Kid-Friendly Meals for the Whole Family

Check out these super-tasty and kid-friendly recipes the whole family will enjoy.

Throughout the school year, Fork and Pan teaches cooking classes for kids in classrooms and after-school programs. We design every class to be kid-friendly and hands-on every step of the way.

While “kid-friendly” may sometimes be associated with bland, vegetable-disguised, happy-face-shaped food. In Fork and Pan, we believe kids can make super-tasty dishes the whole family will enjoy.

Check out these 4 delicious recipes you and your kids can make in the family kitchen—even when school isn’t in session.

Fortune Fruit Salad

The Fortune Fruit Salad is packed with red raspberries, red grapes, golden mandarins, and topped with a spiced honey dressing. Red and gold fruit symbolize good fortune and new beginnings in Chinese culture, making this a lucky dish to serve, especially during Chinese New Year.

Kids enjoy making fruit salads because they are colorful, delicious, and easy to make. Plus, they are a great choice to teach basic knife skills and knife safety. Some kid-appropriate knives include plastic knives, butter knives, or a kids' chef knife.

Despite which type of knife you choose, it’s always a good idea to reinforce basic knife safety. Such as how to carry it, how to chop with it, and how to keep their fingers out of the way.

Click here for the Fortune Fruit Salad recipe.

Marvelous Yogurt Marinade

A yogurt marinade is an excellent choice for chicken because it helps tenderize the meat and keeps it juicy, even if it’s a little overcooked. This is a simple recipe full of flavor that is perfect to make with kids. They can measure and mix all the ingredients in a bowl. Or for a little more fun, use a zip lock bag and mix the ingredients with their hands.

Use the Marvelous Yogurt Marinade recipe as a guide and swap out herbs and spices for what you have on hand. The seasoning combinations are endless. You can also substitute tempeh for the chicken if you’re a vegetarian or are looking to add to your meatless Monday repertoire. If you decide to turn these into kebabs, tempeh is a great option for kids to practice skewering.

Click here for the Marvelous Yogurt Marinade recipe.

Mini Apple Empanadas

The empanada originated from Spain and was created out of a need to make a food that was affordable and easy to transport. The portability of empanadas makes them an excellent snack for busy families. In this recipe, we trade the typical savory meat filling for sweet-tart cinnamon apples. These can be made ahead of time and refrigerated up to a week or placed in the freezer for about a month.

Kids love making this recipe because it’s easy and allows for creativity. Encourage them to experiment with making various shapes out of the dough.

Since this recipe is very forgiving, it provides the perfect opportunity to learn how to measure. And for older kids, an opportunity to apply fractions in everyday life. You can also weigh the flour to help them understand the relationship between weight and volume.

Click here for the Mini Apple Empanada recipe.

Flipping Amazing Pancakes & Kid-Created Compote

Pancakes are an exciting food for kids to make. The thrill and anticipation of flipping a pancake for the first time can be overwhelming. But the real star of this recipe is the compote, a simple fruit sauce made with fruit and sugar, which is cooked on the stove. Fruit compote is an alternate (and more nutrition) topping than simple syrup. It’s also an excellent topping on oatmeal, yogurt, and other desserts.

Use this recipe as a framework to allow kids to create their unique compote combinations, encouraging creative decision-making skills. For younger kids, give them a few choices in each category (i.e. fruit, sweetener, and add-ons) and let them choose which to add. For older kids, you can take it one step further and have them write their own recipe.

Click here for the Fluffy Pancakes & Kid-Created Compote recipe.

What to do next

1. Ask open-ended questions throughout the process.

Otherwise known as facilitated dialogue, asking questions is a powerful way to initiate

thinking and to understand your kid's knowledge and skill level. As an example, when

eating together ask questions like:

  • What was your favorite part of making this?

  • Is there anything you would do differently next time?

  • What about this dish makes it healthy for our bodies?

2. Pick the right day to start.

Choose a day to cook with your child(ren) when you have some extra time. Feeling too busy and rushed will just make the experience stressful for everyone. Here are more tips on how to cook with your kids.

3. Choose one of these recipes… or any other recipe with kid-friendly steps.

These recipes are just an example of what you can make at home with your kids. Allowing them to participate in even just a few steps will help build their kitchen confidence.