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Hey, Mom! I'll Start Dinner! - a review & giveaway

There are 2 Giveaways at the end of this post! Be sure to check them out!

The idea of kids helping in the kitchen has been in the news lately. It seems parents are wising up to the importance of teaching children to cook. The trend to protect our children against All The Things may finally coming back around to a balanced point of view. The idea of handing a six year old a knife might seem a bit scary, but looks as if the benefits far outweigh the risks. And in this age of busy families, it is a beautiful time for children to enjoy that sense of accomplishment and joy that comes from serving others. Another added benefit is the opportunity to gather around a table together, as a family, to enjoy the fruits of their labor.

My sons are teens and are excellent cooks. My daughters are 8 and 10 years old and I have had a hard time admitting to myself that they are growing up. They are the "babies" and I am realizing more and more that I am not giving them enough age-appropriate tasks. They seem much younger than my boys did at that age. Cooking is something they have wanted to do on their own, but I never quite trusted them with the kitchen all to themselves. Cherilyn Dahlsten provided me with a copy of her new book "Hey Mom, I'll start Dinner" and my girls have amazed me with their culinary talents.

This book is large, though not thick, and easy to read. It is full of colorful pictures and instructions. The book contains 40 recipes, and of those, 24 are gluten free. The recipes are divided between Beginner recipes and Intermediate recipes.

It might not have been the best plan, but I let my girls dive right into the intermediate section. Being new to independently cooking, they took forever and a day to complete preparations. Once they were finished, the wait was well worth it.

So far, they have made Ham and Split Pea Soup, Grilled Ham and Cheese sandwiches, Homemade Tomato Soup, and Meatloaf with Baked Potatoes.

I can't believe I had myself convinced they weren't ready to work solo. They did a fabulous job! The meals were all delicious (though the girls felt the split pea soup was just "okay".) The recipes also helped us realize now much my girls need to work on following instructions and paying attention. Following recipes make for excellent life lessons. They forgot to read all of the instructions once, which required starting over. They forgot to gather all of their ingredients once, which delayed their cooking quite a bit when it was discovered we didn't have all of the ingredients...halfway through the mixing. They do tend to dawdle and get distracted, but they also tend to get hungry, which is motivating them to try to focus better so they can eat sooner.

Meatloaf has long been my family's favorite meal. I had a great recipe that we all loved. This recipe replaced our old favorite. It took our girls an entire hour to work through the preparations that should have taken 10 minutes, but even though we ate a very late lunch that day, it was well worth the wait. We did change one thing. The recipe called for plain tomato sauce to be used as the sole topping, which....ewww. We mixed ketchup and brown sugar instead. Other than that, this is a 5 star recipe. All thumbs up!

After the meatloaf was finished, it made for excellent leftovers! The girls made meatloaf sandwiches for lunch today and they were as big a hit as the meatloaf itself.

This example from our book shows how the recipes are set up. Ingredients and Steps are for the child. Night Before notes are for the parents. There are also notes on how to adapt the Intermediate recipes for Beginners. Each recipe also includes full color pictures of the finished results and suggestions for easy side dishes the children can do on their own. There are also notes from the author's sons, sharing their thoughts and tips for each recipe.

You can check out a sample of the colorful cookbook before buying your own copy. You can also enter my giveaway for a free copy of your own! Here are 2 giveaways. The first is my giveaway for a free copy of this book. The second is a much bigger giveaway for lots of fun things. Feel free to join both!

Giveaway #1

Giveaway #2


  1. My favorite meal is anything that can be made in the crockpot ;) And I subscribed to your email updates and am following this blog now!

  2. Taco Soup is our favorite quick meal! Ammon was making it when he was only 7 yrs. old! Can you believe I never knew about it until after I was married?! Sure glad I found it!


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