Hey! It’s Markell here again from A Mouse in My Kitchen. For those of you who don’t know me yet, I thought I should take a minute to introduce myself. I am a stay at home mommy of two little kids. My oldest is not quite two and the youngest is 10 months. I love my kids and my husband and I am so glad that I get the opportunity to stay home and take care of them. I spend a lot of my day trying to help my kids have the best day possible. When I’m not doing that, I blog. One of the things I blog about the most is cooking. Because of this, I have a lot of people ask me how I have the time to blog, make so much delicious food, and take care of my kids! Let me tell you, it’s hard work. One of the hardest things is cooking the food with kids hanging onto both legs. At first, it was hard. There were a lot of times that my family was lucky to have anything for dinner at all. Over the two years that I have been a mom, I have been able to come up with a few tricks to make things a little easier. I thought that I would share them with you in this post!
Cook while the kids are napping
There are a lot of recipes that will allow you to cook most or all of the meal before you actually have to cook it. I like to do all the prep work (cutting veggies, browning meat, etc) while the kids are asleep. I look at whatever recipe I am going to use that day and do anything that I can do before hand. Sometimes this saves me a lot of time when it comes time for dinner; sometimes it only saves me a few minutes.
Let the kids help
My little guy loves to help cook. He is a pro at pouring things into bowls and even cracking eggs. This is great when you are mixing things into bowls, not so great when there is a hot stove involved. Just be sure to be careful around hot things and sharp things.
Have a toy drawer
I got this idea from my mom. You know those toys you get in happy meals the kids like to play with for about thirty seconds? All of those that we ever got went into a drawer in the kitchen. Then, when my mom was trying to put together dinner, she would open the drawer and we would have some awesome entertainment. I carried on this tradition by having a drawer full of canning rings and cookie cutters. My kids love them.
Cook after they go to bed
Once a week, my husband and I like to make a meal together after the kids are asleep. It is sort of our in home date night. I will make something easy for the kids like mac and cheese, and then cook a “real” meal after they are asleep. It gives me some time to cook in peace. I have found that it is relaxing for me and it is a good bonding time for me and my husband.
Give them food
This one is obviously a last resort in my home, but sometimes you gotta do what you gotta do! This is especially true if I am a little late getting dinner made and my kids are hungry. My husband is still going to want a decent meal, but my kids just want food, and they want it now. Since they are still so little, instead of making them wait until dinner is ready, I will give them a small snack. Sometimes it’s just a handful of cheerios in the high chair or a graham cracker. Other times I make them a sandwich and call it dinner. It just depends on how late it is and how hungry they are. I don’t like my kids to be in the habit of snacking before dinner though so I try to keep this to a minimum.
Keep them busy
If you are making a meal that your kids just can’t help with, or if you are afraid that they would get hurt if they did try to help, another good thing to do is to put them in a safe place (like a high chair) and get them started in an activity. One thing I do sometimes is save eggshells for a few days and let my little guy play with them.
So, as a recap, some tips for cooking with kids are:
- cook while the kids are napping
- let the kids help
- have a toy drawer
- cook after the kids are in bed
- give the kids a snack
- keep the kids busy
Those are my ideas! What kinds of things do you guys do to make cooking easier?