Do you feel like you run a diner lately? We are equal parts obsessed with
and completely over cooking so….many…meals. While we can’t break the
seemingly endless cycle of preparing every breakfast, lunch, dinner (REPEAT!),
we CAN suggest making the task fun by getting the whole family involved in the
cooking process. Cooking is one of THE best activities for children of all ages.
It’s a hands on sensory experience and involves many developmental skills such
as fine and gross motor, language, math, social bonding, cooperation, following
directions, and memory. It’s not necessarily easy to include littles in the cooking
process but, with practice, it may become a great weekly (or possibly daily?)
activity that makes cooking less of a redundant chore and more of a fun and
Today we are sharing a few tips to make cooking with kids easier, and a
few recipe ideas and websites that may inspire your own “Mel’s Diner” menu this
• First of all, as we have already mentioned, practice makes doable, not perfect.
When you and your child understand the expectations in the kitchen, the whole
process goes a lot easier. It’s going to be messy. It’s going to be really messy
and that’s ok. If you are just starting to cook with small children, begin with a
very easy one bowl type recipe that is child safe and something they will also
be excited to eat when finished. Remember, cooking is great for all ages. Start
cooking with your baby now and your preschooler will be asking to help in the
kitchen tomorrow! (And yes, children really grow up that fast. )
• Second, prepare like a cooking show. While your child is playing or napping,
get the ingredients for your recipe prepped (just the things that may be too
much for your child to help with). Wash, chop, crack, measure; do whatever will
make the cooking process run smoothly for you. You may be surprised how
much your child can actually help with! Then, you can include them in a little
more next time.
• Third, if you have a child safe step stool that allows them to be part of the action
at the kitchen counter, use it! If you don’t, prepare your dish at the kitchen
table or even on the (clean) kitchen floor. You can throw down a plastic table
cloth or towel underneath to catch any spills. When the activity is brought to
your child’s eye level they will be more engaged and involved. If you are
cooking with your baby then use a carrier or their highchair; keeping them away
from anything hot or sharp. Let them touch the ingredients safely, smell spices,
and explore the bowls and utensils.
• Lastly, cooking is rewarding in many ways but obviously the biggest reward is
eating what you make! Choose recipes that your child will be excited to make
and enjoy together. You may need to bribe them with chocolate cake to
Here are a few ideas and websites to get you started:
Nut free trail mix (we use whatever is in the pantry: i.e. raisins, goldfish, cereal,
Baked apples with cinnamon
Roasted veggies with olive oil and garlic
Yogurt with fruit and honey
Mashed avocado with lemon (easy guacamole)
Cinnamon sugar toast
Nut butter (or sun-butter) toast with banana and honey
Quick breads (banana, pumpkin) with raisins or chocolate chips
Banana ice cream (frozen banana chunks in the blender)
weelicious.com and yummytoddlerfood.com both have some easy recipes that
both kids and adults will enjoy!
We also love Deb Perelman from smittenkitchen.com
She has recipes on her blog that she cooks with her own children as well as
really delicious things that make quarantine more bearable: including chocolate
frosting in a food processor! So easy and good!
We hope you will share with us what you are cooking at home!
Now, go play!
Chelsie and Michele