While at the beginning of the pandemic, cooking elaborate meals and taking on new baking projects may have been a novelty and felt rewarding, at this point, coming up with meal ideas may just feel like a chore. Add picky kids into the mix and it’s no wonder that we’re all feeling kitchen burnout!

Take the pressure off of yourself to create composed meals each night, and involve kids in cooking with “make your own” dinners. Besides assuring that everyone will enjoy their meals, involving kids in the process increases the likelihood that they’ll try something new. During this difficult time, it will also give kids a sense of control, boost their self-confidence by being able to do something on their own, and make meals easier and more pleasant for everyone. Plus, it’s a great way to use up small amounts of leftover ingredients that may otherwise become food waste. Just lay out the ingredients and let everyone build their own. Try some of the below ideas to get started.

Salad Bar:

  • Shredded lettuce; Shredded purple cabbage; Baby spinach; Mixed greens
  • Sliced hard boiled eggs; Canned salmon or tuna, Grilled chicken strips; Chickpeas or beans
  • Tomatoes; Carrots; Cucumbers; Peppers, Onions; Mushrooms; Peas; Broccoli; Radishes
  • Boiled potato chunks; Pita Chips; Quinoa; Corn
  • Shredded cheese; Sliced avocado; Nuts; Seeds
  • Olive oil and Vinegar; Salad dressing

Sushi Bowls:

  • Rice; Couscous; Quinoa; Barley; Farro
  • Smoked salmon; Flaked grilled fish; Baked tofu chunks; Cooked shrimp
  • Cucumbers; Carrots; Radishes; Pickled ginger; Nori or Seaweed snack sheets; Avocado slices; Edamame; Diced mango; Chopped pineapple
  • Sesame seeds; Teriyaki sauce; Soy sauce

Amanda Buthmann MS, RD is a pediatric and family nutritionist at Lara Metz Nutrition in NYC. For more information contact her at Amanda@larametznutrition.com, or visit www.larametznutrition.com.
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