Chopped Championship – 5 Tips for Free Family Fun

My kids love watching Chopped (the Food Network TV show) on Netflix. They love all the weird ingredients, strange dishes, and the judging. So they decided that we should do a family Chopped championship with myself and my husband as the contestants. It was time consuming but a lot of fun! The only rules were that the kids had to pick food we already had in the house (we weren’t running out to buy pigs feet or anything), and they had to eat whatever we made-even if they didn’t want to. No wasting food here! And since it uses things already around the house it’s essentially a free game you can play.

Two toasted bears as an appetizer – one with jelly and fruit, the other with peanut butter and marshmallows

This is a great idea on how to make the ordinary (dinner) just a little bit extraordinary. Making dinner is an everyday thing, but a Chopped championship dinner? That’s fun! We’ve done it twice in the past two years because we don’t want to do it too often-that would spoil the fun and excitement. Although if it was up to my middle son that would be dinner every night!

Deep fried PB&J was the other appetizer

Just like the real Chopped Championship, this one is judged by taste, presentation, and creativity in using the secret ingredients. The kids are the judges and the adults are the chefs. The challenges are timed, and there’s three courses (appetizer, entree, and dessert). The kids love being in charge and doing the judging, because they don’t often have the chance to be in charge of adults. Plus they get excited to see what we’re going to make.

What family financial lessons can be learned from a Chopped championship in your house? Here’s five things you should think about when trying to come up with free family fun:

  1. Look at the kids interests – In this case the kids had gotten on a Chopped kick, so we did a Chopped championship. Your kids love Cake Wars? Have a cake decorating contest. Are they into certain TV show or video game? Come up with a project based around that. No matter what your kids are interested in there will be some aspect that you can bring into an activity at home
  2. Use what you have – Don’t run out and buy things to do the activity, unless you absolutely have to. Instead look around your house. Maybe you don’t have a box of cake mix – can you make your own cake? Are your kids into Star Wars? Maybe you can all make your own lightsabers out of paper towel tubes. Think creatively about what you have around the house
  3. Make the ordinary extraordinary – An ordinary dinner turns into a Chopped championship. Everyday dessert becomes more special because everyone gets a cupcake to decorate. Eating breakfast is more fun because you do it in a park during a hot air balloon festival. Or have a camp out in your yard-or your living room.
  4. Put the kids in charge – I’m not sure about your kids, but mine love to be in charge and organize activities. So often with younger kids the adults are in charge – here’s where we’re going tonight, here’s what we’re having for dinner. My kids love to turn the tables and be in charge of the adults
  5. Look for free – This is similar to using what you already have, but takes it a step further. Look around for free activities in your town – using the library pass, going to festivals, or even heading for a hike. Find ways to make those free excursions a bit more special and your kids will have fond memories at no cost

My husband won this one – darn it! But although I loved my hot dog octopus, the chocolate covered mac n’ cheese in the cone was the surprise hit of the championship

Whatever you decide to do, don’t do it too often or it will lose its special feeling. Get the kids exciting by talking about what you’re going to do, and let them plan it (or help plan it, depending on their age). The anticipation is often just as much fun as the actual activity.

What fun and frugal free things do you like to do with your family? What ideas do you have to share? Let me know in the comments!

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