As COVID-19 turns the world on its head, parents around the world are collectively forced to confront a very daunting reality: 24 uninterrupted hours with kids on repeat until further notice. And during times like these we think longingly about our kitchen—that place where we knead out our frustration, chop through the madness and whip up sweet creations that help us restore a little bit of serenity and, let’s face it, sanity.
And while cooking with kids doesn’t quite yield the same results, the experience can be equally gratifying in other ways. In the typical weekday craze, there often isn’t enough time to get kids involved. Meals become pure sustenance, served in clockwork routinization between daily activities and bedtime. But imposed restrictions also unmask rare opportunities—and getting your children involved in meal prep is one of them.
In honor of our new reality, here are a few ways to keep your kids entertained…and fed, all in one.
Breakfast Egg Cups
Egg recipes are generally a one-chef-only situation. But these baked egg cups allow kids to get in on the action, giving them ample freedom to toss in ingredients of their choice. A wide variety of veggies not only makes them prettier, but also adds nutrient density, making them an ideal breakfast option. An added bonus is that these egg cups are really transportable and can be reheated in the microwave, so if you have any elderly neighbors who could use a meal delivery, consider doubling up the recipe and turning this into a cooking-meets-mitzvah project. Just pack them up, add a handwritten note and leave them by the door.
Snackable Energy Bites
Energy bites are naturally sweet, nutty and packed with protein. They are also endlessly customizable and require no baking. Need I say more? Let your kids do all of the measuring and tossing of the ingredients into the food processor. Once everything is blended, prepare a flat surface for them to roll the balls; then pop them into the freezer for a few minutes to harden. These bites stay good for weeks and are an ideal sweet-tooth satisfier for kids and grownups alike.
There’s something about eating food on a stick that makes the whole experience infinitely more enjoyable. Allow older kids to practice their chopping skills, while younger ones can assemble the skewers and get creative with seasoning (salt and pepper are fine, but cumin, paprika and za’atar are also welcome additions). This recipe calls for a tahini dipping sauce, but peanut sauce, kale chimichurri and even store-bought salsa work, too!
Build Your Own Bowl
Bowls have taken over the menu at virtually every neighborhood café, but have you ever made one yourself? There is a lot to be said about the kid-friendly benefits of “the bowl.” Firstly, it’s almost impossible to mess up a bowl. Whether you go Mexican-, Asian- or Mediterranean-inspired, virtually every bowl relies on a balance of grains, veggies and protein and inevitably tastes delicious. Picky eaters will find comfort in the fact that they can omit unwanted ingredients, while the rest of the family can pack in as much flavor as they want—no two bowls are the same! Turn it into a team effort by organizing the family into an assembly line and timing how long it takes to make each bowl.
Rely on these ideas to get your kids cooking in the kitchen: Boost their brainpower, test their teamwork and encourage them to enjoy the fruits of their labor—because isn’t that bite so much better when you were the one who created it?