- At Home
The following is a guest post by Ashley Grimaldo from Kinoliinc.com.
This Thanksgiving will be just as chaotic as last year.
Honestly, there's just no way to prepare an umpteen-course meal around tiny toddlers or cranky adolescents without at least some measure of strife. But the great news about holiday meal prepping is that, despite their surly demeanor, your children are desperate to contribute in the kitchen.
So how can parents pull off including their kids in the cooking without ending up with egg shells in the egg nog? It's not as hard as you might think. Recruit your small-sized sous-chef and you'll find all sorts of bonding opportunities this Thanksgiving.
Shop 'til They Drop
Start the Thanksgiving experience with a field trip to your grocery store! Remind your little ones that they may only put what's on the list into the cart in order to ward off potential tantrums down the baking goodies aisle. Challenge your older kids to save money by comparing your grocery list with newspaper inserts for the store and especially coupons. Whoever can save the most money wins a prize!
With these adorable appetizers at Family Fun, everyone will jump on board to prep and then gobble, gobble their creations! Allow Junior to decorate tortilla teepee tents, edible Indian corn and gobblicious fruit turkeys. Most of these recipes don't require stovetop or oven cooking, which is a huge bonus for little hands.
While this potentially intimidating Food Network Turkey Recipe may tempt you to opt for a long run of cartoons, many of the steps lend themselves well to recruiting even the youngest helper. Have older kids measure out the spices for the brine and the younger ones fill the ice chest with ice (for soaking the turkey overnight). Older kids can help monitor the thermometer and arrange cut turkey on the plate.
Baked (not Smothered) Sweet Potatoes
Sweet tater casserole loaded with nuts, marshmallows and brown sugar hits the spot, but after trying them plain and baked, I won't go back to Grandma's diabetes-inducing recipe. Plus your kids can do most of the prep work here. Wash the potatoes and coat them with a little butter (tell your helpers to "draw" on the potato with the stick of butter). Then let them wrap the potatoes tightly in foil, which will take quite a while. Bake for around an hour at 425°, or until soft. After cutting open, top with a tiny bit of brown sugar and butter for delicious, kid-friendly fare.
Some green needs to get down the gullet before cookies and pies, and classic green bean casserole fits the bill for easy and yummy. Mix one can of cream of mushroom soup with about one cup of milk. Add bacon bits and French onions to the creamy mixture. Kids can whisk the mixture and add some seasoning salt to it as well. Let them open the can with a child-safe can opener like the West Bend Electric Can Opener and drain the beans in a sieve. Mix green beans with the creamy mixture and top with more French onions and some parmesan cheese.
Purposely have your little ones help prepare the pumpkin pie rather than the chocolate one. Pumpkin is more of an acquired taste and has fewer naughty ingredients than other pies, so if the kiddos get involved they're more likely to eat it. Activity TV has a rockin' how-to video made for kids on how to make it. Your mature 10-year-old would have an easy time at DIY it after viewing it. Younger folks can help whisk, stir and pour the filling into the pie. Don't forget to wash hands frequently!
Ashley Grimaldo comes from a long line of penny pinchers and enjoys blogging on money-saving tips and advice for frugal-minded parents.
She lives with her husband and three children in Bryan, Texas. Ashley has been featured among such media outlets as Redbook, The Chicago Tribune, Time.com, and CBS News-Houston.