Get kids involved in mealtime from start to finish

One of the best ways to help children try and enjoy new foods is to allow them to help in the preparation of meals. Summertime can be an excellent opportunity for kids to spend more time in the kitchen learning to cook and prepare foods. Allowing them to help in the kitchen builds skills they will use for the rest of their lives, provides quality time together, and over time helps distribute the burden of meal preparation amongst family members. Always supervise a child while he or she is learning a new skill until it can be performed safely.

Brenda Moeckly, Clinical Dietitian at Hendricks Regional Health, and Brooke Graham, Dietetic Intern, teach us more!

Every child is unique, but in general kids can perform the following kitchen skills at their different age levels:


  • Rinse and scrub fruits and vegetables
  • Pick vegetables from the garden
  • Tear greens for salads
  • Stir batters
  • Mash vegetables
  • Spread condiments
  • Knead dough

Elementary children

  • Read recipes
  • Open cans
  • Peeling vegetables
  • Pour or scoop batter into pans
  • Measuring ingredients
  • Use electric mixer

Middle School children

  • Plan meals
  • Cut soft fruits and vegetables
  • Check meat temperatures
  • Putt foods in oven
  • Roast vegetables
  • Cook pancakes and waffles
  • Operate food processor and blender

Avocado Hummus Wraps

Let your children help build their wraps by spreading the avocado mixture, layering spinach and veggies, and wrapping up the tortilla.

  • 1 medium avocado
  • 1 can chickpeas
  • ¼ – ½ c. fresh cilantro
  • 1 Tbsp. lemon or lime juice
  • ¾ tsp. salt
  • ½ tsp. minced garlic
  • 1 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 4 whole wheat tortillas
  • 1 c. shredded carrots
  • 2 c. fresh baby spinach
  • 1 red bell pepper
  • 1 c. shredded cheddar or mozzarella cheese

In food processor, combine avocado, chickpeas, lemon juice, salt, garlic, and olive oil. Blend until smooth.

Spread avocado mixture over tortillas. Layer with carrots, spinach, and pepper. Roll up tightly.

Yield: 4 servings

Stuffed Mini Peppers

Younger children can help pick out the peppers and tear the spinach. As children get older, they can help you stir the rice mixture and stuff the peppers. Little fingers love the miniature peppers – just their size.

  • 2 c. cooked brown rice
  • 16 miniature bell peppers
  • 2 c. spinach, torn
  • 1 c. spaghetti sauce
  • ¾ c. shredded mozzarella cheese
  • ¾ c. cottage cheese
  • ¼ c. grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 tsp. minced garlic
  • ½ tsp. Italian seasoning
  • ¼ tsp. black pepper


Clean peppers, trim off tops and cut in half. Preheat oven to 350°F and line a baking sheet with aluminum foil.

In a large skillet over medium heat, combine remaining ingredients. Simmer a few minutes, until spinach is wilted and cheese is melted.

Spoon mixture into pepper halves and place on prepared baking sheet. Bake in preheated oven for 10 minutes, or until peppers are softened.

Yield: about 4 servings

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