I sometimes am asked how I “get it all done” with kids, and the answer is that I don’t. Or at least I don’t every day, or with a patient attitude all the time, or while still managing to get a shower and brush my hair.
How the Kids Help Out
The other answer is that I don’t do it all to begin with. My kids, who are experts at creating laundry, dishes, and messes, are also becoming experts at helping clean them up. In fact, my older children have become a tremendous help and regularly contribute to daily household tasks.
Though they’ve had chores since they were much younger, I’ve always been reluctant to hand over any of the kitchen or cooking duties. This was partly because I really enjoy these tasks and often am creating recipes while cooking dinner, but also because I wasn’t sure they were ready to handle these jobs.
Turns out, I was wrong and not only are they capable of kitchen tasks (including using sharp knives) but there are actually benefits to letting them do so. As we get ready for the arrival of our new addition, I’ve been letting the kids handle more and more of the kitchen duties.
Not only do they love it, but I’ve been quite impressed at how capable they are of prepping and cooking simple recipes (and cleaning up after themselves). Although they’re probably capable of more complicated recipes, I’ve been starting the kids out with more simple one-pan recipes, and these are their current favorites to cook.
Recipes Kids Can Cook
My kids have absolutely loved getting to help out in the kitchen. They now plan and cook Saturday morning breakfast all on their own and love waking us up to breakfast (and no complaints from me either!).
Once a week, we login to my meal plans and create a meal plan for the week. They do this with me and select recipes that they are able to cook for some of the meals each week. For some of the recipes, I definitely still help and supervise, but they love the feeling of accomplishment when they can prepare a meal without me!
These are their picks for 12 favorite recipes they can cook alone…
1. Pakistani Kima
This one-pan stir fry is one of our family favorite recipes and the kids are able to prepare it on their own. In fact, this is what the kids are making for dinner tonight!
The older kids peel and slice the vegetables and brown the meat in the pan. Our younger children get to help sprinkle on pre-measured spices and stir. Even though this stir-fry has somewhat strong flavors (like curry) that may not be common spices to use with children, I’d encourage giving this one a try! Not only is it easy to cook, but every child I’ve ever served it to has loved the flavor!
Here’s the recipe: Pakistani Kima
2. Apple Cinnamon Coconut Flour Muffins
I love baking with coconut flour because it is higher in protein and fiber. It is a much different flour than regular wheat flour and requires the addition of more liquid and more of a binder, like eggs. This also makes it more filling and nourishing.
I have a simple apple cinnamon coconut flour muffin recipe that our family has been baking for years. It makes an excellent breakfast on its own or topped with butter, almond butter or jam. Though coconut flour takes a little bit of getting used to, this recipe is simple enough for children to make. The younger kids help measure ingredients and the older ones help mix and spoon into muffin cups to bake.
Here’s the recipe: Apple Cinnamon Coconut Flour Muffins
3. Egg Drop Soup
One of our favorite simple soups. Rather than spending $30+ to get enough for our family at a decent restaurant, we love making this at home. The broth adds beneficial amino acids and minerals while the eggs give a protein boost. Since we usually have homemade broth on hand, this recipe can be made in minutes on a busy night!
The older kids heat the broth and crack the eggs and the younger kids get to add spices and carefully stir.
Here’s the recipe: Egg Drop Soup
4. Beef and Cabbage Stir Fry
Another simple stir fry that is easy to customize, so I let the kids get creative on this one. The older kids slice the cabbage and brown the meat while the younger kids pick and add the spices and help saute. The best part? This is a simple meal that kids can make and that can be on the table in under half an hour.
Here’s the recipe: Beef and Cabbage Stir Fry
5. Chia Seed Pudding
This is a make-ahead recipe that takes a few hours in the fridge to reach its full potential, but it doesn’t require any cooking or chopping, so it is great for even young children. We often make this recipe at night to have it ready as a high-protein breakfast.
Here’s the recipe: Chia Seed Pudding
6. Cashew Chicken Lettuce Wraps
Sweet and savory cashew chicken wrapped in lettuce leaves makes a great (and quick) meal that kids can prepare. Our older kids chop the chicken and vegetables while the younger kids add the maple syrup, spices and cashews. All the kids can help spoon into lettuce leaves to serve.
Here’s the recipe: Cashew Chicken Lettuce Wraps
7. Stuffed Zucchini Boats
A kid-favorite because it is so fun to serve! These zucchini “boats” are zucchini halves stuffed with meat, vegetables and spices. A quick recipe with several preparation steps, so the older kids can slice and boil zucchini and chop onions while the younger ones brown meat and add spices. The boats go into the oven for a final bake and my kids usually make “sails” for the boats with paper and wooden skewers before serving.
Here’s the recipe: Stuffed Zucchini Boats
8. Almond Flour Pancakes
One of the kids favorite breakfast recipes to make, and one of mine because the process (and cleanup) is so simple. All of our kids can help measure and mix ingredients and the older ones cook the pancakes on the cast iron griddle. Breakfast in ten minutes and the kids can make it while I get ready for our day.
Here’s the recipe: Almond Flour Pancakes
9. Spinach Artichoke Chicken (Slow Cooker)
This recipe requires a little more patience for the kids since it is a slow-cooker recipe but they like to help add the ingredients at lunch time to have this meal ready for dinner. They chop the chicken and add the spinach, cheeses and artichokes at the right time.
Here’s the recipe: Spinach Artichoke Chicken
10. Bean Free 20-Minute Chili
A fast chili that can be made in under half an hour. The little kids help open cans and add spices while the older kids brown meat and saute vegetables. This recipe is especially good for busy nights because it comes together so quickly.
Here’s the recipe: 20 Minute Chili
11. Healthy Marshmallows
This would have been first on the list if the kids had written this post, as it is one of their favorite recipes to make. They love it not only because it is marshmallows, but also because they get to use some fun kitchen tools like the mixer, a candy thermometer and the vanilla extract (their favorite). The older kids handle the melting of the honey (and I supervise this because it has to get so hot) and then they pour into the mixer with the gelatin to mix for about 15-minutes. The finished mixture is transferred to a lined dish to firm up.
Here’s the recipe: Healthy Marshmallows
12. Berry Cobbler
A super-simple dessert that I don’t mind the kids making often because of the nourishing berries, protein-rich almond flour and healthy fats. This one is a regular on our menu and the little kids love it because they can make the entire recipe themselves.
Here’s the recipe: Berry Cobbler
Kids are often much more capable (and willing) to help in the kitchen than we give them credit for! While there has definitely been a learning curve, I’m very grateful that I let my kids start helping more in the kitchen and I’d encourage you to give it a try too!
Do your kids help out in the kitchen?