Finding meals that will please picky palates cripple even the mightiest of parents. While chicken nuggets and mac and cheese are probably a win with the kids, sometimes we need healthier meals that will feed growing bones.
But too many times healthy gets a turn-of-the-face from little ones, and parents testify many battles have been lost in trying to make them eat it.
At those times, you may be tempted to throw your hands up in defeat and let them eat potato chips because, in moments of utter exasperation, you can at least reason they’re eating a vegetable.
But tasty and nutritious meals your children will love do exist! Below are 14 quick and healthy dinner ideas kids will happily eat, and even ask for more. The added fact they can quickly be whipped up in the kitchen makes them a win all around.
Baked Chicken Broccoli Alfredo Pasta
This recipe from Le Creme de la Crumb has a to-die-for, creamy parmesan sauce. For easy cleanup, use a stovetop-to-oven pot. If you want to make this dish even more practical, use prepackaged grilled chicken from your supermarket.
Cornflake Crusted Chicken
Cornflakes for dinner? Yes, please! This breakfast cereal makes a crunchy crumb for chicken breasts, and the finished product goes great with baked potatoes. You can even bake both at the same time, so dinner is ready when the timer beeps. Serve with a side of string beans and you’ve got a complete meal. Get the full recipe here.
15-minute Lo Mein
A chance to have Chinese for dinner? Not even the finickiest eaters would turn that one down! This easy-to-make lo mein from Pinch of Yum is a great way to hide vegetables while still pleasing a variety of palettes. Carrots, spinach, mushrooms, peas, onions—you name it, you can add it.
Easy Burrito Bowl
Prepped in just 10 minutes, burrito bowls are the ultimate time saver in the kitchen. It’s another highly customizable meal that can be tweaked to suit everyone’s preferences. You can keep it vegetarian for a meatless Monday, or pack on the protein from yesterday’s leftovers. See the recipe here.
Spinach Tortellini Soup
Soups may be good for the soul, but they’re even better for growling bellies who want to eat now! In as long as it takes the tortellini to cook, you have a full dinner. Stewed tomatoes give this recipe from the Food Network body, while frozen spinach boosts nutritional values.
Homemade Fish Sticks
What better way to eat fish than battered and baked? Created by a nutritionist, this recipe from Taste of Home is equal parts healthy and delicious! A fun finger food, fish sticks brings a little variety into the everyday chicken and beef. Serve with a side of quinoa and pan-fried vegetables for a quick and filling meal.
Always a classic and a hit! Packed with protein and balanced with carbs and vegetables, this fresh and nutritious meal can easily substitute ingredients for your kid’s favorites. Just click here for a traditional recipe.
Turkey and Swiss Sloppy Joes
The ultimate kid food with a twist, these turkey and swiss sloppy joes are just as good to eat as they are to look at. Wilted kale adds flavor and nutrients to a creamy white sauce without calling attention to itself. These sandwiches are a meal unto themselves, but we’re sure no one would complain if you served them with a side of home fries. Click here for the full recipe.
Pasta With 15-Minute Meat Sauce
What can be more of a comfort food than pasta? Done in 15 minutes, this bolognese sauce finishes just minutes after your pasta. Add in some frozen vegetables while it’s cooking and you can rest easy knowing that the kids are getting their daily serving.
Want to save time on cooking day? Make this sauce ahead of time and freeze for long-term storage or keep in the fridge for up to 3 days. See the recipe here.
A croque-monsieur is delicious in its own right, but a melty monsieur? Oh mon Dieu! Canadian bacon and Gruyère cheese take this dish to the next level. Swiss cheese would also do nicely in place of Gruyère for the little ones who are wary of eating something they can’t pronounce. Get the how-to here.
Beef and broccoli Bowl
Another option for Chinese food lovers, this homemade beef and broccoli bowl cuts the unnecessary fats and salt that restaurants add in. And it’s so easy to make! Even those with questionable culinary skills can tackle Just a Taste’s recipe. The thick, sweet and tangy sauce pairs well with white or brown rice.
Parmesan Herb Salmon
Real Housemoms know their stuff when it comes to making tasty meals for busy moms. Their “Parmesan Herb Salmon” doesn’t have a fishy taste and flakes onto your fork. Ready to eat in 20 minutes, serve with rice pilaf or polenta for a surefire crowd-pleaser. The full recipe can be found here.
Who can argue with lasagna? This one is made right on the stove and all in one skillet! The savory recipe is voted as one of the best from Taste of Home and is made in just four steps. Click here to snag the recipe.
One Pot Quinoa Chicken and Broccoli
No one likes to do the dishes. So when the goal is to dirty the least amount of pots and pans possible, why not go with a one-pot meal? This dish has it all—protein, carbs and veggies. And did we mention quinoa is a nutritional powerhouse too? Try this simple recipe out when you need something fast and easy.