Learning your way around the kitchen and preparing meals can easily help you develop a healthier diet. The same goes for your kids. When they understand what goes into making meals, they develop a new appreciation and understanding for what it means to eat healthy. More importantly, they feel empowered and confident enough to cook for themselves, especially as they grow older and more independent.
Teach your littles these five family-friendly recipes to get them started and inspire a lifetime of loving and learning in the kitchen.
1. Berry Cheesecake Crepes
If you’re tired of plain old pancakes and french toast, try whipping up a batch of berry cheesecake crepes. They’re fun to make and they taste just as good as they look. Bursting with color and flavor, these creamy crepes are just sweet enough. Add your own ensemble of fruits and fillings or stick to the recipe for a tried and true breakfast specialty.
Combine the flour, eggs, butter and sugar. Let your little ones mix the ingredients while you slowly add the milk. When the batter is liquid and lump-free, heat a pan over medium heat and use a ladle to swirl the batter around the edges of the pan until it sets. Flip and cook until the edges begin to crisp. Then, help the kiddos make the cream cheese filling and assemble your crepes. Bon appetit!
2. Yummy Tummy Pizza
When pizza night rolls around, nix the take-out and make your own pie. Homemade pizzas are customizable and super easy to make. Plus, it encourages your kids to get into the kitchen, explore new flavors and let creativity reign. They might even learn a few prep and cleanup skills along the way, too.
First, make your dough. Combine yeast and warm water in a bowl and set aside. Stir the flour, sugar and salt together in a large bowl before adding the yeast mixture. Oil your kids’ hands with a few drops of olive oil and let them knead the dough into a ball. Cover and set aside before moving on to the sauce. When it’s steamy and sizzling, knead the crust to form a 10-inch pie and add your toppings. Cover and cook in an electric skillet for 15 to 20 minutes. Then, slice and serve.
3. Mediterranean Meatballs
Who doesn’t love a good meatball? This dinner staple is a huge hit among little kids, even when parents manage to sneak in veggies, turkey and other healthy ingredients. Since the kids are getting a sneak peek at what goes into these Mediterranean ones, the ingredients are rather straightforward. However, you can easily serve them with cucumber, tomato and feta salad to boost nutritional value — and taste!
Preheat the oven to 400°F while your kids assemble the ingredients. When everything’s out on the counter, help them dice, slice, grate and mince until you’re ready to combine everything into one large bowl. Use a stand mixer or, better yet, those little hands to mix the beef, onion, garlic, seasonings, eggs, panko and parsley. Have fun forming the mixture into small golf-ball-size meatballs. Then, bake for 20 to 25 minutes. In the meantime, make the tzatziki sauce and prep your Greek salad and pita bread. Assemble and enjoy!
4. Chicken Tortilla Soup
Cooks who need to serve a large family fast can rely on this handy chicken tortilla soup recipe. Spiced, but not necessarily spicy, this tasty meal is kid-friendly and super easy to make. Combine major flavor with minimal effort and put dinner on the table in less than 60 minutes. Of course, if you’re teaching your kids to cut veggies and stir pots, it might take a bit longer, but that’s all part of the fun.
Let your little ones pick all the meat off your rotisserie chicken while you add the garlic, tomatoes, veggies, enchilada sauce, broth, chilis, corn and seasonings to a large pot. Add the chicken and bring the soup to a boil. Then, turn the heat down to medium-low and cook uncovered for another half hour. Serve with cilantro, lime slices, cheese, sour cream, avocado, tortilla chips and whatever other toppings you desire. Assembling each bowl is the best part!
5. Stuffed Pasta Shells
If you’re in the mood for comfort food but don’t want to make mac and cheese for the umpteenth time this week, try stuffed pasta shells. This refreshing take is a real crowd-pleaser. Plus, your little helpers are sure to enjoy stuffing each wet, wiggly shell with delicious — and healthy! — filling.
First, boil the shells until they’re slightly soft. Meanwhile, in a large skillet, brown the chicken, coating it in garlic, Italian seasoning, fennel and salt until the liquid cooks off. Help the kiddos mix the chicken, basil, spinach and three kinds of cheese in a large bowl. Spoon the mixture into a bag, cut off the tip and let them carefully pipe the filling into each shell. Bake them in a casserole dish with a little bit of sauce until hot and bubbly and serve.
Making Good Food and Great Memories
When the timer dings and dinner’s ready, make a conscious effort to sit down and enjoy the meal you made together. What did the kids learn in the kitchen? Does the dish taste as good as it looks? Exchanging words over a delicious meal is sure to strengthen bonds and create memories to last a lifetime, so take every opportunity to soak it in. Your kids will grow up and cook on their own before you even know it.