Would you gladly trade slaving over the stove by yourself for some bonding over meal prep with your child? Cooking doesn’t have to be a solitary activity. When you get your child in on the process, it can actually help her to develop problem-solving skills and understand math concepts. As a bonus, watching the magic of cooking is a science experiment in itself. That said, your 4-year-old isn’t exactly ready to give a helping hand with your beef bourguignon recipe. What can your child help you to cook? Check out these kid-friendly recipes!
Sure, a bowl of cereal with a splash of milk is something your child can do with ease. But, he’s capable of whipping up something more than breakfast basics:
- Fruit-filled pancakes: Children under the teen years shouldn’t cook with a heat source such as the stove or oven. For this easy option, you’ll need to do the actual ‘cooking’. What your child can do is measure the ingredients, crack a few eggs (with your help) and do the mixing. She can also pick a few different fruits to add in, such as bananas, strawberries, blueberries or raspberries.
- Princess toasts: Cinnamon toast gets a make-over with this easy kids’ recipe. Pop a few pieces of whole wheat bread into the toaster. Take them out for your child, making sure that they are cool enough to touch. Help your child to spread a thin layer of butter over the toast. Sprinkle on cinnamon and sugar crystals (they look like sparkling glitter) in a rainbow of colors.
- Breakfast ‘sushi’: There’s no fish in this early-morning treat. Your child can spread a thin layer of peanut or hazelnut butter on a tortilla. Place a banana in the middle and let your little chef roll it up. Slice the ‘sushi’ into bite-sized pieces.
Lunch or Dinner Fare
Bento boxes, salads, sandwiches and chilled soups all fit the bill when it comes to meal-time cooking with your child:
- Bento boxes: Create cute compartments with a few easy-to-make recipes that your child can help out with. Make inside-out rolls, and have your child form rice around the outside of fried shrimp or fish (don’t let your child handle raw fish or fry it- do these steps yourself). Have your little chef pick out a few veggies, help you to peel them and cut them into bite-sized pieces (again, you need to do the cutting for your young child). Have her arrange the vegetables into fun shapes or faces. Another option is to make a simple sandwich (layer cheese in between bread). Cut the sandwich into shapes with a cookie cutter to make stars, hearts or teddy bears! Another option is to get creative and create rainbow-colored compartments. For example, add blue blueberries, then green sliced kiwi, red raspberries, yellow bananas and peeled orange slices.
- Garden green salad: Your child can wash, dry and tear up the lettuce. Older kids can also help to cut and peel veggies such as cucumbers and carrots. Have your kiddo toss in olives, croutons or even dried cranberries for a fresh treat.
- Veggie spread sandwich: Mix up your own batch of hummus with your child. Grind a can of chick peas in the food processor first. Hand the blended peas over to your child, letting him mix in a tablespoon of olive oil, tahini and lemon juice. Spread the mix over whole wheat pita and have your child add in his favorite vegetables.
- No-cook soup: Take the fear of burns out of the kitchen by nixing the stove. Have your older child help you to peel and chop a few cucumbers. Younger kids can pull apart a sprig of dill. Add them to a blender with enough buttermilk to make the soup creamy, and mix away. Pour the mixture into a large bowl and let your child mix in plain yogurt.
S’mores are easy desserts that your child can put her own creative touch on. Start with the traditional graham crackers or swap in thin cookies. Add in chocolate, a marshmallow and something special! Let your child pick the special ‘secret’ ingredient. For example, stack a marshmallow, white chocolate and banana slices onto peanut butter cookies or layer on strawberries and sprinkle with jimmies. If you don’t have a campfire to cook over, heat the marshmallows in the microwave or bake them in the oven. Do this part yourself, and never allow your child to touch or eat the hot marshmallows.
What did you and your child cook together? Show us, so that we can inspire other parents who are looking for ways to connect through cooking! Submit your mini munchies and masterpiece meals to us at firstname.lastname@example.org for us to share.