Babysitting is always a puzzle of juggling parental expectations with a child’s reality, but perhaps never more so than when it comes to food. Cooking for kids is a challenge even at the best of times. As a babysitter, it’s an even more careful high-wire act: parents want healthy cuisine, while kids want snacks if anything at all, and finding the right babysitting recipes to balance the two is a headache!
If “fun” and “easy” are your keywords for cooking with (and for) kids while babysitting, here are 10 amazing recipes. These suggestions keep things simple, with minimal ingredients and steps, so you can even enlist your young charges in the prep. But the whole family is sure to love them!
Oatmeal, Oatmeal, Oatmeal
Oatmeal is incredibly nutritious, packed full of vitamins, minerals, fibers, and antioxidants—which is of course why many kids are difficult about eating it! But finding ways to work oatmeal in your children’s diets is a surefire strategy to ensure they keep a well-balanced and healthy diet. Here are two things to remember when preparing oatmeal for kids.
- Texture is key. The longer you cook oatmeal, the mushier it gets, and many kids are averse to overly mushy textures. Experiment to find that “just long enough” sweet spot for them to enjoy. Perhaps make a game of it by setting up a putting out a few cups of oatmeal, cooked for different lengths, for a blindfolded taste test activity. Like Goldilocks, they can let you know which is too mushy, too hard, and then (hopefully) just right.
- Textural components like chocolate chips, fruit, peanut butter, and honey add a whole new dimension to oatmeal. Repeat your taste tests with these different elements to find out what they enjoy most.
Fruit Dipped in Chocolate
Most parents will agree, any babysitter who can get kids to enjoy eating fruit is worth their weight in gold.
Chocolate strawberries are a colorful, fun, and delicious way to crack this code! While they are easy enough to prepare in advance, you can also set up a fondue station at lunchtime for your kids to enjoy dipping and eating straight away. Or try these chocolate-dipped fruit kabobs with your kids for more variety. But be sure to carefully supervise any chocolate fondue events to avoid burns and accidents.
A handy health tip: use dark chocolate for dipping! While dark chocolate is naturally bitter, the sugary sweetness of the fruit will offset it, making the end result a delightfully balanced treat.
Dunkaroo Dip for the Win!
Get ready: one box of Funfetti cake mix, one cup of vanilla yogurt, eight ounces of Cool Whip, and rainbow sprinkles are about to make you the best babysitter in the world. From animal crackers to chopped-up fruit (and maybe even some veggies for the more adventurous), this homemade Dunkaroo Dip replica goes with just about everything.
Pizzadillas: Perfect for Cooking With Kids
Pizzadillas are a pizza and a quesadilla fusion—two favorite kids’ lunches in one! They are also fairly easy to prepare, making them is a perfect choice when planning a lunchtime kitchen adventure with young kids. Just like both predecessor meals (pizzas and quesadillas), the pizzadilla is also incredibly adaptable: you can put almost anything in one. Source the ingredients your kids want to use, set up your cooking station, and let them create lunchtime masterpieces.
Elevate a Classic: Grilled PB&J
Who doesn’t love a peanut butter and jelly sandwich? The perfect balance of sweet, tart, and savory—there’s a reason why it retains popularity with kids and adults alike.
Next time you’re prepping PB&Js for your kids, though, give them a quick pass on the griddle. A quick butter slather on the outsides will get the bread crispy and golden, and the peanut butter and jelly should be just starting to melt into gooey, sweet-and-salty perfection.
Babysitting Recipes Using No-Bake Cereal Bars
Try these no-bake healthy cereal bars to keep things both fun and healthy at once. Mix up cereal (your choice which!), almond butter, and brown rice syrup into a “batter,” shape them out on a baking tray, pop them in the fridge for a half-hour to firm up, and voila! The easy process and variety in possible ingredients make this one of the better babysitting recipes to turn into an interactive activity.
Classic Ants on a Log
No, there are no actual ants, nor do you have to go chop down a tree. But with a fun visual and name, “Ants on a Log” is a traditional way to sneak protein and veggies by even your pickiest eater!
Traditionally, Ants on a Log is a stick of celery stuffed with either peanut butter or cream cheese and then topped with a smattering of raisin ants. However, feel free to change things up: try using Greek yogurt or hummus as your filling, or sub out the raisins for sweetcorn, cherry tomatoes, grapes, or nuts.
Salad in a Jar
Anything in a jar looks a little like a science experiment, which should pique the interest of even the most stubborn eater! Salad in a jar looks cool, is relatively mess-free (after all, you build it in the jar), can be healthy, and is another interactive lunchtime activity. Give your kids a jar, a selection of ingredients, and see what they come up with for lunch.
No-Bake Cookies and Cream Bars
Marshmallows and Oreos in one? Check out these no-bake marshmallow Oreo bars and meet your new secret weapon for winning your kids over. They take only 15 minutes to prepare and are a great sugary treat or reward. Any babysitting recipes using these snack-time staples are sure to score points with the kids and make you their favorite sitter.
A cool, colorful popsicle that doesn’t drip and run in the heat? Talk about perfect! These Jell-O popsicles are a perfect summer treat that also won’t stain your kids’ clothes. Unlike normal popsicles, these frozen wonders thaw to a normal Jell-O consistency—if your kids don’t devour them first. Like with other Jell-O treats, feel free to spice things up by embedding fruit chunks in the mixture or dying it with Kool-Aid or other fun flavored products.
Hire the Right Babysitter With Nanno
A babysitter’s number one goal is to keep kids healthy and happy while taking for them. These babysitting recipes are not only delicious and nutritious but also allow you to keep your charges entertained and engaged in the kitchen. The reliance on easy-to-use, common pantry items means you won’t break the bank keeping your kids busy and fed. It’s creative solutions like these that separate the great babysitters from the merely good.
And when looking for those sterling-quality babysitters, parents should check out Nanno. Nanno’s babysitter sourcing app provides parents access to a network of thousands of well-vetted sitters and nannies on demand. Whether it's for an impromptu night out or a regular part- or full-time child care assistance, Nanno helps you find the best of the best. Sign up today and give their sitters a try!