Kids in the Kitchen? Make Meatballs!

I'm a Chipper MomYou may have felt it last night in the grocery store (if you were one of the lucky few living in a climate that welcomed you outside) – the lines were long and shelves seemed short on the necessary items that make for a good lunch and an easy family meal. Everyone is settling into the New Year and back to routines. For many of us, today is the first day back to school and back to a full workweek which might have you feeling frazzled and we’re barely a week in to 2014.

But rather than stress, I say have a ball! A meatball…and welcome the week with a hearty meal that only tastes better with each passing day. The meatball is versatile – from topping Old Smokey covered with cheese to sliced and slathered with sauce in a sub sandwich; it’s a great, easy opportunity to get a head start on your weekly meal planning.

Making meatballs is also a great opportunity to welcome your kids into the kitchen. It may seem messy to think about but you keep everything contained in the bowl, sauté in one pot, and just wash up when finished.

A few quick tips then let’s get ready to roll:

1. Children under Five – Little hands make big messes so pre-measure and let your kids pour ingredients into the bowl. Also, if you have concerns over your child touching a raw meat product, use spoons to mix ingredients then form with minimal touching.

2. Children Five and older – Pull out the recipe and read together. Let your child help you identify the ingredients, and help you measure.

3. Children Eight and older – Let your child read and direct the cooking process. Don the aprons and begin. This age is perfect for getting into the mix and rolling, to engaging at the stove and cooking.

4. All ages – It goes without saying but I’ll say it: Be mindful of the stove, teach your children appropriate safety at the burner, how to handle boiling water, keeping your space clean, and proper physical clean up. Safety in the kitchen is a daily discipline and when you start early it becomes intuitive.

We take the Mary Poppins’ approach in our family when cooking – “practically perfect in every way…” – so we don’t mind the imperfections. We love this scratch recipe but I welcome the savvy chef whom knows when to call in a little help from pre-made. FYI, you can find ready-made meatballs and sauce at the market which makes boiling water the biggest task. 


Meatballs in Sauce with Spaghetti (or your favorite noodle) Courtesy of The Fannie Farmer Cookbook

• 1 pound ground beef

• ½ cup dried bread crumbs

• 1 clove garlic, minced

• 2 tablespoons minced parsley

• 1 tablespoon basil, crumbled

• 1 egg, lightly beaten

• ½ teaspoon salt

• ¼ teaspoon freshly ground pepper

• 2 tablespoons oil

• 4 cups Tomato sauce (make or pour your favorite brand)

• ½ pound parmesan cheese, grated (or shake your favorite from the container)

• 1 package spaghetti


In a bowl, combine the beef, bread crumbs, garlic, parsley, basil, egg, salt, and pepper. Mix thoroughly and shape into balls. Big or little, it doesn’t matter. Melt the oil in a saucepan and brown the meatballs on all sides – lightly. Drain off any fat. Add your tomato sauce, cover and simmer up to 25 minutes.

Boil your water and prepare pasta according to package. Serve meatballs and sauce over pasta and sprinkle with cheese.

Here is the recipe for the Fanny Farmer sauce if you choose to go homemade.  

Remember, twice as good the second day and share you’re favorite meatball recipe!

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  1. […] Make Mealtime Matter – At least once a week, join together in the kitchen be it breakfast or dinner and then connect as a family at the table. See if you can make it a daily occurrence by the end of the year. Remember our Meatball Monday? […]

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