Kids for Dinner and Slow Cooker Spaghetti Bolognese

Slow Cooker Spaghetti Bolognese

Are you prepared when little ones come for dinner? Try this delicious Slow Cooker Spaghetti Bolognese recipe the next time you’re entertaining with kids.

Here’s my story …

We recently found out kids were coming to dinner! We have an abundance of toys in the house, but for a last-minute dinner where I planned to seat everyone together at one big table, my dilemma was how to accommodate smaller kids in the mix, and what to serve?

Easy! This time, with little notice, I defrosted ground turkey from the freezer, gathered my veggies, and started the chopping process in my KitchenAid food processor. Within 20 minutes I had my dinner cooking in the Slow Cooker – where I could CHECK dinner off my list.

Tried and true Spaghetti Bolognese!

Slow Cooker Spaghetti Bolognese

A good recipe when kids come over (don’t all kids love Spaghetti?), plus it’s got the whole “ease” factor going on.

How about setting the table for 10, including kids and adults? I love this trick that I learned years ago: Butcher paper and crayons!

Butcher paper and crayons | kid entertaining | Reluctant

How to set a kid-friendly table:

1. Buy a large roll of butcher paper (or ask your local butcher for a few pieces).
2. Lay on top of your table or tablecloth.
3. Set the table as normal.
3. Add Crayons, Sharpies, colored pencils to the table for the little ones (and older ones) to draw and have fun with!

Play Dough works, too! It’s very easy to make yourself, with different colors, and place in small plastic containers (found at most craft stores) or a Ziploc bag. Write the child’s name on a sticker on the front. :)

How to make your own Play Dough:

1 cup white flour
1/2 cup salt
2 tablespoon cream of tartar
1 tablespoon cooking oil
1 cup water
Variety of food coloring

Combine the first four ingredients in a pan. Add the water and mix well. Cook on medium heat, stirring constantly for about four or five minutes. The dough will be tough to stir and will clump together. Remove from the stove and knead for five minutes. Drop some food coloring as you knead.

You never know, the adults may get in on the Play Dough fun, too!

Between lovely guests coming to dinner, a fun activity for the kids, and having together all at one table, it was a memorable night for all.

What are your last-minute dinner guest recipes or tips when entertaining kids?

Slow Cooker Spaghetti Bolognese

Slow Cooker Spaghetti Bolognese
Print Recipe
0 from 0 votes

Slow Cooker Spaghetti Bolognese Recipe

Prep Time15 mins
Cook Time4 hrs
Total Time4 hrs 15 mins
Servings: 6 servings


  • 1 lb. ground white turkey
  • 1 28- oz. can whole peeled tomatoes
  • 3 carrots finely chopped
  • 1 medium onion finely chopped
  • 2 celery stalks finely chopped
  • 1 pepper finely chopped (orange, yellow, or red)
  • 2-3 cloves garlic pressed or chopped
  • 1 can tomato paste
  • 1/2 cup red wine
  • 1 tsp. dried oregano
  • 1 tsp. dried thyme
  • Kosher salt and pepper
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 package whole wheat spaghetti
  • Grated Parmesan for serving


  • Using food processor, finely chop vegetables (carrots, onions, celery, pepper) and place in a sprayed slow cooker.
  • Mix together the ground turkey, chopped vegetables, tomatoes with their juices, garlic, tomato paste, wine, oregano, thyme, bay leaf, 1 tsp. salt and pepper.
  • Cover and cook until vegetables are tender and the meat is cooked through. On low for 4-6 hours, on high for 3-4 hours.
  • Fifteen minutes before serving, cook the spaghetti noodles according to the package directions; drain and return to the pot.
  • Serve in a bowl with cooked pasta, several spoonfuls of Bolognese, and sprinkle with fresh Parmesan cheese.

7 comments on “Kids for Dinner and Slow Cooker Spaghetti Bolognese”

  1. It means so much to me when people have prepared for my kids coming over! Great tips!

  2. i try to always have my homemade ravioli on hand in the freezer. once i put the initial prep work in, the ravioli stay in the freezer for a few months and it takes less than a minute to get ready on a busy night.
    in terms of keeping kids busy, i have learned to keep a deck of cards in my car/purse…it makes for a fun way to make the time go by while waiting at a restaurant, especially if the child is too old for the crayons.

    for tutorial on homemade ravioli:

  3. This is a great kid-friendly meal. Spaghetti is a great go-to!

  4. You better believe I’m taking notes Sandy – now that we have more kiddos in our life it’s SO helpful to have meals around they’ll eat + things to do!

  5. Great idea with the butcher paper. I usually will serve some type of pasta when kids are coming over

  6. My son is always 100 times happier when crayons and paper are involved!!! Love this and adore bolognese!!!!

  7. My kids would loooove coming to dinner at your house Sandy!! What great ideas!! Where do you get the butcher paper, I have to grab some and keep it on hand. Really love that idea.

    I’ve been craving a meaty bolognese sauce, this is total comfort food and perfect for dinner guests (or just dinner!) !!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *