For some parents, providing healthy meals for kids at dinner every night is a source of stress. Some tots are naturally picky eaters, or they simply don’t have much of an appetite during scheduled meal times.
The last thing a mom or dad wants to add to their to-do list is to worry about their child getting proper nutrition. When a kid refuses to eat, it can cause a lot of frustration and anxiety for parents who want the best for their child.
Kids aren’t born hating fruits, vegetables, and healthy food – it’s something they learn from family, friends, and popular culture. You can help your family build healthy eating habits by planning ahead when possible and having a roster of tried and true recipes on hand.
It can seem daunting to fill your kids’ plate with a variety of colors, textures, protein, carbs and nutrient-dense vegetables and fruits. The list below is a great place to get inspiration for healthy dinner ideas for kids.
Join Twin Cities Kids Club for more recipes and ideas your kids will love, as well as helpful information for events and happenings around the Twin Cities.
KID-FRIENDLY ONE-POT MEALS
Vegetarian Chili Mac
One-pot meals are a busy parent’s secret weapon. It’s hard to get excited about cooking a healthy meal at home if you also have to wash a dozen pots and pans afterward.
To make a vegetarian chili mac recipe, you only need to chop a few vegetables, open some cans and dump it all in the pot. Season to your liking and add cheese on top before serving if desired.
It might seem strange to an adult to eat beans with pasta – but trust us, it’s absolutely delicious.
This one-pot recipe has plenty of fiber, carbs. plant-based protein and flavor to keep your kid full and happy.
Creamy Salsa Chicken
This skillet chicken dish is easy and packed with a ton of flavor, thanks to jarred salsa and a handful of fresh herbs.
If your kids are old enough to help in the chicken, this is an excellent recipe for you to make together.
The chicken breast needs to be flattened with a rolling pin to make sure it cooks evenly in the pan. More fun than playdough, and you get to eat it when you’re done!
With protein, beans, vegetables, and rice, this meal is easy and ticks off all the nutrition boxes.
KID-FRIENDLY CROCKPOT MEALS
Crockpot meals are fantastic because you can dump everything in, set the heat to low, leave the house, and come home to a hot dinner.
These slow cooker beef tacos will have your house smelling like your favorite Mexican restaurant. Just brown the beef on the stove before sliding it into the crockpot with spices, herbs, and tomatoes.
Serve on soft corn or flour tortillas, or hard shell tacos if you prefer. Kids love to assemble their food, which makes eating tacos all the more fun!
Add some vegetables on top like diced tomatoes, lettuce, and olives, or even jalapenos if your child likes spicy food. Sour cream and shredded cheese are also popular toppings.
Pork, Potato, and Carrot Stew
This meat and veg dish could not be any easier.
Plop a pork loin, diced potatoes, a bag of baby carrots, chicken broth and spices into your crockpot. Then set it to low and forget it for about six hours.
When you get home, you’ll have a hearty, tender stew AND you might even think someone else made it for you!
KID-FRIENDLY VEGETARIAN MEALS
Cheesy Zucchini Bake
Summer is in full swing. Soon, gardens everywhere will be overflowing with zucchini.
Kids are notorious for being picky about vegetables, but this cheesy zucchini bake tastes so good they might not even notice.
This vegetarian recipe has just a few ingredients, including eggs, grated zucchini, butter, and dill. Grate the zucchini, mix everything up in a bowl and pour it in a pan before popping in the oven.
In no time at all, you’ll have a hot healthy meal. It makes great leftovers and you can eat it hot or cold.
It’s unrealistic to expect busy parents to make everything from scratch. There are lots of pre-made products that can help you create a healthy meal in little time.
This creamy baked dish adds an extra level of yumminess to store-bought spinach and cheese ravioli. Boil the pasta for a few minutes, drain, then add to a baking pan with jarred tomato sauce and a sprinkle of cheese.
Bake and serve piping hot with a side salad and you’ve got a complete meal in 40 minutes or less.
KID-FRIENDLY VEGAN MEALS
Sometimes there’s no substitute for comfort food, and these vegan spaghetti-o’s are the perfect amount of savory, creamy flavor.
This classic kid-favorite dish is veganized with tomato sauce, nutritional yeast, and spices. You can use gluten-free pasta, like this recipe, or a standard pasta of your choice.
Vegan Pita Pizza
The toppings for pita pizza are only as limited as your imagination!
Simply buy your favorite pita bread and load them up with tomato sauce or pesto, then add vegetables to your heart’s content.
Make a Mexican-inspired version with corn, peppers, jalapeno, cilantro, and sauteed onions.
If you love Meditteranean flavors, try adding kalamata olives, spinach, pepperoncini, hummus, and roasted red peppers to your pizza.
If you like, add vegan cheese before putting it in the oven for a hot, bubbly pie. Or sprinkle some on top before serving to add a cold, creamy texture.
Kids love to play with their food, and this is one time where you should let them do so! Help them craft their pita pizza before popping it into the oven.
HEALTHY MEALS FOR KIDS
The pressure to be a perfect parent can be daunting at times, but don’t let it discourage you. Your kid doesn’t have to clean their plate at every single meal to be happy and healthy.
Exposing your children to new foods is a great way to bond and make memories as a family. Try your best to get a diversity of flavors and colors on their plate. The rest will take care of itself!
Join Twin Cities Kids Club for the best information for parents in the Twin Cities!