I love the holiday season, but after spending hours days in the kitchen baking, cooking, and doing dishes, the last thing I want to do in the new year is go nuts planning and cooking dinners for my family. While take-out is a nice treat from time to time, my kids really love helping in the kitchen, so we’re always on the look-out for low-key dinners made with the help of many little hands. Below is what’s on our menu this week, with details about how my 4 and 7 year old kiddos will help out. If you have “little chefs” in your family, share what recipes you enjoy cooking together! We’re always looking for new meal ideas.

Breakfast for Dinner

My kids are obsessed with breakfast for dinner night, which is hilarious, because they aren’t huge breakfast eaters at actual breakfast time. My older son has recently learned to flip pancakes and is quite proud of this skill. For “Breakfast for Dinner” in our house, my younger son mixes up pancake batter and passes it to my older son to cook them. My husband makes his “famous” scrambled eggs (how it’s possible that his eggs are that much better than mine, I have no idea…but my kids swear they’re better), and I am left to simply wash and prep a fruit salad.

Tapas Night

Another crowd favorite in our house, also known as “Snacky-Dinner Night”, is tapas night. We survey the contents of the fridge and panty and set up a giant buffet of snack options. Fan-favorites here include hummus, whole wheat pita wedges (toasted and brushed with olive oil and sea salt), almonds, avocado, cheese, orange slices, berries, carrot sticks, rolled salami, and cucumbers. Bonus: we use up all the odds and ends in the house and clean up is almost non-exsistant.

Make-Your-Own Pizzas

This is a weekly occurrence in my family! I used to make my own pizza dough, and still do from time to time, but let’s face it: life is often busy. I buy two pizza doughs from our local grocery store’s deli section, and I roll out and top one “grown-up” pizza for my husband and myself to eat, and split the other in two for the kids to top their own “personal pizzas”. Everyone leaves the table happy; My husband and I can enjoy toppings such as caramelized onions and mushrooms that the kids hate, and the kids can revel in eating their very own creations.

Fancy Grilled Cheese and Smoothie Buffet

My sons aren’t the most adventurous eaters. I’ve tried every trick I’ve ever read to remedy this with very limited success. One thing that seems to help is offering choices that are only slightly different than what they’re used to. Grilled cheese and smoothie buffets are a great way to do this. We start with a few different cheeses (again– a great way to clean out the fridge), a few add-on items (tomatoes, avocado slices, turkey, etc), and a couple bread choices (pumpernickel is my all-time favorite). Build a sandwich and toast it! To balance out the meal and sneak in some veggies, we make smoothies with about 4 oz of orange juice, 4 oz water, a healthy handful of baby spinach leaves, and whatever other fruits the kids want to add. Our favorites are frozen banana, raspberries, and blueberries.

If you have a crowd-pleasing, easy family dinner to share, comment below!