Let's face it—we are often apprehensive about letting our little ones help in the kitchen, afraid of the ensuing chaos and mess. We imagine every surface covered with plumes of flour, eggs on the floor that didn't quite make it into the bowl, and the kitchen ultimately looking like a disaster site.
But the truth is the real disaster would be denying our kiddos the joy and memories that come from spending time with us preparing meals. Sure, cooking with a toddler may mean there's a little extra cleaning up to do. However, the benefits far outweigh any mess.
And with the Little Partners Learning Tower® it's never been easier to get your budding master chef safely involved in the kitchen fun!
Here are five simple meals you can cook with your toddler that will nourish their growing body, develop their independence skills, and, most importantly, leave them grinning from ear to ear.
1. Pizza Rolls
Ah, pizza! There's something about the combination of sauce, cheese, and toppings that kiddos just can't get enough of. So when you're looking at meals suitable for cooking with a toddler—it doesn't get much better than this.
Your little one will love the sensory experience of stretching out the dough, spreading the sauce, and sprinkling the cheese. And if you have the Chef Series Learning Tower®, your little pizza maker could even create a menu of different toppings on the plexiglass panel, taking the fun and learning to a whole new level.
This recipe for pizza rolls is sure to be a hit!
- Pizza dough—you can use homemade dough, or a fresh ball purchased from the supermarket
- Pizza sauce
- Your choice of toppings
- Shredded mozzarella cheese
- Spread the pizza dough out into a rectangle using your hands or a rolling pin. Spreading it onto a piece of parchment paper can help prevent it from sticking to the countertop.
- Layer on the sauce and your choice of toppings.
- Add the cheese.
- Rolling from one long side, roll the dough up into a log. Use the parchment paper to help roll it up.
- Slice into 12 even slices and place into a greased muffin tin.
- Bake until lightly golden brown. Cool in the pan for a few minutes to let the cheese firm up slightly. This will make them easier to remove from the muffin pan.
2. Breakfast Egg Muffins
These egg muffins are perfect for breakfast, lunch, or even dinner. Freezer friendly, healthy, and packed with protein, they tick all of the boxes. What's more, this recipe allows your toddler to really get in on the action—cracking eggs, whisking, measuring, and pouring to their heart's delight.
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Fillings of your choice (think broccoli, cheese, spinach, bacon—the options are endless)
- Preheat the oven and heavily spray a muffin tin with cooking spray or line it with silicone liners.
- Whisk together the eggs, milk, salt, and pepper in a medium bowl until well combined.
- Evenly distribute whichever add-in ingredients you are using into each muffin cup.
- Pour the egg mixture into each muffin cup until roughly 2/3 full.
- Place the muffin tin in the oven and bake until the eggs have firmed and the tops are golden brown and bubbly.
3. Healthy Chicken Nuggets
Toddlers love chicken nuggets!
They're bite-sized, easy to eat, and, let's be honest, they taste amazing. But as parents, we know they're not the most nutritious menu option. But this recipe for healthy chicken nuggets allows you to enjoy this favorite food without the guilt. And your toddler will love dipping the chicken into the egg, flour, and breadcrumbs!
- Use boneless-skinless chicken breasts in this recipe. You can cut them into strips, chunks, or any other shape you prefer, just try to cut them all roughly the same size so the cooking time will be consistent, and they will cook evenly.
- White Whole Wheat Flour—although you can use any flour you prefer.
- Whole Wheat Panko Breadcrumbs—we use whole wheat Panko breadcrumbs to give the nuggets more crunch and nutrient value, but you can use whichever breadcrumbs you have on hand.
- Parmesan—using parmesan cheese can give this chicken nugget recipe a little salty flavor and makes the nuggets super crunchy.
- Paprika—a pinch of paprika is used for flavor and color.
- Egg—used as a binding ingredient, but also gives a little more protein to this meal.
- Make the Coating: in three separate small bowls, mix together the flour and paprika, whisk the egg, and combine the breadcrumbs and parmesan.
- Drudge the Chicken: Dip the chicken in the flour mixture, the egg, and then finally the breadcrumbs.
- Bake: place on a baking sheet and bake for 20 minutes or until golden brown and crispy
Although this recipe has the potential to be on the messier side, try to embrace the chaos—and for added safety, consider using the Silicone Mat for Learning Tower® Platform. It provides a slip-free surface for your little one and is dishwasher safe so that you can clean the inevitable splashes of eggs with ease!
4. Baked Zucchini Fritters
Vegetarian, dairy-free, and gluten-free, these baked zucchini fritters are healthy, versatile, and fun to make. Your little one will enjoy tearing the herbs and stirring the mixture, and spraying the oil on the muffin tin is always loads of fun!
- 2 medium zucchini /courgettes
- 2 eggs
- zest of 1 lemon
- a bunch of basil leaves chopped
- 2 spring onions, finely chopped
- ½ cup wholewheat/plain.gluten-free flour
- ½ teaspoon baking powder
- salt and pepper to taste
- spray oil
- Preheat oven to 200C/400F.
- Grate zucchini and sprinkle with a pinch of salt, then transfer into a clean kitchen cloth and make sure to squeeze out the excess liquid.
- Mix grated zucchini, lemon zest, eggs, basil leaves, spring onion, and flour in a large bowl—season generously with salt and pepper.
- Fold in baking powder and quickly stir all together.
- Lightly spray a mini muffin tin with oil and pour 1 tablespoon of the mixture into each mold.
- Bake for 10 mins, then turn the fritters on the other side and bake for a further 5 mins or until crispy and golden brown.
- Serve with lemon wedges and homemade mayo.
5. Spaghetti and Meatballs
Do you remember twirling spaghetti around your fork as a child, trying to get every last drop of the delicious tomato sauce? Spaghetti and meatballs is an iconic childhood favorite, and it's a blast to make with your little one.
Your toddler will savor the sensory experience of squishing the minced mixture and rolling the meatballs. And there are lots of opportunities to practice measuring as well.
- 500g lean beef mince
- 1tsp dried oregano
- 1tsp dried basil
- 2 onions, finely chopped
- 2 garlic cloves, crushed
- 1tbsp olive oil
- 1 tin of chopped tomatoes
- 2tbsp tomato puree
- 500g spaghetti
- Handful of fresh basil or parsley
- Child: Add the oregano and basil to a clean bowl and add the mince. Squish the mince between your fingers, mix it with the herbs, and divide it into 16 portions. Roll into balls in your hands, and then wash your hands clean.
- Mum or Dad: Make the tomato sauce by frying the onion and garlic in the oil until soft. Add the meatballs and fry for a few minutes until browned on the outside. Add the tomato puree and tinned tomatoes, season, and simmer for 15 minutes on low heat until the meatballs are cooked through. Meanwhile, bring a saucepan of boiling water to a rapid boil and add the spaghetti. Cook until al dente and strain. Serve the meatball sauce with the spaghetti.
- Child: Tear the fresh herbs and sprinkle them over everyone's plate.
Of course, spaghetti and meatballs is a meal meant to be shared as a family. The sound of slurping noodles and the sight of your little one bathed in tomato sauce is all part of the joy. Our 3-in-1 Learning Booster Seat safely and securely brings your kiddo to tabletop height, allowing them to join in the fun. It even features a food-grade silicon mat to protect your chair from all that spaghetti sauce!
Make Memories in the Kitchen With the Little Partners Learning Tower®
Cooking with a toddler can undoubtedly be a little messy and chaotic, but it's also an experience that's filled with love, laughter, and lifelong memories. From homemade pizzas to healthy chicken nuggets and everything in between, there's no shortage of delicious and fun recipes to try out in the kitchen.
And with the help of the Little Partners Learning Tower®, your kiddo can safely participate in every step of the process, giving them a chance to bond with you and develop essential life skills at the same time.
Little Partners® is passionate about helping you share these special moments with your child.
They grow up all too fast, so embrace the mess and cherish the memories.