Real Food Tips: 10 Recipes To Cook With Your Kids

There is no better time than now to spend some quality time in the kitchen with your kids. Despite all the learning our children do when they are off at school, a few things they are not being taught are some pretty important household duties like cooking, cleaning, and laundry – just to name a few. In Michael Pollan’s newest book, Cooked, he said himself that,

cooking from scratch

That’s a pretty strong statement – don’t you think? I personally want cooking to be second nature to my girls when it is time for me to send them off into the world, which means I need them to start learning these skills now! It’s no secret that getting your kids in the kitchen – even starting as young as 1 or 2 years old – can lead to many benefits like increased confidence, more adventurous eaters, and quality time together. But it’s also of course no secret that it’s more work for mom and dad to slow down the cooking pace and deal with more of a mess in the process, but I can assure you that it is totally worth it in the end. It does not need to be an every day occurrence …even cooking with your little one only once every week or two will go a long way!

kids in the kitchen

So it’s time for you to schedule a little cooking project with your kid(s) – no matter their age. From toddlers who stir pancake batter to kindergartners who can cook scrambled eggs on the stove (supervised of course) to 8-year-olds who follow and make entire recipes by themselves (we’ve just recently reached this milestone with our oldest daughter), the moral of the story is “better late than never.” So get in there and get cooking together! :)

Below are my top 10 recipes for sharing the cooking duties with your kids (click the name for the full recipe). But before we get to those, I want to mention a full resource that’s super helpful for getting kids in the kitchen. Camp Kitchen, a 5 day at-home cooking camp for kids, offers a structure that has 5 themed days, each with 3 recipes each. You get shopping lists and images, too, and tips that can help you along the way. Kiran on our team has put together this ebook that has been enjoyed by so many. Check out the recipes below and for a structured plan, check out Camp Kitchen!

1. Whole-Wheat Pancakes and Waffles

Classic choice for involving kids, right? Well this is a great place to start for a reason. Let little ones stir the batter, 5 and 6 year-olds can man the waffle iron, and 7 and 8-year-olds can flip the pancakes on the stove. Everyone can help measure out ingredients :)

whole wheat waffles

2. Fudge Pops

If chocolate is involved – who wouldn’t be game? This is a great recipe for teaching your little ones how liquids should be measured in a glass measuring cup with a spout and dry ingredients in cups that can be leveled off.

fudge pops

3. Taco Salad

The great thing about tacos – either in the shell or over lettuce – is that there is a job for everyone. Someone grates the cheese, someone washes the lettuce, someone measures out the spices, someone cooks the meat, and then – voila! – you have dinner. And if you are lucky maybe your reluctant picky eaters will eat a piece of lettuce or two if it is mixed in with some yummy taco meat. :)

taco salad

4. Individual Whole-Wheat Pizzas

Yes, this is another classic one, but again – for a reason! Forget your old pizza routine and make this whole-grain dough together from scratch. Then come dinner time, divide up the dough so each person can roll out their own personal-sized pizza, and even put on their own toppings. Put plenty of healthy topping choices to choose from – like bell peppers and pesto –  in little bowls.

whole wheat pizza

5. Peanut Butter and Jelly Smoothie

This recipe is a fun one because it’s hard to mess up. Even if you put a little too much of this or not enough of that it will probably still taste great. And little hands can peel the bananas for you and throw a bunch of spinach in the blender and push the button, of course!

PB and J smoothie

6. Whole-Grain Zucchini Bread (or muffins)

This recipe is a great one for teaching kids how to find and use the right measuring spoon/cup. Don’t just hand them the 1/2 teaspoon – ask them to find it! And, with a little guidance, older kids can also help you grate the zucchini as well.

zucchini muffins

7. Whole-Wheat Biscuits

Who said biscuits had to be round? The fun part about this recipe is cutting the biscuits into different shapes before putting them in the oven. So get out your “cookie cutters” and go to town.

whole wheat biscuits

8. Scrambled Eggs

Okay, so there is no recipe link for scrambled eggs. You just crack a few eggs – great job for 3 and 4-year-olds – and whisk them together with a splash of milk and some salt and pepper. Let older kids melt the butter in the pan and stir the eggs until they are cooked all the way through (supervised of course). This dish is a very rewarding one and good for little ones without a lot of patience!


9. Homemade Ranch Dip

It’s no secret that most kids like to dip their food into something…so imagine their surprise when you help them make their very own flavored dip for veggies and whole-grain pretzels. And trust me this one is easy peasy.

ranch dip

10. Banana Ice Cream

Did you know you could make ice cream out of just straight-up frozen bananas? Yep, it’s true and you don’t need a special appliance to do it – just in your own blender! This is one where you do need to plan ahead though because the bananas need to be frozen in advance. Feel free to try different variations like peanut butter or chocolate – yum!

banana ice cream

What are your favorite “real food” dishes to cook with your kids? Please share (including links) in the comments. And I have one more cute picture of my oldest daughter to share with you :). Happy cooking!


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  1. I have the same problems with my seven year old of the kitchen being destroyed and dinner an hour late… We’re working on making batches of muffins for her lunches on weekends and her helping me plan meals as well as learning to wash ingredients and the like. We’re vegan at home which means a lot of meals made from scratch, and even if she can’t help that night, if she asks I always explain what I’m doing!

  2. I used to love to help out in the kitchen growing up – I was raised in A central American country – where, people went home for Almuerzo and siesta ( Lunch and Nap ) and then return to school and work … in the summer time, I would prepared appetizers for my dad and have these ready when he got home for lunch ! …. I now leave here in the US since the 70′ been married now for 18 years – and belong to a CSA where I profile recipes I learned growing up and these are a well received, even the most simple Bean soup with all the fixings :)! We like to know where our food comes from we like to stay organic fair trade local and sustainable :)!

    Great work !


  3. My parent’s started me cooking from as far back as I can remember and by the time I was 15 I was capable of cooking all of the family meals on my own. By the time I went to college and apartments on my own I was the only one of my roommates capable of cooking meals entirely from scratch. Cooking from scratch is much cheaper and healthier than from store bought. My parents never regretted teaching me from a young age. It is truly an important life skill everybody needs to know. I’ve had roommates who couldn’t and it was terrible. I can’t imagine how boring and terrible for you it would be to live on microwave burritos and easy mac.

  4. Emma (5) loves to help in the kitchen. We cook a weekly batch of muffins for school snacks! I put out all the ingredients. She is learning to identify them. I measure things out. She pours s it in the bowl and does the stirring. She’s also a fan of making pancakes and meatloaf. I’ve had my share of frustration as well. Now I only have them help when I’m not rushing the clock, that takes the pressure off. As for messes… Yep they happen in a big way and I’ve just learned that there little giggles are worth a little extra clean up time. Emma was so excited to have cracked an egg perfectly this weekend. A change from the usual smashed egg and she’ll hunt that follows :) it was really great to watch the pride on her face…

  5. My issue is with messiness and fighting. My kids fight over everything when we try to cook together and one can’t seem to help tasting and licking everything, often raw items that should not be tasted. I often end up very frustrated after trying to cook with them which is a shame because I love to cook and I would love to teach them. I hope they outgrow this!!

  6. Cooking is a PROCESS. When you cook, you are processing your food. Heat depletes the available vitamins and minerals and degrades fats and proteins. Whole grains are not a health food: read Wheat Belly book. Raw fruits, vegetables, and nuts, organically grown, are the highest grade of foods to feed our bodies.

  7. Excellent article and ideas! So true about teaching cooking as a life skill. Being able to cook some simple basics from scratch is essential. I wouldn’t want my kids depending on processed foods and take out for their meals!

  8. My son, right at age 4, completely understood mixing dry ingredients and wet ingredients separately from all of the baking and pancakes we have made! My two year old loves dumping and stirring and helping since he was one too! It can be frustrating when trying to get dinner done in a pinch, but this post was a good reminder for me to get them back in the kitchen. I should be excited that they are so eager to help and not squash their enthusiasm for such an important life skill! I had struggled to learn to cook in my early years of marriage, taught many things by my husband who cooked often as a kid. Thanks for sharing.

  9. My kids and I have made this several times and they love it! It can serve as ice cream or keeping it in the fridge as pudding. The last time we made it my 4 yr old also added honey to his, and it was heavenly delicous! My kids are not big banana fans, but you can hardly taste the banana in this recipe. I also love it because it is a good source of protein.

  10. My 2 year old daughter LOVES to mimic me in the kitchen, and at times, her play kitchen just isn’t enough of a challenge for her. Last night, we made whole wheat pizzas, a kale salad, and fresh cantaloupe for dinner. I cut everything and then she placed the cheese on the pizza, the kale in the salad bowl and the cantaloupe in her mouth :) I even caught her eating fresh basil and big chunks of tomato. We had so much fun and when my husband got home, she proudly announced, “Mommy and Winnie made dinner!” I love you blog, your recipes and your tips for wholesome living. Thank you for sharing these with us!

  11. My daughter (5) helped make your Easy Cheesy Crackers and not only did she have so much fun making them but she’s so proud to share them and eat them. I can see the twinkle in her eye when she sees me serve the crackers that she made. Thank you for all of your wonderful tips and delicious recipes! Keep them coming.

  12. My sons are now grown and all of them are wonderful cooks. We started when they were very young. The life skills learned are priceless.

  13. My girls LOVE to help cook! They especially love trying recipes found in picture books or magazines like Family Fun or the Penzy’s catalog. Of course, I adjust the recipes to make them healthier. I find baking especially doable as even my youngest kiddo can dump flour or stir batter. Though, I do find recipes take a LOT longer with my girls helping, so I usually eschew their offers for help on busy weeknights.

  14. Cooking with kids is so important. I think it creates an understanding and apperciation for food and their parents.
    My daughter and I love cooking together. It is a great way to spend time together and a wonderful way to learn about food, measuring and math, real life expereince, and mixing and chemical reactions. I am not only a health coach for individuals and my family, but I homeschool my daughter. Cooking together is the most rewarding lessons we do. We get to make nutritous and delcious food with a whole lot of love.
    Thanks for all of your wonderful recipes, tips and tricks…we love them!

  15. Great ideas Lisa! I’ve been trying to get my reluctant 11 year old son in the kitchen this summer. Your recipe for fudge pops did the trick! He put together a batch with minimal help from me & they are delicious! Thanks so much for all your help :)

  16. Hi, I can’t remember if it was here or on food website, that gave a website where you can quickly type in questionable ingredients that you don’t recognize on labels, and they come up with infor and also color coded as to green/yellow/red on level to avoid?
    If you know a great website is love it, thanks,

  17. My family was supposed to go out to a baseball game tonight, but my oldest (10) was too tuckered out from a fun filled day with his friends and opted to stay home with me. I realized that I now had time to make more whole wheat “pop-tarts” and decided to ask him if he wanted to help. You can’t believe how pleased I was that he gladly turned off his Kindle and helped me make them. It was GREAT. He can also see how much work goes into them and why I can’t just whip up a batch when he demands them.

    Oh – we call them personal pies because they taste just like pie and my kids can’t believe I let them eat them for breakfast. Also, I cook down apples or fresh berries with some flour, a tiny bit of sugar and cinnamon and use that as the filling. I drain the extra juices from the berries so it doesn’t run out of the pastries in the oven. This way you get more fruit than the jam version.

  18. Quiche! We actually just made a crustless quiche. I usually just use up things I have around the kitchen. Today it was with frozen spinach, fresh diced tomato, fresh mozzarella, parmesan cheese, and of course the eggs (adding some milk and sour cream). Kids can help pick the ingredients and making it. Yummy good and quick lunch!

  19. At our house, Monday night is the kids night to make dinner. My son and my daughter take turns being in charge every other week. The first thing they do is plan their menu. I let them pick anything they want to have for dinner. Then on Monday night they make dinner for the family. I stay close by to answer any questions or help when needed. They have learned a lot about cooking. Keeping it scheduled makes sure they have regular opportunities to practice. Their favorite part is getting to choose what they like to eat for dinner each time. I love the look of pride and satisfaction on their faces when we sit down to eat a meal they have prepared. To give credit where it is due, this is part of my our chore teaching agenda that I got from the wonderful book Cleaning House by Kay Wills Wyma.

  20. I am so happy to be following your FB page. My 9 year old, 8 year old and 4 year old recently made a loaf of chocolate zucchini bread entirely from scratch, only asking me to use the electric mixer for them. My son found the recipe online and the two older ones worked hard to find things for my 4 year old to do. I literally sat in the other room trying desperately not to listen and wondering how I was going to manage to eat some of their ‘bread’ without barfing. To my surprise and delight it was delicious. And a prouder bunch of kids you couldn’t find. You simply cannot give that to a child with words or praise – what they got from that exercise was invaluable.

    Thanks so much for helping families like ours stay healthy!


  21. My kids age 6 and 9 are learning to cook, but it wasn’t until I started the 100 days of real food meal plans that there was much structure to it. I have to say when I went to college in the 90s my roommates told me we were “lucky” because we had a cook in the house. At dinner that night, I went to assist with dinner and the only thing the “cook” could make was from a box. Needless to say, the next couple of years I helped other people learn to cook from scratch and find their way around the kitchen, as this is a valuable life skill. I am determined to give my children the skills and confidence to cook from scratch and know how to eat in a healthy manner every day! Thank you for this page it has helped me stay committed to what I set out to do.

  22. Love the cute ideas. I follow you on facebook. Could you think of 10 recipes for college kids who are going off to their first apartment and need to learn some simple yet real food recipes to live on?

    1. -Macaroni and Cheese
      -Apple Pie
      -Roast Chicken
      -Chicken Soup (from carcass of said chicken)
      -Mashed Potatoes

    2. In addition to recipes mentioned, I am teaching my children to cook:
      – scrambled eggs (can add to sauteed onion or peppers and/or sausage and serve plain or as a breakfast burrito)
      – fried eggs (egg sandwich!)
      – poached eggs (add a quick hollandaise and get a reputation as a gourmet since you can make Eggs Benedict)
      – hard boiled eggs (egg salad, Salad Nicoise)
      – frittata (incorporate any veg/protein, just like stir fried rice or stir fried noodles)
      – pasta (Italian or Asian) tossed with any number of raw or barely cooked veg, but particularly tomato, onion, zucchini or served with a basic bolognese
      – baked potatoes (serve with any number of things, like chili, cheese, sour cream, etc.)

      (((can you tell breakfast eggs are important in our family? LOL )))

  23. My Sblings ans I before graduation had to make a full meal, make a quiot, sew on buttons, rotate tires fill and check all fluids for the car. Did not make a difference male or female. I have done much the same, but instead of a quilt they have sewn PJ’s or simular item. My boys actually cook better than their sisters.

  24. My 2 1/2 year old helped me start a batch of soaked granola this afternoon. She also loves to stir anything, pancakes, eggs. I love that she’s already in the kitchen with me!

  25. I have a teeny galley kitchen and 3 girls at home with me. Cooking is MY thing and I hate to give it up but my kiddos (twins that are 7 and my 9 year old) love to be right there with me, watching and asking if they can help. Whether they slice mushrooms at the dining room table for me or stir up brownie batter, they love helping and they definitely overflow our kitchen. I never thought about letting them actually use the stove but it looks like it’s time! Especially for my 9 year old…maybe she can make dinner and give me a break! Thanks for all the awesome advice and recipes, you have no idea how much you have helped my family.

  26. We even bought a “tower” for the kids to be at the counter with us. They love counting as we measure, stirring, or just watching us make food. Unfortunately, we had to put it in storage since May, and won’t be able to get it back out till September, plus we have an itsy-bitsy kitchen right now. But then we will have an AWESOME kitchen that will have even more opportunities to help cook. One thing I do notice is that I tend to have them help with baking more than cooking, and need to plan that into our dinners and breakfasts so that they learn that it isn’t all about the sweets (they are just less time sensitive).


  28. I am now a great grandmother and have had all of my children in the kitchen with me, almost from birth. Many are now adults with kids of their own. They all cook and are really good cooks. I taught math to a dyslexic… and reading… How many 1/4 cups make a 1 cup measure…What does the recipe say to do next? Science by explaining how butter melts..and how baking soda works. Nutrition..what else can we add to this to get more veggies. Patience…You have to wait for the cookies to bake. Responsibility. We have to clean up our mess when we finish. Health…Let’s make chicken soup for Mrs Smith who has the flu.we need to wash our hands before we start. Good manners …Lets make a cake for Grandma for having us for dinner. Time management..We will make two meatloaves and freeze one for next week when we will be busy.Money management…I only have $50 for groceries this wek…lets look at the sales and plan our grocery shopping trip….Cooperation…you wash and I will dry… Pride…Look at the amazing cookie tray we made for Christmas. Self sufficiency… You are a big girl…You can get your own breakfast today. Cold cereal and toast for a 4 yr old.
    I am not certain how people can NOT have their kids in the kitchen with them. It is a fun way to teach them about the world….and in these days of home schooling a fun way to learn just about any topic!! From geography to science, English math,history!

    1. Marilyn this is AWESOME and almost made me tear up. I never thought how much what we do as moms teaches our children without it actually being on purpose. I know children are like sponges but this really brought it home. Thank you for being so thoughtful!

    2. You are amazing! This is what we need more of now…I try and do a ton of what you said in our every day lives with out children and I hope I do half as good a job as you seem to have. Made me tear up too :)

  29. My nearly 2yo loves stir the ingredients. She slides the dining table chair over to help on her own! She pulls out all the utensils from the drawer and mixes herself. She’ll even help put the batter into the pan(s).

  30. Love that quote!!
    I just made banana bread with my son this morning…he’s almost 2 and helped pour the measured ingredients into the bowl and watch the mixer do it’s magic. He loves to look through our utensil drawer, asking about the objects and then later names what they’re used for when I’m making meals.

  31. This is why I can’t cook. I grew up in a household of processed convenience foods and a mother who was always booting us out of the kitchen.

    My husband is the cook in our family. His mother is an amazing cook.

    I’m determined to make cooking a family affair with hubby leading the way :)

    1. Lindsey, It’s NEVER too late to learn! The key is to start simple and stick to known flavor profiles. Take your cue from cooking shows or even restaurant menus. For example, I now make watermelon, feta, and arugula salads topped with grilled chicken. NEVER would have thought of it had I not been eating at a Greek restaurant.

      Good luck!

  32. Whole Wheat Chocolate Chip mini muffins!

    2 cups whole wheat flour
    1/2 c unrefined sugar
    1 tbs baking powder
    1 cup ghiradelli mini chocolate chips (or any chip of your choice)

    1/3 c olive oil or coconut oil
    1 cup milk (i substitute with lactaid for my lactose intolerant son)
    1 egg
    splash (or 1tsp) of pure vanilla extract

    combine dry ingredients in a big bowl. combine wet ingredients in a small bowl. make a well in the dry, pour in the wet, stir till just barely combined.

    I use a 2tbs ice cream scoop (pampered chef) and scoop into an olive oil misted (also PC) mini muffin pan.

    Bake about 10 minutes at 350! makes 24 mini’s.

    I’ve also got a great recipe for the cake-pop-maker for whole wheat glazed “munchkins” (I think I know what I’m making them for saturday morning breakfast tomorrow!)

  33. My daughter, who is 21 months old, already helps me crack open the eggs for scrambled eggies in the morning. I try to let her help with everything thats not going to her or harm her. She loves it :) Now if only i can get her to not stomp on the strawberries and other things in the garden…… :)
    Love your FB page btw. many great ideas :)