If you searched the internet and scoured Pinterest for healthy kid-friendly recipes because you’re tired of making chicken nuggets or the same meals on repeat… I get you.
With three kids (who are picky eaters!) and a business to run, I know it can be a struggle to get a healthy meal on the table every night – and then another struggle to encourage everyone to eat it. I’m sharing some of our biggest dinner wins with you today, as well as tips to help those picky eaters try new foods. Watch this video for more and then check out the recipes and tips below!
I have 3 kids. They are picky. And they each like different things. And ultimately, I want my kids to eat a variety of foods because I know that it’s the only way to add both nutrition and get them used to new things.
I’ve already shared 10 dinner ideas my kids will actually eat in this post. The truth is, that you should be making one meal for the whole family so dinner ideas for kids that adults will like as well, is really what we’re looking for.
One thing is to eat two or three tiny pieces of mac and cheese from our kids’ plate on occasion, but when you’re relying on that blue box a few times a week, it’s time to up the game -for you and the kids- with little to no additional effort. I’m serious. Easy recipes exist!
Healthy eating habits for kids
There are a few reasons why I always encourage parents to make one meal for the whole family; the top reason is that a variety of foods establishes healthy eating habits in our kids.
Mealtimes are not about pleasing our kids, they are about helping them get the nutrition their bodies need from a variety of foods and that can only happen when they get on our adult food plan, not the ready-made freezer meal and drive-through plan.
Speaking of plans, if you just don’t have it in you to “think about putting together a meal plan” you’re also not alone. Many of the families in our community subscribe to the Classic Meal Plan to help them do that each week.
A week’s worth of family-friendly recipes, a completed shopping list, and a done-for-you meal prep sheet to help you make it happen! Boom! The Classic Meal Plan might be exactly what you need to establish healthy eating habits on your kids too! It’s what I use.
Is Healthy Eating for Kids even possible?
Yes and no. Healthy eating for kids is possible when we stop pleasing our kids and instead think of mealtimes as an opportunity to introduce foods and find the “next favorite thing.”
I tell my kids “this might not be your favorite meal but it sure will help you grow. Tomorrow’s might be it!” Of course, there’s always one element in the meal that each person will eat so that you’re not getting up to make something else.
When is healthy eating for kids not possible? When they eat the same foods repeatedly and little variety is added to their meals.
Experts refer to “healthy eating” as a child’s willingness to eat a variety of foods, not the types of foods they eat.
Of course, it’s always a great idea to eliminate processed foods and sugars from the family’s diet since they only generate a dependency (craving) for more of those types of foods.
How to Budget Family Meals
With thousands of families in the MOMables community, I’ve had an opportunity to survey them on their spending habits and how to budget family meals better.
One of the main reasons families spend more at the grocery is due to lack of planning and purchasing “foods my kid will eat as a plan b” since I’m making an adult meal and a kid meal at most meals.
Another reason is purchasing boxed, pre-packaged convenience foods that help save time -I’m not talking about single bagged sliced apples and carrots here, I’m referring to frozen kid sandwiches, freezer meals, snacks, frozen breakfast items and single-serving cereals, for example.
Save yourself hundreds of dollars at the store by making one meal for the whole family. With the Classic Meal Plan, you can easily budget family meals, spend less time in the kitchen cooking and cleaning, and dread mealtimes less.
Family Dinner Menu Ideas
There are some simple family dinner menu ideas throughout this website in our recipe index. But before you get lost in the world of too many recipes, you’ll find some great recipes below that are easy to make, have simple and fresh ingredients, and family-friendly.
You’ll find lots of dinner recipes to create your own family dinner menu in this video playlist:
If you are working with a specific list of kid-approved ingredients for dinner try one of these posts where I pull some family favorites which each feature a star ingredient:
Healthy tips for kids
We all want our kids to eat healthier but what exactly does that mean? As a mom of 3 kids, my go-to healthy eating tips usually include having a meal pan, having food prepped and ready, and the patience to know that not every meal will be my family’s favorite -but I did a great job by providing it.
Ok, so maybe that was more healthy mental tips for us parents…lol.
Healthy tips for kids include eat colorful foods, add variety to their meals -at all meals, and be kind to them when they don’t like something. When we don’t criticize and we use kind words they are more likely to try other things in the future that are fresh and healthy.
Healthy Dinner Ideas for Families
While we love our Homemade Chicken Nuggets we also want our family to enjoy easy to make meals made with fresh foods. Below are some of my, and soon to be yours, family’s favorites:
The healthier take on your family’s favorite take-out, this version is baked versus fried and the sauce is homemade.
Sweet potatoes are full of vitamin A and fiber, and this self-serve bar uses leftover taco ingredients like shredded chicken, guacamole, salsa, cheese, and sour cream.
Tender pieces of fish, lightly coated and baked this is one salmon recipe the whole family will love.
This all meat and veggie chili makes a great low carb, paleo dinner. It’s one of the most popular recipes in our Family Kickstart Program. Top it with cheese and sour cream. YUM!
For picky eaters, chop the veggies really small in a food processor or blender.
Fresh tortellini pasta with fresh veggies, this soup takes less than 20 minutes and perfect on a cold night.
Skip the drive-through, eat better quality protein, and save money when you use this recipe. Plus, it’s freezer-friendly so all you need to do is make one big batch and you’ll have them ready when you need them.
An incredibly simple dinner that everyone can assemble themselves with leftover taco night ingredients. Better yet, layer it up in a thermos and make it a warm lunch as well.
Two ingredients and the slow cooker does the rest to make it a simple and delicious taco night! Salsa and chicken slow cooked to tender perfection, you can make these tacos, or use it to make an epic burrito bowl or salad. It’s the meal that keeps on giving.
This recipe uses cauliflower rice for a low-carb way to enjoy fried rice. It adds veggies and tastes incredible the next day too!
Real ingredients and cooked fast are why we love this quick and easy dinner fix. Whether you add the broccoli into the pan or serve it on the side (hello picky eater #2 at my house!) this is one cheesy meal everyone loves.
Best Healthy Kid-Friendly Dinners
Self serve dishes offer both variety and independence, two very important things. We parents want our kids to eat a variety of foods and our kids want to be independent (yes, I’m looking at you my 3 picky eaters) when it comes to selecting what foods they will eat.
In my house, the best healthy kid-friendly diners are always the self-serve type where everyone can create their own plate or bowl. When making a main dish with a couple of sides, be sure to include at least one option everyone will like.
In my humble opinion, the best kid-friendly dinners are always the type of meals parents can feel good about feeding their family; and for me, they are the ones I hand pick and select inside the Classic Meal Plan. Having a plan for my meals is the glue that keeps my family dinners together.
How to Get Kids to Eat Healthier
Parents always want to know how to get kids to eat healthier. I’ve already mentioned that if you want your kids to eat healthier, you’ll actually have to cook a variety of foods all the time -not just get kids to try something once.
Here are some helpful tips to get kids to eat healthier:
- Set and keep a mealtime schedule
While my family and I love snacks, I limit them to once a day and no less than 2 hours before a meal. Constant snacking depletes the appetite, and your child can miss out on quality nutrition in eating a well-balanced meal at dinner; which usually results on battles at the table.
- Clean the pantry
Out of sight, out of mind. If you keep chips, sodas, snack bars, and candy in the house, that’s exactly what they’ll reach for. The best way to avoid this? Get rid of it. Stop buying it.
Many parents tell me that all their kid eats is cereal, pb&j, mac and cheese, and chicken nuggets. I always reply with “what would happen if you stopped buying those things?” I assure you that their world will not end.
Many of these foods have added sugars which create a craving for… more sugar! If you want to kid to eat healthier, get rid of it.
- Restock your pantry and fridge with better ingredients.
Replace items like chips with whole-grain crackers, banana chips, or plantain chips to serve with hummus or guacamole.
Items like sliced apples, bananas, oranges are easy items to grab and replace convenient processed foods.
For a sweet treat, try making Chocolate Brownie Protein Bites or easy and homemade Cookie Dough Snack Bars. Both are made with all natural ingredients that add in nutrition.
If eliminating processed foods and sugars is something you’re curious about let me send you a sample plan and a list of foods to stock your pantry here.
What do you think? Are you ready to introduce healthy kid-friendly recipes into your rotation of family dinner ideas?
To get you started, here’s a printable version of that Chicken Teriyaki recipe I was telling you about earlier…
Love simple recipes like this one? Download a sample MOMables Meal Plan where you’ll find 5 dinner recipes, a done-for-you shopping list, and a step-by-step meal prep sheet!
Healthy Kid-Friendly Recipe
Healthy Teriyaki Chicken
- 1 ½ pounds boneless skinless chicken breasts or thighs
- ¼ cup brown sugar, honey, or coconut palm sugar
- ½ cup reduced-sodium soy sauce, coconut aminos, or Braggs
- ¼ cup water
- 1 small garlic clove, grated
- 1 teaspoon grated fresh ginger
- Oil, for pan frying
- Green onions, optional
- Rice, or Cauliflower Rice
- Pound chicken breasts or thighs to ¼ inch thin by starting in the middle and working out to the edges.
- In a medium bowl, whisk to combine brown sugar, coconut aminos, water, grated garlic, and ginger.
- Place chicken inside a glass container or large gallon zip bag and transfer sauce into container. Mix chicken and sauce over a few times to combine.
- Marinade chicken for 30 minutes to 2 hours (even overnight for a strong flavor).
- In a large skillet over medium heat, heat enough oil to cover the bottom of the pan.
- Begin to cook chicken, about 3 minutes in each side, and remove from pan.
- Repeat process with remaining chicken if the pan is too small.
- Once the chicken is cooked, pour contents of zip bag into the pan.
- Bring sauce to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer for a couple of minutes.
- Bring chicken back into the pan, toss to combine into sauce, and turn off heat.
- Serve over steamed rice or cauliflower rice and garnish with green onions, optional.