There is no better time than summer break to spend some quality time in the kitchen with your kids. Despite all the learning our children do when they are off at school, a few things they are not being taught are some pretty important household duties like cooking, cleaning, and laundry – just to name a few. In Michael Pollan’s newest book, Cooked, he said himself that,
That’s a pretty strong statement – don’t you think? I personally want cooking to be second nature to my girls when it is time for me to send them off into the world, which means I need them to start learning these skills now! It’s no secret that getting your kids in the kitchen – even starting as young as 1 or 2 years old – can lead to many benefits like increased confidence, more adventurous eaters, and quality time together. But it’s also of course no secret that it’s more work for mom and dad to slow down the cooking pace and deal with more of a mess in the process, but I can assure you that it is totally worth it in the end. It does not need to be an every day occurrence even cooking with your little one only once every week or two will go a long way!
Digital Access for only $0.99
For the most comprehensive local coverage, subscribe today.
So it’s time for you to schedule a little cooking project with your kid(s) – no matter their age. From toddlers who stir pancake batter to kindergartners who can cook scrambled eggs on the stove (supervised of course) to 8-year-olds who follow and make entire recipes by themselves (we’ve just recently reached this milestone with our oldest daughter), the moral of the story is “better late than never.” So get in there and get cooking together!
Here are my top 10 recipes for sharing the cooking duties with your kids (click the name for the full recipe):
1Whole-Wheat Pancakes and Waffles
Classic choice for involving kids, right? Well this is a great place to start for a reason. Let little ones stir the batter, 5 and 6 year-olds can man the waffle iron, and 7 and 8-year-olds can flip the pancakes on the stove. Everyone can help measure out ingredients :)
If chocolate is involved – who wouldn’t be game? This is a great recipe for teaching your little ones how liquids should be measured in a glass measuring cup with a spout and dry ingredients in cups that can be leveled off.
The great thing about tacos – either in the shell or over lettuce – is that there is a job for everyone. Someone grates the cheese, someone washes the lettuce, someone measures out the spices, someone cooks the meat, and then – voila! – you have dinner. And if you are lucky maybe your reluctant picky eaters will eat a piece of lettuce or two if it is mixed in with some yummy taco meat.
4Individual Whole-Wheat Pizzas
Yes, this is another classic one, but again – for a reason! Forget your old pizza routine and make this whole-grain dough together from scratch. Then come dinner time, divide up the dough so each person can roll out their own personal-sized pizza, and even put on their own toppings. Put plenty of healthy topping choices to choose from – like bell peppers and pesto - in little bowls.
5Peanut Butter and Jelly Smoothie
This recipe is a fun one because it’s hard to mess up. Even if you put a little too much of this or not enough of that it will probably still taste great. And little hands can peel the bananas for you and throw a bunch of spinach in the blender and push the button, of course!
6Whole-Grain Zucchini Bread (or muffins)
This recipe is a great one for teaching kids how to find and use the right measuring spoon/cup. Don’t just hand them the 1/2 teaspoon – ask them to find it! And, with a little guidance, older kids can also help you grate the zucchini as well.
Who said biscuits had to be round? The fun part about this recipe is cutting the biscuits into different shapes before putting them in the oven. So get out your “cookie cutters” and go to town.
Okay, so there is no recipe link for scrambled eggs. You just crack a few eggs – great job for 3 and 4-year-olds – and whisk them together with a splash of milk and some salt and pepper. Let older kids melt the butter in the pan and stir the eggs until they are cooked all the way through (supervised of course). This dish is a very rewarding one and good for little ones without a lot of patience!
9Homemade Ranch Dip
It’s no secret that most kids like to dip their food into somethingso imagine their surprise when you help them make their very own flavored dip for veggies and whole-grain pretzels. And trust me this one is easy peasy.
10Banana Ice Cream
Did you know you could make ice cream out of just straight-up frozen bananas? Yep, it’s true and you don’t need a special appliance to do it – just in your own blender! This is one where you do need to plan ahead though because the bananas need to be frozen in advance. Feel free to try different variations like peanut butter or chocolate – yum!
What are your favorite “real food” dishes to cook with your kids? Please share (including links) in the comments. And I have one more cute picture of my oldest daughter to share with you . Happy cooking!
100 Days of Real Food
is a member of the Charlotte News Alliance, a consortium of local media partners.