We all wish that time would slow down with our kids, but there are some perks as they get older. Taking on more responsibility and helping out in the kitchen is a major win for moms who usually feel like a short order cook when it comes to preparing snacks and meals that are kid pleasing. Below is a list of foods for kids that they can make for themselves and give mom (and dad) a little break in the kitchen.
Having Food for Kids on Hand
With five kids in and out of my kitchen on a daily basis I’ve learned some tricks to having foods for kids in my pantry and fridge that are easy for them to make on their own.
When it comes to dinner time I’m the kind of mom who makes one meal for everyone. They either eat it, or they don’t. But what I refuse to do is have to make multiple meals to please everyone. I would never leave the kitchen!
However, breakfast, lunch, and snack times are a little different because I let each of them pick what they want more often. So I like to have certain foods available that my kids can either make themselves, or easily grab to snack on.
Prepping Food for Kids
Sometimes to prompt my kids to make food on their own I’m required to prep a little.
I do things such as cut up fruit and veggies, make up dip or hummus, or cook certain things ahead of time that they can just reheat. But in the long run it saves us a lot of time.
The easiest way to do this is by taking a little time on the weekend to plan meals and snacks for the week and prep whatever items you need.
Easy Ways to Serve Themselves
You can always take the paper plate route to eliminate clean up. However, I have found a couple of ways to serve food that my kids like.
One of the disposable methods for serving food that is easy are food boats. My neighbor introduced them to me. You can find them at any restaurant supply store or order them from Amazon.
Food Baskets with Liners
These food baskets are another easy ways for kids to serve up their own food. They help keep everything contained and the liners make for easy clean up. Sometimes you can get lucky and find them at your local dollar store. Otherwise click below to buy.
Food Ideas for Kids
Quick and Easy Snacks
- Granola bars. Homemade or store bought.
- Trail mix. Homemade or store bought.
- Yogurts or Gogurts.
- Cheese sticks.
- Veggies and hummus. I prefer the homemade hummus but the store bought varieties are easy.
- Fruit. You can have them washed and prepared ahead of time like slicing oranges or taking grapes off the vine.
- Rice cakes. You can get the regular size, thin, or mini. Buy them plain and top them off with peanut butter and dark chocolate chips. They also come flavored or coated in dark chocolate, strawberry, or orange.
- Popcorn. We have a popcorn maker that we love and use weekly, but the microwave popcorn is easy for kids to make themselves. You can also buy the smart pop bags.
- Graham crackers or crackers. Eat them by themselves or add peanut butter, deli meat, cheese, or cream cheese.
- Nuts. My kids love peanuts, almonds, and pistachios
- Dried seaweed. It comes in individual packages and two different sizes. This is a favorite in our house.
- Applesauce. Buy it by the jar, cups, or pouches.
- Beef jerky.
- Ants on a log. Aka celery, peanut butter, and raisins.
- Cottage cheese.
- Ham and pickle wraps. It’s a total Midwest thing. Start with a piece of deli ham, spread some cream cheese on it, and wrap a baby dill in it. Kids go crazy for it.
Meals for Kids to Make
- Toast, bagels, English muffins. These are easy things to have around that kids can just pop in the toaster and top with whatever they like.
- Oatmeal or overnight oats. Oatmeal is again something that can be cooked in the microwave. An even easier way of preparing it is by making overnight oats. Dump all your ingredients into a mason jar and it’s ready to grab in the morning.
- Eggs. Scrambled or over easy are simple ways kids can prepare eggs. Or hard boil a batch and keep them in the fridge.
- Cereal. I’m not a fan of sugary cereals but I can’t deny that this is an easy breakfast for kids to get themselves. Plus, there are plenty of healthier options that kids still love.
- Yogurt parfaits. My kids love the little yogurts you buy with the m&m’s or Oreo pieces that you can add. However, they can get expensive and they have so much sugar. So as an alternative keep the plain Fage Greek yogurt in your fridge. Use a natural sweetener like raw honey or maple syrup. Then add their choice of toppings such as dark chocolate chips, granola, fruit, coconut, etc.
- Energy bites. These little babies can be made ahead of time in batches and are one of my kids’ favorite grab and go items. You can serve these as breakfast, a snack, or add them to their school lunches. The basics to the recipe are 1 cup oats, 1/2 cup nut butter, and 1/4 cup raw honey. After that you can add in whatever you want. Our favorites are dark chocolate chips and chia seeds. You can also try recipes from these related posts: Chocolate Raspberry Energy Bites, or Cinnamon Pecan Energy Bites.
Lunches and Dinners
- English muffin pizzas. Simply take an English muffin and top with tomato sauce, cheese, and pepperoni or precooked sausage. Then bake in a toaster oven or oven for a few minutes.
- Tortilla pizza. Get the easy recipe for this kid-friendly meal.
- Turkey roll ups. Layer a tortilla with turkey plus what ever the kids like. They can add cream cheese, cheese, tomato, lettuce, pickles, etc. then just toll it up.
- Quesadillas. Another quick meal with tortillas. This time with melted cheese and taco meat if desired. Simply keep ground turkey precooked in your fridge.
- Banana with peanut butter roll-up. What can I say, tortillas make an easy meal. All your kids have to do with this one is spread peanut butter and roll up a banana.
- Homemade lunchables. I stress the homemade part on this one because the store bought ones are so bad. Either pre-portion these out in Tupperware containers or have deli meat and cheese sliced up in the fridge.
- Noodles with butter. Simple yet satisfying, plus leftovers can be kept in the fridge to reheat.
- Macaroni and cheese. Yes this is a box meal because I think the homemade versions are probably too advanced for most kids. However, it will do in a pinch and let’s be real, it’s not childhood if you aren’t eating Mac and cheese from a box.
- Noodles with broth and Parmesan. So easy to make and not just your plain noodle. Get the recipe here.
- Taco wonton cups. These taco wonton cups are kid pleasing and simple to make. They are also easily reheated in the oven, toaster oven, or microwave.
- Sandwiches. Have bread, or rolls around along with sandwich fixings so kids can easily put together what they want. These ham and cheese sliders are always a big hit!
- Salad. My kids love salads but the easiest way to get them to not only eat them, but make them on their own is to have everything sliced and diced in containers in the fridge. That way they can build their salad the way they want it.
- California rolls. My oldest, who is 13, loves to prepare these. In fact, all of my boys like them and I can use the rice to serve to my daughter in a bowl. I usually assist with making the rice, but not much, and you can prepare it ahead of time too.
Responsible Kids = Happy Mom
By letting your kids take on the preparation of some of their snacks and meals you get to teach them responsibility and give yourself a little relief from some of your duties in the kitchen.
A household should be a team with everyone helping out. Chores depend on their age but after their toddler years, kids should be able to take on a few tasks in the cooking department.
They will learn their way around the kitchen and have more appreciation for what you do. And you can feel good as a parent for teaching your kids some life skills that they can build on.