What comes to mind when you think about cooking Thanksgiving dinner? Hopefully, it isn’t slaving over the stove and trying wistfully to prepare multiple dishes at the same time while everyone else in your family enjoys the Thanksgiving Day parade from a comfortable spot on the couch.
But if that scenario sounds familiar, or even if you’d just like your family to spend more time cooking together, why not use this year’s holiday to shift the focus away from the television and into the kitchen? After all, Thanksgiving is the most food-focused holiday of the year, so it’s a great time to get your family in the habit of cooking together, on Thanksgiving and beyond. If you’re new to the idea, start with these simple tips:
Let everyone weigh in on the recipes: Of course it would be practically sacrilegious to use any recipe other than Grandma’s famous mashed potatoes, but Thanksgiving dinner is also a great time to let kids voice their opinions about the dishes they enjoy most. Letting them weigh in on the menu will also increase your children’s enjoyment of cooking with you, since they’ll feel they played a role in the decision making process. Start by asking for suggestions of what the dishes should be, then take your search to Pinterest or your favorite cookbooks.
Give everyone a specific task: There’s nothing worse than being dragged away from one activity just to feel like you’re not making any real contributions to the new task at hand. Make sure everyone has a specific task, such as getting started on the prep work for their favorite recipe. Check out The Kids Cook Monday’s Kitchen Tasks for Different Age Groups for advice on the types of tasks that are most appropriate for your children’s ages.
Allow time for other activities: With so many hands helping out, cooking should move along quickly, allowing plenty of time for other activities. Make sure your family doesn’t feel like they’re missing out on the parade or an exciting football game by scheduling family cooking around these events. If time allows, see if you can also make time for light exercise like a family walk or sports game together.
Even if your children (and partner!) are initially resistant to the thought of transporting the day’s activities from the couch to the kitchen, chances are they’ll warm up to the idea after a few minutes of cooking together. One day, your children will hopefully cook Thanksgiving dinners of their own and they’ll surely appreciate the memories of cooking your family’s favorites together. Don’t be surprised if they call you for the exact recipe, of course!