Did you know getting kids in the kitchen and involving them in the cooking process can lead to many proven benefits?
That’s right, a 2014 study found involving kids with cooking and meal prep can help promote healthy eating habits and increase vegetable consumption in children. Another 2019 study found children can increase self-esteem.
Parents may be hesitant to let kids take over the kitchen due to time constraints and safety concerns. Therefore, choosing recipes for kids and giving age-appropriate tasks are important when kids help in the kitchen.
For example, young children can help pour or measure ingredients in a bowl for easy recipes for kids baking. Older kids can help read recipes, chop vegetables, and help assemble ingredients for dinner recipes.
If ready for the takeover, or at least the help, prepare these family-friendly meals even picky eaters will love to make and enjoy!
Making breakfast with kids the night before can save time in the morning and gives kids something extra special to look forward to for breakfast.
Overnight oats are a quick and easy recipe for kids to make for a tasty, healthy breakfast the night before.
Kids can personalize the ingredients with fresh or dried fruit, yogurt, peanut butter, nuts, or seeds.
Chia Seed Pudding
Chia seed pudding can also be made the night before and can be an easy, kid-friendly personalized recipe. Chia seeds are high in fiber, protein, and heart-healthy omega 3’s and are neutral in flavor. Adding liquid with the seeds "hydrates" them into a gel-like pudding texture.
Like overnight oats, add a variety of fruits, nuts, nut butters, or other seasonings depending on taste preferences to chia pudding. This recipe is gluten-free and can be made vegan with plant-based milk.
Smoothies for breakfast can be an easy way to start the day with fruits and vegetables. Kids can help choose and put ingredients into the blender/food processor.
Smoothie recipes for kids can have a variety of fresh/frozen fruit, a handful or two of leafy greens, a liquid base like water or milk, and optional ice depending on desired thickness.
Lunch Recipes for Kids
Like kid-friendly breakfast recipes, lunch recipes for kids may be made the night before if that works better for time.
Letting them have a say in a few lunch options can increase the likelihood they will eat and enjoy the meal.
Kids can help prep and choose (some) of the foods that go into a bento lunch box. Bento boxes are just compartmentalized lunch boxes, while some are even microwave and dishwasher safe.
Bento lunches for kids do not need to be complicated and can incorporate a variety of foods for lunch. For example, these can contain a variety of:
• Cut up vegetables and fruits
Have kids choose certain foods for their lunch and/or help assemble their boxes the night before.
Pizza Pita Pockets
What is one food almost all kids love? Pizza, of course!
Pizza pita pockets for lunch can be an easy recipe for kids to be involved with making their lunch the night before. They can help choose and assemble the toppings that go into the pocket.
If appropriate and desired, pizza pockets can be microwaved before eating to melt the cheese.
Mason Jar Salads
If you have older kids or are looking for an alternative to sandwiches for lunches, try making a mason jar salad with your child the night before for a healthy, satisfying lunch.
Simply fill a jar with desired ingredients with drier ingredients on the bottom. Store in the refrigerator and shake it up before eating.
There is room to get creative with vegetables, whole grains, protein options (like leftovers from dinner), and making the homemade dressing.
Having kids help make dinner may take additional planning on your part, but the extra step is worth getting the kids involved.
You may need to measure out ingredients for younger kids for them to easily pour into a larger container or assemble ingredients out ahead of time.
King Ranch Chicken Mac and Cheese
Dinner recipes for kids can be fairly simple to make but include a variety of foods such as vegetables, whole grains, protein, and healthy fats.
For example, King Ranch Chicken mac and cheese steps up traditional mac and cheese by adding in chopped vegetables, rotisserie chicken, and plain Greek yogurt.
Kids can help add ingredients during the cooking process or could help chop vegetables if appropriate.
Taco Bar for Kids
Weeknight tacos can be another simple dinner recipe for kids to help with.
Brown lean ground beef, turkey, or chicken and drain off excess grease. Add desired taco seasoning and optional tomato sauce. For a vegetarian version of tacos, make roasted cauliflower tacos which substitutes cauliflower for meat.
Have kids help assemble desired taco toppings such as chopped tomatoes, avocado/guacamole, shredded cheese, lettuce, beans, salsa, etc.
Homemade Sloppy Joes
Another easy, healthy dinner recipe for kids is having them help make homemade sloppy joes. This can be done ahead of time in the slow cooker or right before eating on the stovetop.
Kids can help add all the flavor ingredients like ketchup, tomato sauce, Worcestershire sauce, diced celery, bell pepper, onion, garlic powder, etc.
You can sub ground turkey in for ground beef or add in additional veggies like riced cauliflower or carrots to make it even more nutritious. For a side, kids can help prep a salad or assemble veggies on a tray for roasting in the oven.
Simple Baking & Dessert Recipes for Kids
Most kids love to help bake because they love eating the finished product!
While dessert recipes are usually high in added sugar and can be complex, they do not have to be.
All of these easy recipes for kids baking are naturally low in sugar, while some are no-bake!
Healthy Banana Bread
Kids can help mash ripe bananas and add ingredients to the bowl for this healthy banana bread recipe.
This easy baking recipe uses almond flour instead of regular flour. It also adds sweetness from unsweetened applesauce, bananas, and only a 1/4 cup of either honey or maple syrup.
While kids may be very skeptical about putting avocado in brownie batter, the finished product of this fudgy brownie recipe will win them over!
Unlike other brownie recipes, there is not the typical vegetable oil, white sugar, or all-purpose flour in these brownies.
Kids can help add ingredients into the food processor and whisk the eggs together.
Homemade Granola Bars
Making homemade granola bars can be cheaper and a healthier option than buying pre-packaged at the store.
This healthy granola bars recipe has minimal sugar added and is primarily made from oats, and can be made in the oven or as a no-bake option.
For breakfast or an ice cream sweet treat alternative, try out yogurt sundaes.
Kids can help mix the plain yogurt with just a touch of honey and vanilla extract and assemble their own "sundaes" with the yogurt and desired fruits and granola.
Be sure to keep granola as a sprinkle option instead of the main component and be cautious of added sugars in store-bought yogurt.