Meal planning for the whole family is a bit of a balancing act. Not only do you need tasty, crowd-pleasing, and at least moderately healthy recipes, but ideally, you also need to come up with something that doesn't require hours of cooking.
One easy solution? Picking dishes that kids can help assemble through self-serve topping stations. It cuts down on your workload and gets them involved in the kitchen — win-win! Plus, everyone gets to choose their own adventure, so no one can complain they don't like their meal.
Of course, the first step to cooking anything is getting your ingredients. After picking up your groceries and putting everything away, disinfect high-touch surfaces like the door handle and kitchen counters with Clorox® Disinfecting Wipes. These wipes kill 99.9 percent of germs*, including the COVID-19 virus**, when used as directed on hard non-porous surfaces, so they're an easy way to ensure the kitchen is disinfected before beginning to cook. Once you rinse the countertops and any other surfaces that come in contact with food with water after disinfecting, you'll know it's safe to invite your little ones over to help out. Keep reading for four tasty ways to put topping bars to work in your family meal plan.
Crunchy chips covered in melted cheese are nearly irresistible, making nacho night an ideal opportunity to introduce picky eaters to some healthier toppings. Parents can arrange individual portions of chips and shredded cheese on oven-safe dishes, then let the kiddos select from options like sliced bell peppers, black beans, pulled chicken, and corn. Once they're done, grown-ups pop the nachos into the oven for five to 10 minutes, or just until the cheese melts. Tableside additions like guacamole and salsa are the finishing touch!
Weekend breakfast becomes a cinch with a self-serve pancake bar. First, whip up a batch of plain pancakes — you can even prep them before the kids get out of bed and keep them in the oven to stay warm. Once you're ready to eat, allow kids to top their flapjacks with a mixture of healthy toppings, like fresh sliced fruit and chopped nuts, and more indulgent choices, like chocolate chips and rainbow sprinkles.
You'd be surprised by just how sophisticated kids' tastes can be — just watch the innovative avocado toast flavor combinations they come up with. Grown-ups should toast the bread and spread the mashed avocado, but kids can go wild with toppings like sliced cherry tomatoes, crispy bacon, feta cheese, salty pumpkin seeds, and more. For brunch, you can even let kids order up individual fried eggs from the kitchen (aka the grown-ups).
Pizza night was practically made for topping stations. Whether you make dough from scratch or stick to store-bought, prepare kid-size individual pies on a baking tray. After applying the messy sauce yourself, turn it over to the kids to add all kinds of pizza toppings. Go classic with favorites like pepperoni, mozzarella, and bell peppers, or get experimental with options like barbecue chicken, sauteed zucchini, and the always controversial pineapple.
And since cooking with kids is always a bit of a mess, parents will also need a cleaning plan. After the pizza party is over, grab another Clorox® Disinfecting Wipe to clean up any leftover spills or messes. Congratulate yourself on a dinner well done!
* Pseudomonas aeruginosa (Pseudomonas), Salmonella enterica tested as Salmonella choleraesuis (Salmonella), and rotavirus
**Kills SARS CoV-2 on hard, non-porous surfaces. Use as directed.