Cooking with Kids (Fun and Easy Recipes for When You’re Stuck at Home)

 ~ When you’re confined to the house, it can be tough to find enough ideas to keep the kids busy … and foods that keep them happily fed. Cooking with kids solves two problems at once! Keep ’em busy AND get them fed! Plus, you just might have fun together or learn something new along the way! ~

collage of four photos of my kids cooking, with the text overlay "Cooking with Kids When You're Stuck at Home"

collage of 4 photos of my kids cooking when they were younger

collage of 5 photos of Amy and Ty cooking when they were younger - making pasta, grilling pizza, mixing and baking - with text overlay "Cooking with Kids"

Things every parent hears (on pretty much continuous lifetime repeat):

I’m hungry!

I’m bored!

I want to do something! (Bonus parental points if you can help them figure out what this “something” is because they have no idea themselves. Good luck with that.)

Can I have a snack?

 … and then it begins all over again …

I’m hungry!

I’m bored!

OMG. Face palm.

I love being a mom. So, so much. But it can get tricky sometimes, keeping those unbelievably curious little minds engaged, and keeping those growing bodies fed. (And … ummmmm … a bunch of other tricky things, too. I realize I’m kind of only scratching the surface here in terms of parental challenges.)

But you get the point.

If you’re a parent, you know exactly what I mean. (And I’m pretty sure that, if you’ve read this far, you’re either a parent or a grandparent, right?)

So what amplifies kids’ boredom? Yeah. You know what I’m gonna say. Being completely stuck in the house with no ability to play with friends, or head to the library or the zoo or the park, or even go anywhere near other human beings. *SIGH*

Honestly, I can’t even imagine the challenge. Since Amy and Ty are high school seniors now, they’re able to self-entertain pretty capably (most of the time!). Plus, they’re so buried in remote learning assignments and college scholarship applications – they can really only dream about the decadence of being bored.

But they used to be little, not all that long ago. And I remember how challenging it was back then, to keep them entertained, engaged, happy, and fed some days.

my kids giggling together as they mix ingredients together

Parents of little ones – please hang in there. You’ve got a monumental task on your hands right now. Amidst all your own stress and fears, you’re facing the daunting three-ring circus of stir-crazy kids who know there’s no end in sight. I’m so sorry.

I hope maybe my ideas here will help you get through a day – or an hour – a tiny bit more sane. 

Cooking with my kids was always one of my best magic tricks when I needed to pull some “happy day” magic out of my hat, even when they were really, really young.

my kids as babies in high chairs, licking beaters and watching as I make a quick bread recipe

When I didn’t know what else to do, I could usually get them excited about a cooking project – especially if it was a hands-on, get-messy, we-get-to-eat-it-immediately cooking project. Kids love to be directly involved and really get in there.

These recipes let them do that (of course, depending somewhat on exactly how old they are and what’s safe for them at that age). Some of these kid-favorite recipes are essentially edible art projects (even better – you get an art “class” out of the deal, too!). And by the end of it all, they’ll not only have been immersed in an engaging activity, they’ll also have been fed something nourishing. 

If you have the energy for it, maybe you could even slip in a little lesson about fractions or measuring … or maybe save that for another day if you just can’t play the role of teacher for one more minute. Either way. Whatever works. 

Hang in there, friends. Stay well. And find chances to build a few priceless memories you’ll treasure when you look back on all this, once they’re grown and gone (and you don’t hear I’m bored! anymore).

Cooking with Kids – Fun and Easy Recipes!

Easy "No-Bake" Recipes Kids Love

With no need to fire up the oven (although a couple of these recipes require the microwave), these snacks and desserts let the kids get involved in shaping balls, pressing bars, stirring ingredients ... and all with the immediate gratification of getting to sample their work right away. No waiting around for things to bake and cool!

Kid-Favorite Smoothies and Frozen Treats

Whenever my kids have some free time (even now that they're teenagers and pretty terrific in the kitchen), their favorite cooking projects are often things like simple smoothies or popsicles. I suppose it's because these recipes really are just so simple ... and so rewarding. Toss a few things together in a blender (and maybe then into a popsicle mold), and you're done. Easy-peasy. A nourishing, refreshing treat that requires just a few minutes of effort!

And BTW … if your kids are older and ready to cook independently, have them check out a couple of the “cooking lessons” posts from our Kitchen Tips section:

And, for those of you trying to do smart meal planning right now – so you don’t have to head out to the grocery store nearly so often – you might find my tips for Once-a-Month Grocery Shopping and our list of Healthy, Easy Pantry Staples Recipes to be useful.

I wish I could hug you all (from the safe distance here, behind my computer screen, of course). Even better? Hug your little ones close, and don’t give up on trying to make the best of this really tough situation. I hope that my recipes, ideas and tips will lighten your burden a little in the days and weeks to come. We’ll all just keep trying to get through this, together. Be safe.

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Updated on August 1, 2021