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Cooking With Your Kids – Italian Meatballs


Cooking with your kids is not always easy.  Sometimes it’s just easiest to do it all yourself.  I’m guilty of this ALL OF THE TIME.  But I decided it was time my kids start to learn how to do some cooking and a little bit more than preheating the oven for the frozen pizza, boiling water for the Mac and Cheese or putting a Hot Pocket in the microwave.

About once or twice a month I will have posts relating to cooking with your kids.  I have a 7, 12 and 15 year old so most recipes will be targeted towards those ages but that doesn’t mean we won’t be using recipes that even younger kids can help out with.  A 3 year old can easily dump a cup of flour into a bowl whereas a 5 year old can measure it out for you.  Keep in mind that all kids are different and where one 7 year old is capable of using a paring knife, the next 7 year old may not. So use your best judgment.

Up first is my 12 year old son.  He’s our quiet one and the one least interested in being in the kitchen.  He has better things to do like playing on his electronics.  So yes, I forced him to do this but someday his wife will thank me. 

We got out the cookbook and I asked him what he wanted to make.  He said he didn’t care but I knew he did.  He’s a picky eater so I wanted to choose a recipe that had ingredients I knew he would eat.  I also wanted a recipe that wasn’t too hard but yet required using a few measuring cups and a few different utensils in the kitchen so he could see how they work.   Italian Meatballs was the winner.   Served with jar spaghetti sauce (hey – one recipe at a time) and angel hair pasta, this was an easy dinner to put together for him/us.  He was in charge of the meatballs; I was in charge of the rest.

By the way, don’t ask why he has a stocking hat on in the house.  I have no idea!


With the recipe book in front of him, I helped him get out all of the ingredients first.  Then step by step, he read the directions and did as it said.  I just made sure he had the correct measuring cup or spoon before he measured out the ingredients.   To move things along a little bit faster, I helped him by chopping up the onions but in the end, he did some chopping too because I didn’t chop them fine enough – which is true – and they could have been chopped even finer.  He rolled the meat mixture into balls and then baked them.  I had him set the timer to check on them and he was responsible for making sure they were done and not over baked.


A few suggestions when cooking with your kids.

  • Find age appropriate jobs for your munchkin.  Each child is different so use your best judgment as to what utensils and appliances your child should use.
  • Explain to your child how to use the utensil or appliance by first showing them how to use it and then watching them follow your directions.
  • One thing you definitely need is more time if you are going to have your kids cooking.  They are just learning and it takes a little longer to do the tasks that comes second nature to most of us.
  • Start out with easy recipes and tasks.  As they get older, add more responsibility and degree of difficulty.  Have them start out helping make a recipe to making the recipe themselves to making the entire meal.
  • Make it time well spent.  Use the time you are in the kitchen together to talk about their day, their interests or even a favorite movie or TV show.  

For my son’s first time making a recipe from start to finish by himself with little help, he did just fine. And the meatballs were delicious!

Italian Meatballs

Recommended Age - 10 years old on up, 6 - 9 years old with help

The prep time is based on having a child make the recipe or helping with it. Cut out about 10 minutes of prep time for an experienced cook.

We used a cookie scoop to get pretty even sized and shaped meatballs. My son scooped up the mixture with the cookie scoop and then rolled them into round balls. Makes it pretty easy for them and you.

If you don’t use onions very often in your recipes or don't like to chop them, you can buy frozen chopped onions, found in your grocer freezer aisle to use when you need them. Just thaw the amount you need and put the rest back into the freezer.

Yield: 4 servings

Prep Time: 25 minutes

Cook Time: 25 minutes

Total Time: 50 minutes


1 pound of lean ground beef
1/2 cup dry Italian bread crumbs
1/4 cup milk
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1/2 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1 small onion, chopped fine (about ¼ cup)
1 teaspoon minced garlic
1 large egg


1. Heat oven to 400 degrees.
2. Mix all ingredients. Shape mixture into balls of desired size. This recipe makes 20 – 1 ½ inch meatballs. Place on Nonstick Mat (for easy clean up) on a 9 x 13 x 2 inch pan.
3. Bake uncovered for 20 – 25 minutes or until no longer pink in the center and juices run clear.
4. When meatballs are done, place a paper towel on the bottom of a plate and transfer the meatballs. The paper towel will absorb the extra grease from the meatballs.
Serve with your favorite marinara sauce and spaghetti for an easy meal.

Recipe adapted from The Big Red Cookbook from Betty Crocker


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2 Responses to “Cooking With Your Kids – Italian Meatballs”

  1. #
    Sue W. — March 5, 2012 at 7:40 am

    How in the world did you get your son to cooperate? Mine flatly refuses. I could force him, but then time in the kitchen becomes a punishment. Kudos to him for doing it, hat and all! (and Kudos to you for your magical skills as a mom and cook!)

  2. #
    Jody Rodine — March 5, 2012 at 11:44 am

    Looks good Ryan!!