I think I have more food traditions tied up in Valentine’s Day then any other holiday (Christmas included!). First, I don’t cook–it’s like Mother’s Day. I don’t clean up either (notice a trend?). And finally, no matter what we have for dinner, for dessert my husband makes crepes. He makes them just once a year and Valentine’s Day happens to be it.

Unlike me, he doesn’t use a recipe book but takes a peek at ingredients online and then judges whether he’s got the batter right by checking the thickness. Then he makes a filling with a combination of bittersweet chocolate, pecans, almonds, coconut, honey, and whatever else he happens to find tucked in the back of the kitchen cabinets. Then he serves it topped with fresh whipped cream.

See, now you’re getting why we only have this once a year.

Well this year I’m going to try to let him concentrate on his crepes and let my kids take over the main meal. They’re actually pretty excited about this (my oldest mentioned something about tying it into the Chinese New Year, my youngest just loves any excuse to throw on her little apron).

But I’m going to try to make it easy on them. I want them to feel good about what they make. I’ve been brainstorming a recipe ideas that only take a few ingredients. Here’s a few ideas from our house, I’d love to hear some of yours too!


Ingredients= noodles, Italian sausage, 2 jars marinara

I always make my spaghetti sauce in the crockpot. I’ll brown the Italian sausage over the stovetop until it’s cooked through and then put it in the slow cooker along with the marinara. I set it on low for the day and the sauce takes on this rich, restaurant-worthy flavor. I think my kids can handle cooking noodles and then scooping out the sauce.

Asian wraps

Ingredients=Ground turkey + Boston lettuce + teriyaki sauce

This meal is easy to throw together. You just need to brown the ground turkey (job for the 12 y-o), add in the teriyaki sauce and then serve it on the lettuce pieces. If you don’t have a little person old enough to be at the stovetop you could brown the meat for her or you could use a purchased rotisserie chicken and have her mix in the sauce. Of course, everyone likes washing-lettuce duty.

Caesar salad

Ingredients=Romaine lettuce + salad dressing + grated Parmesan cheese

For a non-cooked meal, Caesar salad happen to be my favorite. Your kids can take care of washing the lettuce, pouring on the dressing and grating the cheese. If you want you can add croutons or even pieces of leftover chicken.

There are other ways to make the day fun for your whole family–while not spending a bundle. Check out these suggestions for Love on a Budget from Parents. I’ve been looking through the site as part of the Motherboard team. Once a week, I’ll be posting about the exciting things not to miss on the their site, and their affiliates.

Your turn–any creative ideas (simple recipes) that your kids can make for Valentine’s Day?

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