When it comes to finding recipes kids can cook there’s no shortage… unless you’re looking for healthy recipes kids can make. Far too many recipes for kids in the kitchen rely on condensed cream-of-whatever soups, boxes of macaroni and cheese, and hot dogs. How do we teach children to eat wholesome, nutritious food if their first cooking experiences involve unhealthy convenience foods?
Here’s the thing: kids can cook and, like chores kids can do, they can do more than you think! The average four-year-old can open a can, roughly chop vegetables (with supervision) and use measuring spoons or cups to scoop ingredients. The tricky part comes when they’re given recipes where precise measurements are essential: baking anything, for example.
Cooking tasks requiring fine motor skills aren’t easy. Recipes involving minced or julienned carrots can be challenging for adults, so don’t expect a kid to do them. But chopping something into 2- or 3-inch pieces? That’s easy peasy lemon squeezy, as my own kids say.
Stove-top cooking is another skill that can be a challenge for kids. Grease splatters, steam scalds, and there are pot and pan handles to avoid. If you’ve ever tried supervising your kids’ first stove-top cooking attempts, you know the constant, hyper-vigilant supervision it requires. But oven cooking? That’s simple: assemble everything away from the heat and pop it in the oven. So much easier!
Even so, don’t think you can just hand a kid one of these recipes and put your feet up on the sofa. Oh no. I learned that one the hard way when my daughter first started cooking. You’ll need to supervise the first couple of times they try out a recipe, but after that they get it surprisingly fast. Which is not to say you’ll be able to nap, but you probably won’t have to be in the same room.
The recipes below are some that one or both of my kids learned to cook by the time they were ten. I think they were both motivated to start making dinner because, in our house, whoever does the cooking doesn’t have to do the dishes. They hate doing the dishes!
If you decide to try one of these recipes with your kids, read them through and make adjustments as needed for your child’s skill level. Maybe the first time you’ll think you should do the chopping while they watch; try to give them the chance, anyway. It’s good for their self-esteem, and you’ll probably be pleased at how careful they are while working with “grown up knives”. Be prepared for a few messes, too — that’s just part of letting kids cook. They’ll get better with time. Honestly, kids CAN cook!
5 Healthy Dinners Kids Can Make
ADULTS: The italicized directions are steps you should handle, or at least closely supervise, until your kids know how to do them on their own!
Flat Bread Pizza
1. Preheat the oven to 350°F.
2. Spray a baking sheet.
3. Cut flat bread into 4-inch squares.
4. In a bowl, combine 1 15-oz. can tomato sauce, 1 6-oz. can tomato paste, 1 teaspoon each oregano and garlic powder.
5. Spread this sauce on each flat bread square. Place square on the baking sheet.
6. Arrange your favorite pizza toppings on the squares. Don’t forget the cheese!
7. Bake 5-10 minutes, until cheese is melted and bubbly.
1. Preheat oven to 350°F.
2. Slice the tops off peppers. Reach in and carefully remove membranes. Rinse the seeds out.
3. Grease a baking dish. Arrange peppers in the dish with cut-sides up.
4. In a bowl combine 1 lb. ground beef (or turkey), 1 drained can of diced tomatoes with green chilies, and 1 teaspoon oregano.
5. Scoop 1/2 cup of the ground beef mixture into each pepper, but don’t pack it too tightly.
6. Sprinkle with grated cheese.
7. Bake 40-45 minutes, until a thermometer says the meat has reached 160°.
1. Preheat oven to 350°F.
2. Grease a cast iron skillet or other baking dish.
3. Crack 16 eggs into a blender. Add 1 teaspoon each: salt, pepper, dried mustard powder. Put the lid on and blend until it’s well-mixed.
4. Slice a zucchini. Arrange it in the skillet/dish.
5. Cut a red pepper in half. Pull out the membrane with your fingers. Rinse away the seeds. Shake it dry.
6. Slice the pepper and arrange the slices on top of the zucchini.
7. Carefully pour the blended egg mixture onto the vegetables in the skillet/dish.
8. Bake for 30-40 minutes, until the center is no longer jiggly.
Baked White Fish with Vegetables
1. Preheat oven to 350°F.
2. Grease a baking dish.
3. Arrange four white fish fillets in the dish so they’re not overlapping. They can touch, though.
4. Sprinkle 1 teaspoon of seasoned salt over the fillets.
5. Slice 2 large carrots, 1 zucchini, 1 red pepper, and 6 cherry tomatoes. Put them in a large bowl.
6. Add 1 cup of raw broccoli florets to bowl.
7. Add 1 tablespoon olive oil to the vegetables and stir until they’re all coated.
8. Arrange the vegetables on top of the fish.
9. Bake for 20 minutes.
Roast Chicken with Vegetables
1. Preheat oven to 425°F.
2. Grease a roasting pan.
3. Put the thawed chicken in the pan, round side up.
4. Slice a lemon in half. Stick it in the chicken.
5. Take half a stick of soft butter and, mushing it with your hands, rub it all over the chicken. Don’t forget the legs.
6. Sprinkle the chicken with 2 teaspoons seasoned salt.
7. Chop 3 large carrots into 3 even pieces each. Scatter them around the chicken.
8. Cut an onion in half. Cut each half into halves. Scatter these around the chicken.
9. Chop a yellow squash into pieces 2 inches long. Scatter these around the chicken.
10. Put the roasting pan in the oven and let it cook for 30 minutes.
11. Remove it from the oven, move the vegetables around a bit, and put it back in the oven.
12. Lower the oven temperature to 350°F and cook for 30 more minutes.
13. Check the temperature by sticking a thermometer into the bottom of the fat part of the leg. It’s done when it’s reached 160°F.
BONUS RECIPE: Check out my Dijon Herb Encrusted Pork Loin — with just a handful of ingredients, it’s easy enough for kids to make, too!
Remember, kids CAN cook and the more often you cook with your kids, the more confidence they get in the kitchen. Use these five healthy dinners kids can make as a starting point, and before long you’ll be able to turn over cooking duty to them!
Equipment You May Need: