Cook for and with your kids during the lockdown

Cook for and with your kids during the lockdown

Monday, April 06, 2020

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BEING in lockdown with your young children shouldn't be centred solely on keeping them out of your hair and keeping them entertained — it's the perfect opportunity to spend quality time with them and teach them a few skills. Being forced to stay at home, work from home, and at the same time being worried about what the future holds, can take up quite a bit of your time and energy, but it's important that you, for the sake of your children, keep life as normal as possible.

Stress is not an emotion that you want your children to feel, and one way to ease stress is to throw down in the kitchen, especially now when you have all the time in the world.

Here are a few tips for cooking for and with your children during the COVID-19 lockdown.

TEACH THEM ABOUT VEGETABLES

Now is a good time to teach your children all the good things about vegetables, food they probably haven't appreciated in the past. Use the produce you buy to teach them about colours and nutrition, and then engage them in the cooking process. No one likes every single vegetable, but involving your children in the preparation process can make them more inclined to try the ones they may not have liked in the past.

USE INGREDIENTS THAT WILL STRETCH

This is the time to dig around in the back of the cupboard or pantry for those items that you may have neglected to use — you know, like those cans of mixed vegetables and packets of pasta that came in the barrel that you didn't get around to using. In stocking up, you may have also bought other ingredients that can help you stretch your dollar and fill you up. These include rice, noodles and cornmeal. Research dishes that use these, and then take a look at what frozen and canned fruits and vegetables you have in your fridge and cupboard. Frozen vegetables are good for stir-fries and soups, and rice, tinned mackerel and soup packets, for example can make a good seasoned rice, with some shredded cabbage added in.

USE FOOD IN A VARIETY OF WAYS

So you fried an entire chicken, or roasted a slab of pork and there's quite a bit of leftovers. But nobody wants to be eating fried chicken or roast pork for three days straight. The solution: use the food in a variety of ways. Shred the pork for pulled pork sandwiches for lunch, and do the same with the chicken to add to your pasta salad, for other sandwiches, or as protein for your tacos, burritos and nachos. Make sure that you freeze leftover protein so it lasts longer.

Below we share some kid-friendly recipes that you can try with your child.

Pasta salad

If you stocked up on tuna or sardines, a good lunch idea is pasta salad.

Method: Boil pasta and cool. Add flaked tuna or sardines, canned or frozen vegetables, and mix together with mayonnaise.
Kid tip: Allow your child to do the mixing, and to add any other interesting ingredients that they may like to the mix, once they promise to eat it. Corn, for example, and tomatoes, eggplant or zucchini can be added, and even, too, a sliced boiled egg.

Spaghetti, meatballs & veggies

Kids love spaghetti and meatballs, and adding vegetables like carrots, eggplant, broccoli or zucchini is a good way to incorporate veggies without changing the taste of the meal.

Method: Prepare meatballs and spaghetti as usual, by boiling spaghetti and frying meatballs. In a saucepan, combine pasta sauce, meatballs and vegetables and simmer. Add spices. Simmer for three to five minutes, then add spaghetti and combine. Serve with a topping of Parmesan cheese.

Kid tip: Allow your child to help by moulding the meatballs. This is easy to do, and their little hands will make the perfect-sized meatballs.

Taco surprise

Taco shells are one of those bulk items that are cheap, and which you should stock up on when you have kids at home and no idea how you’ll feed them for the long haul.

Method: Sauté your leftover shredded chicken or pork with fresh veggies and spices. Add taco sauce, or if you don’t have that, flavoured ketchup will do. Pour mixture into your taco shell and serve with a topping of shredded cheese.

Kid tip: Let them stuff the taco shells with whatever else they like, whether it’s mayo, ranch dressing, or even a few apple slices (that’s the surprise!) Let them know that a taco shell is open to a variety of additives, and they will love that it’s a meal that they have some amount of control over.

 


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