My kids are growing up. It’s such a bittersweet realization. Bunny and Fuzz have really shot up and changed their looks in recent years.
I sometimes struggle with an awkward mix of pride and tears when I look at them, a feeling of maternal pride and thankfulness for the sweet young ladies that I see developing and at the same time, a welling up of a mother’s tears that her babies—her first ones—are no more.
I’m definitely getting the hang of smiling and crying simultaneously. It can be done.
Hubs and I are wanting to do our utmost to raise mature and responsible young people. Young adults who are hard workers, honest, intelligent, prepared, and above all else, love God with all of their heart.
All of these are vital, but did you happen to see that one little word up there? The “p” word? Yes, prepared.
We are working on preparing them with not only the skills that are necessary to succeed in life, but also with the tasks that are fundamental to life itself. The bare bones of living.
In the instance of today’s post, it’s called eating.
Both of our older girls are now getting quite the list of things that they can make on their own. They love cooking and baking in the kitchen, and I have enjoyed working with them as they mastered each culinary skill (cracking eggs isn’t as easy as it may look). Many, sweet memories have been made at our kitchen counter and it certainly makes this mama heart smile as they dish up their “own” creations at dinner time. And to be bluntly honest, I’m also enjoying the occasional evening off.
Here’s a list of meals that your daughters (and sons!) should be able to cook. This list is made up of meals that are free of knives and boiling water. Sure, my girls are learning these skills and are certainly capable of making some of them, such as spaghetti. However, the following meals are ones that I don’t need to worry about being on hand constantly and am free to come and go from the kitchen during the process. The girls can make these meals completely on their own from start to finish.
Note: These are simply an assortment of simple meal ideas that would be great for little beginners in your kitchen. I have included the basic steps for each meal to demonstrate the simplicity of the meals, please keep in mind that this is not a list of recipes. I may eventually do a post on each of these meals some day. For now, this is a post to help inspire you as a parent to begin preparing your older children for the road ahead. I hope that it will inspire you to either create your own list of simple favorite meals to pass to the next generation or even to build off of my own. Enjoy.
1. Scrambled Eggs and Bacon
Cracking eggs. From the time that they were just little tots standing on a kitchen chair by my side, my kids have always been fascinated by the cracking of eggs. Well, they have since found out that it is not as easy as it looks. Once this skill is mastered, scrambled eggs is a breeze. Fuzz, my eight year old, can make them just as good as I can. We bake our bacon on parchment paper in the oven. (and it typically doesn’t require flipping over.) If you wish, you could have them call for you to remove the bacon from the oven for them. (if you are worried about grease) The bacon takes longer than the eggs, so this is a perfect dinner to begin teaching them about timing your dishes so that the entire meal is hot and finished at the same time.
Pancakes require very few ingredients and are easy to make in a pinch. All of my kids love them, so we have them for dinner occasionally (we try to make enough for leftovers for breakfast the next morning too). Flipping the pancakes can be challenging at first, but they will get the hang of it quickly.
3. Baked Potatoes
These are so easy and filling. Simply scrub, pierce with a fork, rub with some sea salt, wrap in foil and bake. Even though I may sometimes remove the potatoes with a potholder, an oven mitt is easier—especially for them. This is great meal to have them prepare with any leftover bacon from breakfast or or to even top with crockpot chili. Or if you’d prefer, steamed broccoli is delicious as a side to complete this as a meatless meal.
4. Grilled Cheese and Tomato Soup
A little butter and organic cheese taste wonderful on toasted whole wheat bread. The hardest part, like the pancakes, will be the flipping of the sandwich for them, but as my girls have learned, practice does help. As far as the tomato soup goes, simply dump in pot and heat only until warm. (No danger with handling boiling liquids here.)
5. Crockpot Chili
Chili in the crockpot is a no brainer and such an easy meal for beginners. We use ground venison in the place of ground beef for our recipes. These are frozen into one pound packs which makes it easy for my girls to know how much meat they need. They simply drop the meat into the crockpot to brown for an hour or two and then mash the cooked ground meat to break and crumble it up. Then it’s just a matter of adding the remaining chili ingredients, stirring and letting the crockpot do it’s magic.
Have them set out the meat to fully thaw (or if you are in a pinch, the microwave does work…we refrain from using it if we can). Combine all ingredients for your favorite meatloaf recipe and have them mix well. If you don’t mind, have them wash and rinse their hands thoroughly and mix the meatloaf mixture with their hands before shaping into a loaf or miniloaves. (Obviously teach them to wash their hands thoroughly AFTER this technique as well BEFORE touching anything). Bake as instructed.
Simply brown ground beef in pan (venison doesn’t need draining as it is very lean…so no grease worries) and 1/8 cup of our homemade taco seasoning with some water. Turn heat to low while they bake the shells for a few minutes in the oven and set out desired toppings. Tomatoes can be avoided if you have a “no knife” rule for right now and lettuce can be washed and torn or both veggies can be left off of the menu. Simple, easy and safe is the motto for new cooks.
8. Pepperoni Rolls
This is not the healthiest meal on the planet, but it does taste great. Set out a one pound loaf of frozen bread dough. As your dough is thawing, the butter and seasoning mixture can be prepared. Roll out the dough and brush with butter. Spread with pepperoni slices and sprinkle with cheese. Roll as a jelly roll. Cover and let rise for 30 minutes. Brush top with a bit more butter and bake. This is so quick and easy (and it freezes beautifully).
9. Bacon-Wrapped BBQ Chicken
Wow. This is certainly a family favorite. Wrap chicken with bacon and bake. When both the bacon and chicken are nearly done (show them how to check to see if meat is done), top with BBQ sauce and even a bit of shredded cheese if you’d like. Bake just a few minutes more.
This is my all time favorite BBQ recipe.
10. Beans and Cornbread
Does this ever bring back memories of my childhood! We would occasionally feast on beans and cornbread doused with a generous squirt of ketchup. Believe it or not, I actually looked forward to my slice of sweet cornbread with a heaping spoon of pinto beans poured over it. While my mom typically prepped from dried beans, warming up canned lentils of your choice may be easier or perhaps grabbing a bag of precooked beans from the freezer would be a can free (and boil free) option for your young cooks. Quickly mix up a ban of cornbread and bake at the same time that the beans are heating and you are all set. This is another meatless, yet nutritious option to incorporate into your menu rotation.
There you have it. A simple list of 10 easy meals your daughter can cook.
And if all else fails and Mom needs a helping hand or is sick, PB & J sandwiches or cold cereal works well in a pinch. Both of these quick meals tend to be HUGE hits around our house, at least where the kids are concerned.
Raising older children? Are you doing anything to help prepare them for the future? It’s not always something that we like to think about. Young adulthood comes before we know it.