How many times have you secretly said to yourself, “Ugh, I wish the kids could make dinner (or breakfast or lunch) for themselves”?
We moms are in the kitchen a LOT! Wouldn’t it be nice to get that one big job off your plate once in a while (or once a day!?!)?
When you teach your kids how to cook, not only are you working your way out of a job, but you are teaching them essential life skills that they will use forever.Just like we have to teach our kids how to brush their teeth or how to ride a bike, they need to learn how to prepare healthy foods for themselves and the families that they will have one day.
The first time my oldest child cooked for our family wasn’t planned.
That day, I was exhausted from all that I had done…workout at the gym, orthodontist appointment, running other errands, and I still had the laundry to finish up. The last thing I wanted to do was to cook dinner.
My 13 year-old, who was just beginning to take an interest in the kitchen, piped up. “Can I cook dinner tonight?”
I hesitated. Could she cook a family dinner all by herself? Would saying yes mean that I would have a bigger mess to clean up when it was time to wash the dishes? Would we be in for an hour of complaining from little brother that dinner didn’t taste good?
But I could see in her eyes that she not only believed that she could do it, but that she wanted to show me that she could.
So I said yes.
And unknowingly, we hit two major milestones that night: I finally had someone that could give me a break from kitchen duties once in a while, and she felt a major sense of accomplishment that she had done something so grown-up.
But more importantly, teaching them how to cook can empower them to take on more responsibility and receiving the approval of the people that they care about.
How to teach your kids to cook
While you can take a lot of time to do a full-on cooking class for your kids, teaching them to make healthy recipes doesn’t take that much time or planning.
Kids can take in a lot of information just by watching you in the kitchen. Invite them in for a chat with you while you chop vegetables or sauté the fixings for soup. Let them see how you knead dough for pizza night or scramble up eggs for an omelet.
At this stage, you can instruct them in simple kitchen basis, like working the toaster and learning how to turn on the oven.
As time goes on, you can have them try out their knife skills (when they are old enough and can be trusted with a sharp knife) or do small jobs, such as browning ground beef for tacos or shredding cheese to top a casserole.
Eventually, they can take over making simple meals for themselves and their siblings. This is where your praise and delight can really boost their confidence, as they see how their abilities in the kitchen have grown and learn how much they can contribute to the family’s well-being.
While your family will most likely always want meals made in Mom’s special ways, I can tell you from experience that it’s really nice to have another cook in the family so that I’m not on call for food 21 times every week!
To get your kids started in the kitchen, I’ve put together a list of easy recipes for kids to make by themselves. Not only are these meal ideas simple to put together, but they are full of healthy ingredients that are good for your little ones.
Breakfast Recipes for Kids to Make
Easy Muffin Tin Sausage Quiche Cups by Dancing Through the Rain are full of good, healthy protein that get the day started off right. You can use pre-cooked sausage crumbles from the store if you’re worried about your kids frying sausage, or just don’t want to take the time. They also freeze well!
These Peanut Butter and Banana Breakfast Oatmeal Bars by My Plantiful Cooking couldn’t be simpler! Using only 4 ingredients, your kids can whip up a healthy, filling breakfast in just a few minutes. These bars could also make a great afternoon snack too.
How clever is this Kid-Friendly Breakfast Sushi by Raising Whasians? Experienced moms know that making food fun is a sure-fire way to get kids to eat healthy. This breakfast sushi made from bananas is one of the best ideas I’ve seen. Better yet, it’s got good protein and carbs to provide lots of energy for young bodies.
Another fun and easy breakfast idea is this Wise Owl Fruity Toast by Daisies and Pie. Using simple ingredients such as peanut butter, fruit and an English muffin, the cute owl face will make your kids want to finish every bite.
While these Easy Homemade Chocolate Glazed Baked Donuts aren’t the healthiest breakfast, they are oven-baked. This means you get to avoid all that yucky deep fried greasiness. The donut batter mixes up in no time, and the kids will love getting to use a donut pan.
If you don’t have a lot of time in the morning, this Mini Microwave French Toast recipe by Strength and Sunshine is just the thing! This recipe is written to be vegan, but you can certainly substitute for more traditional ingredients if you don’t have vegan options on hand.
Kids can make themselves a whole week’s worth of breakfasts with this Chocolate Chip Oatmeal recipe by Thrifty Frugal Mom. Just bake a batch at the beginning of the week and keep in the refrigerator for quick meals on busy mornings.
Lunch Recipes for Kids to Make
This Pizza Grilled Cheese recipe by Hezzi-Ds Books and Cooks certainly does take a plain old grilled cheese sandwich up a level or two! By adding your kids’ favorite pizza flavors, it makes lunchtime fun, and is a sandwich that kids can make easily.
Adding in veggies to your kids’ diets is easy with these Mini Broccoli Quesadillas by High Chair Chronicles. And what kid can say no to broccoli when it is surrounded by yummy cheese?
Your kids will need some good knife skills to make this Classic Tuna Salad by Spend With Pennies. With chopped pickles, celery and onion, it makes a tasty sandwich topping that the whole family will love.
Another great sandwich filling is this Hawaiian Chicken Salad with Pineapple by High Chair Chronicles. The sweet bits of pineapple paired with the savory ham and chicken is something that kids will love. To make it a bit more fun, have them eat this salad on top of some good crackers.
No time for the kids to make their own pizza? This Easy Pepperoni Pizza Muffins recipe by Saving Talents takes all their favorite flavors of a traditional pepperoni pizza and makes them into muffins in a fraction of the time that it would take for pizza dough to rise.
Dinner Recipes for Kids to Make
Your kids can easily make dinner for the whole family with this Easy One-Pan Sausage and Veggie Dinner. Everything cooks in the oven in one skillet or sheet pan, so clean up is easy too!
My Slow Cooker Vegetable Soup is practically a “dump-and-go” dinner recipe that kids can easily throw together in no time. The only real cooking part is browning the ground turkey before it goes into the pot; the rest is just opening cans. But it makes such a hearty and delicious soup that your kids will feel a real sense of achievement when they hear satisfied lip-smacking coming from their family members as they devour their dinner.
Making lasagna can be a real pain (and time suck), but this 3-Ingredient Baked Ravioli by The Lazy Dish gives you all the taste of lasagna with a lot less work. Using ravioli in place of lasagna noodles and cheese filling, your kids can have a big, delicious meal ready for the family in no time.
Another comfort food that takes a long time to make is chicken pot pie. But your kids can recreate all its yummy flavors with this Chicken Pot Pie Noodle Skillet recipe by BellyFull. You do need to make a sauce for this recipe, but the instructions are clear and simple; kids with more advanced cooking skills should be able to make this just fine.
This super simple Easy Taco Pizza recipe by Living Well Mom uses a refrigerated crescent dough as its base, which makes it easy for beginning cooks. The addition of taco-seasoned ground beef, and other classic taco toppings, like cheese, lettuce and tomato, make a complete and delicious dinner!
Whichever recipe your kids decide to try, I’m sure they are going to feel a real sense of accomplishment as they sit down at the table with their family.
The night my daughter first cooked for us, I could tell from the big smile on her face that she was proud of what she had done. And when her little brother took his first bite of her spaghetti, and nodded his head in approval, her eyes sparkled with excitement. She felt for the first time the joy of making a satisfying meal for someone she loves 🙂
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