Let's Make Meatballs!

Kids love to make easy delicious meatballs.

By Barbara Albright

 Children love to make meatballs -- and they love to eat them, too. Plus, they are a great way to teach kids cooking skills.

Meatballs turn a ho-hum spaghetti dinner into a big deal. When spooned over a hard roll, they make a tasty hot sandwich.

Assemble the Equipment and Ingredients
Teach the kids to assemble the equipment -- bowls, utensils, pans, paper towels -- before they begin. This way, they won't be searching for them later.

The same goes for the ingredients. Not only is it a good idea to put all the ingredients on the countertop, it's an even better idea to prep and arrange them in the order in which they are used.

Measure and chop the tomatoes, oil, onions, ground beef, bread crumbs and so forth. Put the food in small cups, bowls, and on plates on the countertop -- now you're ready to cook!

Kid-Friendly Tips
Meatballs are great for kids -- their diminutive size is ideal for small hands. Young children develop small motor skills making meatballs. Older ones learn how to season and cook "real" food.

Kitchen scissors are useful for cutting canned tomatoes into smaller pieces. Use them, too, to snip fresh herbs.

Let the kids crush dried herbs with their fingertips.

A garlic press is a safe alternative to a knife. Youngsters like to squeeze the garlic in the gizmo -- it's fun.

Let the older kids chop the onions, or do it yourself.

You can substitute ground pork, sweet or spicy Italian sausage, ground turkey or ground chicken for the beef.

It's a good idea to mix these ground meats with beef (a third to half the amount) because the beef adds needed moisture. In the case of ground chicken, which tends to be very wet, it provides needed stability.

Make extra meatballs and freeze them in a single layer on a baking sheet. When solid, transfer to a tightly lidded container and freeze for up to a month.

Toss meatballs still frozen into the hot pasta sauce when you cook it, or heat them in a hot skillet and serve them plain.

Meatball Meals
These meatballs can be added to store-bought spaghetti sauce as well as to the mild homemade version we offer here. Vary the pasta - or serve these over rolls.

When kids help make a meal, they usually are excited to eat it.