Feeding your tribe healthy and yummy meals every night can sometimes feel like the hardest part of an already hard day. And let’s face it, we are all guilty of cycling through the same 3 or 4 meals that we know the entire family will enjoy.
These easy dinner ideas for kids will hopefully break out of your meal planning rut and give you some fresh dinner inspiration 💡.
Plus, these dinner recipes aren’t just for kids and toddlers; all of them are great for the whole family 👨👩👧👦, meaning that you don’t have to cook separate meals… which, quite frankly, is exhausting!
Prep Ahead – To save your sanity during the week – prep one or two items that you are planning on using for dinners that week on the weekend – chopped an onion, marinate some chicken, make a veggie-loaded pasta sauce, etc. It doesn’t have to be an all-day event. Even 30 minutes of prep time goes a long way.
One Meal for Toddlers, Kids and Adults – Make one dinner for toddlers, kids and you! I developed these recipes for toddlers and kids, but I eat them as well! Don’t think that you have to make an extra meal just for yourself. I sometimes add sriracha, a large green salad or more veggies to my portion depending on what the recipe is, but the base recipe is always the same.
Plan Ahead – The one thing that has helped me endlessly is meal planning. I choose my meals for the week, go shopping once and then everything is there when I need it. I never worry about what I’m going to make that evening and I can also plan to cook double batches for freezer meals.
Eating healthy for the whole family does not have to be complicated. Kids learn by example so if they see you eating the same meal they have, they will be more likely to eat it. Here are a few tips to make it easier on the whole fam.
Ideally, plates should be made up of ½ fruits and vegetables, ¼ whole grains and ¼ protein with a serving of dairy at each meal. But don’t worry if your or your child’s plate doesn’t always look like this (or they don’t always eat a balanced meal). Just try to make it even out throughout the week.
Eating together as a family, without distractions like the TV or phones, tends to create healthier eating habits for kids, and they learn healthy eating behaviors from others at the table.
Don’t worry if your child doesn’t eat everything on their plate. Kids need to learn to honor their hunger and fullness cues so no more “Clean Plate Club.”
Serve small portions so kids do not feel overwhelmed but what is on their plate. They can always ask for seconds if they want more.
Offer a variety of foods from all five food groups each day. Variety is key when trying to prevent picky eating, but remember it may take up to 10 times for a child to accept a new food so don’t be discouraged if they don’t eat something on the first try.
A good rule of thumb to follow when feeding kids is: Parents choose when and what foods to offer and children decide how much to eat and whether they eat at all.
These Chicken Parmesan Meatballs are the perfect family dinner – easy to make and loved by all! This healthy dinner is great for all ages – baby to adults! Made in 30 minutes with only 5 simple ingredients!
This Hidden Veggie Pasta Sauce is a great way to get even the pickiest of eaters to eat their veggies! Filled with tomatoes, zucchini, carrots, leeks and red peppers, this sauce is full of nutrient-dense veggies all while still tasting like a delicious homemade tomato sauce.
An excellent way to serve fish to your toddler – seasoned to perfection and cooked until crispy on the outside yet still tender on the inside. Served with a side of pineapple and avocado chunks and cilantro brown rice for the win.
This healthy version of the classic dish is filled with your favorite rice, a mix of veggies and a scrambled egg for some protein. You can use whichever veggies your little one prefers to make this dish and instant classic in your home.
Don’t forget about baby’s dinner on your favorite meal night of the week – Taco Tuesday! This flavorful meal is filled with your favorite taco flavors, only mini-sized for those little hands to be able to eat.
Bite sized pasta, broccoli, carrots and chickpeas get tossed in a tasty mild curry sauce that will delight any baby or toddler’s growing taste buds! This finger food salad is a fun way to introduce curry to baby. Perfect for baby-led weaning and the finger food stage!
A thick and hearty bolognese sauce with added veggies is the perfect way to introduce this classic sauce to your baby. This sauce is versatile and can be served over your favorite pasta, brown rice, zucchini noodles or spaghetti squash.
This Kid-Approved Summer Veggie Pizza is Ellie's favorite pizza of the summer and is topped with basil pesto, sweet peppers, fresh corn and cherry tomatoes all covered with a big handful of shredded mozzarella cheese and is the perfect pizza for the entire family!!
Not only is butternut squash great for babies first puree, it makes a crave-worthy dinner for the entire family! You’ll love this Vegan + Dairy Free Butternut Squash Mac and Cheese for toddlers and kids!
This wholesome baby-led weaning meal is made by tossing together your favorite pasta, a whopping 5 different veggies and a simple yet delicious basil dressing. Everything is the same finger food size for easy eating for baby.
For a fun twist on this classic tuna salad sandwich we are using avocado in place of the mayo, then mixing the tuna with celery and apple chunks for some crunch, before we spoon the fresh tasting tuna salad into a mini pita pocket.
This Pesto Summer Finger Salad for Baby + Toddler is full of bite-size pieces of corn, tomatoes, zucchini and orzo pasta all mixed together with a spoonful of flavorful pesto. This finger salad is a great way for baby to enjoy the delicious tastes of summer.
A filling and healthy version of your standard quesadilla – filled with a kale, spinach and apple spread and loaded with beans and cheese for a complete meal that most toddlers (and parents) can’t resist!
This healthy Harvest Chicken Saladis full of cubed chicken, apples, pecans and dried cranberries, all tossed with a yogurt and mustard dressing. Easy for you to make and easy for your toddler (and you) to devour!
Bring a large pot filled with water to a boil and cook pasta according to instructions on the package. Before straining, reserve 1 cup of pasta water.
Meanwhile, in a large saucepan pour in the olive oil and heat over medium heat. Add in the garlic and cook for 1-2 minutes, stirring often. Add in the pumpkin puree, tomato paste, and broth and bring to a simmer, stir until combined. Reduce heat to low and add in the cream, balsamic vinegar, nutmeg, and salt and pepper, stir and let simmer while pasta cooks.
Strain pasta and transfer to saucpan of pumpkin sauce. Stir in the pasta, adding the reserved water in 1/4 cup increments to thin out the sauce. I used the entire 1 cup of water for the recipe in the pictures above.
Spoon into bowls and sprinkle with parmesan (if using).
Age: great for baby-led weaning, toddlers, kids and adults – everyone will love this meal!Storage: store leftover pasta in an air-tight container for 5 days in the fridge. The sauce can be stored for 5 days in the fridge or 3 months in the freezer. To defrost the sauce, simply leave it in the fridge overnight or place a frozen container of sauce in your sink filled with warm water, then heat on the stove.To Make Vegan: use veggie broth and canned coconut milk. Skip the parmesan or use vegan parmesan.To Make Gluten-Free: use any gluten-free pasta you prefer.Cream or Coconut Milk: you can use either heavy whipping cream, half and half, or canned full fat coconut milk in this recipe.