Passing jobs along to children frees time up for parents and makes kids more independent. Kids gain confidence and skills when they do things for themselves. Teaching kids to cook is a great way to start this process.
Even if your child isn’t quite ready to use the stove, you can teach him to make a sandwich and choose sides. Next, you can show him or her how to use the microwave. When children are ready, they can learn to use the stove.
Here are 10 easy meals kids can make, starting from the most basic
Bowl of cereal
Show children how to reach a bowl and spoon, how to open a cereal box, how to pour the correct amount of cereal, and how to pour the milk. I request kids ask for help if the milk is full, because a gallon of spilled milk is worth crying over!
Spreading peanut butter and jam can be difficult for kids younger than six. Show kids how to use a knife, open and close bread bags and jars, how to open and close cheese and meat bags, and give them options for sandwiches.
Using a tortilla or flat bread, children can make an easy version of a sandwich. Just add ingredients and fold or roll.
Pita and hummus
A scoop of hummus on a plate with pita or flat bread and fresh veggies makes a delicious, filling, healthful meal.
The most basic version is a plate of tortilla chips with melted shredded cheese on top. Use the microwave to melt the cheese. Add-ons for more adventurous eaters could be salsa, sour cream, re-fried beans, avocado and tomatoes.
A bagel is similar to a sandwich, but flavored cream cheeses and nut butters can be used as spreads. My kids love bagel cheese, which is a bagel with cheese melted in the microwave.
Opening a can of soup and heating it on the stove or in the microwave takes little instruction. Other soups need boiling water first. Make sure kids understand how to make condensed soup by adding in water or milk. Add a handful of crackers or toast on the side.
This is a kid favorite at our house. The most basic version is prepared in the microwave. Kids comfortable with heat can use a Panini press, griddle or pan on the stove. Tomatoes and avocados make a good vegetable addition.
Bread and cheese combine for this staple meal. Add tomato soup on the side or apples or pears inside for a crunchy sweet treat.
Breakfast food makes a good meal any time of day. Pancake mix is easy to make, and kids like making shapes with the batter. An electric griddle is the easiest way to prepare pancakes. My 11-year-old daughter makes them for the whole family.
Some of these meals are more complete with the addition of a fruit or vegetable. Teach kids age eight and up how to wash and slice fruits and vegetables. Some kids love choosing their own veggies for a side salad. Kids may need to be taught how to prepare a meal several times before they are comfortable doing it themselves.
Although there are many ready-to-eat meals marketed to children, most are not very nutritious. By teaching your children to be comfortable preparing their own food, you are teaching them to be responsible, independent and well-fed!
Amy M. Peterson, a former high school English teacher, currently lives in Oregon with her husband and four children. She spends her days writing, reading, exercising and trying to get her family to eat more vegetables.