Cooking is one of those tasks that can be relaxing and rewarding on good days, but downright stressful on not-so-good days. Adding kids to the mix can quickly turn daily meal preparation into a hectic chore.
That’s why we wanted to help you make cooking with your children more fun with our favourite outside-the-box recipes that your kids will love to help you make and eat.
Sweet Breakfast Tacos
Tacos are always a fun way to teach your kids about flavour combinations without too much prep work. Spice up your mornings with these raspberry-banana breakfast tacos from Taste of Home. The tortillas are made from a simple pancake recipe that swaps half of the all-purpose flour for whole wheat flour, but you can have your kids mix-up the batter for any type of pancakes, as long as it goes with your taco toppings.
Of course, tacos also need sauce. This recipe calls for you and your kids to whip together vanilla yogurt and softened cream cheese as a sweet substitute for sour cream or queso sauce. Finally, add raspberries and sliced bananas to your creation. Slicing bananas is much safer (and less painful) than chopping onions for a traditional taco topper, like pico de gallo.
If you’re looking for an even simpler breakfast taco recipe for hectic mornings with your kids, try this Delish recipe for PB&J Tacos. Using bread instead of pancakes for tortillas also makes it easier for younger kids to help out with this recipe. Have them cut out large circles, using a cup or bowl, from their favourite bread and spread them with peanut butter and jelly. Add seasonal fruit, top with graham cracker crumbs and honey, then enjoy!
This Italian-inspired dish makes for a fun meal that your kids will enjoy helping you prepare. The Girl Who Ate Everything’s recipe for lasagna cupcakes uses the same ingredients as full-sized lasagna, except for the lasagna noodles, which are replaced by wonton wrappers. Wonton wrappers are so much easier for kids to work with than cooked pasta. If you want to make perfectly circular lasagna cupcakes, you can have your kids use a glass or cookie cutter to round off the wrappers’ edges.
If your family likes meaty lasagna, older children can help you brown, season, and drain beef in a skillet. Then supervise your kids as they layer each greased muffin tin cup with multiple layers of wontons, parmesan, ricotta, mozzarella, meat and pasta sauce. Have them top their creations with a little more of all three cheeses before you pop the tin in your pre-heated oven to bake at 375 degrees for 18-20 minutes.
Most kids love the cheesy goodness of pasta, and making individual mini lasagnas means you can customize each cup for picky eaters. You can serve your lasagna cupcakes with a fresh basil garnish if your kids aren’t too averse to eating green foods. Speaking of fresh veggies, lasagna goes great with salad as well, so you can have your kids help you mix up your family’s favourite salad while you wait for the edges of your mini lasagna cups to perfectly brown in the oven.
Baked Potato Soup
This simple, flavorful soup comes together with minimal ingredients that your kids probably already love:
- Green onions
- Frozen hash browns
- Whole milk
- Shredded cheddar cheese
- Kosher salt and ground black pepper
The best part about this recipe is that using frozen hash browns totally eliminates the need to actually bake potatoes, and nobody in your family has to worry about performing any peeling or chopping to prep it. Don’t worry though, this soup still packs all of that delicious baked potato flavour! This hearty meal comes together in 3 simple steps and less than 30 minutes, which makes it a great weeknight go-to.
Meghan Splawn from Kitchn suggests letting your kids help prepare the ingredients by cutting up cooked bacon and green onions with scissors, which makes cooking a lot like crafting. Your older children can help you stir the simmering mixture of potatoes, onions and milk, as well as use a potato masher or immersion blender to turn those kid-approved ingredients into a soup that the whole family will love. Kitchn’s recipe serves 6-8 people, and you can refrigerate any leftovers for up to 5 days, making a perfect leftover snack to heat up for your hungry little ones.
Ramen Stir Fry
Ramen is clearly a great choice when you’re looking for a quick home-cooked meal, and preparing a stir fry means you’ll get the chance to use up leftover proteins and fresh vegetables that might otherwise sit untouched in your fridge. Stir-fry dishes also love frozen veggies, which means less time spent chopping and more time working with your kids to build up the flavour profile of your dish.
You can read Katherine Lewis’ dish on How to Get the Kids to Help You Make the Best Ramen Stir Fry Recipe for The Spruce Eats.
Your kids can help you fill a large pot with 7 cups of water and then break up two packages of ramen noodles. Breaking apart the noodles while they’re still sealed in the package is fun for them and mess-free for you (a win-win). Your ramen will only need to cook for 5 minutes, and your older kids can help stir the noodles after they’ve been cooking for 3 minutes.
Once your noodles are drained, you just need to add their seasoning packets and cook them in a skillet with your desired veggie and protein mix-ins. For added protein and flavour, you can stir fry your ingredients with a couple of eggs.
This balanced meal serves 3-4 people and comes together in about 15 minutes. You and your famished family will be ready to eat in less time than it takes to wait for a pizza to be delivered.
No-Bake Protein Balls
This recipe for protein balls from Weelicious is sure to be a hit for you and your kids. You’ll love that all you need are 5-7 healthy ingredients, and your kids will love getting to roll up the protein ball “dough” into little spheres.
Here’s what you’ll need to blend together in your food processor to make this ultra-easy recipe:
- Nut butter or a nut-free alternative, like sunflower butter.
- Dates—a great way to add natural sweetness.
- Protein powder.
- Hemp and chia seeds to add a boost of extra protein and fibre that kids won’t even notice mixed in with all of the other sweet nutty flavours.
Your kids can help you measure out 1 tablespoon’s worth of the mixture for each protein ball, then the fun of rolling up each ball with their hands begins!
Adding a chocolate drizzle makes this convenient protein-filled snack even more appealing. Just melt ¼ cup of dark chocolate chips together with 1 teaspoon of extra-virgin coconut oil. If your kids aren’t the biggest fans of dark chocolate, then you can always substitute milk chocolate, or make a dark-milk chocolate blend.
If you’re not sold that your kids will fully embrace these particular ingredients, or you’d like to add some variety to your protein ball ingredient repertoire, you’ll be able to find lots of similarly simple recipes with different ingredients. Weelicious also has an amazing recipe for Coconut Peanut Butter Oatmeal Balls if that sounds like something your family would rather munch on.
Whichever recipe you choose, make a big batch and freeze it so you have plenty of nutritious grab-and-go snacks for your busy family.
Teaching kids to cook isn’t always a piece of cake, but having the right kid-friendly recipes on hand to suit their taste buds makes the challenge more palatable. Whether you make one of these recipes for breakfast, lunch, dinner, or a snack, we hope your kids will have a sweet time helping you in the kitchen so you can savour the quality time you spend cooking together!