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ATK Kids

Cooking Challenges for Cooped-Up Kids

These pantry-friendly cooking challenges are simple enough for kids to complete on their own.

Published Apr. 7, 2020.

With kids out of school and many adults working from home, keeping the kids occupied isn’t always easy. Even more difficult? Finding something that will keep them occupied without your direct supervision. Enter, the America’s Test Kitchen Kids Make It Your Way Challenges.

Our Make It Your Way Challenges encourage kids to get creative in the kitchen. We give them a prompt to create a special snack, meal, or treat, and they get to work dreaming it up, creating it, and eating it. Below, we’ve gathered a few of our Make It Your Way Challenges that are easy for kids to complete without a special trip to the grocery store. Kids can explore the cupboards, pantry, refrigerator, and freezer, using what you already have at home to discover new, surprising, and delicious ways to think about food.

Be sure to share your young chefs' creations with us by sending photos to, or tag us on social media using #atkkids.

From left: Make It Your Way Challenge: Snack Plate, Make It Your Way Challenge: Food Texture Mix and Match

Challenge 1: Cheese Snack Plate

Creating a special individual cheese snack plate is a great way to take a break from schoolwork being done at home. Kids can choose a base (think crackers, pita chips, or crunchy apple slices), a cheese, and some extras (such as nuts, jam, salsa, or salami) to round it out. They can think about how flavors, textures, and colors work together to make the tastiest snack combo. [GET THE ACTIVITY]

Challenge 2: Food Texture Mix and Match

Speaking of texture, have your kids ever thought about just how important food texture is? Eating foods with different textures makes mealtimes so much more interesting, and it can even change our perception of a food’s flavor. Not only that, but food texture is so personal (here’s looking at you, m-o-i-s-t foods). Challenge kids to make a snack or meal that includes at least three different textures (don’t worry, we’ve got a few ideas to help get them started). Breakfast, lunch, or snacks are simpler for kids to make on their own, or you can turn this challenge into a family endeavor by creating a texture-filled dinner menu together. [GET THE ACTIVITY]

From left: Make It Your Way Challenge: Get Salty, Make It Your Way Challenge: Sandwiches

Challenge 3: Get Salty

Salt is one of the ingredients we use most in the kitchen. In this challenge, kids can explore what tastes even better with a sprinkle of salt (and the weirder they get, the better). Try it with whatever fruit or sweet treats you have at home, or with grains, proteins, veggies, even beverages. Kids can try one bite without salt, and the next with a sprinkle of salt. Use whatever different salts you have at home or even a dash of a salty condiment, such as soy sauce or Worcestershire sauce. Exploration and creativity are key! 

Challenge 4: Sandwiches

Whether you’re at school, work, or home, it’s hard to beat a sandwich for lunch. Challenge kids to design their dream sandwich using what you have in the house right now. Maybe you’ve got store-bought bread already, or maybe with this extra time at home you’ve baked a homemade loaf. Kids can use our suggestions for fillings and toppings as a starting point, but anything goes. If you’re lucky (and perhaps brave), ask your young chef to make one for you as well. [GET THE ACTIVITY]


The Young Chefs' Club

On sale until March 31, 2020, the next Young Chefs’ Club monthly subscription box is all about BEVERAGES! From recipes such as Flavored Seltzers, DIY Grenadine, and Horchata to science experiments about bubbly beverages to crafting paper drink umbrellas, this box has something fun for everyone!  
Learn More

For more tips on cooking and baking with kids, check out these articles:

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