Dreaming up new uses for familiar ingredients is a great way to get kids thinking like cooks. Sure, the conversation may start with some silly suggestions like raisin unicorn poop cookies and mushroom milkshakes, but let the ideas keep flowing and you may be surprised what culinary ingenuity a child’s imagination can conjure.
Case in point? Frozen hash browns. Don’t get us wrong—we LOVE using these freezer aisle staples to make plain old hash browns. We’re all for a morning shortcut, especially when it’s so easy to find frozen hash browns without a lot of additives these days (look for an ingredient list with just potatoes, perhaps with salt and spices). But those shredded spuds can be used for WAY more than a simple breakfast side, and it was a kiddo’s undying love of waffles that inspired my first foray into alternate uses of the bag of hash browns in my freezer. Since then, hash browns are always on my shopping list, and these recipes are in frequent rotation in our family’s meal plan.
Youngster cooking bonus: using frozen hash browns skips the box grater step that might be a bit much for a very young cook to handle. Safety win!
- Make a Crust for a Fast Frittata: Fridge-cleanout frittatas are a regular at our house, since they’re such a great way to use up leftovers and get creative with ingredient combinations. They don’t need a crust to be delicious, but sometimes a little bit of crunch elevates the everyday meal into something special. To use hash browns instead of a pastry crush, simply thaw frozen hash browns and press into a pie plate (a great task for little hands). Here’s a recipe, but feel free to go off script with any leftovers or fridge odds-n-ends!
- Fry Up Some Potato Veggie Fritters: Add some substance to zucchini fritters with thawed frozen hash browns. These can even be used as the “bun” for a burger! Buckwheat flour is a nutty gluten-free flour that’s used in this recipe for binding the batter together, but feel free to sub any gluten-free flour or use your favorite substitute.
- Griddle a Few Hashbrown Waffles: What can’t a waffle maker do?! The weekend brunch workhorse can transform a simple mix of hash browns, eggs, cheese, and any other mix-ins your family can dream up into savory waffles in a snap. (Looking for more ways to use your waffle maker? We’ve got you.)
- Top a Swift Shepherd’s Pie: Traditional shepherds or cottage pies are topped with mashed potatoes, but swapping the smash for frozen hash browns is a handy time-saving tip that doesn’t require dirtying (or cleaning) an additional pot. Your little sous can experiment with mixing in their favorite veggies if they prefer green beans or another veggie over peas.
- Roll a Batch Breakfast Burritos: Kids are great at assembly lines, and this breakfast meal prep burrito can make busy mornings a breeze. Simply line up your tortillas and have your little sous handle the step that fits their skill level: sprinkling cheese, scrambling eggs and sausage, or rolling the burritos in foil before freezing for up to one month.
- Get Creative with Breakfast Pizza: Hash brown pizza crust?! It’s not too crazy when you think that folks are out there making pizza crust out of cauliflower and zucchini… Simply shape the shredded taters into a crust shape and drizzle with out (much like the frittata crust above) then top with your favorite breakfast ingredients. Everything’s tastier when eaten by the slice!
And this is just a start! Try asking your kid if they can think of different ways to use shredded potatoes—and if they come up with any brilliant new ideas, be sure to let us know over on Instagram. They might see their idea in a future recipe to inspire other families to cook outside of the box!