7 fun cooking and baking ideas to keep kids busy during lockdown

Wednesday, 6th January 2021, 6:37 pm
Updated Wednesday, 6th January 2021, 6:37 pm

With new lockdown measures in place across the UK, including school closures and a move to remote learning, keeping kids entertained at home can be tricky.

From cookery kits to sweet treats and lunch ideas, here are some fun food activities that can be done in the comfort of your own kitchen.

Smiley face pizzas

Using crumpets, bagels, or sliced English muffins as a base, smiley face pizzas allow kids to get creative in the kitchen while they help prepare lunch or dinner.  Try your own version of this muffin pizza recipe and offer a range of toppings to experiment with.

You’ll need:

  • 2 English muffins
  • 40ml (2fl oz) spoons of a tomato based sauce
  • 2 slices of ham
  • handful basil leaves
  • 2x 15ml spoons sweetcorn (canned)
  • 60g (2oz) mozzarella cheese

Method:

Preheat the grill and cut the muffins in half to create four pizza bases, or you could try using different types of bread like crumpets or baguettes instead.

Spread the tomato-based sauce over each pizza base with a table knife.

Tear the ham into small pieces with your hands and share it between the pizzas.

Wash the basil and tear the leaves, before arranging it on top.

Open the can of sweetcorn and sprinkle some over the pizzas. Children can try any other toppings they like, such as sliced mushroom, chopped cherry tomatoes, diced courgette or canned tuna.

Tear the mozzarella into small chunks and add it to the pizzas.

Place them onto the grill pan and put them under the grill for a few minutes until the cheese begins to bubble and turn brown.

Remove them from the grill and allow them to cool.

Serve these fantastic pizzas with crunchy salad.

Gingerbread zoo

You might have fired up the oven for gingerbread people in the past, but what about a gingerbread zoo?  Using a basic gingerbread recipe, little ones can leave the cookie cutters to the side and have fun crafting the dough by hand into animal shapes.

You’ll need:

  • 300ml black treacle
  • 3tsp ground cinnamon
  • 3tsp ground ginger
  • 1-3tsp ground cloves
  • 200g butter, softened
  • 180g caster sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 2tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 500g plain flour

Method:

For the dough: in a food mixer, or by hand, mix all the ingredients except the flour and bicarbonate of soda.

Add the flour and bicarbonate of soda and mix again to make a smooth dough. Chill overnight in the fridge before rolling.

Preheat the oven to 200C/Gas 6. Line two baking sheets with baking parchment. Roll the dough out on a lightly floured surface, about as thick as a pound coin.

Mug cakes

For the junior chef who just can't wait, microwave mug cakes are an ideal option, taking a traditional cake recipe and cutting the baking time down to minutes.  Set your child the task of choosing the fillings, from chocolate chips and chopped fudge to dried fruit or nuts.

You’ll need:

  • 4 tbsp self-raising flour
  • 4 tbsp caster sugar
  • 2 tbsp cocoa powder
  • 1 medium egg
  • 3 tbsp milk
  • 3 tbsp vegetable oil or sunflower oil
  • a few drops of vanilla essence or other essence (orange or peppermint work well)
  • 2 tbsp chocolate chips, nuts, or raisins etc (optional)

Method:

Add 4 tbsp self-raising flour, 4 tbsp caster sugar and 2 tbsp cocoa powder to the largest mug you have (to stop it overflowing in the microwave) and mix.

Add 1 medium egg and mix in as much as you can, but don't worry if there's still dry mix left.

Add the 3 tbsp milk, 3 tbsp vegetable or sunflower oil and a few drops of vanilla essence and mix until smooth, before adding 2 tbsp chocolate chips, nuts, or raisins, if using, and mix again.

Centre your mug in the middle of the microwave oven and cook on High for 1½ -2 mins, or until it has stopped rising and is firm to the touch.

Fruit kebabs

Got a fussy eater? Health experts say that changing how food is served can make it more appealing for a young child. Try getting the kids involved in making these colourful fruit kebabs for a sensory and nutritious treat.

You’ll need:

  • 7 raspberries
  • 7 hulled strawberries
  • 7 tangerine segments
  • 7 cubes peeled mango
  • 7 peeled pineapple chunks
  • 7 peeled kiwi fruit chunks
  • 7 green grapes
  • 7 red grapes
  • 14 blueberries

Method:

Take 7 wooden skewers and thread the following fruit onto each – 1 raspberry, 1 hulled strawberry, 1 tangerine segment, 1 cube of peeled mango, 1 chunk of peeled pineapple, 1 chunk of peeled kiwi, 1 green and 1 red grape, and finish off with 2 blueberries. Arrange in a rainbow shape and let everyone help themselves.

Apple 'doughnuts'

Kids can have fun decorating these no-bake apple 'doughnuts', while for parents, there’s the added bonus of upping their daily fruit intake.

You’ll need:

  • 150g soft cheese
  • 2 tsp honey
  • 3 apples (use a crunchy eating variety)
  • 3-4 tbsp almond or peanut butter (optional)
  • coloured sprinkles, to decorate

Method:

Mix the soft cheese with the honey and set aside. Peel the apples, then slice each through the core into five or six rings, about 1cm thick. Use an apple corer or small round biscuit cutter to stamp out a circle from the middle of each slice, removing the core and creating ‘doughnut’ shapes. Pat the slices dry using kitchen paper – they should be as dry as possible to help the toppings stick.

Spread some nut butter over the slices, if using, then top with the sweetened soft cheese. Decorate with the sprinkles and serve.

Hot chocolate stirrers

With the cold weather still upon us, a warming drink is the ultimate winter treat.  Young children will love creating - and consuming - these tasty hot chocolate stirrers.

You’ll need:

  • sunflower oil, for greasing
  • 300g dark, milk or white chocolate (or a mixture), broken into squares
  • To decorate:
  • selection of chocolate buttons, hundreds and thousands, mini fudge pieces or chopped peppermint candy canes
  • 6 cupcake cases, pencil, pastry brush, 6 empty 47g fromage frais pots (washed and dried), 6 wooden lolly sticks, cellophane and string or ribbon for wrapping, 6 gift tags

Method:

Push a small hole in the middle of the cupcake cases with a pencil and put aside for later.

Dip the pastry brush in the sunflower oil and paint a very thin layer of oil over the insides of the fromage frais pots.

Put the chocolate in a bowl and heat in the microwave in 30-sec bursts until runny, stirring after each blast. Or melt it in a heatproof bowl set over a pan of simmering water (get an adult to help you). If you’re using different types of chocolate, you should melt them separately.

Carefully pour the melted chocolate into the pots. Put a lolly stick in the middle of each and sprinkle your chosen decorations around it.

Sit a cake case on top of each pot so that it covers the chocolate and the stick pokes through the hole. Put them in the fridge to set overnight.

The next day, carefully pull the chocolates out of the pots and throw away the paper cases. 

Wrap each in cellophane tied with string and write a tag to read: ‘Simply stir into hot milk.’

Cookery kits for kids

If you've got a budding Jamie or Nigella at home, there are a number of children's cookery kits on the market.  The Little Cooks Co cookery kit includes organic ingredients and collectable recipe cards designed for little hands and minds, while Foodini curates monthly food activity kits for 5-12 year olds.