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Lori Gard Headshot

All Moms and Dads Must Know About 'The Casserole Card'

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So...let's talk about one of the best kept secrets that the parenting advice books will never touch on in their slick columns, and that is the art of pulling "the casserole card."

One of the greatest weapons in my arsenal of combat tactics, tricks and other such knick-knacks is this infamous casserole card trick. Whenever something special is about to happen, like a trip to an amusement park, a movie night or when special guests are about to arrive, I play the casserole card to my sole advantage.

How it works is this: I save all the gross leftovers that somehow never made it to the end of the line, and I create a dream concoction that I like to refer to as "the BIG surprise." The BIG surprise, a time-saver which saves me from making a brand new meal, is usually a mixture of a little of this and a lot of that and it all goes into one big dish (and a few smaller ones) that I serve up with gusto right before we are about to have a BOATLOAD of fun. I will swear to the grave that the BIG surprise is not really just decaying compost that hasn't quite made it to the bin yet.

Double pinkie-swear.

If I was to serve this delectable delight on a night other than which we were about to have the TIME OF OUR LIVES, it certainly would not fly. Everyone would balk at its grossness. There would be copious amounts of throw-up in all the Littles' mouths. Even I would stealthily try to dump my plate into the compost bin as I was diligently "cleaning-up" the dishes.

However, all this changes when we are about to embark on an EXCITING adventure.

Tonight, the "cousins" are arriving home from North Carolina. This is the highlight of some of our summer. It is akin to the Easter Bunny, Santa Claus and the Tooth Fairy all arriving in the same night. Everyone is STOKED. And most are willing to trade in their left lung (or half their taste buds) in order to spend the evening with them.

So I can, at long last, pull out 'the surprise' casserole/ensemble of mouth-watering dishes and serve them all up for our last meal together before the long-awaited "cousins" visit.

Which is exactly what I did for lunch today.

Here's the menu: we had a little leftover spaghetti sauce/chilli/sloppy joe meat that served me quite well for the last number of meals. We had the burned sausages which I de-tubed, crumbled and then added to leftover potatoes. It became a lovely 'farmer's hash'. I served up the three leftover chicken cordon bleu and chicken kiev that were remaining from Son's birthday supper and we had the thirty or so leftover green beans (covered in my late grandmother's fashion in a little white pudding dish) along with two rolls which we broke communion style. A colourful array of goodness that was all possible because...THE COUSINS ARE COMING!!

Whenever a child says, "Ew.....this is gross!!" I just smile and say sweetly, "You want to see the cousins, now don't you?" Works like a charm. Or, if they start to consider what they are eating and balk at cleaning their plate, I just have to demurely say the word 'cousins' and they reconsider.

It is one of my best-kept secrets as a mother in getting my children to eat what I dish up.

About halfway through lunch, I suggested we were going to also have QUICHE for supper. (Cue the sad faces and forlorn expressions all around the table.)

(magic word)........"COUSINS!!!!"..........

Every speck of food- gone. Just like that.

The casserole card...there's really nothing like it. Makes these crazy, wonderful, special days on which we embark on great adventures some of my most 'favourit-est' days ever.

*(Added bonus: my fridge has never been cleaner.)