Most parents, when it comes to kids and cooking, cringe with dreadful anticipation at the thought of their progeny creating anything but a mess in the kitchen. However, it doesn’t have to be that way, when it comes to slow cookers, kids and delicious meals.
Kids love to help in the kitchen, particularly teens and young teens. Finding foods they can prepare and cook can be a challenge but when a crock-pot is part of the equation, it’s not impossible. Given the versatility and relative ease of cooking with crock-pots, also called slow cookers, there are hundreds of ways to include the kids when planning your next meal.
When cooking with kids, the fewer ingredients the better, as their attention span is shorter than that of adults. In addition, if you have gadgets to help in the preparation, such as a vegetable chopper or slicer, kids will love getting involved in the process of cooking with crock-pots. Finally, since there are no flames involved, you can rest assured no one will be burned in the process.
Some suggestions for meals involving slow cookers and kids might be spaghetti and meatballs, Sloppy Joes, barbecue chicken wings, Shepherd Pie, Beanie Weenies, chili and the ever popular Macaroni and Cheese. Adding some ham chunks to the Mac and Cheese brings a little more flavor to an already delicious meal!
If the kids want to really impress their parents, toss together some hash browns, eggs, onions, bacon bits and seasonings and set the slow cooker on low before going to bed is a great way to wake up! Add a coffee pot with a timer and the most wonderful aromas will greet you the next morning; all that’s left to do for this breakfast is some toast and jam.
There truly is no easier way to cook than with a slow cooker. Whether it’s pork, chicken or beef, there’s a recipe the kids can make or help with that requires little in the way of preparation and cooking. When preparing one dish meals, as you would with a slow cooker, clean up is a breeze as well, whether you have a dishwasher or not. Hand the kids a scrubber and some dish soap and walk away, at least until you have the time to come behind them and finish cleaning the liner to your crock-pot.
Kids can gain a great sense of accomplishment when you include them in your meal planning, preparation and cooking. Sit down with the kids and let them pick some recipes they’d like to try and have them make a grocery list. When the time comes to go to the grocery store, use this trip as a lesson in frugal and careful shopping, having them check labels and prices when selecting ingredients for their meals.
Teaching your kids to follow recipes and use a crock-pot is a skill that will stay with them for the rest of their life whether it’s your daughter or your son. While cooking with a slow cooker might not be considered “real” cooking, it IS cooking and some extremely tasty meals can come from them. And remember, when you are touting to your friends the wonderful meal your kids made for you with the crock-pot, you are realizing every parents’ dream: you didn’t do the cooking.
The author loves cooking and spending time with the kids. For more ideas on how to spend time with the kids and educate them at the same time, take a look at this further article on Cooking for kids and this interesting one on kids table manners.