Tonight Mary Grace got her first lesson in cooking dinner by herself! She got to choose the menu. Then we went to the grocery store together to buy the things we didn't already have. She even paid for the groceries without my help. (Well.....she did use my money to pay. But she did the paying herself.)
She decided she wanted to have spaghetti and fruit salad. She wanted to make the spaghetti sauce from scratch like I do. I did have her start with one jar of spaghetti sauce that we bought. I thought that might be a little bit easier for her since she's just learning. Then she added ground beef and spices to make it taste more "homemade." We have our own little herb garden on our front porch, so she cut some fresh basil and oregano for the sauce. We washed it, dried it, and then Mary Grace carefully cut it into tiny little pieces. (She loves cutting things up!)
After that, she took a can of sliced carrots, mashed them up really well, and added them to the sauce. We like to add mashed carrots to our spaghetti sauce. It adds a little bit of sweetness, and it gets another veggie in there too.
Then she added some powdered garlic and onion (The kids don't like chunks of onion and garlic, so we usually used powdered.) to the sauce and mixed it all up and let it simmer. It smelled so good!
After the sauce was ready, she got the noodles going while she made the fruit salad. She wanted it to look really pretty, so she carefully arranged some mandarin oranges on each little plate, put half of a pear in the middle, added two pieces of mint for a garnish, and put a fresh strawberry on top to make it look (and taste!) even better.
The meal was definitely a success! Everything tasted great, and she was so proud that she had cooked it almost completely by herself. (Of course I closely supervised her.) She wants to start cooking dinner once a week, and I'm all for that! I think I'm going to have my son start cooking one night a week too. He's 15, so he's plenty old enough to start cooking once a week. It'll be good experience for him, and one day his wife will thank me!
Do you have your children help cook or let them have nights when they are responsible for cooking the meal? I'd love some suggestions for quick and easy meals. If your kids don't help out with meals, how old do you think they should be before they do?