Has anyone done something similar?
Top Chef or Chopped at home.
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If your toddlers aren't too picky then it should work for you. My kids are very open to a variety of cuisines and concepts, with few dislikes, so it has worked for us throughout toddlerhood and well into the teen years.
As a type of training what we used to do with culinary students was to give them mystery baskets.
Basically it would be one group of students that did the shopping, without knowing for who or what. Then we would rifle through their shoppings putting ingredients together and then ask the other group of students to make a 2-3 course meal out of whatever they got.
It was a lot of fun and really expands the creativity of the students.
If you want to copy this into the home use one option would be, that once a week (or twice) you or your wife goes shopping. Be sure that you have a rough idea for a few recipes in mind.
Then, when you get home, present the shopping to your partner and they need to make a meal out of it.
You can a) see how close you are in terms of recipe creation and b) have a little challenge in your own house.