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Cooking with kids is always a messy adventure, but it’s a win-win: get a meal ready and entertain them at the same time! Here are dinner recipes to make with kids!
Cooking with Kids
Both of my kids have always enjoyed helping out in the kitchen. Birch comes in lugging his stool, saying “I want to help!” Mazen also has shown a lot of interest this year in cooking. He brought home this cookbook from his school library and has mastered the cinnamon toast recipe! We also tried the parmesan garlic popcorn.
Benefits to having kids in the kitchen
There are so many benefits to having kids in the kitchen: it keeps their hands busy, creates bonding time, teachings them basic cooking skills, connects them to their food, and helps them become more responsible as they become young adults.
How my kids help out
While Mazen can make his own quesadillas and sandwiches now, Birch is still in the simple task zone. I usually assign him simple tasks even if it’s something that doesn’t “need” to be done, like “please count these snap peas and move them from this bowl to that one.”
When I’m cutting potatoes or veggies, I’ll have him be the one to move them from the end of the cutting board to the bowl or sheet pan. And he LOVES to pour the little containers from Blue Apron and stir the sauces. That’s definitely his favorite task!
While baking cookies is definitely my kids’ favorite task, here is a round-up of easy dinner ideas and kid-friendly recipes that they will love getting their hands into.
Dinner Recipes To Make With Kids
All The Noodles
Raise your hand if your kids love noodles! Ours love noodles of all shapes. Just mix and match the sauce. While boiling the pasta probably needs to be an adult activity, making the sauces or tossing the noodles is a fun way to help out.
Ideas include pesto noodles, spaghetti night, taco pasta, peanut butter sauce noodles, and any kind of twist on mac and cheese.
Quesadillas or Burritos
Quesadillas are the ultimate kid-friendly dinner. My kids have them on the reg, and Mazen is old enough to make his own in a skillet on the stove! We have long-since put spinach leaves in his quesadillas for a bit of extra nutrition too. He is used to it! And our latest invention is the “pizza-dilla” which is a quesadilla with tomato sauce, cheese, and pepperoni inside.
- Beans and cheese
- Shredded chicken
- Pizza style
- Ham and cheese
- Plain cheese
- Add spinach
Easy Baked Chicken
One of the world’s most simple meals: baked chicken. While the grownups can handle the raw meat (nothing scares me more than a child with raw meat hands!), once the chicken is cooked you can get help cutting (older kids) or with dipping sauces (younger kids). Cut chicken breasts into bite-sized pieces and bread them before baking for all the chicken nuggets lovers out there!
Breakfast for Dinner
If you’re looking for dinner ideas for kids who only eat fruit and carbs (hi, Birch!), then making breakfast for dinner together is always a good option. Once a week it can be a fun family dinner that strays from the path of the usual evening meal staples.
Another no-brainer dinner recipe: kids LOVE assembling pizzas! Homemade pizza night is another dinner on the biweekly rotation for us.
Change it up by making pizzas on pitas or English muffins or even zucchini.
There is a common theme in kid-friendly recipes and that is “assemble your own.” When you have an array of toppings on the table, kids feel empowered to choose which ingredients they’d like to add. This reflects the division of power that is the gold standard for feeling kids: the parents decide what and when and the kids decide which and how much.
As one of our all-time favorite family-friendly recipes for kids, we do a taco bar at least every other week. As with all the great kid-friendly favorites, this one allows the grownups to cook the meat and beans, but the rest of the ingredients are all easy to prep and put into bowls so everyone can assemble and “cook” their own taco.
- Traditional ground beef
- Shredded chicken
- Seasoned fish
- Black or pinto beans
- Cheddar cheese
- Lettuce or cabbage
- Sour cream or plain yogurt
- Guacamole or cubed avocado
- Diced tomatoes
- Mild jalapenos
- Grated carrots (my mom’s go-to ingredient!)
- Bell pepper strips
- Mild salsa
- Tortilla chips
Aka “dump in everything and stir.” Older kids can work the can opener, measure spices, and rinse the cans. Younger ones can be in charge of stirring in all newly added ingredients. The best part is there is no flame so kids can get involved in the cooking part too.
And last but not least, a sandwich bar! When I was growing up we had make-your-own subs for dinner quite a bit. Like taco night, we had a buffet of ingredients and everyone customized their subs to their liking. For me that was extra mustard and pickles – plus some potato chips!
Every now and then we had Sloppy Joes which are not my favorite, but some kids love them!!
Mazen has been really into making his own gourmet sandwiches this year. The secret ingredient is always really good Italian bread! We made these pork sandwiches with a side of Italian chicken soup.
Kid Friendly Kitchen Tools