Making Meal Planning Fun For All Ages With Everyday Art Supplies

With school coming back into session right around the corner, meal planning can be challenging with kiddos. The more you can get them involved in the kitchen or the meal planning process, the more engaged they are in what is going into their bellies. It allows children to have a hands-on approach to food and they’re more likely to try things when they are proud of what was cooked.

The best thing my mom ever did for me growing up was getting me into the kitchen. It sounds weird, but I should now thank her more often for forcing me to cook dinner with her. Back then, it seemed like a chore, but now, I realize that she was teaching me basic lessons that I would need to get through life. She was giving me the building blocks to nurture and nourish the people in my life throughout various stages. 

These few tactics will help you not only get your kids into the kitchen and help them build basic building blocks for adulting, but it also might make your meal planning processes a bit easier.

chunkies paint sticks, crayons, black markers, index card and tape on wooden surface

1. Meal Planning with Little Ones (4+ Age)

It might be hard to get your littles involved in the kitchen. So why not give them kitchen related projects to keep them busy and allow them to feel like they’re a part of the process? I’ve got the perfect tactic for you…

What You’ll Need:

chunkies paint sticks, crayons and colorful index cards on wooden surface

How to Accomplish

  1. First, find a spot in your house to have your menu on display – this could be your fridge, a chalk or marker board, or even a cork board 
  2. Now use a washable chalk marker and make horizontal lines to distinguish the days of the week. Don’t want to use a marker? Use extra masking tape! 
  3. While setting up the menu, set your children up with index cards or popsicle sticks and your OOLY supplies 
  4. Let your kids color the index cards and/or popsicle sticks 
  5. Lastly, ask them what some of their favorite meals are and write them down using the The Ink Works Markers. You will want to have 15 to 20 of them to start – about 3 to 4 weeks worth of meals
  6. Once you’ve written them all down, go through them together with your kids and pick your meals for the week. Using colorful masking tape, hang them on the day of the week on your menu board. If you opt for popsicle sticks, you can use small magnets and attach them with hot glue. The more fun that you can make it for your kids, the easier it will be. 

cooking utensils, index card and food stickers on wooden surface

2. Cooking with Kiddos (10+ Age)

Getting your kids to help you in the kitchen at a young age is key for them to stay engaged as they get older. Every kid goes through a stage where they want to help their parents with everything, why not make it productive? Here is a tactic to organize your kitchen to make it kid-friendly, plus a bonus tactic!

What You’ll Need:

How to Accomplish

  1. Take your kids shopping for inexpensive cooking utensils – the more colorful the better
  2. Find a bucket or drawer that will hold these utensils separately from your regular kitchen utensils 
  3. Use the stickers as a key to color code the utensils until they get used to what tool is used for what task – use an index card as a key
  4. Just get them in the kitchen! Every meal will create memories for you and form building blocks for them and their future

Note: Feel free to do a ‘big kid’ version of tactic number one with your middle schoolers. My favorite color products for them would be the Switch-Eroo Markers and the Make No Mistake Erasable Markers.  

cook book with fun tabs in it on wooden surface

BONUS TACTIC: Tabs In Books

What You’ll Need:

  • OOLY Note Pals Sticky Tabs

If you’re like me, you have cookbooks and cooking magazines all over your house. Chances are, your kids have seen them lying around also. Why not give them a pack of Note Pals Sticky Tabs and let them mark their favorite recipes? If you have more than one child, get a variety of kinds and assign a pal type per child. 

When you go to make your meal plan, pick a favorite from each child. They will feel special when it’s their night to choose what the meal is. You can remove the sticky tabs as you go, or make them into a rotation. 

wooden card holder, colorful pens and index card on wooden surface

3. Big Kid Cooking (15+ Age)

When I got married, I asked my maid of honor to have my guests fill out a recipe card instead of a traditional card. She and my bridesmaids got me a recipe box for all of them to be kept. Some of them were family heirloom recipes, some were for date night, and some were just household favorites. 

I love opening that box, picking out a random recipe, and cooking it for my family. The reason I am telling you this is because I wish that I had started a recipe box earlier. So please learn from my mistakes and begin this process earlier. 

This is the perfect time for your kids to start and watch their skill and tastes transform. 

What You’ll Need:

  • Seriously Fine Markers measuring stirring 
  • Index Cards
  • Recipe Box

How to Accomplish

  1. Get your kids set up at the kitchen island with the supplies mentioned above
  2. Next have them write down their favorite recipes on these cards using the OOLY Seriously Fine Markers. It could be recipes that they’ve come up with on their own, or have them copy down their favorites from books, magazines, or Pinterest
  3. File the recipes away by category
  4. Finally, get in the kitchen and start cooking

wooden recipe box, colorful markers and index cards on wooden surface

BONUS TACTIC: Kitchen Take Over

What You’ll Need

  • Your kid recipe box you made above
  • Colorful utensils to cook with

Let your older kids take over your kitchen. Don’t panic, it will be okay! Declare one day a week for your kids to cook dinner. It could be Tuesday Take Over or Super Saturday. Whatever you’d like to call it, have them use their recipe box and pick a recipe to cook for the family.

Getting your kids involved in the kitchen will make meal planning fun for you and the whole family. Remember, this should be fun! You will be making memories that will last a lifetime… with the help of OOLY. 


Jessie Woodward is a recipe developer, food columnist and foodie at heart helping people conquer hanger one recipe at a time. Follow her on Instagram for recipe ideas: @jess.wooody