I'm a wife to my "Mr. Right". A momma of five. A maker of slow food and simple living. A collector of memories, a keeper of books, and a champion for books that make memories. An addict who likes my half-and-half with a splash of coffee. A fractured pot transformed by the One Who makes broken things beautiful. I heart homeschooling, brake for libraries, and am glad you're here with me on the journey! Be sure to subscribe to my monthly newsletter. Or, follow along with Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Google +, Youtube, or Pinterest.

Simplified Dinners for New Cooks: Whole Foods Cooking for Kids

Simplified Dinners for New Cooks {Whole Foods Cooking for Kids}

I've decided that Tuesdays are my new favorite day. In fact, I'd like to declare EVERY day a Tuesday! You won't mind, will you?

It just so happens that Tuesdays are the day that my daughter gets to be the child-of-the-day. And as has been said, with every great privilege comes great responsibility. The perks of the gig ebb and flow from year-to-year depending upon the ages and stages of my kids, but one thing remains constant. The child-of-the-day has to be my sous chef in the kitchen. For the most part, this means that they tag along with me to mix, pour, crack, and measure.

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But this school year, I started off with bigger plans for my Sweets. I wanted to be able to hand over my Tuesday night dinner duty. All of it. My official reason was that I've always thought cooking to be a practical life skill that ALL kids, boys and girls, should learn. But, off the record, I'll admit that I also wanted the luxury of eating a meal every now and then that I didn't have to cook. {ahem!}

Since she started the school year out as an eleven-year-old, I didn't expect to be able to shove her into an apron and say, "Off you go!" But, surprisingly, it's been nearly that simple.

Simplified Dinners for New Cooks {Whole Foods Cooking for Kids}

It is just one of the six cookbook/guides in the Simplified Pantry line of resources and has been a great, easy-peasy crash coarse in whole-foods cooking for my daughter.

Simplified Dinners for New Cooks {Whole Foods Cooking for Kids}

What I like most about Simplified Dinners for New Cooks

It teaches foundational skills and terms

The first section of the guide introduces the new cook to basic kitchen tools, terms, and skills as well as provides a master pantry list for preparing everything in the recipe section. It also includes some helpful tips for planning meals in order that they are well-balanced and easy to prepare.

It provides a spiral review approach to cooking

It's no secret that I am a big fan of the spiral review method of teaching. In my opinion, kids learn best when a lesson starts with the KNOWN and adds in the UNKOWN a little at a time. All the Simplified Pantry line of cookbooks, including Simplified Dinners for New Cooks, implement spiral review.

In this particular guide, meals are broken down into categories.

  • Slow-cooker roasts
  • Slow-cooker chicken
  • Chicken
  • Foil-packet fish
  • Stovetop pasta
  • Slow-cooker beans
  • Quesadillas
  • Oven Omelettes
  • Pizza
  • Slow-cooker stews
  • Stovetop soups
  • Side dish vegetables
  • Side dish salads
  • Side dish breads
  • Side dish potatoes
There is one main recipe for each category. Once the newbie learns to make the main recipe, he/she can then go on to make four or five other similar dishes by just adding or subtracting a couple of simple ingredients. In other words, a child might first learn to make a basic slow-cooker roast. After that dish has been mastered, he/she can then learn to make the barbecue, sweet & sour, and balsamic versions with just a few tweaks to the basic recipe.

Quick Aside:  Simplified Dinners has been created with simplicity in mind.  That being said, many of the recipes do not include exact measurements for spices.  When cooking each menu item, personal taste is encouraged.  You can choose to add more or less of a particular ingredient according to your own preference or needed serving amount.

It encourages whole-food cooking

Apart from the occasional box of pasta, you'll find no boxes-of-this or cans-of-that in the master pantry list. All the recipes include REAL food. 

It provides meal-pairing and side dish suggestions

At the end of each category of recipes, there is a short list of side dish suggestions so that the new cook can meal-plan in minutes.

Simplified Dinners for New Cooks {Whole Foods Cooking for Kids}

How we use Simplified Dinners for New Cooks

Foundational elements

My daughter started the school year reading one of the foundational/beginning sections of the guide each Tuesday. We did a little discussion together, but not much. It's pretty self-explanatory. By late September, she was ready to cook solo!

Here's how she does it...

Meal planning Wednesdays

Each Wednesday, she looks over the current category of recipes. If this is her FIRST week of a particular category, she reads over the basic recipe and makes a short shopping list for me. Since we have all of the items on the "master pantry list" that is included at the beginning of the book, each week's shopping list is usually only one or two items. Sometimes, a list is not needed. 

We brainstorm together about what two side dishes would pair easily with her selected main dish and add any necessary ingredients to the shopping list.

Dinner duty Tuesdays  

The following Tuesday, she is ready to cook. Currently, she is in charge of making the main dish entirely on her own, and only HELPS me with the side dishes. Once she gets to the back third of the guide, I've no doubt that she will also be able to serve up the entire meal from start to finish.

She makes the basic recipe on the first week and then moves on to the other variations the following weeks. When she has mastered all the recipes in a category, she moves on to the next category.

Simplified Dinners for New Cooks {Whole Foods Cooking for Kids}

Grab a Simplified Dinners for cheap!

As a reader of The Unlikely Homeschool, you can receive 20% off the purchase of any of the recipe guides offered by Simplified Pantry including the following:
To receive this exclusive offer, just use discount code "homeschool" at checkout. 

And now if you'll excuse me, I'm off to figure out how to make this everyday's-a-Tuesday plan a THING.


  1. Hi Jamie, I have 7 kiddos (6 boys with one girl in the middle), ranging from 9 months to 17 years and have been homeschooling for the last 12 years. I don't take much time on social media but your blog is the only one I follow and look forward to. You are so full of practical advice and helpful resources that I come back again and again to read your nuggets of encouragement.
    I appreciate particularly this entry as over the last few years I've had each of my older kids take a turn making lunch. I've wanted to teach them more cooking skills and move them from lunch to dinner cooks but with a new baby in the house I haven't made it a priority yet.
    Thank you for your constant inspiration to train our children in the ways of the Lord and for your "blogfuls" of practical advice.
    I'll be purchasing the cookbook guides and make some changes in our cook-of-the-day rotation.
    God bless you.

    1. What a kind bit of encouragement for me today, Solene. Thank you so much. I'm glad my blog has been a helpful space for you. We've really enjoyed this cookbook. I hope you and your family do as well.

  2. I have been using Simplified Dinners for several years and just recently purchased the Breakfast, Lunch and Snacks cookbooks as well. These are my favorite cookbooks. I use them everyday and I recommend them to everyone. I think I may snag the New Cooks version to add to my collection.

  3. Good to know, Anna! Thanks for the heads up. I had my eye on the trio pack myself.

  4. A quick question- is this an eBook? I couldn't seem to find that detail on the website. Thank you for sharing! I agree that cooking is a life skill for both sons and daughters, and love your example of how you live that out in your home.

  5. I literally just spent the afternoon at the library looking for a basic cooking book suitable for my 10yo who can already make scrambled or fried eggs and is confotable with using the stove and chopping already. Very excited to look into this book series for him!