Most parents dream about creating fun and exciting memories with their children.
Grilling can definitely help with that. It’s no surprise that most children like to spend the majority of their time outdoors. So why not take the cooking outside?
Grilling is a must in the summertime.
Warm afternoons and evenings are a perfect time to light up the grill. But what should you cook?
Keep reading for some family-friendly, BBQ ideas and tips on how to keep your children safe around the grill.
How to Get the Children Involved
Kids love to help out with adult tasks.
Here are some ways to involve the kids without feeling stressed around the BBQ.
letting the kids help out with the salad is an easy way to keep them involved. It also encourages healthy eating habits.
Some examples include picking lettuce, chopping cucumbers and cutting cherry tomatoes in half. Keep an eye on them of course, especially when the knife is involved.
But do let them decide what ingredients are tossed into the mix. Let your kids mix and taste the dressing as you go along.
peeling vegetables and picking herbs - to name a few.
Toddlers can help with squeezing lemons and seasoning the food. You can size up every seasoning in small bowls or containers - then let your toddler carefully sprinkle them on.
Show them how to move their fingers through - after they’ve washed their hands, of course - to get a good, even spread.
Older kids, five and up, can help out with the chopping - maybe even marinating the meat. Let them mix up an awesome marinade and then show them how to rub it into the meat with care.
Remember to remind the kids to wash their hands before and afterwards. This could also be utilized as a great teaching moment. Teach them how to properly wash their hands after handling raw meat. It should be done with warm water and soap, washing for 20 seconds.
Preparing the grill
once the grill is hot, the kids should keep a safe distance. But before it’s lit, they can help out with cleaning and preparations.
Smaller kids might find the charcoal—if that’s what you’re using—to be quite entertaining.
You can let them choose the best pieces. Just make sure they are wearing clothing that can easily be washed.
This can also be a good way of teaching the kids how to handle a grill. Don’t be afraid to tell them what will happen if they’re not careful.
Pick the smaller kids up so they can see what the grill looks like on the inside. Do this before lighting it. Doing this could satisfy their curiosity while preventing any unsafe adventures around the grill.
How to Stay Safe
The whole point of grilling is that smoky fire and hot charcoal.
This may not appear to be the safest environment for young children. But that shouldn’t stop you from grilling up some burgers for your family.
Knowing how to keep your family safe is key to a successful BBQ experience. Here are a few things to keep in mind.
Always Keep an Eye on the Children
Supervision is the best way to prevent any accidents or injuries.
It’s vital to make sure the kids don’t go near the grill when they’re unattended by an adult.
Find a Good Place for the Grill
If you have smaller children, it’s best to place the grill far away from their play area. It can also become dangerous if the grill is between the play area and the house.
They need to have easy access to the house without having to maneuver around a hot grill.
Kids Are Curious
They want to explore and they want to learn. Especially younger children.
They want to know what happens when they do certain things. This may push your buttons a bit, but they are just curious to know what will happen.
You have to be prepared for anything. Stay a step ahead and figure out some fun things they can do to help. Or get down on their level and explain to them that the grill is hot, so they must take care.
Avoid Food Poisoning
No one wants food poisoning.
And you certainly don’t want your children to get it. Cooking outdoors does come with a much higher risk of harmful bacteria invading your cooking space.
Bacteria, such as salmonella, e.coli and listeria, are found on raw meats and other produce.
Children are much more vulnerable to infections from harmful bacteria, which can cause painful stomach cramps, diarrhea and fever. In some cases, the child will need hospitalization. In severe cases it can lead to death.
Make sure your kids aren’t handling any uncooked meats without your supervision. If they do, make them wash their hands regularly and thoroughly. This will help to prevent any unwanted infections.
Fun Food Ideas for Kids
Burgers and hotdogs are always a popular choice among children. But they are not the only foods that kids will enjoy at BBQs.
Here are a number of new food ideas the younger guests might be interested in.
Beef skewers are as easy to make as they are to eat. Kids like to eat with their hands, so let them get in there - mess and all.
There are different, tasty ways of preparing beef skewers. You can go the classic route with a simple barbeque sauce. Or take your family on an international adventure and make some delicious shish kebabs.
All you have to do is cut a piece of sirloin or chicken breast into chunks, then marinate in your desired sauce. This could be a yogurt-based Greek sauce or a warm and spicy, Middle Eastern variety.
Before putting the meat on the wooden skewers, make sure to soak the skewer sticks in cold water for around 15 minutes. This will prevent the sticks themselves from burning during grilling.
Place the meat on the skewers with some onions, tomatoes or green peppers. Make sure the kids take care not to hurt themselves on the skewer’s sharp ends.
Grilled Corn on the Cob
Kids love to eat corn-on-the-cob. It could be due to all the cartoons making it look like so much fun. Or the simple fact that it usually tastes amazing - especially straight from the grill.
There are a few ways to cook corn on a grill. One way is to place the corn directly on the grill - turning it as it cooks. You can even brush it with some flavored butter to give it a little extra richness.
Another way of cooking corn is to wrap each corn cob individually in foil. This will prevent burning and stop the corn from drying out.
For additional flavor, place some butter, coriander and garlic inside the foil.
Who doesn’t like salmon? It’s even better grilled.
Salmon only needs a few minutes on each side, so it’s a very quick dish to make. Season the fish with salt and pepper, then add a drizzle of olive oil.
Throw some asparagus on the grill along with the salmon - or another vegetable suitable for your kids. You can also make a creamy dipping sauce with low-fat yogurt, dill, lemon, salt and pepper. They’re bound to love it.
Chicken and Halloumi Burgers
If you need a different take on a burger, this chicken and halloumi patty is unique.
Mix together minced chicken with halloumi cheese. Throw in some grated carrot, shallots, garlic and oregano - along with one egg. Bring it all together with a small amount of flour. Shape your patties and throw them on the grill.
This will soon become a family favorite, that’s for sure.
Inspired by Hawaii, grilling slices of pineapple is so delish. The grilled fruit will become a hit among the kids.
To add a different element to the pineapple, try a sprinkle of lime and chili on top of the fruit. Take it a step further with a little bit of added sugar, lime zest, mint and salt.
Grilled pineapples are great on their own, but also make a good side dish to any protein.
Fun with Food Assemblage
Here are some great ideas to further include your kids in the grilling moment.
Food assembly stations: burgers and hotdogs are a must-have at any BBQ. But for a child, simply being handed a plate of food can be a little underwhelming.
To make it fun for everyone involved, let the kids assemble their own burgers and hotdogs. Place two or more tables together, then lay out different condiments on the tables for easy access.
One table could be the burger station. Here the kids can create their own burger with the condiments and toppings they love. Provide lettuce, pickles, different cheeses, ketchup, mayonnaise and other burger favorites.
The other table can be the hot dog station. What makes a great hot dog? Diced onion, mustard, cheese, and maybe even some chili. Put it on the table and let the kids figure out what they want.
Grilled chicken tacos are also a tasty dish that children can assemble themselves. For this, you can make a side dish station. Add a salad, potatoes, coleslaw - or any other fillings your kids might enjoy.
Letting children figure out what they want to eat and make it themselves will give them a sense of freedom and responsibility. Teach them to only take a small amount and then come back for more if they’re still hungry.
Encourage them to try and taste new foods - this can help kids open up to foods they may not be willing to try otherwise.
Best Grilled Desserts
Anything can be made on a grill - even a pineapple upside-down cake. You just have to use your imagination and a few tools.
Desserts are a must-have with kids. If they don’t satisfy that sweet tooth after a good meal, it may not be a happy ending for them.
Here are some fun ways to make delicious, grilled desserts for children.
Even though this dessert is called campfire cones, it doesn’t mean you can’t make it on the grill.
The main ingredient is a simple ice cream cone that you can buy at any grocery store. A good way to get the kids involved is to let them create their own fillings.
Lay out the different sweets and candies for the kids to choose from. Some good examples include bananas, raspberries or strawberries. Mini-marshmallows will melt inside the cone, creating a s’more-like texture.
You can also add chocolate. Milk, dark or white will work. Maybe you mix them together instead. Whatever suits their taste.
After assembling, wrap the cone in foil and place it on the grill.
A campfire cone will be raved about, and may be requested for a long time.
Grilled Donut Ice Cream Sandwich
Ice cream sandwiches are always popular.
This donut ice cream sandwich is quick to make and will be a hit for both children and adults.
It’s so easy, too. Cut the donuts in half, horizontally. Lightly grill each donut half, then place a nice scoop of your favorite ice cream in the middle. Put the lid on, top with whipped cream or drizzle with chocolate sauce.
Chocolate Marshmallow Banana
Make a small slice in the banana. Open it slightly, then fill it with chocolate and marshmallows. Wrap in foil and place on the grill.
The results? A deliciously-cooked banana with gooey chocolate and marshmallow at the center.
But be cautious. The banana, and especially the chocolate center, will be extremely hot. Make sure it’s cooled down before giving it to a child.
Spending time with friends and family at BBQs, with all that grilling and playing, will help your child grow in many ways. There’s something about being outdoors, and being active, that makes us well-rounded people.
There are many ways to teach children how to safely use a grill. And it’s vital you do. Being a step ahead of the kids at all times can spare any unwanted accidents.
Get your children involved in the process. You will be surprised at how much better the food will taste to them.