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Meet your New Sous Chef: Easy Meals for Kids to Cook At Home
By Sago Mini
Cooking and baking with your kids can be heaps of fun, and a great way to help them develop math skills, motor skills and verbal communication. Plus, it’s a great way for pickier eaters to discover new flavours and fun recipes!
When hunting for recipes to tackle with your kids, the keyword is easy. Too complicated and it’s a stressful situation for everyone — you included.
Keep your recipes simple and be prepared: we’re talking aprons, bigger bowls and allowing a lot more time for a recipe than normal. And don’t be afraid to get messy! (You know things are gonna get messy.)
Here are five easy meals for kids to cook:
While the traditional yeast-risen, hand-spun pizza dough is definitely not easy (for kids or adults!), there are fun methods to make this evergreen favourite easy and fun for kids to help with.
Premade dough, frozen crusts and tortilla pizzas are excellent hacks for getting right to the fun part: the toppings. Kids can help spread the tomato sauce and sprinkle the cheese to prepare for the good stuff.
Try to lay out little pots of ingredients on your kitchen counter so that the kids can choose their own pizza toppings and explore some new flavors. Think colorful: red tomatoes, pink ham, yellow sweetcorn, green peppers and zucchini, and black olives. (And pineapple, if you’re a fruit-belongs-on-pizza sort of family. No judgement here.)
2. Spaghetti and meatballs
A firm family favourite, and a guaranteed bragging rights winner at their preschool show & tell, spaghetti and meatballs is (surprisingly!) easy for your kids to help out with.
Making the meatballs from scratch means that your kids can really get stuck in and be hands-on (of course, make sure their hands are washed thoroughly before and after!). Squishing the ground meat and egg in a bowl lets them play with different textures before rolling and shaping their meatballs (you can even practice counting with your meatballs too!).
Grown-ups can then brown the meatballs and simmer in a tomato sauce until it’s ready; if you want to give your little person a job in the meantime, they can tear basil leaves and grate some cheese to sprinkle over the dish. Served with cooked spaghetti — bellissimo!
Teaching kids to cook doesn’t have to be boring: fajitas are another fun meal that kids can cook with a little help from mom or dad. They’re quick to make and children also love the interactive nature of choosing their favorite fillings and trying to wrap them up!
Grown-ups can cut up chicken breasts into chunks first to marinade in a fajita seasoning while the rest of your prep goes on together (just be careful you don’t pick a mix that’s too hot and spicy for little mouths!). Once you’ve popped your chicken in the fridge, you and your little people can get to work on the rest of the dish!
With a bit of supervision, kids can chop up peppers, tomatoes, and onions to cook with the chicken when it’s ready. You might need to take the lead on cooking, but you can let your little ones stir with supervision.
Then it’s a case of any extras your family likes with their fajitas. Kids could help to grate cheese if you have a child-friendly grater, or mash avocado in a bowl for your guacamole (and squeeze lime into the mix too). They can also be in charge of picking cilantro leaves for a finishing touch.
4. Breakfast or brunch omelet
Omelets are perfect for introducing kids to cooking: they’re easy and fun to make, and they’re tasty too (most kids love eggs and cheese and it’s a great source of calcium)!
Give your preschooler the important job of cracking eggs into a bowl to make your omelet (for some reason kids find eggs ridiculously exciting, so they’ll love this). Teach them to firmly break the egg and how to get any stray bits of shell out if they end up in the bowl.
Next, they can whisk in milk and a pinch of salt and pepper so that the mixture combines; you can point out how the different colours of the egg blend together and that’s how you know it’s ready.
When it comes to the actual cooking, a grown-up can take the lead, but you can get your little person to sprinkle whatever fillings you’ve chosen together — ham, veggies, cheese — onto the omelet before you fold or flip it over. If your kid is a bit older and braver, they can have a go themselves.
5. Bake a cake for dessert
If you’ve got a little person with a sweet tooth (it happens) then they might want to try baking a cake first rather than heading straight for the main course.
Baking is a great way to get kids excited about cooking, and it gives them a chance to really get stuck in and messy with their ingredients.
Involve them from the beginning; ask what type of cake (or pie or biscuit) they would like to make and then go from there — there are plenty of easy baking recipes for kids available online if you don’t have your own. The important thing is that they feel like they’re in charge: it helps them to build their confidence and feel more capable in the kitchen.
Be brave about letting your preschoolers crack eggs and get messy with sieving flour and stirring your cake mix. Talk about the textures: how does the cake feel, look and taste when you’re making it compared to how it takes at the end?
And finally, decorations like icing and toppings are the perfect opportunity for small people to show off their creative flair and really have some fun.
Try out the above five easy meals for kids to cook and you’ll have plenty of fun in the kitchen with your preschoolers. For more great ideas and fun activities for kids, visit our blog.