Cooking is a wonderful family activity and one that teaches an important life skill. Even very young kids can help out in the kitchen and are naturally drawn to simple, messy tasks like scooping, dumping and stirring. Big kids might appreciate the creativity involved, and perhaps even the science behind it, and at the very least will love to eat whatever they end up making! You need to eat anyway, so use this time at home to bring the whole family into the kitchen and try out some of these easy recipes for kids.
Breakfast may be the most important meal of the day, but for busy families, it can also be the most stressful! Make the morning rush a little easier by enlisting your kids’ help in breakfast prep the night before. Overnight oats are fun and easy to make, and best of all, the kids can help every step of the way. Simply fill a glass jar with the ingredients, chill in the refrigerator overnight and voila! Breakfast is served.
If you have a little more time in the morning, the easiest pancakes you’ll ever make have only two ingredients – that’s right, two! Eggs and banana combine to make a tasty gluten-free, dairy-free and paleo-friendly breakfast favorite. Kids can help crack the eggs (watch out for shells!), peel the bananas, and hit “blend,” and you’re most of the way there.
These lunch ideas are great for home and on the go and are simple enough to appeal to the pickiest of eaters. A bean and cheese quesadilla is easy to assemble so even your littlest chefs can help with the prep, while older kids can probably manage the meal on their own. Easier yet is a cheese and turkey kebab. Cut or buy small squares of cheddar or another favorite cheese and kids can alternate placing the cheese and rolled up pieces of deli meat on a skewer. For a healthy and colorful lunch option, try a rainbow hummus wrap. Kids can spread hummus (use store-bought or make your own) on a wrap, then arrange pre-cut veggies in all different colors on it before rolling it up to eat their rainbow!
Crockpot meals are great for getting dinner on the table when you have a busy day ahead, and many are simple enough that kids can help with the preparation. The yummiest pulled pork recipe couldn’t be easier – simply place chunks of pork butt, shoulder or loin in the slow cooker and have the kids pour root beer all over it. Cook on low for at least eight hours, discard the root beer and have the kids help you shred the meat with a fork. Cover it with as much of your favorite barbecue sauce as you like and enjoy it on a bun or baked potato, in mac & cheese, or by itself.
DIY meals are especially great for kids. Salsa chicken is another easy crockpot favorite, and the resulting shredded chicken can be used for tacos, rice bowls, burritos, and more. Kids can place whatever toppings your family loves in bowls – shredded cheese, avocado, sour cream, tomato – and everyone can build their own burrito with the chicken and toppings. Same idea for homemade pizza. Spread out the ingredients for everyone in the family to customize their personal pizza, then put them in the oven and enjoy. It’s a fun family activity that doubles as dinner!
Dessert can be as easy as washing and cutting a piece of fruit, but to make it extra fun, have the kids help you skewer different pieces of fruit to make a fruit kebab. More of an ice cream kind of a family? Try freezing chunks of bananas then blending them to make a frozen dessert that tastes shockingly like soft serve. Blend in or serve with peanut butter, chocolate sauce or chocolate pieces for an extra treat. And, if you are more of a cookies and brownies kind of a family, there are plenty of these kinds of easy dessert recipes for kids as well.
Some of the best recipes to make with kids aren’t for eating, but for playing! Making playdough is a great indoor activity that results in a fun, smooshy toy for sensory play. But don’t stop there! After all, cooking is really all about chemistry, so take your time in the kitchen to the next level with some easy science experiments for kids. Use a water or soda bottle and common household staples like dish soap and yeast to make elephant toothpaste (also great for messy sensory play), or teach your children the virtue of patience when they watch sugar crystallize into rock candy over a couple of days. Their patience will be rewarded by a sugary treat at the end!