Easy Recipes that Kids Can Cook

Last Saturday, May 19, was Food Revolution Day, and there was much chatter about real food and kids. In his TED prize acceptance speech in 2010, renowned chef and Food Revolution founder, Jamie Oliver had one wish: Teach every child about food.

Since that wish was made by Jamie, there has been a lot of progress made in the food revolution, but there is still much to do. Fortunately you can do your part and you don’t even have to leave your home.

Teaching kids about food can begin in the grocery store, as well as in the garden, but the real magic happens alongside you, in the kitchen.

This month our Eat Well, Spend Less group is talking about Kids in the Kitchen. It’s a subject I’m passionate about, as I believe that cooking with kids helps them to embrace real food and develop a healthy food culture.

Also, eating at home is far less expensive than dining out. By giving our children a head start on self-sufficiency, we’re helping them save money in the future.

Recipes that kids can cook in the kitchen

Before you invite the children in to join you, it’s a good idea to brush up on basic kitchen safety and knife skills for children, and then get properly equipped. I use a sturdy stool, a child’s apron or two, and a few tools that are small and fit their hands nicely.

Then, it’s important to have a good recipe that has simple steps that children can do themselves – supervised, of course – and delicious results that will leave them excited to cook and bake again.

Here are some of my favorites.

Breakfast

I loved Kara’s recent post about Cinnamon rolls on a Saturday morning with her sweet daughter, Jillian. She demonstrated perfectly how baking together was a valuable mother-daughter bonding time – and couldn’t help but notice Jillian took great pride in her work. Naturally.

Baking with my boys in the morning is one of my favorite times to talk to them. It’s often a Saturday, and as we stir together pancakes (MRD – most requested dish) we talk about the past week at school and the plans for the weekend.

Photo by Shaina

Lunch & Snacks

My boys could snack all.day.long if I let them. We try to find a healthy balance for our snacks, and a fun way to include more vegetables is to let the kids select them at the market and assist to prepare them. We’re growing our own snacking carrots this summer, and that is one raised garden bed where grazing is encouraged.

Photo by Cheri

Dinner

Dinner just might be the most challenging time to cook with your kids. They may be tired (so may you), everyone’s hungry, and time is often limited. It is wise not to take on too much; 10-Minute Meals, anyone? You’ll find the recipes below take just a few minutes to put together and they each have small jobs that little hands can help with.

One last thing: Don’t fear the mess…

Over on Simple Kids, Jaimie dishes 7 Tips for Successful Cooking With Kids and she definitely nailed it with that post. I loved what she said about mess:

“I’m not a big fan of cleaning the kitchen, so more mess in that room certainly adds to my stress level.  And I understand, too, that when you’re extremely short on time, the last thing you want is more cleaning to do.  But this kind of mess is temporary.  The more skilled your kids become in the kitchen, the less messy the results.”

That is so true! So pick a few recipes, pour a cup of coffee, and summon the kids!

Do you cook with your kids? Why do you feel it is important?

About Aimee

Cooking has always been Aimée's preferred recreational activity, creative outlet, and source of relaxation. After nearly ten years in the professional cooking industry, she went from restaurant to RSS by trading her tongs and clogs for cookie cutters and a laptop, serving as editor here at Simple Bites.

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Comments

  1. Reinadel says:

    This would be perfect during a bonding time with my children
    Reinadel’s last post: Mother of the bride plus size dress

  2. My daughter is two and a half and she loves to help me cook. I used to cringe over her mess, especially since half of the flour mixture would end up outside of the bowl. I have now learned to say, “who cares!” She is slowly getting less messy and we have lots of fun.

  3. Our 2 and a half year old loves to help cook. I let her pour and stir and she’s thrilled. It’s definitely more messy than if I cook alone but usually less messy than if she’s playing elsewhere while I cook.
    Steph’s last post: The First Year of Marriage

  4. I am passionate about cooking with kids. I do think that it helps them understand food better and eat better. Not to mention the fact that it is fun time with mom!
    Johanna’s last post: Are you in mom-fatigue?

  5. I spend a little time each summer having mom and child cooking lessons – with three it requires planning so each gets some time – when they were small we could share – now it’s best to have it one on one. This summer the middle will be making dinner once a week – the oldest sometimes too [she’s working this summer] and the little once a week will create something – we’ll see what – she already has some serious baking chops.

    at least two of your links don’t work – giant oatmeal cookies and buttermilk chicken fingers – just letting you know!

  6. I don’t have children yet but I work in a preschool and I love cooking/baking with the children. It really does make them proud and it encourages them to try new food. Thank you for all the recipe suggestions!! :)

  7. My dd just turned three and we’ve been having some fun kitchen adventures lately! Mostly just simple things, like cracking her breakfast egg into a bowl and whisking the eggs for scrambled eggs. She loves it! I really have to remember to let her “help” more often because more often than not I am in a hurry and just want to get it done. I’m a messy enough cook as it is. LOL
    Tammy’s last post: ~Christmas Napkins~

    • Eggs are a great jumping off point for cooking with kids because they cook so fast – and every kid loves them. Sounds like you are off to a great start, Tammy.

  8. Mostly just simple things, like cracking her breakfast egg into a bowl and whisking the eggs for scrambled eggs. Thanks for sharing.
    Ella’s last post: Low Carb Diets That Work

  9. Love when little ones want to cook/bake with me! I always try to let them help out somehow!
    Stephanie’s last post: Teriyaki Chicken

  10. Love this! My blog is all about getting kids in the kitchen and getting them to love yummy food.
    Deena @ stay at home FOODIE’s last post: The Gardener and The Grill Cookbook and Grilled Pizza

  11. Emily Woodall says:

    You know, if I cook all by myself, the kitchen DOES stay neater. BUT, while I am cooking, I have 3 kids making messes all over the rest of the house. If they help me, the mess is only in the kitchen, they really do help me prepare the meal and I make sure they help me clean up after. It really is my favorite way to sneak more quality time in with them while still being productive and teaching them their way around the kitchen at the same time!

  12. This is one area that I’m really working on improving! I always thought I’d be the mom with my little ones helping me cook all the time, but it hasn’t been that way yet. It’s just so much WORK to have them help! I’m a production and efficiency freak, so I just love to hit the kitchen with a list and knock out a ton of cooking. That doesn’t leave much room for little helpers, so I’m having to change the way I approach my cooking time. I know it’s important, and some of my earliest memories are of cooking with my mom and grandmother. So I’m changing, because I want that for my boys, too.
    Deb’s last post: Sour Cream Muffins

    • Deb, I hear ya!. Just today my 4yo and I baked up two varieties of cookies and he was into EVERYTHING! He even tasted the baking soda. It was a mess, but I had to laugh.

      Oh and did I mention I was interrupted at least 5 times by the baby, who just wouldn’t settle? Yep.

      So it wasn’t the most efficient morning, but, at the end of the day, the baking did get done and stashed in the freezer and we had fun.

  13. Wow, so interesting recipes. I will teach these recipes to my kids. I think it is really useful to let my kids enjoy cooking time. I will really apply this cooking activities one of these days.
    Kristine More’s last post: vigorelle reviews

  14. I love this post, Aimee! I feel like “kids in the kitchen” often means “cutesy recipes that might be fun but really don’t teach anything practical”. I love having my kids help me in the kitchen and am striving to find a balance between having fun and teaching them to love to cook delicious food that they’ll want to eat when they’re sixty and not just when they’re six.

    Thankfully, cooking “real” food is just as much fun for kids, too – and I think mine like knowing that they contributed to the meal.

  15. aww they look adorable helping you!
    beti’s last post: Nut Logs

  16. Dena Hamlin says:

    Looove this post! I have made it a goal of mine to have my kid be able to fully feed herself good, healthy, delicious meals by the time she leaves home for college. I started cooking with her as soon as she was steady enough to stand up on a chair and help in any way. We basically learned to cook together. She is 11 now and my little Food Network watching foodie. And while she may not eat everything she helps cook, I know that sooner or later her palate will catch up with her age.

  17. Your cornmeal pancakes are the most wonderful pancakes in the whole world! My kids and husband (who doesn’t normally appreciate pancakes) run to the table for them! I was so disappointed last weekend when I didn’t have any cornmeal left in the cupboard.
    I try to let my 4 yo help as much as I can. Tip – have your child put their finger up as a stopper on the switch for the kitchenaid mixer before they turn it on. Turning it on full blast by mistake leads to a giant flour tornado and white powder covered everything for a 10′ radius. But we learned from it, and we talk about it every time we cook now!

  18. I like letting my little guys (not really mine, I just watch them sometimes) experiment in the kitchen. I show them how to make a simple dish that they can handle and will like to eat, then let them play with it, add whatever extras they want and see how it goes. Only rule is that you have to eat it when its done. Or at least try it, some of its rather nasty. I find it really encourages them to try new things and experiment with new flavours. Easiest is just a grilled cheese sandwich which everyone loves, then add your extra toppings. Last time one of the boys made one with onion, black olives and grapes. It actually wasn’t as bad as you would think.

  19. Just a warning about cooking with kids….

    Do it too much and they become scarily competent. Kind of *too* competent! I was making cookies with my daughters yesterday. Miss 3 knew the recipe needed a pinch of salt, so she added it. And so did I. And so did copycat Miss 1….
    The cookies did get eaten, but we all needed a big drink afterwards! Lol
    The Accidental Housewife’s last post: Baby led weaning

  20. My little one has only just turned a year, but already if she sees me in the kitchen she insists on being up on the chair standing at the counter beside me.

    Occasionally she imitates some of my actions, but usually she just wants to know what she can eat. She’s only got two teeth and I’ve got to be quick about getting the uncooked carrots out of her reach before she starts shoveling them in her mouth lol.
    Cheyanne’s last post: Apple Spelt Squares

  21. rachael says:

    What a fun post – my 6 year old has been helping since he was old enough to stand, but I want him to now be able to do a few dishes alone. We started with a basic salad vinaigrette and I will add some of these recipes to our list of what to learn next!
    Thanks for the inspiration! :)

  22. My dads birthday party is today so i need something i can do with my little sister and this is so it!

  23. Love this post. I’m always trying to think of ways to get the kids in the kitchen. I thought you may enjoy this recent post!

    http://thisfineday.com/blog/2013/6/11/easy-recipe-photobook-starring-your-kids

  24. I will use your recipes with my primary school students…

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