What to Cook with Your Kids When You’re All Stuck at Home

Whether you’re facing a bout of snow days, a widespread virus, or anything else that’s forcing you inside with your little ones for days at a time, here’s a list of 37 recipes you can easily make together to keep everyone happy and entertained. (Look for the * for recipes that are especially baby- and toddler-friendly!)

Recipes to Cook With Your Kids

Breakfast

A finished dish full of Make-Ahead Breakfast Enchiladas.
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“Feed-a-Crowd” Make-Ahead Breakfast Enchiladas

Coconut Vanilla Chia Pudding Parfait

Coconut Chocolate Chip Banana Bread

Date “Shake”

Healthy Carrot Cake Pancakes*

Hidden Veggie Acai Bowls*

Kid-Approved Breakfast Banana Splits

Make-Ahead Freezer Oatmeal Cups with Maple and Brown Sugar are the perfect healthy breakfast for busy mornings on-the-go.

Make-Ahead Freezer Oatmeal Cups with Maple and Brown Sugar

Oat Milk Chia Pudding with Blueberry-Orange Compote*

Peanut Butter Banana Breakfast Cookies*

Red, White and Blueberry Blender

Slow Cooker Superfood Oatmeal

Slow Cooker Cherry Pie Oatmeal

Pumpkin Carrot Muffins*

Pumpkin Apple Baked Oatmeal Cups*

Weekday Festive Funfetti Waffles

Lunch

Protein-Packed Healthy Chicken Waldorf Salad is the perfect quick-and-healthy lunch for any day of the week.

Protein-Packed Healthy Waldorf Chicken Salad

Quick-and-Healthy Tuna Salad Sandwiches

Thai Chicken Burritos

Snacks/Sides

An overhead shot of Festive Guacamole in a bed of tortilla chips.

Festive Guacamole with Cotija and Pomegranate

To-Die-For Candied Bacon Deviled Eggs

Cheddar and Chive Brazilian Cheese Bread*

Cheesy BBQ Garlic Bread

Pumpkin Popovers

Cranberry, White Bean and Grain Salad

Crunchy Pea Salad with Prosciutto

S'mores Granola Clusters | CaliGirl Cooking

Addicting S’mores Granola Clusters

All-Dressed Party Mix

Chocolate Chip-Sunflower Seed Butter Protein Bars

Dinner

This Loaded Mediterranean Hummus Board features slow-cooked pulled lamb, pomegranate arils and refreshing sliced cucumber to make the perfect healthy appetizer for your next get-together!

Loaded Mediterranean Hummus Board

Bruschetta Bar

Weeknight Beef & Veggie Stir-Fry

Eggplant Parmesan Bread Pudding

Ground Beef “Not-So-Sloppy” Joes*

Island-Style Teriyaki Beef Sliders

Dessert

5-Ingredient Indulgent Date Bites

Banana, Peanut Butter and Dark Chocolate “Faux-Yo”

Ways to Get Your Kid Involved in the Cooking Process

You may be thinking, “Sure, these recipes are all great, but how do I actually get my kid(s) involved?” Here are a few ideas for different ages:

A toddler and mom baking together at the kitchen counter.

Toddlers

  • Let them add ingredients to a mixing bowl
  • Have them stir ingredients in a mixing bowl
  • Let them space things out on a baking sheet
  • Allow them to prepare simple ingredients, like cutting softer items with toddler-friendly knives or shelling peas or edamame
  • This is a great time to give them a pair of tongs and let them practice their hand-eye coordination by trying to grab something
  • Have them squeeze citrus
  • TIP: Pre-measure out all your ingredients before starting to cook or bake with your toddler. Things will run much more smoothly this way!

Younger Kids

  • Have them measure out your ingredients for you
  • Allow them to prep your baking vessel – whether by spraying on cooking spray or lining a cupcake tin with muffin liners
  • Continue to allow them to cut things using age-appropriate knives
  • Let them pour things into a vessel through a funnel
  • Have them wash produce
  • Ask them to retrieve ingredients out of the refrigerator or pantry for you

Older Kids

  • Have them dice or mince ingredients for you
  • Let them go through the entire process of adding ingredients, stirring and transferring to the proper cooking vessel
  • Teach them how to safely use the oven and stove
  • Allow them to come up with the menu for a meal!
  • Let them season meat and teach them about proper raw food handling techniques

I’d love to hear your favorite recipes or tips for cooking with kids in the comments below!

 

Weekday Festive Funfetti Waffles

The BEST way to celebrate a special occasion on any day of the week, these festive waffles get their slight pinkish hue (and tasty tang) from freeze-dried raspberries and are loaded with multi-colored sprinkles to really take your breakfast over the top. The best part? They come together in almost no time at all!

A stack of funfetti waffles topped with butter and fresh berries, drizzled with syrup.

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ICYMI last week, I shared some big news on Instagram – Baby Girl #2 is coming this August! We are over-the-moon about this new special addition to our family and, such as was the case with the news of our first baby girl, I felt the need to make a new special recipe to celebrate. Enter these Weekday Festive Funfetti Waffles!

I’ve not shared a specific recipe using this particular technique, but one of my favorite ways to add a festive hint of color to many baked goods and sweet treats (without a ton of artificial colors or flavors) is by mixing in some crushed freeze-dried fruit. My favorite way to use it is in a homemade frosting recipe, but I decided to branch out a bit and give mixing it into waffle batter a shot. I’m thrilled with the result!

Now, because I (like many of you) have limited free time to make from-scratch recipes these days, I decided to make these Festive Funfetti Waffles as easy to whip up as possible. They’re so easy, in fact, that you could easily make them on a weekday morning if you have something special to celebrate. So, let’s get into it!

Four quarters of a funfetti waffle stacked on top of each other and topped with butter and fresh berries with butter and maple syrup in the background.

How to Make Funfetti Waffles

Okay, friends, I told you I was going to make this an easy one. That’s why we’re going to forego the “from-scratch” mentality and instead focus on finding a healthy and tasty boxed pancake and waffle mix. I used Bob’s Red Mill 7-Grain Pancake and Waffle Mix and loved it, but there are tons of healthy options out there.

Once you’ve settled on which mix you’re going to use, just follow the directions on the package (the recipe below is based off of the Bob’s Red Mill mix instructions) and also include the freeze-dried raspberries (which you can find at Trader Joe’s or on Amazon). You’ll want to mix together the batter using a blender to ensure the raspberries get properly incorporated into the batter.

A flat lay of all of the ingredients you need to make these Festive Funfetti Waffles: water, eggs, waffle mix, sprinkles, oil and freeze-dried raspberries.

Once you have the batter made in your blender, you simply stir in some festive sprinkles. I highly recommend using this type, as the non-pareils such as those sprinkled on top in the photos tend to bleed a lot in a batter.

And once the batter is made, all that’s left is to whip out your trusty waffle maker (here’s one similar to the one I use) and cook as you would any other old waffle.

Ways to Enjoy Your Waffles

There are tons of different ways you can finish these festive bad boys off. Here are just a few:

  • Keep it basic with butter and maple syrup
  • Add some whipped cream
  • Top with a variety of berries or your choice of fresh fruit
  • Turn them into a dessert and top with a scoop of ice cream
  • Add more sprinkles!

An overhead shot of Festive Funfetti Waffles topped with butter, fresh berries and sprinkles.

Other Festive Weekday Breakfast Recipes

In my opinion, celebrating a special occasion at breakfast is far too often overlooked. Here are some other fun breakfast recipes you can make for your next birthday celebration:

These Kid-Approved Breakfast Banana Splits take your kids’ favorite after-dinner treats and make them a healthy yet entertaining breakfast. No cooking involved!
We all know that heading off to school is usually NOT our kids’ favorite time of day, but what if you make it fun with these Back-to-School Papaya Breakfast Boats?
Prefer a more savory celebration? Prep these Make-Ahead Breakfast Enchiladas the night before and just pop them in the oven in the morning.
What kid doesn’t want to eat pudding for breakfast? This Coconut Passion Fruit Chia Pudding will transport your entire family to the tropics whether it’s the middle of winter or the start of a monotonous school day.

So, what do you think? Are you ready to take your waffle game to the next level? If you make this recipe, please be sure to leave a rating and a comment to help other curious mamas find it!

A plate of funfetti waffles topped with butter, sprinkles and fresh berries.

Weekday Festive Funfetti Pancakes
Prep Time
10 mins
Cook Time
25 mins
Total Time
35 mins
 

The BEST way to celebrate a special occasion on any day of the week, these festive waffles get their slight pinkish hue (and tasty tang) from freeze-dried raspberries and are loaded with multi-colored sprinkles to really take your breakfast over the top. The best part? They come together in almost no time at all!

Course: Breakfast
Cuisine: American
Keyword: birthday, breakfast, celebration, entertaining, funfetti, kid-friendly, sprinkles, waffles, weekday
Servings: 6 people
Calories: 481 kcal
Author: CaliGirl Cooking
Ingredients
Instructions
  1. Preheat waffle maker and spray with cooking spray.

  2. Add first five ingredients* (waffle mix, oil, eggs, water, and freeze-dried raspberries) to a blender and blend until raspberries are completely incorporated into the batter (with no large chunks).

  3. Stir sprinkles into batter, then measure batter into waffle maker and bake waffles according to appliance directions, spraying with cooking oil after each batch to prevent sticking.

  4. Serve immediately with your favorite toppings!

Recipe Notes

*Exact ingredients and amounts may vary based on which waffle mix you’re using. Amounts for raspberries and sprinkles should remain fairly consistent for 6 waffles.

1. Topping Ideas: butter, maple syrup, whipped cream, berries or other fresh fruit, ice cream, more sprinkles!

2. Try to find a healthy, high-quality pancake and waffle mix like Bob’s Red Mill 7-Grain Pancake and Waffle Mix.

3. Waffle cooking times will vary depending on your specific waffle maker and how crisp you would like your waffles to be. I use one similar to this.

Nutrition Facts
Weekday Festive Funfetti Pancakes
Amount Per Serving
Calories 481 Calories from Fat 171
% Daily Value*
Fat 19g29%
Saturated Fat 2g13%
Cholesterol 82mg27%
Sodium 638mg28%
Potassium 323mg9%
Carbohydrates 64g21%
Fiber 11g46%
Sugar 13g14%
Protein 17g34%
Vitamin A 119IU2%
Vitamin C 4mg5%
Calcium 152mg15%
Iron 4mg22%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.

 

5 Easy Meal Planning Tips for Busy Moms

These five meal planning tips are easy to implement and will save busy moms hours in the kitchen each week. Start using them today and make mealtimes stress-free and enjoyable for the entire family.

5 Easy Meal Planning Tips for Busy Moms
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I’m the first to admit that meal planning doesn’t always come easy, but in my experience as a meal planning consultant and baby and toddler feeding expert, I can confidently say that I’ve uncovered the best hacks for making meal planning just a little bit more manageable, especially for us busy moms who NEVER seem to have enough hours in the day.

5 Easy Meal Planning Tips for Busy Moms

Here are my top five meal planning tips for busy moms that you can implement today to save not only hours in the kitchen each week, but your sanity and peace of mind.

#1. USE PINTEREST TO GET ORGANIZED

If you’re one of the millions of mamas who mindlessly scrolls through Pinterest at least a few times a week, chances are you’ve already got a board or two devoted to your favorite recipe pins. So, put them to use!

Create three to four new boards on Pinterest and label them something like this: Meal Plan – Breakfast, Meal Plan – Lunch, Meal Plan – Dinner, Meal Plan – Snacks. To see an example of how this is done, check out my own personal meal plan Pinterest boards I’ve made here.

Next, go through all of the pins you’ve already saved to other boards, and re-pin those that you would realistically make on a regular basis to the appropriate Meal Plan board. Now, when you’re putting together a meal plan each week, you’ll have all of your recipes in one place for easy scrolling and selecting.

#2. SCHEDULE IT IN

Much like other menial tasks, meal planning can easily get pushed off for better, more exciting things. However, none of us can survive without eating, so us busy moms need to make meal planning a priority. That’s where physically scheduling in time to meal plan is essential. Whether you use a scheduling app, your Google calendar or a pen-and-paper planner, block off at least 30 minutes a week to devote to meal planning.  There are 168 hours in the week, so setting aside such a tiny portion of that will be completely worth it for all of the time you will save later on!

A busy mom working on her family meal plan for the week.

#3. IF YOU’RE COOKING ANYWAY, MAKE EXTRA

Whenever you’re whipping something up in the kitchen, take a moment to think if there’s any way you can make a little extra to save for later. Have a recipe that feeds six yet only have a family of three? Make the whole thing anyway and save the rest for another meal! Cooking some vegetables to throw into a salad? Cook some extra while you’re at it and use it in your kids’ lunches throughout the week. When you’re already taking time out of your day to prepare food, it will take much less time to make a little extra for later at the same time than it will for you to have a whole other cooking sesh later on.

#4. THE FREEZER IS YOUR MEAL PLANNING BFF

This simple meal planning hack is the one I have taken the most advantage of since becoming a mom, and it goes right along with the “making extra” tip mentioned above. Utilize your freezer!! When you make extra of something, freeze it up. If you have an hour or two on the weekend to meal prep some healthy snacks for your little one(s), freeze them for easy access throughout the busy week. Use resealable glass containers, Mason jars and/or Ziploc bags for freezer-friendly storage, and label them using blue painters’ tape and a Sharpie. It’s the best way to keep things organized!

Finally, if you don’t already have it, be sure to grab my Freezer Meal Cheat Sheet – part of my Ultimate Meal Planning Toolkit – to keep track of everything you’ve stashed and whatever you need to reheat and serve it when you’re ready.

A toddler helping her mom meal prep some healthy snacks.

#5. ORGANIZE YOUR SHOPPING LIST

Taking multiple trips to the grocery store – or running all over the store in one trip to grab everything you need – can be THE biggest time-suck. But it doesn’t have to be! Once you start devoting at least 30 minutes a week to meal planning, you’ll be able to make one big shopping list that should get you through most of the week. On top of that, if you organize your shopping list by section of the grocery store, you’ll be able to be the most efficient on this one trip, without bouncing back and forth from produce to dairy to meat to produce, etc. To grab your very own organized shopping list template, click here.

The goal of this tip is twofold, to (1) minimize the total number of times you’re having to go to the grocery store each week – something that takes at least 30 minutes per trip even if you’re just going for one item – and (2) to maximize your efficiency on that one trip.

So, what do you think? Are you ready to tackle some of these meal planning tips? If you give them a shot, I’d love to hear how they worked for you in the comments below.

If you still feel overwhelmed – that you still can’t fit these tips into your busy schedule, that you don’t even know where to start in the kitchen, or that you just plain don’t want to think about it – be sure to check out my personalized meal planning services, where I do all of this work for you 😉

Here’s to healthy, happy and stress-free cooking for all you busy mamas out there!

The Ultimate Hidden Veggie Pasta Sauce

This Hidden Veggie Pasta Sauce contains over five different vegetables, yet your little ones will never even know it. It’s the perfect base for a weeknight meal the entire family will love, plus it’s simple to make and freezer-friendly!A bowl of whole wheat penne loaded with Hidden Veggie Pasta Sauce, the perfect family-friendly freezer meal!

If you’re sick of struggling to get your toddler to eat anything of nutritional value, stuck in a rut with what to make for your family’s picky palates, or just ready to mix up your dinner game, this Ultimate Hidden Veggie Pasta Sauce recipe is for you!

You’re going to love that this recipe is packed with nutritional value, comes together with almost no waste, can be made well in advance AND makes plenty to cover at least two dinners for your family. Every mama’s favorite kind of recipe!

Why Hide Veggies in Your Food?

While it’s important to remember to continuously offer your baby or toddler vegetables in their truest form, there are several arguments to be made for hiding them in recipes whenever you can:

Textural Issues of Whole Veggies

First, it introduces your child (or hey, even your picky spouse) to a new flavor or flavors even if he or she can’t get past certain textural issues with the vegetables in their pure form. The texture issue is a real one for many picky kids and this is a great way to overcome it!

Increased Nutritional Value

Secondly, sneaking veggies into a recipe your family already loves is a fantastic way to up its nutritional value. Many little ones love foods like muffins, pizza and pasta, so why not make them healthier versions and get some extra nutrients in in the meantime?

Benefits the Entire Family

One of the biggest things I stress to my clients and course students is the importance of eating together as a family and everyone eating the same thing. If you’re always thinking of ways to add more veggies into what you’re making for breakfast, lunch or dinner, the entire family will benefit from the increased nutritional value.

Food Segue

Hiding veggies in foods your little one(s) already love is also a great way to begin a food segue. This is a gradual technique used for feeding babies and toddlers that eventually gets them to like a certain food in its purest form. You can read more about how to do a food segue with your baby or toddler here.

A dish of pasta topped with Hidden Veggie Pasta Sauce.

Tips for Hiding Veggies in Food

I know what you’re thinking: But where do I start when it comes to hiding veggies in all my favorite recipes? Well, this Hidden Veggie Pasta Sauce is a great start, but here are some general guidelines you can follow when you’re experimenting with adding veggies to other types of recipes:

Match Colors and Shapes

Think of a vegetable that will compliment a food that your little one already loves – and looks like it, too! For example, pair diced beets with berries, or kiwi with avocado.

Make It Small

One of the best ways to slowly start introducing a vegetable to your baby or toddler is to do it in small doses and then gradually increase the amount. Shredded or puréeing vegetables are perfect ways to work them into the mix.

Take Advantage of What Your Little One Already Likes

If your babe is already obsessed with sweet potato, slowly start working some butternut squash into the mix. If he or she can’t get enough of muffins or pancakes, play around with the different ways you can up their nutritional value the next time you make them. Capitalize on what already works!

An overhead shot of a bowl of Hidden Veggie Pasta.

How to Make Hidden Veggie Pasta Sauce

The simple answer: throw everything together in a big saucepan or Dutch oven, let it simmer away, then purée!

Once you have all of the ingredients prepped, this recipe involves almost no hands-on time. I also love that this recipe has almost no waste, we use a full cans or cartons of everything, so you don’t have to worry about half a carton of broth sitting unused in your fridge for weeks to come.

Freezing Your Pasta Sauce

 If your making this recipe in advance and plan to serve it later (which you totally should!) follow these tips for storing:

  • Once the sauce has cooled down slightly, transfer it to Mason jars or a resealable plastic bag
  • Let it cool completely
  • Label it (and be sure to include the date you made it)
  • Freeze until ready to use!

Different Ways to Serve Your Sauce

News flash: This red sauce isn’t just for pasta! Here is a list of all of the different ways you can use up your batch of sauce:

Pasta
Pizza
Lasagna
BAKED chicken
Egg bake
stirred into Polenta
Eggplant Parmesan
Chili
Stuffed peppers/spaghetti squash
Minestrone or other tomato-based soups
As a dipping sauce for grilled cheese

Now, who’s ready to get cooking??

If you try this recipe, be sure to rate it and leave a comment below!

Hidden Veggie Pasta Sauce
Prep Time
20 mins
Cook Time
15 mins
Total Time
35 mins
 

This Hidden Veggie Pasta Sauce is great for all ages and is the perfect base for a weeknight family meal. It's freezer-friendly and makes a ton so you'll always have a healthy dinner option on hand. It's also loaded with more than five different veggies!

Course: Condiment
Cuisine: Italian
Keyword: baby-friendly, baby-led weaning, family-friendly, freezer-friendly, Italian, kid-friendly, make-ahead, pasta, red sauce, toddler, vegetables
Servings: 20 people
Calories: 26 kcal
Author: CaliGirl Cooking
Ingredients
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 carrot, peeled and chopped
  • 1 bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 zucchini, peeled and chopped
  • 1 medium roasted sweet potato, peeled and cut into chunks
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons Italian seasoning Salt-free for young babes
  • 1 6-ounce can tomato paste
  • 1 28-ounce can diced tomatoes in juice
  • 1 32-ounce carton chicken or vegetable broth
  • Salt and pepper, to taste Minimize for young babes
Instructions
  1. Heat olive oil in a large saucepan or Dutch oven over medium heat. Once oil is heated, add onion and sauté for about 3 minutes, or until onion starts to become fragrant and translucent.

  2. Add garlic, carrot, bell pepper, zucchini and sweet potato and stir to combine. Allow to cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, for 5-10 minutes. Add Italian seasoning and stir to combine.

  3. Add diced tomatoes, tomato paste and chicken broth, and once again stir to combine. Bring to a low boil (very gently bubbling), then turn off heat.

  4. Transfer sauce to a blender in two batches. You may need to use a mixing bowl to hold some of the extra soup while you are blending. Blend until smooth, then return to the original saucepan or Dutch oven on low heat.

  5. Season with salt and pepper as needed, but if you will be serving this to young babes, minimize the salt as much as possible.

Recipe Notes

TO FREEZE: Let sauce come to room temperature, then transfer to Mason jars with lids, label (including date made) and freeze.

You can easily sub in whichever veggies you wish if you need to use something up!

Nutrition Facts
Hidden Veggie Pasta Sauce
Amount Per Serving
Calories 26 Calories from Fat 9
% Daily Value*
Fat 1g2%
Saturated Fat 1g6%
Sodium 8mg0%
Potassium 82mg2%
Carbohydrates 3g1%
Fiber 1g4%
Sugar 1g1%
Protein 1g2%
Vitamin A 1640IU33%
Vitamin C 10mg12%
Calcium 9mg1%
Iron 1mg6%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.

2019 Holiday Gift Guide for the Young Toddler

This roundup of THE BEST holiday gifts for the young toddler is perfect for little ones ages 1 to 2. There are many classics but some great new ideas as well. I’ll be updating the list with any Black Friday deals so be sure to bookmark it and check back!

sdg

2019 Holiday Gift Guide for the Young Toddler
This post contains affiliate links. As always, I only share products that I truly love!

(Clockwise from top left.)

Baby Stella was our babe’s first doll and she still loves her to death to this day. She is super-soft and her clothes and pacifier are all removable. Great for little ones who are just getting into imaginative play!

Raia got this teepee for Christmas last year (when she was just over a year old) and continues to love it. If you have the space, it’s so fun for the little ones to have a spot of their own to curl up and play or look at books. Plus, I love the muted colors of this particular one.

Ahhhh, the musical tea set. As much as I hate toys that make a bunch of noise, I can’t ignore how much Raia loves this. Another great toy to ease the little ones into more imaginative play.

We have the Honey Sticks bath crayons and I’m dying to get my hands on some of their regular crayons! I love that they are all-natural and non-toxic. They’re also a great idea for a stocking stuffer!

Raia got a glockenspiel (which is very much like a xylophone in case you’re as unaware as I was) in her music class this year – and she LOVES playing it – but this Papa Bear one is so much cuter!

There are a ton of great books out there for our little ones, but I’m especially fond of books that pack a powerful message. This one has been a favorite of ours for a while now. It’s never too early to start instilling a healthy sense of self in our babes!

If, like me, you’re a fan of toys that actually help our little ones LEARN (and that look stylish to boot), then you’re going to love these sensory blocks.

Finally, the Cozy Coupe. Raia got one for her first birthday and it continues to be the most in-demand toy whenever we have parties with tons of kids over. If you have the space (indoor or outdoor), you’ll set yourself up for hours of entertainment with this one.

While you’re at it, be sure to check out these other helpful gift guides!

2019 Holiday Gift Guide for Older Toddlers

2019 Holiday Gift Guide for the Moms In Your Life

2019 Holiday Gift Guide for Foodies