Photo: kali9 via

If you have kids, you know that prepping lunch every day can become a tedious task! Next time you grab the bread from the pantry and start to make a meal, consider having your kids come into the kitchen and help.

Even the youngest members of the family can participate and learn some crucial cooking skills along the way. Everything from portion control to knife skills to using the oven is critical for kids to learn so they’re independent chefs as they get older. Start them on the path to mastery with these four sandwiches that are kid-approved favorites. They’ll love to create something delicious, and you’ll love that they’re learning along the way.

Peanut Butter and Jelly

This sandwich may seem too simple even for a recipe, but from your kids’ point of view, it’s an excellent place to start. If it’s their first time independently preparing a lunch, have them watch the video at the link above to see another young child successfully making this sandwich—seeing peers succeed builds confidence!

Your youngest kids will learn several important skills by prepping a PB&J:

  • (Dull) knife handling.
  • Spreading.
  • Jar opening.
  • Portion control.
  • Cutting.

Spreading peanut butter on a piece of bread without tearing it to bits requires quite a bit of control and finesse, so don’t be surprised if your kids ask for help quickly. They’ll also gain experience judging how much jelly to add to the bread and using kitchen shears to safely cut things like sandwiches. Let them be creative and add toppings like bananas and chocolate chips if you’d like them to feel even more accomplished.

Grilled Cheese

Grilled cheese is a solid recipe for kids who are ready to learn how to use the stovetop safely. This method calls for melted butter to spread on the bread before grilling. That way, kids can learn how to melt butter safely in the microwave without it exploding, then learn how to handle a hot container appropriately. Slicing the cheese is another essential skill, whether they’re using a knife or grater. When everything is assembled and ready for the skillet, make sure your kids are at the appropriate height—you may need to provide a step stool so they can maneuver the spatula to flip the sandwich. Getting kids comfortable near hot pans and flames is critical for future cooking adventures, so a grilled cheese sandwich is a great place to start!

Photo: filadendron via

Tuna Salad Sandwich

For kids who aren’t quite ready to use the stove but need practice with food prep and knife skills, a tuna salad sandwich is a perfect option (substitute chicken for kids who don’t like fish!). Using a can opener for the tuna is a skill in and of itself, and one many kids haven’t needed to master. This tuna salad recipe calls for cucumber to be seeded, cut, and mixed in, so kids will have the chance to practice peeling and chopping with proper safety techniques. An added bonus is that the kids can choose how much mustard, relish, and mayonnaise they add to the tuna salad, so they’ll begin to recognize their own food preferences and learn to translate those into action.

Classic BLT

A classic sandwich for a reason, BLT’s are a hearty sandwich the whole family will love. This recipe is good for older kids who can use the oven independently or with minimal supervision.  Learning how to cook the bacon is one of the key skills in this recipe (this method uses the oven rather than the stovetop—much safer for kids). While the bacon is cooking, kids will practice slicing and toasting bread, slicing tomatoes evenly (using a sharp knife, so supervision is necessary), and washing and drying lettuce. These skills are essential for more complex recipes in the future. When everything is assembled, have your kids cut the sandwich in half using a serrated knife—this is the perfect time to teach them the different knife types and uses as well as reinforce safety procedures. After all that learning, everyone will be glad for a delicious meal!

Whether you have young kids who need practice opening jars and spreading butter or older ones ready to master frying techniques, these sandwiches are a delicious way to practice!