Recipes to Make as a Family

Tips to get the whole family involved in mealtime

Cooking together as a family has many benefits; it promotes valuable life skills, knowledge of food safety and kitchen cleanliness and helps to cement a healthy relationship with food early on in life. Families that cook together are also more likely to eat together, a habit that has been shown to lower the risk of disordered eating while increasing self-esteem and even academic achievement.

Here are some suggestions for age-appropriate kitchen tasks:

If you have very young children under the age of three, you can use kitchen time as an opportunity to learn the names of fruits, vegetables, and other foods. Activities that promote fine motor skills, such as sprinkling and mashing, are fun for your little ones (and give you the chance to put a meal together while they’re distracted.)

3–5 year olds:

  • Washing fruits and vegetables
  • Mixing (with a wooden spoon or hands)
  • Using a sieve
  • Tearing lettuce and fresh herbs
  • Rolling dough and cutting out cookies with a plastic cookie cutter

5–7 year olds:

  • Basic measuring skills
  • Grating cheese with a box grater
  • Beating, folding, and whisking
  • Peeling fruit and eggs by hand
  • Using a small knife
  • Setting and helping clear the table

8–11 year olds:

  • Following basic recipes
  • Using a box grater
  • Safely using sources of heat: the oven, stovetop, and microwave)
  • Using a handheld mixer
  • Peeling vegetables
  • Locating ingredients in the kitchen
  • Cleaning up the kitchen and doing the dishes after a meal

12 years and older:

  • Meal and menu planning
  • Ingredient improvisation
  • Following more involved recipes
  • Knife skills
  • Timing meals
  • Learning the difference between sizes and types of pots and pans
  • Using kitchen appliances safely (such as an Instant Pot ®, food processor, food scale, and blender)

Consider these meal categories when planning family meal time.

Pizza and calzones

Making homemade pizza or calzones is an ideal kitchen activity for every age and skill level. Young children can help mix pizza dough and roll it out while older children can help prep toppings. You can make one large pizza or put together a build-your-own pizza station. If you don’t have time to make pizza dough from scratch, feel free to substitute store-bought dough or, as seen below, English muffins or tortillas.

Stuffed veggies

Making stuffed veggies, or veggie “boats” as they’re sometimes called, is an activity the whole family will love. Cool baked potatoes and sweet potatoes to room temperature before scooping out the baked flesh, little ones will have a blast mashing the potatoes and mixing in other ingredients. Stuffed vegetables are a great way to learn about improvisation in the kitchen, once you have the basic recipe down feel free to experiment with toppings and garnishes.

Soups and salads

Making soup as a family is the perfect opportunity to show older kids how to sauté veggies, cook beans from scratch, and learn about herbs and spices. If there are leftovers, use the opportunity to teach your kids about food storage and safety. Salads can be partially or entirely made by kids of all ages — even children under the age of five are able to tear lettuce for green salads.

Tex-Mex

Many of the recipes in this section feature a build-your-own component, whether it’s assembling tacos and tostadas or personalizing nacho toppings. Some of these Tex-Mex favourites call for tofu, fish, and chicken, all of which require specific cooking techniques which can be taught and then applied to a wide variety of dishes.

Breakfast-for-dinner

All of the following recipes are equally as tasty when enjoyed in the morning, but there’s something special about eating waffles or avocado toast for dinner. Older kids will be able to make many of these meals on their own, and younger children will have a blast adding healthy toppings. Waffles and pancakes can be made ahead of time and frozen, defrost in the microwave or toaster before serving.

Kid-friendly classics

For the young and the young-at-heart, these recipes are as delicious as they are familiar. Falling firmly into the category of comfort food, the meals listed below can be used to teach children how to make fast food - and family restaurant-favourites using healthy ingredients.

Easy desserts

Baking together as a family is a rewarding experience, whether your little ones love to cut out cookies or decorate cupcakes. Activities related to baking, such as measuring, beating, stirring and using an oven properly, are fundamental kitchen skills that can be used in many culinary scenarios.