Preparing Family Meals Together

Even though some of my favorite family creations happen with my now-adult kids, the roots of these creations began when my kids were little. Giving opportunities for my children to help with meal preparation when they were younger has made my life MUCH EASIER and MUCH MORE FUN when we have family gatherings now.

Start Preparing Meals Together When Your Kids are Little

The easiest way to enjoy family togetherness during meal preparation is to start the habit when your kids are little. My kids started developing food-preparation skills as preschoolers: Favorite Recipes for Preschoolers Are Often the Easiest. Here’s a roundup post with lots of links for helping young children learn food-preparation skills: Montessori-Inspired Food Preparation for Preschoolers.

For family gatherings when my children were preschoolers, I generally did the cooking alone or with any other adults and older children present. My kids participated in the table setting, though. As they grew older, they took on many of the meal-preparation activities for special family meals. (See Homeschool Thanksgiving and my daughter, Christina’s, thoughts.) Along with helping with the food preparation, my son, Will, set the table for each family meal. He even added more special touches than I normally would, such as setting out and lighting candles.

Preparing Family Meals Together as Adults

Deb and Christina in the Kitchen

Deb and Christina in the Kitchen

Will, Christina, and Tom (my son-in-love) just finished a wonderful 4th of July week in Colorado Springs. (Chea, my daughter-in-love, had to coach at a skating competition and couldn’t come on this trip.) During the week, we had opportunities to prepare food together.

It’s common for us to prepare family meals and treats together. Will and Tom typically take part in the food preparation along with Christina and me (and Chea when she’s along, too.) I’m lucky that they’re all good cooks.

There’s nothing like working together in the kitchen preparing meals and baked goods for holidays and special times together. My husband, Terry, doesn’t usually get involved in the cooking part, although he is the official smoothie maker, preparing fruit smoothies for everyone on occasion.

The kids and I all work together to prepare the meal, Will still typically sets the table, and we all clean up together afterwards. I’m thankful I started this tradition early. I never dread family get-togethers. They’re just good excuses to enjoy spending time with my family and working together in the kitchen. :)

This post was written for inclusion in the monthly Carnival of Natural Parenting with the theme Family Creations. This month our participants have shared crafts, recipes, and philosophies of creativity. Please read to the end to find a list of links to the other carnival participants.

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Carnival of Natural Parenting -- Hobo Mama and Code Name: MamaVisit Hobo Mama and Code Name: Mama to find out how you can participate in the next Carnival of Natural Parenting!

Please take time to read the submissions by the other carnival participants:

  • Garden Soup — Bailey finds a way to help momma Katy (from Muse of a Daffodil) in the garden.
  • This One Time, I Tried To Make a Car — Ashley at Domestic Chaos tries once again to make something crafty from stuff around the house.
  • Pin-tastic creative ideas — Lucy at Dreaming Aloud shares how Pinterest is inspiring creativity in her family this summer.
  • Baby Hiccups In The Womb — Alinka at Baby Web shares one of the ways she bonds with her unborn baby.
  • Turtle Mosaics — Lyndsay at ourfeminist{play}school and her little family spend a quiet hour making a turtle mosaic inspired by the work of Melanie Mikecz.
  • Edible Art Plus 8 Art Supply Recipes — Jennifer at Hybrid Rasta Mama shares some natural, chemical-free art supply alternatives, which are gauranteed to be tons of fun for children of all ages. They taste great too!
  • A surprise art lesson — Tat at Mum in search has been taking art lessons from her 5-year-old son.
  • Memory Creation — Laura from Pug in the Kitchen talks about how her family aims to create as many memories as they can as a family.
  • A Picture is Worth A Thousand Words — Melissa at Momma Beer tries to replace cars with crafts.
  • My Creative Family: Sometimes Messy, Always Fun — Emily at S.A.H.M i AM embraces the messes that sometimes accompany creative play but admits you don’t always have to get dirty to have fun.
  • Fun Family Learning: Constellation Cave Tutorial — Abbie at Farmer’s Daughter gives step-by-step instructions for building a fun new twist on a cardboard box playhouse.
  • Cooking… Kind Of — ANonyMous at Radical Ramblings makes pizza with her daughter, hoping to inspire a love of cooking and encourage a bigger interest in food. As well as making mess and having lots of fun, of course!
  • Crockpot Refried BeansThat Mama Gretchen‘s family loves to experiment with new recipes, and today she’s sharing a kitchen success!
  • Creating Memories — Andrea at Tales of Goodness reflects on how the best creations can emerge from just letting kids be kids.
  • Making Beautiful Things … And Sometimes Just Average-Looking Ones — Tamara at Tea for Three looks for ways to add more craft and creativity into every day family life.
  • Making Fruit Leather Together — When Amy Willa at Me, Mothering, and Making it All Work took some time to involve her children in the process of finally trying a fruit leather recipe stored on her Pinterest food board, she got more than just a scrumptious homemade snack as a result!

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