Updated: Apr 2
We're all trying to keep ourselves and our families entertained, and I know I'm trying not to go to the grocery store as often. You need a solution to both, you say? Allow me to introduce the Chopped Challenge (inspired of course by the Food Network show)!
Assess what's in your cupboards and fridge - are there some ingredients that need to be used sooner rather than later? What are some ingredients or items that have been sitting unused for a while? I know I always have a jam in the fridge or frozen peas that are patiently waiting for me to remember they're there.
As a family, plan a three-course meal (appetizer, entree, dessert) using these ingredients. Search for recipes online that have more than one of your ingredients (for instance: "appetizer with green beans, couscous, and cream cheese") till you find a recipe you want to make.
Use only ingredients you already have (substitute any ingredients you don't have with ones you do - if it asks for orange juice but you have grapefruit juice, use grapefruit juice.
Involve your kids - if they're old enough to use a computer on their own, they are on recipe-finding duty. If they can't use a sharp knife but could tear a ball of mozzarella into small pieces, they're on mozzarella duty. Cooking is a pretty tactile activity - as long as everyone has washed their hands, let the kids really dig in to help.
If you're leaning more towards doing the cooking yourself, or if you have very small kiddos, have them hang out in the kitchen with you while you cook. Can they make up a story to tell you while you cook? Can you sing a song together? You can even give them tiny tastes of dishes or ingredients so they're still included in the process.
Then gather round and eat! It's going to be a little funky - sometimes experimenting in the kitchen leads to incredibly tasty food and sometimes it's a flavor combo that doesn't quite work. While you're tasting the dishes, everyone can talk about what they like and what they don't like. The next time you're all cooking together, you'll know better which ingredients you want to avoid and which ones you may not have known your kids would love!