Anita, a Macedon Ranges mum of four, recently shared some fun food ideas to do with kids whilst we are in lockdown on the radio. She very kindly offered to let me share them with you in a blog format. Here are a few of her thoughts on cooking with kids and then her 10 + Fun Food Ideas.
A few tidbits Anita has experienced with cooking with kids and ideas that may work during lockdown:
- Get kids involved in making lunches and snacks as it teaches independence. Some families find preparing this the night before works well.
- Expect mess – but teach about the importance of cleaning up as you go.
- Talk about getting all your ingredients out first and returning everything as you use it. When you are at school and you have an activity what do you do after you have finished? The answer: put it back where you found it.
- Pick a theme for the kids for a weekend day for food and cook different meals from the same country.
- Make it simple – because we all can’t handle much more at the minute.
- Cooking is a great educational tool – there is weighing, measurement and $$ if you work out budgeting.
- If you have older children make them in charge of cooking and meal. Anita’s eldest son is in charge of cooking our meal on Saturday night. He also has to select the ingredients on our click and collect order. They chat about: cost of items, price per unit, packaging, food groups and meal planning.
- Donna Hay has a wonderful kids cook book called Basics to Brilliance Kids. Anita’s 9 year old can cook most things in it, to give you an idea on age and cooking ability. Her 5 year old loves the pictures and they talk about food groups and following instructions.
10 + Crazy food ideas for kids and the kids at heart:
Disclaimer: some of these are super messy but that adds to the fun. Some of these cooking ideas tick off many life lessons, math topics and general knowledge. Included below are ideas that would suit kids of various ages.
Bring the carnival to you – Pretend you are at the Melbourne Show or Luna Park: To really get in the mood You Tube some carnival music to put on in the background. Here are three ideas: 1) Dagwood dogs – Cook frankfurts or sausages, wrap them in puff pasty and bake. Stick an icypole stick or skewer in the bottom. Dunk in sauce! 2) Bobbing for apples – Pop apples in a bucket of water and take turns trying to grab them with your hands behind their back. You could make it a competition to see who can get the apple first. 3) Ducking for donuts – Put donuts on a string and space them out. Again, have your hands behind the back and start ducking for donuts, trying to eat them with just your mouth and without the donut hitting the floor.
Sushi – Sweet as Sushi with a chop stick lesson – Pretend you have gone to your favourite sushi place and play shops: If you miss your local sushi and cannot find nori wraps because everyone has panic brought a year’s supply, make some sweet sushi. Get some wraps, (square mountain bread works well) and top them with your favourite toppings: Nutella, peanut butter, banana, strawberries and so on. Roll them and cut. You can make a yummy dipping sauce with maple syrup and cacao powder, (it’s dark like soy sauce). You can pretend you are in a shop and discuss how much each sushi roll costs. Give the kids a chop stick lesson. It is sure to be amusing, see how much they can actually eat.
Dumplings – who misses Yum Cha? – Pretend you have flown to China or are in China town in Melbourne. Have the beautiful wafting smell of dumplings in your house, whether homemade or store brought. To make homemade dumplings there are wonton wrappers at Coles. Fill them with your children’s favourite filling. (There are many recipes online). You can go vego or mince with some grated hidden veg. Watch the movie Kung Fu Panda. Your kids may know Po the Panda. He fits an enormous amount of dumplings in his mouth. How many can your kids fit in their mouths?
Lady and the Tramp pasta eating – Pretend you have gone to Lygon st or Italy: Boil some pasta (spaghetti or fettucine) and get 2 kids to stand close together, or you and your child . Put the pasta strand at each end in one person’s mouth. See who can get to the middle first. If you make your own pasta, why not try rainbow pasta? Dying the pasta with lovely colours makes for an interesting meal. You can use coloured dyes or vegetables to dye the pasta, such as carrot, beetroot tomato and spinach. Colourful gnocchi is also fun, you could use pumpkin or sweet potato.
If you prefer pizza over pasta try a pizza toss. Professional pizza tossers are able to create a wave in the dough. If you can get a wave in your dough you are doing well. You could also make pizza. Most kids love making faces on their pizza it can also be a great way to encourage other toppings other than ham and cheese. Ask the kids, “What could we use for the hair? The eyes? The mouth?”. For younger kids you can chat about shapes.
Mexican bowl – A Mexican fiesta: Instead of making nachos use a tortilla wrap and bake it in the oven in a large muffin pan, pie tin or similar. When the bowl is crisp take it out of the oven and top with your favourite nacho toppings while doing a Mexican wave. The kids would love the fact that they get to eat their bowl instead of washing it. No washing up awesome!
A snow ball fight: It’s really cold outside at the moment and wouldn’t it be cool to throw snowballs? Some parts of the Ranges have actually had snow. Make small white bliss balls coated in coconut and for a bit of fun add some sherbet. Get the kids to throw them at each other and see if they can catch them in their mouth. You can make bliss balls easily with simple plain biscuits sweetened condensed milk or for a healthier version ground nuts or sunflower seeds with nut butter and maple syrup, which is also great coated in coconut. There are also many lemon bliss balls. Get the kids to Google some recipes and pick their favourite or look in the cupboard and see what you have on hand.
Missing brunch at your local: Bring brunch to you and put your feet up. Create a restaurant in your house. Get the kids to cook, take your order and wait on you. It doesn’t take much to mash some avo with feta with a fork and a bit of toast if they can’t manage eggs. If your kids are a bit older there are always waffles or pancakes. You can make chef hat to add to the theme. For big heads use an A3 piece of paper or smaller ones A4 folded in half lengthways using the widest length. Cut strips at the folded end, then put it round the head. Give your café and name and write up a menu. Writing skills – done!
Teppanyaki: Have bowls ready, add rice, and try to catch! It is a bit messy but oh so much fun. It is also great for hand eye co-ordination training.
Make high tea: Get dressed up because your Sunday best outfit – it is probably a little dusty! Create a little menu and decorate cookies or cupcakes. Finger sandwiches are really easy to make and if you want a quick cookie decorative idea, you can ice Marie biscuits and decorate them with Smarties like we did in kindergarten. If you have smaller kids you could do a tea party also.
Frog in the big pond: Make jelly in a large container with scattered freddos. Put a blind fold on and fish for frogs. Slimy but fun.
Family Night Movies: Pull out the old popcorn and do popcorn bingo. Get some printable bingo cards and instead of using token use popcorn. Either that or skip the bingo cards and call out numbers and get the kids to eat that amount of popcorn. Either way, math lesson done!
The leaning tower of ‘Piesa” – Oh, so much football: Pop some party pies in the oven. When they are cooked, stack the pies with tomato sauce in between to connect them and create a Tower of Piesa. How many does it take for the pies to fall? Here you have measurement, geography and counting all sorted in one home schooling lesson and food that is perfect for watching the never ending football. If making a mess with pies is not your thing, making sausage rolls is a quick activity and meal all rolled into one. All you need is pre-rolled puff pastry with either a meat or vegetable filling. For a meat filling: combine some mince, an egg, some breadcrumbs and mix it up. You have a quick sausage mince. If you are vegetarian (or indeed just want to use vegetables because they are yummy) and have a Thermomix, Anita highly recommends their Vegetarian sausage rolls. If you don’t have a Thermomix, there are many vegetarian sausage roll options. Blend oats, soy sauce, feta cheese and ground sunflower seeds with some spring onions to make a really tasty filling. Whichever filling you decide on, place lines of the filling on the puff pastry, (usually two lines of filling per puff pastry sheet), roll them (egg wash if you wish), cut and bake for about 12 to 15 minutes in an 180 degree oven. Enjoy!
A huge thank you to Anita for sharing her amazing, creative food activities.
Follow Anita on Instagram: @notjustanita
Anita’s recipes are generally posted on my blog www.levata.life or on Instagram @levata.life