Meal Plans and Involving the Kids
In our house, organization is very important in everything we do and that of course includes meal planning. Our family works with a large master menu to plan our food for the week. Whoever is going to cook for that week gets to pick what meals they want to prepare. Usually, we plan two weeks at a time: that way we're not going to duplicate the same recipe too often. It also helps us when we plan our shopping list so we can make sure that we get all the ingredients that we’re going to need. Menus and lists are a huge help with that.
Because we're cooking for a lot of children, we tend to make the same family favorites a lot. We’re not going to try out too many crazy recipes that young palates won't be interested in. We eat a lot of green salads and veggie trays. Of course, ours are giant trays! A lot of times we’ll slice up a big tray of tomatoes, sprinkle them with salt and pepper and top with a spritz of vinegar. That’s a favorite snack around here.
All of the kids take turns in the kitchen. I always let each one of them take a turn at learning how to prepare a meal. Usually, they'll start off with breakfast or lunch before diving into dinner. And it's not just for the girls! Some of the boys are really good cooks. They have lots of fun getting in there and being creative. Jason and Justin are particularly enjoying being in the kitchen lately. Of course, the little ones love to help, too. Johannah, Jennifer, Jordyn all love lending a hand. They’re always in the kitchen asking, "What can I do? Can I open this? Can I help?"
We usually have teams of three or four kids that’ll work together on the cooking. If you get more than that, there are really just too many cooks in the kitchen! There’s a leader and then the rest of them follow the instructions of the leader. We label everything so that whoever is in there can find things and know where they belong when they're doing cleanup. The kids truly enjoy their time in the kitchen and it’s a huge help to the family. It really works out well for everyone.
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