5 Recipes to Get Kids Cooking

Call your kids into the kitchen and get them on the dinner-making team with easy-to-cook recipes they’ll love! Or just make these to bring out the kid in you!

"What's For Dinner" with two fluted plates of Vegetable Lo Mein.

This month, welcome Sara Bir. Sara Bir is the author of two cookbooks, Tasting Ohio and the IACP award-winning The Fruit Forager's Companion. She also moderates and replies to your comments here on Simply Recipes. Follow her @sausagetarian.

If you have school-aged kids, this school year will break new ground. Even if they attend all five days a week in person, their usual routines will likely be vastly different.

Unlike the abrupt intro to homeschooling parents had back in the spring, this time we have a heads-up. If your kids will be home more than they were back in the good old days, here’s a new distance learning class for them: Making Dinner!

As a kid, I had a copy of Betty Crocker’s Cook Book for Boys and Girls, and I spent many happy hours browsing its pages for potential dinners I could make. Now, my own 10-year-old does the same thing. I let her pick out recipes and we make them together, the goal being minimal interference from me (mostly, I help her find utensils).

This meal plan seizes that idea, creating a mini cookbook of sorts for your family. If your kids are small or wary of cooking, give them specific tasks: grating cheese, peeling carrots. If they are older or indomitable, let them run with it! This week is a DIY home ec. class for all ages, one that promises to be fun, fuss-free, and inspiring.

One last thing: Looking for dinner ideas? You're in the right spot! We have delicious meal plans to suit every taste and lifestyle—Healthy Eating, Family Favorites, and Vegetarian just to name a few. These one-month plans are $6.95 and, with them, you get a dessert and weekend prep recipe and a shopping list. They're beautifully designed and perfect to print and save or simply load and cook right from your computer!

  • Breaded and Baked Chicken Drumsticks

    Breaded and Baked Chicken Drumsticks
    Elise Bauer

    We don’t need no stinkin’ Shake ‘n Bake! Drumsticks have big kid appeal, as does anything crunchy. These baked drumsticks are dipped in a mixture of mayonnaise and mustard (use yellow mustard for a milder flavor), dredged in breadcrumbs, and baked until crispy. Serve with simple steamed broccoli and baked potatoes.

  • Hawaiian SPAM Tacos with Pineapple

    Spam tacos recipe
    Nick Evans

    Taco night with a Spammy twist! These salty slabs taste great with juicy, sweet chunks of caramelized pineapple. This is a great skillet meal for young cooks because there’s no raw meat. Lest you scoff at the canned spiced ham we all joke about, give it a shot!

  • Bacon-Wrapped Shrimp

    Bacon Wrapped Shrimp Recipe
    Elise Bauer

    Kebabs are fun to assemble, shrimp is quick to cook, and bacon is nearly always a welcome sight at the dinner table. Follow the oven directions if grilling isn’t kid-friendly (or if you don’t have a grill). A quick brine for the shrimp is optional. Round it out with a speedy Pesto Pasta Salad.

  • Easy Vegetable Lo Mein

    Side view of a white plate and fork with homemade vegetable lo mein. A fork is on the plate and a second plate is partially visible in the upper right hand corner.
    Nick Evans | Art Banner Credit: Andy Christensen

    Kids love making restaurant copycat meals, and this is like having Chinese takeout at home. The veggies assimilate easily into the noodles, making for an all-in-one main that’s got stealth veg power. You can improvise with many types of noodles if your store does not carry fresh ones.

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  • Tex-Mex Shepherd's Pie

    Horizontal view of easy shepherd's pie with a striped dish towel underneath white casserole dish. Serving spoon insdie with a scoop missing.
    Sally Vargas

    This one mashes up the spirit of taco night with one of family dinner’s all-time favorite comfort foods. There are a few more steps here than with other dinners this week, but if you enlist multiple helpers to divide and conquer, you’ll be in good shape. Besides, kids love the accomplishment of assembling a hearty casserole. I’m a grownup, and I still do!