Coming up with activities that keep little ones engaged can be challenging. Sometimes you just want an activity that someone else has tested and gathered all of the components together for you. If you want a culinary experience that encourages experimentation and applauds fun while developing skills like math, Foodstirs' Baker's Club is an option you'll want to consider.
Do you subscribe to Foodstirs?
Over the end of the year school break, Gates discovered MasterChef Junior. We wanted her to see other kids cooking and get inspired to get outside her comfort zone (with supervision, of course).
Because she likes receiving surprises in the mail (I mean come on, who doesn't?), I went online to see if there was a subscription service with baking activities for kids. It would be our very own version of the MasterChef Junior Mystery Box challenge. We found Foodstirs.
- No bleached flours
- No artificial preservatives
- No artificial colors or flavors
- Non GMO ingredients
I liked this because the brownie mix both cubes and I grew up making, Duncan Hines Chewy Fudge, is not one I want Gates eating with partially hydrogenated soybean oil and higher amounts of sugar. (Foodfacts is a great site for getting nutritional information about off-the-shelf products.)
Our first kit was Brownie Snowflakes or as Gates called them Brownie Stars. What I liked was the simple instruction card. There was a photo of the completed project, a list of items you need from your own kitchen that aren't included in the kit (eggs, oil, and water), and easy to interpret icons for the equipment you'd need.
On the back of the instruction card were photographs of the steps you needed to complete. It took us a couple of reads through to figure out what we needed to do. The one ingredient we were initially confused about were the chocolate chips. We didn't know if we were to decorate the brownie with them or include them in the brownies. (Turns out they get melted to secure the marshmellows to the brownies.) Bolding the ingredients on the card to make the step where they're used would make this a little easier.
Our batter was incredibly sticky and it was difficult to transfer it into the baking dish. For the cut brownies to hold their shape, it's incredibly important to have an even surface.
We overlooked one key instruction when making the kit: let the brownies cool. We tried to flip the brownies out of the baking dish when they were still warm. Two of the corners broke off. This reduced the area of brownies we had available for cutting snowflakes.
The snowflake cookie cutter had a lot of detail and required careful removal of the cut brownie to keep all the legs. Many of our snowflakes ended up having five points instead of six. A Star Cutter (*affiliate link) would work better with the density of the brownies we made. If you use this cookie cutter which is larger than the one provided in the Foodstirs kit, you'll get 4, maybe 5, brownie pops.
Once we had the brownies cut out, Gates inserted the popsicle sticks into the center of each. We lost a few more legs off some of the snowflakes.
This is an extremely messy activity with the melted chocolate. By the time we were done we had chocolate everywhere, on the kitchen table, the chairs, and on Gates' clothes.
After Gates decorated the brownies we were unsure how long the melted chocolate chips would take to harden. We ended up putting the brownie pops into the refrigerator for about ten minutes and that did the trick.
Overall it was a great activity and kept Gates' attention--not an easy feat with an almost four year old. If your child is a perfectionist, you may want to switch out the cookie cutter for one with fewer edges. I think Foodstirs Heart Brownie Pop Kit would work better.
Cost wise, is it worth it? If you subscribe, you're looking at $19.95 plus $5.95 shipping, $311 a year. If you sign up for a subscription or do a trial, be aware that you can't cancel online. You'll need to call Foodstirs. I wish I'd known this before I signed up for a test kit. (For comparison, Kiwi Crate includes shipping in their box subscriptions and drops their kit to $16.95 with a twelve month subscription.)
With the ingredients we typically use for Rocky Road Brownies, we could create six kits for about $14 (assumes free shipping with Amazon Prime and having popsicle sticks and cookie cutters on hand). Depending on how much baking you're doing with your family, Foodstirs is a reasonable option. You don't have to find a recipe or gather your supplies, so Foodstirs is great from a time saving perspective. Gates and I bake together at least once a month.
For a kid's party or sleepover, Foodstirs is great--you can buy the kits without signing up for a subscription. You'll have an activity that will keep your kids engaged and working together. Just be prepared for a mess depending on the age of your kids and the ingredients in your kits.
Make Rocky Road Brownies with Your Family
Want a fun, ooey gooey chocolately treat? Whip up a batch of Rocky Road Brownies. Take your favorite brownie mix, and add a bag of mini chocolate chips and a bag of mini marshmellows.
My favorite brownie mix is Kodiak Cakes Big Bear Brownie Mix, Double Chocolate Chunk (*affiliate link). The texture of those brownies is a little denser than the Foodstirs brownie mix and would hold the popsicle stick better. I don't know if the flour used in the Kodiak Cakes mix is bleached or not and whether there are any GMO ingredients--if that's important to you, go with the Foodstirs Brownie mix, which you can purchase separately from the kits, $7.95 or $6.95 if you get monthly. Kodiak Cakes and Foodstirs are priced the same so you're not paying a premium for healthy ingredients. I like that.
Foodstirs doesn't offer the marshmellows separately, but non-GMO, vegan options are available. We like Dandies Vegan Marshmallows Vanilla Minis (*affiliate link).
Foodstirs also doesn't offer the chocolate chips separately, but non-GMO, vegan options are available. We like Enjoy Life Semi-Sweet Chocolate Chips (*affiliate link).
Get Cooking with Your Kids
If you want to get started baking with your little one, but aren't sure about a subscription kit, check out these other Raising a Foodie posts:
- Three ways to develop an appreciation for fresh, seasonal ingredients
- Eight tips (and four recipes) for cooking with kids
Credits: All layouts designed by and images taken by Eden Hensley Silverstein for The Road to the Good Life.
DISCLOSURE: I responded to an ad on Facebook to get a Foodstirs kit for just the cost of shipping, which was $5.95. (A single kit purchase costs $24.95 plus shipping; a monthly subscription costs $19.95 plus shipping. Foodstirs currently offers a free first month on their website.) I decided to try Foodstirs after canceling our Kiwi Crate subscription and wanting to find an activity that complemented our MasterChef Junior watching.
This post contains affiliate links, followed by (*affiliate link). I feature products that I own or that I am considering purchasing. All opinions presented are my own.
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