Family in kitchen watching over stove Now is a perfect time to get the kids involved in the kitchen when you are preparing family meals. Eating together is a great opportunity to model healthy eating behaviors and create a supportive environment. Children whose families eat regular meals together are more likely to have a healthy weight and have a higher intake of fruits and vegetables.

The good news — especially these days — is that “family meal” doesn’t just mean dinner; it also can include breakfast or lunch!

Keeping meals simple is key, and making extra to have leftovers later in the week can be a major time saver. For example, instead of just making enough vegetables for one meal, consider roasting a few sheet pans of vegetables to offer variety and leftovers that can easily be added throughout the week to dishes such as tacos, omelets or wraps.

For a fun meal activity, plan an indoor family picnic using a large sheet or blanket. Or try a dinner theme night based on a specific cuisine and play cultural music. Running out of groceries? Get the older kids’ creativity involved to use ingredients you have on hand to make meal or snack.

Kids in the kitchen

Kids as young as 3 years old can get involved in the kitchen with close supervision. Offer activities gradually to give your child time to learn each task.

Here are some ideas depending on your child's age and ability:

  • 3 to 5 years old: break apart asparagus, tear lettuce for a salad or help to stir simple ingredients
  • 6 to 7 years old: crack eggs, measure ingredients, tear apart herbs like basil
  • 8 to 9 years old: whisk eggs, open canned beans for chili, juice lemon
  • 10 and older: slice or chop vegetables and fruits, bake foods in the oven, stir-fry veggies on the stove

Healthy meal ideas

Check out these recipe videos for easy, budget-friendly healthy meals and snacks for the family. Most recipes use pantry staples such as oatmeal, canned beans, canned tomatoes and brown rice. Remember to get the kids involved and have fun!

There are recipes for:

  • Cucumber Yogurt Dip
  • Blueberry Banana Oatmeal Muffins
  • Harvest Chili
  • Simple Sheet Pan Fajitas
  • Tasty Toss-up Vegetable Stir Fry

Enjoy and have fun! 

Contributed by: Elizabeth Wichert, RD