So you’ve decided to do a whole 30 meal plan with the WHOLE FAMILY. No, you’re not the only one and yes, it is totally doable! Whether you are in search of a complete meal plan or simply want a few kid-approved Whole 30 recipes to incorporate in your weekly dinners, I’ve got you covered, but first, let’s dive into the details and tips.
Have you been wondering at what age your kids can start helping out in the kitchen? What is appropriate and what isn’t for them to do? I have put together a list of age appropriate tasks for kids in the kitchen. This will help you teach your kid how to cook by age.
See my girl? She is 8. Little by little I’ve taught her basic kitchen skills. Sometimes, she assures me she doesn’t like “X” and I tell her that she still needs to help me make the recipe.
Bonus: she can read! She can slowly read the meal plan recipe and help me make our food.
Teaching Kids How To Cook
I believe that teaching our kids a new kitchen skill should not be done during bewitching hours. Instead, use the weekends and non rush-hour times. I’ve found that I’m more patient (and not as critical) when I’m more relaxed.
Here is a breakdown of some age appropriate kitchen tasks you can use when you are helping your kids cook!
Cooking Tasks for 2-3 Year Olds
At this age, kids need high supervision. Focus on basic tasks and they’ll do just fine. Toddlers can get involved in the kitchen with the following activities:
Setting the table
Learning to match the silverware as you empty the dishwasher
Using the salad spinner
Picking the leaves off fresh herb stems
Cooking Tasks for 4-5 Year Olds
Motor skills are more defined and they can focus better. This is a frustrating age for many parents because many kids will be doing the 2-3 age group while others the 6-7 -it depends how involved and interested they’ve been.
Work with your child to figure out what they are most interested in doing from each list and focus on things they can accomplish on their own, with minimal intervention from mom and dad. This is a great age to focus on independence while still doing many of the same tasks they were doing in the kitchen the year before.
Setting the table
Putting away pots and pans from the dishwasher or drying rack
Greasing pans (with help)
Cooking Tasks for 6-7 Year Olds
Fine motor skills are developed so they can take on more detailed work, like using measuring spoons and forming meatballs or nuggets. They still need a lot of guidance and reminders of where to keep their fingers during grating and peeling.
Some of the things you can teach them to do at this age are:
Dicing and mincing vegetables (use a pairing knife and start with soft foods like strawberries)
Peeling raw potatoes with a peeler
Slicing and scooping avocados
Using a microplane zester
Draining and rinsing canned beans
Pouring liquids into containers
Cooking Tasks for 8-9 Year Olds
This is my favorite age group. They can read! They can take on every task prior to this age group and teach new things based on their interest. You’ll have to decide if they are mature enough to work at the stove; but you can start with easy toaster oven type of recipes if not.
This age group can learn to do the following tasks in the kitchen:
Using a pizza cutter can opener
Scooping batter into muffin cups
Scraping down the batter
Using the stand mixer
Putting away leftovers
Rinsing dishes and loading the dishwasher
Make sandwiches and wraps
Chopping most foods (nothing much bigger than a paring knife or small serrated knife)
Kitchen Tasks for 10-12 Year Olds
This age group can usually work independently in the kitchen. Make sure they have learned basic kitchen skills and moved on up on skill level before they are left to make meals (even under supervision).
Rules still apply (and often need reminding) like use mittens and wash hands after touching chicken. Kids this age can even do basic stove tasks like scrambling eggs and flipping pancakes.
How To Teach Your Kids To Cook
One of the questions I’m often asked: what if I haven’t taught my kids kitchen basics in each age group? Don’t stress.
My suggestion is that regardless of when you start; teach with patience and be careful to not talk down to your kids when they are doing it wrong (I’m guilty of this). Talking “down” can be as simple as “let me show you” and… “hurry, let me take over” or as simple as our tone.
If you aren’t “feeling it” then skip the teaching moment. We can do it quicker and avoid any hurt feelings -trust me.
If you’ve got teenagers in the house they can make nearly all the recipes in our meal plans. Win-win.
I want to encourage you to teach your kids one skill each month. Just one.
Cooking along side our kids is a great opportunity to talk about life. It gives us the opportunity to connect and teach our kids about the things we find important (like our food and health).
Recipes For Kids To Cook By Themselves
You know, I love a simple meal, so most of the recipes you’ll find here on MOMables will be simple enough to get the kids involved.
One of the biggest perks of teaching kids to cook is that it encourages them to try whatever is on the table. This can be a great strategy to help your children be more adventurous with the food items they are willing to eat.
I love everything about this! Not only is my friend Katie empowering kids in the kitchen, but she’s using whole foods and introducing families to healthier meal options they can all enjoy together.
If you are looking for more? Be sure to check out my Broccoli Nuggets Recipe below. This is one that the kids absolutely LOVE to help with. From measuring ingredients and scooping them into place, there are a lot of hands-on tasks kids can do, and it’s even a recipe that will get a few extra veggies on their plate!
If you are doing the Family KickStart Challenge, a Whole30, or a Sugar Detox and need meal prep tips, you are at the right place. In this post, you are going to read about some of my shortcuts when it comes to making it easier to feed my family fresh foods, 3 meals per day, for 30 days!
Cutting out processed foods and sugars may seem like a simple task at first, but when you add eliminating grains, gluten, dairy, as well, it’s easy to go into kitchen overwhelm.
The reality is that the health benefits always outweigh the kitchen work -so it’s worth it!
And as you can see from the video below, I have a system of hacks when it comes to preparing food -check it out.
If you are doing the Family KickStart Program, you know many of these hacks from the prep sheets and no doubt, it helps that the work is written out in parts of what to do each day of the week to help you get ahead.
Whether you are doing Family KickStart, Whole30, or another wellness program, you’ve probably wondered, how can I save time when it comes to meal prep?
Meal preparation is the biggest problem when it comes to being able to succeed with one of these programs because most parents find themselves doing multiple meals for their family. The “adult” meal that fits the program and a “kid” meal that is healthy-ish to please the kids.
So for sure, you are spending more time in the kitchen -unless you are doing KickStart because I mean… who can turn away Spaghetti Squash Lasagna Boats or Chicken Burrito Bowls?!
It is true that preparing all 3 meals, 7 days a week for 4 plus people is a BIG job! However, it doesn’t have to be hard!
Being prepared with your food is vital in sticking to the plan. If you are prepared, you will save time, so it’s always best to find a routine in the kitchen that works for your family.
Whether it’s a special occasion, school bake-sale, or a major sweet tooth, sometimes we find ourselves in the mood to bake. But the truth is, that it’s important to know how to measure flour, so our treats come out perfect each time!
I mean, we’ve all had it happened, one time or another, where we bake something, and it’s too dense, it sinks, or it simply doesn’t come out like the photo in the recipe, right? Check out this quick video to show you how to measure flour and baking ingredients the right way.
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As you know, baking has gotten a reputation for being a tricky and a precise process that only the baking champions can achieve.
Well, I’m here to tell you that it’s not true. As my Mother used to say, “If you can read you can bake.” I also want to add if you can measure you can bake!
Now, we have all had those moments of “where did I go wrong?” as we pull out volcanic cakes and cement cookies. But a lot of baking catastrophes come from improperly measuring wet ingredients, dry ingredients like flour, and leavening agents such as salt, baking soda, or baking powder.
For instance, packing flour into the measuring cup can turn that beautiful carrot cake you are trying to make into a carrot brick! Or, biscuits into hockey pucks; and nobody wants that!
Like you saw in the video, it’s important to use measuring cups and measuring spoons with dry ingredients and a volume measuring cup, for liquids.
So, save yourself the heartache and take a minute or two to check out the video, if you haven’t watched it already, to provide a quick visual guide of how to measure dry and liquid ingredients accurately.
Besides measuring, there’s also a process to following a recipe. After writing 4 cookbooks and working with recipe writing editors, all of our recipes are written and tested to be followed step by step.
While I can’t say that about everything you find out there in the internets, at least now you know that measuring ingredients the right way will get you 90% of the way there. Following a recipe… I can’t help you there.
Are you looking for tips and tricks to make meal prep easier and save time during the week? In today’s video I’m going to show you how I take a weekly meal plan and prep some of the ingredients and meals ahead of time to make eating fresh meals all week long possible!
Friday night has become known as “Pizza Night” at my house. My daughter, who’s a very routine person, gets upset if I ever change it up. She loves her pizza!
That’s why I freeze pizza dough to make sure I always have some on hand for our family or if we have guests. It’s especially important in our house since we’re handling multiple food allergies and dietary restrictions.
For those looking for a delicious pizza dough recipe, MOMables has you covered. Our homemade brick oven recipe is sure to be a hit with your family and guests. I know when I make this for my friends, they’re always asking me for the recipe!
MOMables has tons of recipes and tips that will make your lunch-packing chores so much easier. If you would like some extra help doing this, you can sign up for our weekly meal plan and have recipes, tips, shopping lists, and more sent right to your inbox!
Here’s the trick for making the brick oven dough recipe, or your favorite dough recipe, and freezing it for later use:
Mix all your ingredients together, as usual.
After you’ve added the yeast, do NOT let it rise. Instead, shape the mixture into a ball, and cover it lightly with flour.
Wrap the dough with plastic wrap. (I like to spray the wrap first with a little cooking spray to help keep the dough from sticking.)
Place the wrapped dough ball into a labeled freezer bag, and freeze it until ready to use.
When you’re ready to bake that bad boy, here are the next steps:
The morning of, remove the dough from the freezer, take it out of the bag, and unwrap it.
Place the dough in a large bowl in a warm place. Cover, and let it rise for the next 7 to 8 hours.
After it has finished rising, prepare the recipe as you normally would.
Have you asked yourself what is the safest way to thaw chicken? Over time, I’ve had a lot of community members ask what is the proper way of thawing chicken. Today, we are going to cover those options.
While the MOMables meal plan helps you with the menu, recipes, and some of the planning, sadly, we can’t actually prep and cook it all for you. There are however, built-in kitchen tips and time-saving ideas to help you along.
Since we aren’t all as organized as the Chief Mom here (har har!), some of us might be faced with a situation where we need chicken breast for dinner tonight, but only have frozen chicken. Did I mention that we need it tonight?!
While it might be tempting to leave it on the counter to thaw while you go about your day, leaving meat at room temperature can be unsafe and cause illness.
Here are the three safe ways to thaw frozen meats!
The safest way to thaw meat is by moving it to the refrigerator first, but that involves some planning in advance, and can take days depending on a few variables.
Allow up to 24 hours per 1 to 5 pounds of frozen meat.
Some areas of the fridge stay colder than others. The warmer zones are the front and middle, but it’s best to keep meat in the bottom drawer so that if anything leaks, it doesn’t contaminate food stored below it. If your meat has already been unwrapped, place it in a bowl or pan to catch all the juices.
Refrigerators set at 35F take longer to thaw than those set at 40F.
Fridge-thawed items remain safe for a day or so and can be refrozen if needed (but there might be some loss of quality). If you’re not cooking right away, store thawed meats in the coldest parts of your refrigerator (the back of the top shelf where the cold air is blown in and also the bottom drawer).
This is the best method to thaw frozen meats if you’re short on time.
Your meat must be in a leak-proof package or baggie (zip-top bags work great). The air-tight bag is needed to prevent bacteria around your kitchen from leaking in and also to avoid the water getting in and making your meat soggy.
Submerge your bag in cold tap water, changing the water every 30 minutes.
Small packages (around 1 pound) may take up to an hour. A 3- to 4-pound package may take 2 to 3 hours.
Foods thawed using this method should be cooked before re-freezing. You’ll want to cook your meat fairly quickly after thawing, depending on how long your meat has been out of the fridge, but thawing in cold water is safer for a little longer than meat just left at room temperature.
MOM Tip: If you need to cut frozen boneless meats into smaller pieces, partially thaw using this method, (thaw enough that there is less than 30 to 60 minutes needed to finish thawing), remove from the bag, and cut. The frozen core in the meat helps keep it from sliding around as you cut, allowing for neater, more uniform slices. Put the pieces back in the leak-proof bag, seal, and finish thawing. Check the pieces, and change the water more often to thaw faster. Plan to cook right away after thawed because by opening the bag, you’ve introduced bacteria that could be breeding in there!
This is the least ideal of the “safe” thawing methods because the meat gets heated unevenly. This method is not considered safe for whole chickens.
Set your microwave to “Defrost” or 50% Power to prevent the outside from getting cooked while the inside remains frozen. Times vary based on weight, but if you aren’t sure, defrost for 2 minutes, let stand for 1 minute, then check the progress. Repeat.
If your frozen meat is in pieces, pause the defrosting every few minutes to break the pieces apart.
If using this method, you must plan to cook immediately after thawing because parts of the meat reach the “danger zone” temperature for breeding bacteria (between 40F and 140F).
Foods thawed using this method should be cooked before re-freezing.
Cooking from Frozen
When there just isn’t enough time to thaw frozen foods, just remember: It’s safe to cook from the frozen state! The cooking time will increase by roughly 50% over the recommended time for fresh or thawed meats.
**Perishable foods should never be thawed by being left on the counter or in hot water, and should never be left at room temperature for more than 2 hours.
Did you know that you can freeze smoothies for later?
One of my favorite ways to start my day is with a smoothie for breakfast. I don’t have time to make them fresh every single morning, so instead, I make a batch over the weekend and freeze them for the week ahead.
Check out this short video to learn how smoothies are packed inside a lunchbox.
Something as simple as having a smoothie ready to go in the freezer can make life just that much easier. That’s one of the reasons MOMables is here for you—to give you ideas and a fresh take on school lunches! Check it out here! You can also sign up for our weekly newsletter for some FREE ideas sent straight to your inbox!
I like to drink my smoothies in the mornings, while my daughter loves taking hers to school for a snack or for lunch. I love how adaptable fresh smoothies are; I prefer packing mine full of mixed fruits, kale or spinach, carrots, and a little bit of juice. My daughter loves hers with yogurt, various fruits, and carrots.
Smoothies are an excellent way to start your day or pack your lunch full of vitamins and antioxidants. Plus, hello! They’re delicious.
So what is the best way to freeze them?
Invest in great freezable containers, like Ball Plastic Freezer Jars. They’re perfect in size and can stack easily in your freezer. Make sure to leave a little room (don’t fill to the rim) because the smoothie will expand a little while freezing.
If you want to enjoy the smoothie at breakfast time, simply stick it in the fridge the night before, or if you’re an early riser like me, you can pull it out of the freezer first thing when you wake in the morning, and it’ll be drinkable by the time you drive to work a few hours later.
I love packing them in my daughter’s lunches because they also act as an “ice pack” for the rest of her lunch cooler. She enjoys it because she feels like she’s getting a special dessert, but it’s actually healthy and nutritious. MOM win!
Be sure to include a straw to drink with. The straw is also great because it can help give the smoothie a nice stir; depending on the ingredients used, they can sometimes separate, and with a quick stir, they will be back to the perfect consistency.
Fall and winter are my favorite. Leaves changing colors, apple and pumpkin everything, and cooler temps. With the weather still cool, my cravings for warm soups builds up! Nothing warms you more on those chilly evenings than a delicious bowl of goodness.
From soup recipes to everything else you possibly could need to stuff your kid’s lunch box, MOMables has it all!
I love making a big batch over the weekend for us to enjoy, and then eating the leftovers for weeks to come by freezing the soup. Did you know that you can’t leave a pot of soup on the stovetop to cool down overnight? Nope—your soup will likely be contaminated with bacteria if you do.
I find this beneficial because the smaller containers are great for freezing smaller meals or lunch-size portions. It gives you more control of how/when to use the rest of your belly-warming superb soup. This also holds true if you’re making your own stock or broth for future use. This Loaded Baked Potato Soup will do just the trick!
Make sure to leave some room at the top of the container (do not fill to the rim) because liquids expand in the freezer.
MOM tip: Be careful of putting any still-hot foods in your fridge. The food will be at high risk for bacterial growth!
I love breakfast foods, especially waffles. To me, waffles are a lazy man’s pancake. You pour your pancake mix into the waffle iron, close it, and wait for it to ring when it’s ready.
That’s it! It means no hovering over the stovetop or the griddle, or watching the batter to see when you have to flip it. And sometimes you make the mistake of doing too many things at once, and some pancakes burn (not that I would know anything about that). So I love to have waffles for breakfast on those days where I can’t seem to shake off the sleepiness.
I know if you are anything like me, then most of the time you are dragging your kids out of bed and prodding them to get ready for school, and I’m sleepy, too! MOMables is here to make that morning process just a bit easier! With our menu planning and our massive recipe index, you have everything you need!
My secret to having waffles on those days is that I actually raid my freezer stash. I am not a morning person, and sometimes even pouring the batter into the waffle iron is too much. I just dive into my freezer stash and reheat the waffles. I can then enjoy a few moments with my coffee, and breakfast is done!
I usually use a freezer-safe bag to store my waffles. My waffle iron can make four waffles at a time, and I can fit 8 waffles in a gallon-size freezer bag. I squeeze out as much air as possible and double-bag the waffles in order to prevent freezer burn. To help my waffles cool faster, I let them cool on a wire rack.
Need to know how to easily grease your waffle iron? Check out this post HERE.
Cook the waffles and allow them to fully cool down.
Place the waffles on a parchment paper–lined baking sheet.
Put the baking sheet into the freezer until the waffles are fully frozen, for about 2 hours.
Once the waffles are frozen, place them in a freezer-safe bag or container.
Use a permanent marker to label the freezer bag or container.
When reheating the waffles, you can use the microwave, toaster, or oven to reheat and enjoy.
Waffles can stay in the freezer for up to 3 months. MOM Tip: If you’re using a freezer-safe bag to store the waffles, try to squeeze out as much air as possible in order to prevent freezer burn. Also, using two bags helps as well.
Even though pasta tends to cook fairly quickly (boiling for 8 to 10 minutes), it actually takes longer than you’d think to complete it from start to finish. It often takes 10 or more minutes just to bring the water to a boil in the first place! Having pre-cooked noodles at the ready can not only save time, it also saves you from washing the same pot night after night and avoids having multiple pots going at once! Laziness pays off once in a while! Ha!
When cooking noodles you plan to freeze, be sure to undercook slightly. Al dente is best and helps prevent mushiness when re-heating.
Step 2: Prepping the Noodles
After the cooked noodles are drained, be sure to toss with a little oil to prevent them from clumping up and sticking together.
There are three different ways to freeze them. The best way is to spread them flat on a parchment-lined baking sheet and “flash freeze” for 30 to 60 minutes before portioning into zip-seal baggies. (For longer noodles, pile them into small nests on the parchment-lined baking sheet.)
You can also portion the noodles into muffin tin cups, which works especially well for longer noodles.
The third option is to just put them into the baggies straight from the pot, but reheating them evenly is hardest when using this method. Try to spread them flat within the bags before freezing, rather than bunched at the bottom.
Step 3: Reheat
Noodles that were frozen spread out on a baking sheet can be tossed into skillet meals and such without any microwaving needed.
To reheat on the stovetop, bring enough water to cover the noodles to a boil (you won’t need as much water as used to boil them initially.) Drop in the frozen noodles, and cook for 30 seconds and check. If not thoroughly heated, cook in 15-second increments until done, and then drain. Do not overcook.
When reheating in the microwave, be sure to lay them in the container flat, to heat as evenly as possible. Cover the container lightly. You want the moisture to be retained, but you also need it to be able to vent a little. Cook for 60 to 90 seconds, rotating the dish halfway through if your microwave doesn’t have a turntable. If not warmed thoroughly, keep cooking in 15-second intervals until done.
If using in lunches, you can just pack the frozen noodles and some sauce or mix-ins, and they’ll thaw by lunchtime. Yum!
Do you use gluten-free noodles? Freezing gluten-free noodles has mixed results. They barely refrigerate and reheat well. Rice noodles do best, especially Tinkyada brand, and you’ll want to be sure to cook them just to al dente, maybe 2 minutes under the recommended cooking time. Then rinse with cool water when draining to halt the cooking process, and toss with a little oil, same as wheat noodles. To thaw, toss into boiling water just long enough to heat, then remove them immediately.
Gluten-free noodles frozen mixed with sauce tend to have the best results.