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Special Time, Part 2: Meal Prep with My Boys

In my previous post, I wrote about the boys' monthly "special half hours." Another part of that special time happens earlier in the evening. On the same day that our son gets to stay up later to spend special time with my husband and me, he also prepares dinner with me.

What cookbooks do we use?

My mother-in-law gave us a kid-friendly cookbook, New Junior Cookbook by Better Homes and Gardens. (She found it at Ollie's.) The recipes are crowd-pleasing and simple enough for my kiddos to do most of the work. I also appreciate that they are mostly healthy options, or can be made healthier with simple substitutions! The recipes all consist of typical ingredients that I have readily available at home or can find easily in the store. I liked it so much that I purchased another version on Amazon. (See picture below. I preferred the recipes in the cookbook purchased by my MIL, the 2018 version, which is on the bottom of the pile.)

Each category of meals (breakfast, lunch, dinner, snacks, desserts) has a different theme. My boys have especially enjoyed choosing meals from the sports themes! Some of these sports-related recipe titles include "Pork & Noodle Super Bowl," "Bases Loaded Sheet-Pan Dinner," and "Stromboli World Cups." However, my third-born, sweet-toothed, picky-eating son will always choose a savory breakfast item. In the 2018 version, these are superhero-themed, like "French Toast Sabers with Jam Dipping Sauce" and "Secret-Identity Pancakes." Even these sweet dishes include healthier ingredients of whole wheat flour and flaxseeds!

How is my son involved in the meal prep?

Before my weekly grocery shopping, I have my son pick out a recipe that he wants to prepare for dinner. He helps me make the shopping list. On his special Friday, he helps me cook and serve the meal. He sets the table. He prays before we eat.

What are the benefits?

So much good comes from this simple idea!

  • I get extra special time with my son. We laugh and talk as we cook!

  • My son learns practical food preparation skills, including make a grocery list, reading a recipe, measuring ingredients, cooking, and setting the table.

  • The boys all learn gratitude and good manners. (They have discovered how much it hurts when someone doesn't like the food you have prepared, and so they have learned to extend kindness and appreciation to the chef.)

  • They get excited for this, and they love revealing the "surprise" meal they have made.

  • We have discovered some new favorite recipes. We have gotten to try new dishes, and I have truly liked every single one they have chosen. It gets me out of the rut of cooking my go-to meals.

  • Anyone else despise meal planning? Seriously, I believe it is my least favorite and most time-consuming task. This is one less meal that I have to plan! It's like I have a day off on Fridays!

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