As we move further into the fall season, there comes a perfect opportunity for utilizing a crockpot or creating one-pot meals. More so, if your kids are old enough, it gives them the chance to help out whenever you’re meal prepping. This is exceedingly important to provide these moments together, especially when the school year can limit how much time is available beyond school hours.
With our kiddos back in school this year (after homeschooling for two years), they’ve dived into Scouts, a running club, and maintaining busy schedules with homework, playing outside, seeing friends, or just needing downtime to relax from all of the hustle and bustle. When the dust settles, there seems to be less time for the family to have together.
Is cooking in the kitchen fun for the kids?
Yes, I play games with both kids as often as possible. Yes, we sit down and talk about our days or have time together in the same room; we might read, do activities on the computer, listen to music, or any combination of those things. But one thing our kids often ask about is helping in the kitchen.
Can I cut those veggies? Can I stir the pot? Do you need any help?
Both Marshall and Adelaide are very persistent when it comes to helping. They love to help around the house, especially if it involves making food, and the fall season gives us plenty of these moments. If Meghan or I are preparing some kind of meal, there’s a 90% chance one or both kids will ask to lend a hand. As a parent, even if there isn’t anything for them to do, because I might only be reheating a previously prepped meal that’s been frozen, I love seeing their desire to be helpful.
Cutting veggies or shredding cheese is something they enjoy doing. Kids appreciate having that responsibility with a sharp knife, because they know we’re trusting them with using it safely. Shredding cheese gives them the perfect excuse to, well, eat cheese. Yes, part of cooking is definitely getting to taste test.
Quick side note and recommendation: Whenever you open a new bag of potato chips (or any kind of chips), always let your kids “taste test” them first. Even if they’re going onto their plates for lunch, it’s something fun that allows them to get an extra chip or two from the bag. So, if they’re shredding cheese or cutting fruit or veggies, it lets them know it’s okay to have some.
What Does Fall Cooking Do for the Kids?
The crockpot is our best friend. Or if you don’t need something to cook all day, piling everything into one single pot is a great way to have the kiddos lend a helping hand. The biggest idea behind using a crockpot or single pot, beyond it being convenient, is it lets kids have more exposure to multi-tasking.
If you’re cooking a type of three-bean chili, with tons of veggies incorporated into the mix, your kids will start to understand how everything doesn’t have to be done all at once. They can cut up some veggies, like onion or celery, toss it into the pain to start simmering. As that’s cooking, they might open and drain some cans of beans and corn. Perhaps, they have to stir around the veggies a little bit longer than usual, because one of them does not like “crunchy” onions.
Sautéing the vegetables is a fun way for them to get some experience around a stovetop, while also having them manage what’s going on in and around the kitchen. Meghan does an amazing job at using ingredients she’s familiar with and putting stuff together to make something great. With the kids helping her in the kitchen, because let’s be honest, Meghan is the Top Chef in our household, our kids get to experience her versatility firsthand, and maybe that rubs off on them down the road.
If you’re looking for meals to have your kids take over, the fall season is perfect for that. Pull out that crockpot, use your recipe books, or pull some recipes from Pinterest. Some go-to meals where my kids love to help, include crockpot black beans, three-bean chili, or even some simpler recipes like sloppy joes, crockpot chicken pot pie, barbecue or salsa chicken.
The point of highlighting fall seasonal cooking is to emphasize some extra time we can spend together. Even if there’s not a lot to do when making these crockpot or one-pot meals, there’s still time to share those moments together. Perhaps you talk about your days, share ideas for other recipes, or simply talk about things we might want to do in the future.
These moments together (I hope) let our kids know they have value beyond being our most favorite persons in the whole-wide world. It lets them feel included, useful, and it perhaps further allows them to be more comfortable in the spaces we all use (aka our home), and maybe that continues to make communication easier down the road too.
Do you use a crockpot or one single pot for meals in the fall? Do you have special recipes your kids love to help with? Share your thoughts in the comments below!
Until next time, happy parenting and happy geeking.