looking to have more fun with food and encourage your kids to try new things? yeah, me too. that’s why I created the food+fun challenge. each week, we plan out a week of fun themes and play with our food. if you want to read about how this got started or find a list of 35+ kid-friendly themes, you can find that here in the initial post.
we started off week one of our food+fun challenge with a bang! there were so many great theme choices on the list and it was such a treat to look up recipes with those themes in mind. it was the first time in a long time that i had felt inspired about cooking and was truly looking forward to what our days had in store. it was also the first time in a really long while that the entire family took part in the planning; it’s usually me and my ipad looking up recipes and feeling a whole lot of resentment.
these are the themes we chose for our first menu:
M: yellow day
T: surprise ingredient day
W: pantry challenge
Th: simple sandwiches
F: food by letter
Sa: out to eat
Su: eat like a celeb day (lionel messi)
see below for the delicious details of what each day entailed and also for the recipe links so that you can get in on the fun.
because this was the very first day of our very first food+fun week, i wanted to go big. we randomly chose yellow and set out to list every yellow food we could think of. we came up with: scrambled eggs, bananas, yellow peppers, lemons, mac and cheese, gold fish, golden oreos (which was perfect because it also happened to be national oreo day on yellow day), and yellow curry. and then we took to pinterest and searched for yellow recipes.
here’s the menu we came up with for the day:
breakfast: scrambled eggs and toast with butter (because that made it “yellow”)
lunch: i packed the big kid some yellow split pea dip with golden crackers, a golden delicious apple, and golden oreos. for the little, I packed some cheese, golden delicious apples, gold fish, and golden oreos. and i had yellow bell peppers and golden crackers dipped in the yellow split pea dip.
dinner: yellow curry fried rice and a fried egg
- yellow split pea dip from gimme some oven
- yellow curry fried rice with (yukon gold) potatoes from healthy nibbles
surprise ingredient day
for our very first surprise ingredient day, i didn’t want to completely scare the kids. so i decided to make a sweet treat with some hidden veggies. i hadn’t made sweet potato brownies in a long time and happened to have some sweet potatoes that I needed to use. i also found a recipe for broccoli banana bread while searching for recipes with hidden vegetables and knew it had to be done. the kids were positively giddy to have dessert after dinner and i was positively giddy to have made banana bread with broccoli in it.
there was so much laughter and silliness at the table with this one and that made my heart really happy.
pantry challenge (aka use up the things in the pantry)
for our pantry challenge, i wanted to use up things that had been sitting in there for a long, long time. things like boxes of jell-o we purchased for making gummy bears (but abandoned because they were disgusting), a stash of ramen and udon noodle soups, pasta, canned beans, and more. the kids were a little hesitant when it was called pantry clean-out day, but when i changed it to a pantry challenge, they were both on board. hey, whatever it takes.
the girls chose to have udon noodles and the husband and i had some amazing fire roasted vegetarian chili. and we all devoured some homemade breadsticks.
- fire roasted vegetarian chili can be found on page 89 of the recipe archives ebook
- EASY breadstick recipe from i heart naptime
we had some evening activities planned for this night of the week, so wanted to keep things super simple. enter in simple sandwiches. somehow this one turned into an all-day affair, which i wasn’t mad about, but wasn’t necessarily expecting. turns out we were having so much fun with our themes that we went all in and made it a whole day kind of thing.
breakfast: egg sandwiches
lunch: salami sandwich for the big kid, peanut butter and jelly sandwich for the little kid, and chicken patty sandwiches for me
dinner: the big had a chicken patty sandwich and the grown-ups had marinated tempeh sandwiches (the little said, i’m done with this, and had mac and cheese)
- marinated tempeh sandwiches can be found on page 161 of the recipe archives ebook
food by letter
when the big kid initially suggested this theme, it was every person for themselves eating only the foods that began with the first letter of their name. I had a feeling that would be a tad difficult for my pickiest, so suggested that we use our initials for each meal. so breakfast became foods that started with E, lunch was foods that started with A, and dinner was foods that started with M. that seemed to make everyone happy, so we went with it.
breakfast: eggs and empanadas
lunch: almonds, apples, apricots, avocado pudding
dinner: meatloaf, mashed potatoes, and mango (salsa) that i ended up putting INTO the meatloaf
we ended up ordering a bunch of empanadas from a local empanada spot the day before so that breakfast was easy peasy and then went bento box style with our lunches. dinner was delicious, but everyone was slightly annoyed with me because i made mashed sweet potatoes instead of the beloved russet. oh well, i had sweet potatoes from the brownies to use up.
pretty sure this was the kids’ least favorite day of the week, but the hubs and i had fun.
- chocolate avocado pudding from made with lev
out to eat
with a full week of cooking, i knew it was important to have a day where there was zero cooking on my behalf. so we made a trip to our absolute favorite restaurant and then hit up a milkshake spot after. the kids were beyond thrilled and, frankly, so was i. we now have at least one day a week built in where i don’t have to cook, like a use it all up or pantry clean-out challenge built in to the plan. i would highly encourage you to do the same.
eat like a celeb day
the big kid chose soccer player, lionel messi, for our eat like a celebrity day. so we scoured the internet for a typical day of eating for messi and came up with the following general plan:
breakfast: fruit, whole grains, vegetables
lunch: soup, beans, salad
dinner: chicken/fish, brown rice
i took the whole grains for breakfast to mean oatmeal and paired it with a little fruit salad, had leftover chili for lunch with a side salad (the kids did not partake), and the hubs made some tilapia with a lemon caper butter for himself and the big kid, while the little and i had some chicken. we all had rice and peas to go with it.
- tilipia with lemon caper sauce from taste of home is pretty darn close to what the hubs makes
everyone had a blast with our first week of food+fun. we liked it so much we decided to do it again for another week. the big kid said her favorite days were eat like a celeb day and our pantry challenge. her least favorite days were yellow day and food by letter day, but not because she hated the theme. she just didn’t like the meals and was a little grumpy that her lunches for school were so weird. she did, however, have fun making all of her friends try the broccoli banana bread, so there’s always that.
want to follow along with the food+fun challenge in real time? make sure to follow me over on instagram at @emilylevenson. and if you decide to create your own food+fun challenge, please tag me!! i want to cheer you on.