Are your kids constantly asking you for food? Teach them to make a few things on their own with these easy, healthy recipes for kids to make.
This page contains affiliate links. Thank you for your support of Prep Dish!
I genuinely like spending time in the kitchen. I mean, I went to culinary school. It's definitely one of my major hobbies. Still, when the whole family is home, I admit I can get a little tired of the constant nature of cooking and food prep. Prepping my weekly meal plan is a HUGE help but there's still the kids' lunches, extra snacks, etc. It can be a lot!
That's one reason I'm a big proponent of getting kids in the kitchen. Honestly, involving my kids is often more work for me right now with how young they are but I know it will pay off in the long run! I want them to be able to make their own snacks and simple lunches in a few years, and not just for selfish reasons!
Teaching kids to cook can be truly empowering. They get such a confidence boost when they're able to take care of their own needs, even if it's something as simple as serving themselves some carrots with hummus or making a peanut butter sandwich.
Learning kitchen skills is also a great way for young kids to practice fine motor and organizational skills. They have to think through everything they need, gather their supplies and ingredients and use various kitchen tools in the process. These are excellent developmental opportunities for little ones.
With these benefits in mind, I've put together a list of EASY and healthy recipes that kids can make for breakfasts, snacks and lunches. I've roughly ordered each category from easiest to most complex but, of course, you know your child best. If your kids are as young as mine, they are going to need a little help. But these are the kinds of recipes that, with a little practice, older kids will be able to assemble all on their own.
If your kids are totally new to working in the kitchen, read through the below tips on getting started before you jump into the recipes.
Setting Kids up for Kitchen Independence
I've found that even small tweaks to my kitchen can make a big difference with how capable and independent my kids are. Here are a few tips for making your kitchen kid-friendly and setting your little ones up for culinary success:
- Put Things Within Reach: Everyone's kitchen setup is different but if you can store your child's dishes on a low shelf or in a low drawer, this is a great place to start! Bonus – when your toddler can choose their own plate, there's no tantrum over you giving them the blue one instead of the green one 😉
- Set up a Self Serve Snack Bin: Consider dedicating a bin, basket or drawer in the fridge to snack items your child can choose for themselves. Try to rotate what's in there from week to week but you might include items like baby carrots, clementines, pre-portioned yogurt, washed apples, cheese sticks, etc. You may want to also have a basket in the pantry with items they can choose like nuts, popcorn, larabars, etc. This is a great way to offer some choice and control even to very young children.
- Introduce New Skills: If you don't know where to begin with teaching kids to cook, I highly recommend my friend Katie's online cooking classes for kids at Kids Cook Real Food. She offers a free knife skills class and the details she includes on how kids should hold a knife, safety tips and even language to use are amazing.
Easy, Healthy Recipes for Kids to Make
And now, on to the recipes! Again, every child will not be able to make every one of these 100% independently but olds kids will definitely be able to assemble these mostly on their own. They're all no cook recipes and require minimal chopping.
Easy Breakfasts for Kids to Make
I know for many of you, gaining a few extra minutes in the busy weekday morning would be pretty amazing. Transferring responsibility for your kids' breakfast over to them can be a huge help!
In addition to the below recipes, you may want to consider making some freezer breakfasts every few months. While these wouldn't be completely child-made, kids can absolutely be in charge of selecting and reheating a muffin or breakfast burrito. This makes for super quick, but still quite healthy, breakfast options!
- Yogurt with Cherries: This is the perfect easy breakfast for kids to make because it calls for frozen cherries, no washing or chopping required! Kids can of course also get creative, making yogurt parfaits with their favorite fruits and nuts.
- Blueberry Chia Pudding: Chia pudding is quite versatile. It makes a great breakfast, but also works well for a quick snack! It does need to be prepped ahead but comes together super easily.
- Peanut Butter Breakfast Cookies: These are great for older kids to make! They do require baking but making the dough is quite simple.
No Cook Snacks Kids Can Make
When they're growing, kids seem to need endless snacks. That's why empowering them to make their own healthy snacks is so helpful! It makes it easy to offer nutritious snacks without finding yourself constantly in the kitchen. Below are 15 no cook snacks kids can make! It's worth noting, many of these work well as lunch components as well. Just mix and match to make a snack plate for lunch!
- Clementines & Nuts: Clementines are one of the easiest fruits for kids to serve themselves. They are easy to peel and don't need to be chopped.
- Apricots & Almonds: Dried fruit and nuts go so well together and make for a sweet but filling snack. Invite your child to choose one kind of dried fruit and one kind of nuts for their snacks for the week! Offering limited choice like that helps give kids a sense of autonomy.
- Olives & Cheese: Many kids actually love olives and they're a great source of healthy fats! You can pair with cheese cubes to make it super easy. Or let your child slice cheese with a kid-safe knife if they're old enough.
- Homemade Trail Mix: Most store-bought trail mixes are loaded with sugar. It's generally much healthier, and more cost-effective, to make your own. It can also be fun for kids! This is something even older toddlers can do as they don't need to measure or chop anything, just mix. Offer a selection of dried fruits and nuts along with a healthy cereal if you like. Let kids mix in any combination they choose! They can either mix a large batch and help themselves to servings throughout the week or mix an individual portion.
- Popcorn Mix: This is a spin on homemade trail mix, but with popcorn as the base. My recipe includes instructions on how to make homemade popcorn but you can of course use store-bought as well. This brand is really tasty, certified gluten free and the only ingredients are popcorn, coconut oil and Himalayan sea salt.
- Baby Carrots & Hummus: I always like fitting in veggies at snack time when I can. Baby carrots are a great choice because they're so easy! Mini cucumbers also work well. Kids can dip in store-bought hummus or older kids can make their own.
- Dates Dipped in Almond Butter: If your child wants a sweet snack, dates in nut butter are a delicious and healthy choice. If you buy pitted dates, children can easily make this snack themselves.
- Rice Cakes w/ Nut Butter & Hemp Seeds: Rice cakes are a fun choice because of all the potential for toppings! I like adding help seeds for extra protein but cacao nibs, raisins or a drizzle of honey all work well too.
- Apples w/ Nut Butter and Cinnamon: This is a classic combination for good reason! Young kids can use an apple corer and slicer to chop the apple.
- Ants on a Log: Very young children may need help chopping the celery but the rest is just spreading nut butter and adding the raisin “ants”!
- Prosciutto Avocado Roll-ups: This easy to assemble snack feels fun and fancy. Plus, it packs in lots of protein and healthy fats, making it quite satisfying. All you do is place an avocado slice on a piece of prosciutto, drizzle with balsamic if you like, roll up and enjoy! Feel free to use a different deli meat instead. Younger kids will need help slicing avocado.
- Frozen Grapes: Put this no-chop fruit in the freezer and it's suddenly a frozen treat! Make sure to freeze grapes on a parchment-lined sheet pan before adding to a freezer container so they don't all stick together.
- Banana Cashew Butter Bites: Cut bananas into 1/2-inch slices. Spread ~1tsp cashew butter (or other nut butter) on one slice and place another slice on top like a sandwich. Place on parchment lined sheet pan. Once completed, place pan in freezer until frozen. Remove from pan and store in a freezer container.
- Almond Butter Energy Bites: This is a recipe older kids will enjoy making. If you don't want them to use the food processor, opt for the version with all almond flour, instead of oats.
- Peanut Butter Banana Sushi: If you want kids to be able to make this one completely independently, choose pre-chopped nuts like walnuts instead of the pistachios.
Easy Lunches for Kids to Make
You'll find a couple of recipes for easy lunches for kids to make below, but also several “mix and match” options. As I mentioned above, snack plates can make excellent, nutritious lunches. Just combine a couple of the snack options above, adding fruits and veggies for a balanced meal. I included a couple of options for inspiration, but invite your child to mix and match to their heart's content!
- Peanut Butter & Jelly (or Almond Butter & Jelly) Variations: It doesn't get any more classic than this. I wanted to note though that you can really amp up the nutrition by using a low sugar or homemade jam and sprinkling hemp seeds, chia seeds or flax seeds on top of the nut butter.
- Tuna Salad: If you want to keep this totally no-chop for the kiddos, omit the grapes. Kids can enjoy this tuna salad on a sandwich or with crackers and veggies.
- Caprese Skewers: Kids can use toothpicks to make little skewers of mini mozzarella balls, basil and cherry tomatoes, drizzling with balsamic if they like. To round out the lunch, serve with crackers and fruit.
- Guacamole Stuffed Mini Peppers: Omit the fine diced red onion to make the guacamole even easier. These make a great appetizer but can also be a base for a lunch, served with black beans, cheese cubes and fresh fruit.
- Pita Pockets: Pita pockets are a fun alternative to sandwiches. Kids can add anything they enjoy on a sandwich (pb&j, deli meat & cheese, etc.). Or, give it a Mediterranean flare with chickpeas, lettuce, cucumbers, tomatoes, kalamata olives and hummus or tzatziki.
- Snack Plate 1: Combine olives and cheese, baby carrots and hummus and whatever fresh fruit you have on-hand.
- Snack Plate 2: Serve prosciutto avocado rollups with frozen grapes and raw veggies.
- Snack Plate 3: Enjoy apricots and almonds with yogurt or a hard boiled egg and fresh fruit and veggies.
- Leftovers: Okay, this isn't a recipe, but it is one of my personal favorite easy lunches for both myself and my kids. I frequently make a double batch of whatever we're having for dinner so we have healthy, delicious lunches ready-made!
More Resources for Healthy Food for Kids
Many of our subscribers are parents and, as a mom myself, I understand the challenge to serve kids healthy food they'll actually eat, without spending 24 hours a day preparing it. Here are a few of my favorite resources for feeding kids well:
These ten recipes are EASY! Perfect for busy school nights or for cooking alongside your kiddos while they gain skills in the kitchen.
It's easy to fall into the trap of only feeding kids grilled cheese and chicken nuggets. Learning about how other cultures feed their kids can really broaden our thinking on what we consider “kid food.”
This page contains affiliate links. Thank you for your support of Prep Dish!