Kid-Friendly Meal Ideas:
Updated: Nov 27, 2019
by Noa Miller
I think we all have some “kid-friendly” basics in our back pocket. They vary in every family, but many of you can probably relate to:
· Pizza/grilled cheese
· Fish sticks
· Mac and cheese
· Cheese string
Now my daughter loves all of the above. Don’t get me wrong – they are staples for a reason! But sometimes it’s too easy to fall into the cycle of sticking to “safe” foods that we know they will eat. Helping them adventure beyond the boundaries that they like to impose can be fun, delicious and liberating for the whole family.
Kids are neophobic – that means they have a general wariness of new foods. But the way to get over neophobia is by exposing without pressure. While every kid will have a different palate and preferences even as an adult, offering new foods will allow them to learn about, tolerate and even enjoy some of these new items.
Here are some different ideas that your little ones may learn to love:
I usually serve hummus with sliced vegetables and whole wheat pita (they sell mini pitas which are fun for kids) or pretzels (Landau oat bran pretzels are nutritious and filling) for a lunch/snack meal. Many kids enjoy the dipping activity – and it’s also great for fine motor development! For a falafel or shawarma supper, let your little ones try dipping the meat, veggies and pita into hummus or tahini.
2. Easy Egg
Hard boiled eggs are always a good idea to have on hand. You can combine with a starch and vegetable for an easy, balanced meal. Fresh scrambled eggs are sometimes a more exciting upgrade. The main trick I find is not to overdo them; take them out of the pan when you see some parts are still slightly soft so that they won’t be too dry. When I’m really in a rush, I put a raw egg with salt on a small plate in the microwave for 50 seconds – 1 minute and it works! No pan to clean, either 😊.
3. Salmon Patties:
In our house we call these salmon "cookies", and my toddler treats them as such. I love that they are such an easy dose of nutrition for her and she loves their taste and texture. I freeze these and defrost individually in the microwave for 30 seconds so that these gems are available at any given moment.
· ½ butternut squash, baked
· 2 15 oz can of salmon
· 2 eggs
· 1/3 cup whole wheat breadcrumbs
· 1/2 tsp Garlic powder
· 1/2 tsp Onion powder
· ½ tsp Salt
· ¼ tsp pepper
Cut butternut squash in half, lengthwise, poke holes with a fork, and bake face down on a metal baking pan at 425° until soft. (I usually use the other half of the butternut squash in the place of pumpkin in Yaffi Lvova, RDN’s delicious and healthy cookies which can be found here .
Mash salmon and squash together, add remainder of ingredients and mix. Form into 2- inch-wide patties and flatten to ¾ inch thickness.
Bake at 375° for 15 min.
4. Peanut Butter and Banana Sandwich:
I grew up with family members with severe nut allergies, so peanut butter was not a food that I ate as a child. Recently, Dina Cohen introduced me to this simple and timeless combo and I was hooked! This can be a snack or meal – whatever you make of it – it is a simply scrumptious feel-good combination.
· 2 slices whole wheat bread
· Peanut butter to spread (try Smucker's Natural)
· Banana, sliced
Simply spread peanut butter over a slice of whole wheat bread, top with sliced bananas and another piece of whole wheat bread if desired.
If you have extra fruit on hand you can even create adorable open-faced character faces out of blueberries, banana slices and slices of whatever other fruit you have on hand. Have your kids prepare their own animal faces on their canvas of peanut-buttered bread. Getting kids involved in food-prep is a sure way to get them interested in eating it as well.
I hope you have fun trying some new options! Just remember - don't pressure or nag kids to eat something. Show them how excited you are to eat these new foods, and serve them on a few occasions to allow them to warm up to the idea. Stay positive!