Get Your Kids In The Kitchen To Transform Meal Prep Into Quality Family Time

Families are the busiest they've ever been, and time is at a premium. With work, school, extracurricular activities and schedules bursting at the seams, it can feel nearly impossible to fit in frequent, uninterrupted family time – and that's before making dinner every night. In fact, according to a recent Pew Research Center report, more than half (56 percent) of all working parents say the balancing act is difficult. It's all about making the most of your time together and what better way to connect than in the kitchen.

Here are a few of my favorite tips for getting a helping hand during mealtime prep and even more quality time with your kiddos!

Menu Planner

Sit down together once a week to make the grocery list with your children – and let them have a say in one of the meals! Avoid any sibling squabbles by letting each child get their one weekly pick. Encourage your kids to make healthier choices by re-creating a homemade version of some of their favorite dishes with better-for-you ingredients. For example, if they request chicken nuggets and French fries, purchase boneless skinless chicken tenders to make at home.

Check out the Tropical Chicken and Juicy Apple Chicken recipes for inspiration!

Give them a Job!

Make mealtime prep fun and bring the kids into the kitchen to help. Maybe it's stirring the sauce while singing their favorite song, or getting certain ingredients out from the fridge and lining them up on the countertop so they are easily accessible for you to get. Have them use measuring cups and spoons for any liquids, seasonings or spices. And don't be afraid if there's a little spill or mess, it happens with those little hands!

Quick and Easy Recipes

I'm all about finding recipes your family enjoys that don't take a ton of time. If the prep is quick and easy, your kids can help out after homework is done – plus, it leaves you with more time to enjoy the evening together instead of waiting for water to boil. Slow cooker meals are a huge time saver. An easy and tasty recipe that is kid approved is the Sweet and Sour Slow Cooker Meatballs. Pair with a veggie!

Don't Forget the Cleanup!

But don't make it a chore! I'm a firm believer that everyone in the family should pitch in with cleanup even from an early age. Instead of just assigning tasks, make the most of this precious time by playing a game as you go – perhaps it's a round of "Would you Rather?" (such as: would you rather live in space or under the sea?). Start a rhyme or dream up your next big adventure. Just have fun, and enjoy the extra quality time with your kids! And don't make chores repetitive. Some nights it might be setting the table and the next it could be doing the dishes. With more than one child, alternate their chores so they aren't doing the same thing every night.

What are your favorite ways to enjoy Family Time in the kitchen? Share with us on social @JuicyJuiceUSA.

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