One of the many reasons pasta is a great weeknight meal is that it’s easy to prepare. In fact, according to Diana Rice, The Kids Cook Monday’s registered dietitian, pasta is a great introductory meal to get kids cooking: “Pasta is among my all-time favorite meals to cook with kids. I love how it’s a quick, healthy meal that’s easy to pack with veggies. There are so many steps kids can help out with when making pasta and that really helps inspire them to eat the final meal. Not that many kids need much convincing to eat pasta, of course!”
Diana offers a few tips for how you can get kids involved and excited about cooking for pasta night:
- Think beyond “macaroni and cheese” or “spaghetti with sauce”. Use your child’s enthusiasm for these meals as a jumping off point for recipes that will expand his or her palette. Consider using macaroni shells in a minestrone soup or tomato sauce to marry spaghetti with a new vegetable.
- Most pasta recipes are easy to customize. Participating in this process is exciting to kids, so take a look at the recipe you’re cooking and see how you can “make it yours.” Ask if the kids would like to swap out any of the vegetables or use a certain pasta shape or kind of cheese.
- Safety first. Make sure your kids are a safe distance away when you are adding pasta to boiling water or draining the cooked pasta. Consider investing in a pasta insert for your stock pot to make draining easier.
- Safe steps for kids to complete include chopping vegetables with a child-friendly knife, measuring the dry pasta, breaking spaghetti before an adult adds it to the pot, taste-testing a cooled piece of pasta to see if it’s “al dente,” mixing cooked pasta with sauce and other ingredients and sprinkling cheese on top.
By utilizing these tips, you can help your little ones help make a meal that’s good for them and that they’ll be proud of!
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