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No more sad sandwiches: Where to find kid-friendly takeout

Dial down mealtime stress with roti or Korean corndogs.

Cheeseburger pizza from Ernesto's in Somerville.Wendy Maeda

My husband and I start out so well on Sunday nights: We’re plotting ideas for weekly meals using meats from our farm share and digging out the crock pot. This Martha Stewart impersonation lasts for about two days. By roughly Tuesday at 4:30 p.m., we’re texting each other about dinner from across the house.

“What do you want?”

“I don’t know, what do you want?”

“Pick something.”

“Nothing’s defrosted.”

“Whose fault is that?”

Without fail, dinner consists of Trader Joe’s chicken nuggets or an Old El Paso taco kit. By Friday, I’m burying my limp spinach in a bag and tossing a lone mushy eggplant, wondering where I got the hubris to believe I’d actually have time to cook.


This week, the Globe launched Project Takeout. Yes, we’re urging you to do what you already crave — order food that you don’t have to make. But there’s a bigger purpose: Restaurants are struggling as the pandemic persists. Getting delivery or takeout helps them to survive. (Learn more about our initiative here.)

Ahead, seven kid-friendly takeout ideas for every need. Make sure to check hours in advance; lately, staffing shortages can cause sudden closures.

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When nobody can agree: Time Out Market Boston

You want tacos; your kids want fried chicken. Fear not: Time Out Market Boston has 15 different choices available for delivery or takeout — and they’re local businesses, too. Get nachos and tacos at Taqueria El Barrio; burgers ranging from classic to spicy cauliflower-quinoa at Nu Burger; pizza and wings from star chef Michael Schlow’s Monti; and sweets from Gelato & Chill. The market is open nightly until 10 p.m. 401 Park Dr., Boston, www.timeoutmarket.com

You’ve had a bad day: Shirley

This homey pop-up at Somerville’s Bow Market nails the comfort food game: gooey grilled cheese (sometimes with succulent beer-braised brisket), butternut squash soup, and miniature apple pies from Kat Bayle (Field & Vine). It’s a good weeknight bet; order til 8 p.m. Wednesday through Friday. If you’re feeling truly ambitious, she also offers sourdough starters. 1 Bow Market Way, Somerville, shirleyfarmtotable-102284.square.site


Feeding a crowd: Singh’s Roti Shop

Singh’s specializes in flaky, savory roti — light, circular flatbread popular in the Caribbean. At Singh’s, “value dinners” ($14.99 and up) come with roti, plenty of meat, sides including collard greens or plantains, rice, beans … and that’s not all. Order a towering square of macaroni-and-cheese pie (a Trinidadian specialty), too. You’ll have dinner for days. 554 Columbia Rd., Dorchester, 617-282-7977, www.singhsrotishop.net

Taco night: Taco Mex

This friendly East Boston restaurant has an endless menu filled with Colombian, Mexican, and Salvadorean staples, but my kids love the strawberry and mango milkshakes (and chicken fingers or Buffalo wings with a stack of French fries). For the adults: burritos stuffed with pork rinds, sweet plantains, and boiled eggs or shrimp tacos with enormous, fresh prawns (nothing withered or rubbery), mixed with a pinkish ketchup-mayonnaise combo. You can eat heartily for under $10 per person, easy. 65 Maverick Square, Boston, 617-569-2838, www.tacomexeastboston.com

Adventurous eaters: Kimchipapi Kitchen

This tiny Allston storefront peddles Korean street food: for instance, a sugar-dusted, panko-coated, heavily battered “korndog” piped with mozzarella cheese (picture a circus-style mozzarella stick). Or: fried chicken sliders bleeding Buffalo sauce, fried spam, deep-fried Oreos, and mochi donuts (from nearby shop Pon de Joy). The nice thing here, though, is that there are also healthier options, such as a spicy salmon rice bowl or kale noodles topped with tofu. But, really, why do that when you can try ddukbokki — chewy rice cakes burbling in spicy gochujang sauce, smothered in mozzarella? 81 Harvard Ave., Allston, 617-208-8005, www.kimchipapi.com


Chinese: Dumpling Daughter

Light, fresh, and clean, this Chinese takeout almost feels spa-like — with some treats mixed in. My sons love Mike’s Hot Honey chicken wings (offering a kid-friendly ratio of sweet to heat) and vegetable spring rolls (crunchy, not greasy). An $8 vegetarian tofu wrap on a scallion pancake with spicy cabbage slaw, paired with a side of steamed shrimp dumplings, is a proper grown-up meal. Even the crunchy, fat little crab Rangoons are made with (gasp) real crab meat. Service is speedy and friendly, too. Multiple locations, www.dumplingdaughter.com

A big floppy slice: Ernesto’s

Boston is home to plenty of great pizza, but somehow we keep coming back to Ernesto’s: the char, the chew, the soot, the service — and the toppings! The cheeseburger pizza tastes like a Big Mac in triangular form, right down to the Thousand Island-esque dressing and shredded iceberg. If this isn’t a selling point, the “old-school” pizza, with nothing but a dab of sauce, tomatoes, Romano, and a hint of oil, will surely win you over. This is the kind of slice you can fold in half and walk around with (or curl up in front of the TV with). 69 Salem St., Boston, 617-523-1373 and 641 Assembly Row, Somerville, 617-764-4194, www.ernestosnorthend.com


Kara Baskin can be reached at kara.baskin@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter @kcbaskin.