It’s never a problem convincing my kids to celebrate. They’re even pretty game for trying new foods. But the non-negotiable part about feeding most small fry is heat: They just don’t like anything spicy. You see where I’m going with this, right? It’s time for a made-over Cinco de Mayo party, one with kids in mind. This collection of delicious recipes is perfect for introducing a flavor blast of fun, without turning your first grader off salsa for life. Check out my tips below for kid-friendly party starters, new twists on taco night and even make-ahead meals you’ll thank yourself for later.
Sides & Starters: Short on time? Not sure if your kids will appreciate a full Mexican meal? Add one of these ideas to your regularly scheduled dinner.
The Pioneer Woman has tons of incredible recipes made for a day like the 5th of May, and this is one of them. Just brown the sausage, add the cheese, skip the jalapeno and enjoy!
I’ve been making this Ina Garten classic for years, since before I even had kids, and now that they’re all avocado converts, I serve it to them, too. Tip: Instead of omitting the onions, chop them big enough for any onion-averse kids to either avoid or just pluck right off their plates.
Our kids recently discovered salsa … and there’s no stopping them now. Starting with diced tomatoes cuts down on the work brilliantly! Consider serving two bowls at your table: one for the kids and one for the adults (full of spicy jalapeno slices).
3 New Taco Ideas: Want to branch out? These family-friendly recipes take basic tacos to the next level.
For a fresh take on taco night, try this hearty steak recipe that comes together in minutes.
Or go in a totally different direction with fish tacos that melt in your mouth, especially when smothered in chipotle cream.
I can’t decide what I like more about this recipe: the fact that it’s a refreshing spin on the smoky, spicy flavors my family already loves, or the fact that our entire meal comes together in 20 minutes.
Make-Ahead Meals: Prep these beauties now, and enjoy them later.
Attention, busy parents: This one’s for you. Throw your ingredients in the slow cooker in the morning and come home to pot of warm, gooey goodness, just begging to be served in a soft flour tortilla.
The best way to incorporate Ree Drummond’s amazing enchiladas into a hectic weeknight is to assemble and parbake them ahead of time. Store the cooled pan in the fridge, where it’ll politely wait for you to heat it up again when you’re ready.
This is the easiest casserole I’ve ever assembled – and possibly the most nutritious! Throw all the ingredients together ahead of time and bake on the 5th. (Bonus: Leftovers work beautifully as lunches for little guys; just reheat and pack in thermos containers.)
This shortcut lasagna is easy enough to make ahead of time or on the spot, but you’ll want to add this idea to your rotation either way, because 934 5-star reviews just don’t lie.
Drinks and Desserts: Skip the spicy Mexican chocolate, and try these tasty alternatives that feature other sweet flavors.
I love the idea of serving a refreshingly crisp, frosty drink like this one to the rascals. Tip: Use a bag of frozen mangos if you can’t find the kind in a jar, and then you’ll be able to skip some of the ice too. #AlmostASmoothie
There are eight ingredients in this sweet and creamy dessert, and three of them are milk. Easy and delicious – my favorite combination!
Charity Curley Mathews is a mother of four small kids who just discovered enchiladas. She’s a contributor to InStyle, eHow and Huffington Post and founder of Foodlets.com, a site about teaching kids to love good food, with simple recipes plus tried-and-true tips for pulling it off. Most of the time.