Homework, school events, friends, sports teams, extracurricular activities, technology and parents’ busy work schedules can all compete for attention in family life. Many families struggle with finding the time to spend with one another in a fulfilling and meaningful way, especially as kids get older and begin to build their own lives and independence. But everyone’s got to eat, right? Cooking together as a family is a wonderful way to spend quality time together and get some delicious eats out of the deal. That’s why we’ve compiled this delectable collection of family-friendly recipes to cook together.
Cooking as a family isn’t just about tantalizing the taste buds. A group family effort to prepare a meal can:
- Help family members bond with one another and have fun, and perhaps offer the opportunity to discuss important things without having to sit down and ‘have a talk’.
- Teach kids culinary skills they can use to feed themselves and their future families.
- Help kids discover the nutritional properties of foods and how those ingredients help them grow, learn and focus.
- Allow you to explore new flavours, tastes and recipes as a family.
- Improve health outcomes – research indicates that family meals can reduce obesity and risky adolescent behaviours such as substance abuse.
- Build confidence in children (and adults!).
8 Tips For Cooking As a Family
- Make cooking age-appropriate.
You know your kids and what they can handle. Some children may be very adept and coordinated at handling tools and ingredients, while others should only be in charge of stirring. Start off with the easy stuff and increase the challenges as they learn and grow.
- Trust in your kids.
Sometimes we may feel afraid to let children approach the stove or use a knife, but with proper supervision they can usually handle more than we think they can. Allow your child to boost his or her confidence and skills in the kitchen by allowing them to take the reins with your help and support.
- Recognize that cooking as a family will take more time.
The recipes that you can whip up in your sleep will likely take more time when the whole family is involved. Give yourself the time and space in your schedule to cook slowly. Patience is likely needed here too – yes, it might be quicker and easier for you to crack 4 eggs into a bowl or to chop an onion, yet when you encourage your child to do these things, it builds confidence and trust. Once the family gets into the groove of cooking together, recipes will likely come together more quickly.
- It’s OK to create a mess.
Cooking will be stressful if kids feel pressured to do everything perfectly with no allowances for gluten-free flour spilled on the counter or spatters on the stove. Allow the family to cook with abandon. Of course, that doesn’t mean that they do the cooking and you have to deal with the mess. Once the cooking process is finished, you can teach your kids how to clean the dishes, or you can clean in stages while you’re waiting for something to come out of the oven.
- Get your kids involved in planning.
Sit down together as a family to sketch out what kind of meals you’d like to eat. Kids are more likely to enjoy the process when they have some agency, as opposed to always being told what to eat. Devise guidelines together (that means no dairy-free ice cream for dinner), like each meal must include two different kinds of vegetables or other family food rules.
- Take your kids to the grocery store.
This helps children learn about recognizing and selecting ingredients and the cost of food, exposes them to scents and tastes, and helps inspire them to explore new flavours. You could ask them to pick one new ingredient each trip, or give them a budget challenge and ask them to buy ingredients for an entire meal within certain monetary limits.
- Offer choices when applicable.
You’re not running a restaurant. Sometimes the food on the table is going to be the only option and your kids will just have to eat it, even if it’s not their favourite. However, there may be opportunities where you can offer children some choices and options to help them enjoy their meal more. Many of the recipes we’ve included below can be customized with additions or toppings like burgers, chili, pizza and tacos. So if you’re child doesn’t like raw onions, he or she can have sliced tomatoes or pickles on the burger instead, or choose salsa over guacamole for chili or tacos. These little things may help them feel more satisfied with the meal and cut down on fights and tantrums.
- Remember to enjoy the process!
Cooking family-friendly recipes together is meant to be a fun experience, not drudgery. Make your cooking time fun with a positive attitude, and add in some flair by choosing great music or podcasts to listen to.
With these family-friendly recipes on hand, you can learn to cook together and find new household favourites! And for more kid-friendly recipes, tips and advice, check out these posts:
- 25 Kid-Friendly Food Blogs
- 20 Gluten-Free Kid-Friendly Snacks
- How to Engage Your Picky Eater
- Healthy Batch Cooking 101
- 25 Nut-Free Lunch Ideas
- 8 Packaged Staple Foods You Can Easily Make From Scratch
Family-Friendly Recipes to Cook Together
Roasted Sweet Potato Zucchini Tacos
Tacos, burritos and tostadas make great family-friendly recipes because they are easily customizable based on everyone’s tastes – you can have a toppings (or fillings) bar so everyone is happy and well-fed.
These fun mini frittatas make a delicious bite-sized snack for lunch boxes or after-school.
Simple Vegan Gluten-Free Vegan Pizza
This recipe shows you how to make pizza completely from scratch, from the gluten-free crust to homemade vegan mozzarella. You can also go ‘off-book’ with the toppings and create your own combos – for more advice on this, check out the Culinary Nutrition Guide to Healthier Pizza.
Golden Fried Rice with Scrambled Tofu
A great way to use up leftover veggies and rice.
Crock Pot Sweet Potato Chipotle Chili
Every family needs a good chili recipe in its arsenal. For spice-sensitive youngsters, you can easily omit or reduce the spice and this Paleo chili will still be tasty!
Butternut Squash Chicken Stew with Black Beans
A fantastic one-pot meal that the whole family will enjoy. For more recipes like this, check out our 20 Best One-Pot Meals.
Veggie, Hemp + Millet Nuggets
No need to resort to boxed or frozen nuggets when this family-friendly recipe is on the scene.
Creamy Vegan Roasted Red Pepper Pasta
A simple gluten-free pasta dish that is very easy to make.
Paleo Chicken Burgers
This is another one of those fantastic family-friendly recipes where you can provide choices for toppings, and offer alternatives to bread like lettuce wraps.
Coconut Curried Quinoa Bake
Explore new flavours and ingredients like quinoa in this one-dish oven-baked recipe.
Vegan Sunbutter Cookies
Encourage your budding bakers to make cookies at home. These allergen-friendly cookies also have an extra boost of protein!
Blueberry Coffee Cake Muffins
These delicious blueberry muffins have a fantastic almond flour streusel. They will make you and your kids feel super fancy.