Give your kids the independence they want with these meal ideas they can make without assistance

Summer mealtime can be a drag for parents as kids waffle between “I’m bored!” and “I’m hungry!” Adding meal preparation to an already busy schedule is something we’d all like to avoid. We’ve rounded up simple recipes for kids that include everything from quesadillas to pinwheels to breakfast tacos. From preschoolers to teens, kids can feel good about preparing their own meals this summer and you’ll have one less thing on your to-do list.

Easy Meals Preschoolers Can Prepare

Rainbow Fruit Kebabs

Kids of any age can whip up fruit kabobs for an easy and healthy snack. For preschoolers, keep a bowl of cut-up fruit in the fridge (or just buy a pre-chopped bowl like we do) and skewers on hand. When the hangries arrive, let your littles have fun making their own fruit skewers. Extra points for dips like yogurt or whipped cream!


Nutella or Peanut Butter & Banana on Bread

Volodymyr Hryshchenko/Unsplash

Little hands will be able to put together an easy snack like this. Just use any kind of bread (we like pita because it’s a little more sturdy), smear with peanut butter or Nutella, then top with sliced bananas. This is a great option for preschoolers because both the spread and bananas can be prepared using a non-sharp knife.

Related: 21 Easy Recipes That Even Picky Eaters Will Like


Fruit Parfaits

meals kids can make themselves

Tanaphong Toochinda

It can’t get much easier than combining yogurt, fruit, and maybe even granola (we prefer Nilla Wafers) into the easy snack that is a parfait. The great part is there’s no chopping required if you use small berries and each kid can customize their own.


Easy Meals Elementary School Kids Can Prepare


If your kids can use the microwave, they can whip up a quesadilla! Just layer cheese between two tortillas and microwave until the cheese is melted. This is a great option if you have multiple kids in the house who might prefer their own toppings since everyone can take a turn customizing their own ‘dilla.



meals kids can make themselves

Arianka Ibarra/Unsplash

Whether it’s a pack of instant oatmeal or you trust your elementary-age kids on the stove, oatmeal is a great breakfast, snack, or lunch option they can make on their own. Add a dollop of peanut butter, sliced fruit, or chocolate chips to give it a whole new taste.



At the bare minimum, your kids can whip up a plate of nachos with just two ingredients (cheese & chips). If they want to get fancy, feel free to have them pile on the olives, pico, and anything else they want after a quick spin in the microwave.



Ramen is a great meal kids can make on themselves because you can either do a Cup Noodle, and avoid the stove by heating water in a kettle, or use the brick Ramen option that cooks in just a few minutes. Either way, make sure your older kids are mature enough to handle using hot water in the kitchen.

Related: 20 Global Recipes Your Kids Should Try at Least Once


Easy Mac or Mac & Cheese


A picky eater’s dream, macaroni and cheese is a good meal option a kid can have in their arsenal. You can go the super easy route by buying Easy Mac, which can be made in the microwave, or teach your older kids how to safely navigate a stovetop recipe. Better yet, try out an Instant Pot version!


Bean & Cheese Burritos

meals kids can make themselves

Chelsea’s Messy Apron

Pop open a can of either refried or black beans, heat on the stove or microwave, then combine with cheese in a tortilla. Lunch is served!


Fruit Tacos

If your kids go more for the sweet than the savory, these fruit tacos might be a good DIY meal, especially for breakfast.


Easy Meals Teens Can Prepare

Texas Toast Garlic Bread Pizza

meals kids can make themselves

Rasa Malaysia

If there’s one meal most kids will never turn down, it’s pizza. This recipe for Texas Toast Garlic Bread Pizza lets them avoid making a mess by trying to flip and spin the dough. Just grab some of the thick bread and top with sauce, cheese, and toppings before going in the toaster oven or airfryer.


Turkey & Cheese Pinwheels

The last thing any kid wants during the summer is a sandwich thanks to a school year long’s worth of lunches. Skip the bread with these turkey and cheese pinwheels which just require some layering of ingredients, a quick roll up, and some slicing to give that fun shape. Not a turkey fan? Your kids can make it with ham, roast beef, hummus, veggies, or even just PB&J.


Old Man Bagel

Can you kids toast their own bagel and add cream cheese? Sure. But can they make an Old Man Bagel that’s even more fulfilling? YES! All you need to do is top a toasted bagel with cream cheese, avocado, and some lemon pepper seasoning to give your breakfast, lunch, or snack (because really, we could eat a bagel any time of the day) a step up.



Lemons Zest

Breakfast, snack, or lunch—a smoothie is always a good option an older kiddo can whip up. So long as you keep the ingredients on hand like spinach, banana, and other frozen fruits and you teens know how to safely operate a blender, this is a great option they can do on their own. Check out our post on some great recipes here.

Your daily dose of joy and connection
Get the Tinybeans app