5 Easy-to-Make Dishes to Get the Whole Family Involved

Vegetable and Black bean tacos

Half of the fun of cooking is getting to use your imagination. So who better to have at your side than children, the sources of endless creativity? The only potential hangup with inviting the kids into your kitchen is that they may not be able to keep up with your complicated recipes. That’s why we’ve compiled this list of kid-friendly recipes that the whole family can make together. Though they’re fast and simple, they’re also so versatile that everyone can customize them to their own specific tastes:

Pinto Beans and Cheese Tacos [Real Simple]
There’s no faster way to get a child’s attention than to tell him he’s allowed to play with his food. In this case, he’ll be using it to build—a few tacos, that is. Spread out all the fixings for these simple tacos and let your kids mix and match as they choose. Pinto beans, romaine lettuce, salsa, and cheddar cheese are the main components for this recipe, but include whatever your family at the taco bar. Black beans, grilled onions, and sour cream might be welcome additions.

Healthy Chicken Pot Popovers [Food Network]
A fresh take on classic comfort food, these chicken pot popovers forgo the heavy crust of typical chicken pot pies in favor of a small, muffin-sized shell. The shell holds all the ingredients you’d expect, though: peas, carrots, and chicken in a creamy broth. Let your kids help you mix up and shape the dough for the popovers, and then add the hot filling themselves once you’ve finished cooking it.

Whole-Wheat Pizza Hand Pockets [Food Network]
Pizza night can be a hands-on experience thanks to this healthy take on the traditional pie. Start by letting your children pound circular pieces of whole-wheat pizza dough into flat rounds, and then help them spoon a mix of cheese and pepperoni on top. Fold the circles in half to make hand-held pockets, pop them in the oven, and enjoy in less than half an hour.

Broccoli Mac and Cheese [My Recipes]
If you have a particularly picky eater, this might be a good way to sneak some veggies into his diet. Let him help you pour the water and pasta into the pan, but make sure he’s otherwise engaged when you add the broccoli to the mix. Older kids can help you chop up the broccoli. There should be enough gooey cheese to cover up the green color by the time this dish is ready.

Chicken and Waffles Sandwich [My Recipes]
This isn’t your typical chicken and waffles recipe. In lieu of crispy fried chicken, these sandwiches enlist healthier deli meat chicken—but it’s pressed between two crispy waffles instead of slices of bread. Let your kids add a special mayo spread, bacon, tomato, and lettuce to the sandwiches for a slightly sweet, mostly savory treat.