the steps with your child and explain how it’s all going to work. Do kind of a foodless dress rehearsal with them.

If the child is too young to do a whole recipe, just give them certain tasks in a recipe and have them help you. Little ones can melt butter in the microwave, mash the potatoes, wash the vegetables, toss the salad, and put the marshmallows on the sweet potato casserole.

This is one meal where everything seems to happen at the same time. To help prevent this, the kids can mash the potatoes ahead and keep them warm in the crockpot, ditto with the sweet potato casserole and veggies. If you don’t have a way to keep them warm, time them to come out before the mad rush, put a lid on them and wrap them in several towels. They can stay quite warm that way. The salad can definitely be made earlier in the day or even the night before.

Try to schedule the prep time so there aren’t too many people walking around the kitchen with sharp knives at once.

What about the pies? Kids love to make the pies! Go with the pre-made pie crusts if their pastry skills aren’t quite up to snuff. Maybe they could pick the pies they want this year and shake tradition up a bit. I’m sure a Chocolate Dream pie is a tradition in someone’s home even if it isn’t (yet) in yours.

Keep one step ahead of total chaos by having someone wash the dirty dishes that are accumulating. Perhaps those who are watching football on TV could lend a hand! Not only will there be fewer dishes to do at the end, but it leaves lots more room for the cooks to prepare the grand feast.

If you give it some thought and plan ahead of time, this Thanksgiving could be a lot easier on you and a heck of a lot more fun for the whole family. Have a good attitude and lots of patience and just enjoy yourself. Your kitchen will be filled with those you love, and that’s something to be thankful for.

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Peggy is the editor of the popular Cookin’ Kids Newsletter. Interesting themes, fun facts, silly clip art, easy recipes, kid jokes, cooking terms, and safety tips make this newsletter a hit with kids! Learn more about it at cookinkids.com.