As a parent of two children, one of the things that is constantly on my mind is food. What should we have for dinner? Do I need to go grocery shopping today? I really hope the kids will eat this. These are the thoughts that are swirling around my brain. I chase down awesome kid-friendly recipes as if they are Pokémon GO characters – hard to come across and once captured, oh-so rewarding. I’ve learned over the years that the key to any great family meal is modification. Choosing meals that can be simplified for your picky eaters and fancied up for the adventurous palates. If you’re looking for easy meal ideas, I’ve actually tried the below kid-friendly recipes — here’s my honest opinion.
Related: How I Cooked for My Family of 4 for a Week on Less Than $100
Triple Pepperoni Pizza
Pizza is high on the list of kid-friendly recipes because this meal is so easy and versatile. Purchase store-bought pizza dough, pizza sauce, cheese to grate (or pre-shredded), whichever toppings to suit your kids’ tastes and voila! You’re good to go. My kids especially love to roll up their sleeves and make their own personal pizza, so they’re getting a cooking class plus making their own meal – it’s a big win for dinner time. You can also take this opportunity to introduce toppings that your kids have never tried like prosciutto instead of pepperoni or black olives over green ones. And if you have a picky eater on your hands, go the double-cheese route (or no cheese and only veggies, I’ve seen it happen).
Best part of this recipe: the kids get to help!
Spaghetti and Meatballs
The great thing about spaghetti and meatballs is that you can serve up just the pasta, just the meatballs or mix it all together and everyone in your family is happy. Also, spaghetti is a long and stringy pasta, which creates loads of fun opportunities during dinner time – let your kids play! We created some fun to see who can slurp up the longest strand of spaghetti or who can make the better spaghetti mustache. Chances are, if your kids are in a happy mood, they are more willing to try new things. Pro tip from this parent: if you have a young child who isn’t keen on eating meatballs due to texture, place a very small piece of meatball on a fork and wrap a lot of spaghetti around it. Trust me, it works every time.
Best part of this recipe: quick and easy meal, kids can have fun, yields plenty of leftovers.
When I introduced fajitas to my kids, it was an utter failure and I spent the evening reading about the nutritional value of eating just plain tortillas. It was the saucy meat, grilled peppers and new tastes that were generally off-putting to them (as most kids love plain foods). But as soon as I changed my thinking and stopped expecting my kids to eat this meal how it is usually done (which is ingredients wrapped in a soft tortilla shell) my kids were more willing to try. I placed the tortilla on the side, cooked up some meat without the sauce and cut a bunch of uncooked veggies for them to enjoy.
Best part of this recipe: healthy, delicious and quick to prepare (hopefully one day my kids will try fajitas they way they are truly intended!).
Get the recipe for Tyler Florence’s Grilled Steak Fajitas
This is more of a meal for lunch rather than dinner and I’m glad to report it was a success! It was not only easy to make, but I could use whichever veggies I already had in my fridge (yay for modifying!) and hide ingredients in it that my kids would not normally eat. We decided to add bacon, cherry tomatoes and cubed cheese. I also threw in cucumbers to suit my kids’ taste, while leaving the green onions out. With a pasta salad, each bite offers your child something new to eat. I noticed they consume whichever ingredient they like most first (one ate all the cherry tomatoes first, while the other devoured all the cubed cheese).
Best part of this recipe: simple to make, easy to customize.
Another fun way to get your kiddos to enjoy their food? Bento lunch boxes! Here’s how to make colourful back-to-school meals your kids will devour.