Nutritious and Friendly Meals for Kids

These are easy meal ideas your whole family will love. Find lightened up versions of classic kid foods, like chicken fingers and mac and cheese, kid-friendly soups and salads, and dinners that make it easy to pack in the vegetables.

Healthy Meals For Kids

Every year in January it seems like it would be a good idea to make an effort to cook healthier meals for the family, right? Of course, finding and planning healthy meals can take a lot of effort, and if your kids are picky about what they’ll eat it hardly seems worth it to try. But, try we will, because we’re moms and that’s what we do (and it seems like a bad idea to order pizza every day until the kids are all 18). So today you’ll find Nutritious and Friendly Meals for Kids: easy dishes you can make that they will actually like.

Lightened Up Versions Of Kid Favorites

One of the easiest ways to get your kids eating a little healthier is to serve a lighter version of something you know they already like. Try one of these options:

1. My kids love cheesy chicken & rice casserole – this lighter version uses brown rice and adds broccoli for even more nutrition.

Cheesy chicken and rice casserole with broccoli

2. Spaghetti is always a hit with kids, and when you use a flavorful sauce you might be able to swap out the noodles for spaghetti squash without anyone noticing!

spaghetti squash with spaghetti sauce

3. Just about everyone likes chicken parmesan, but there’s no way the classic fried version counts as healthy. This easy to make lightened up chicken parmesan will satisfy your picky eaters with a fraction of the calories.

Light chicken parmesan

4. I’ve tried loads of “light alfredo” sauces and they’ve all been terrible. Except for this guiltless alfredo sauce! My kids LOVE alfredo – it’s definitely a favorite meal around here – so I love having a version we don’t feel bad about eating regularly.

Pasta with chicken and guiltless alfredo sauce

5. Lasagne was one of the first meals all five of my kids would eat without complaint, but classic versions aren’t exactly healthy. These skinny lasagne rolls lose some of the calories and sneak in some spinach while keeping all the flavor of lasagne.

skinny lasagne rolls

6. Here’s another kid classic made over: veggie mac and cheese. The sauce is made with olive oil instead of butter to cut calories, and the vegetables amp up the nutrition.

Vegetable mac and cheese

7. Another comfort casserole option, this easy chicken and stuffing bake is much lighter than other casserole options, especially if you use reduced fat cream of chicken soup.

Chicken and stuffing bake with broccoli

8. Kids love chicken tenders. It’s like a law of nature or something. Luckily you can make your own version at home that’s baked, not fried. Try this easy, crispy, chicken tender recipe.

baked chicken tenders

Easy Ways To Add In Veggies

Sometimes all you need to make your kids’ diet a bit healthier is a way to sneak in some extra veggies! Try these healthy dinner recipes that feature extra vegetables your kids will hardly even notice.

9. I was slow to jump on the cauliflower bandwagon (‘cuz AS IF my kids are going to eat that), but when I made fried rice using chopped cauliflower instead of the rice my kids couldn’t even tell the difference! Add in eggs and ham or chicken (or another lean protein) and you have a super healthy meal the kids will love.

Fried cauliflower rice in a bowl

10. This teriyaki chicken stir fry contains ingredients my kids wouldn’t eat separately (hey there broccoli and carrots), but once everything is cooked together in a tasty sauce, all the kids loved it!

Teriyaki chicken stir fry

11. Cauliflower strikes again – this time as a substitute for potatoes in a low carb loaded chowder that tastes surprisingly like your favorite cream of potato soup.

Cauliflower chowder

12. Even my young kids love the taste of sweet potatoes, and they’re higher in nutrients than regular old potatoes. Clever topping substitutions make these loaded baked sweet potatoes extra tasty without lots of added calories. Top with avocado and peppers for even more goodness.

Loaded baked sweet potato on a plate

13. If your kids like scrambled eggs, they’ll like frittatas – and they’re great for adding veggies (try chopped spinach – you can hardly taste it)!

Vegetable frittata

14. Looking for the ultimate way to add more veggies? Try this hidden veggie pasta sauce. It’s a hearty meat and tomato sauce flavored with garlic and onion…that also happens to be full of pureed vegetables! Make a big batch and keep some on the freezer for easy weeknight meals.

hidden veggie pasta sauce

Kid Friendly Soups And Salads

Stews and soups are the easiest way to get veggies in my kids’ diet – since the vegetables cook soft and take on the flavor of the meal as a whole they go down a whole lot easier. Plus I’ve found a few kid friendly salad recipes that pack so much flavor the kids don’t care that they’re eating lettuce.

15. I can’t wait to try this vegetable tomato basil chicken stew! It starts with cooked chicken and canned beans so you can make it on the stove in under half an hour.

Vegetable tomato basil chicken stew

16. My older kids are finally realizing that salads can be delicious! This colorful Thai chicken salad has a peanut butter based dressing that kids will love – allowing you to sneak in extra veggies.

Thai chicken salad

17. Chicken tortilla soup is a classic for good reason: tons of flavor, lots of nutrition, super low in calories. Add a couple tortilla chips on the top to make it extra delicious.

Chicken tortilla soup

18. Creamy Chicken and Wild Rice Soup seems like it’s going to be full of calories, but it’s not! It’s one of the best kid friendly dinners I’ve ever tasted.

This creamy chicken and rice soup is divine! It's comfort food at it's finest AND very reasonable calorie wise!

19. Store-bought dressings can be so bad for you that they defeat the purpose of eating a salad, so I’m looking forward to trying this taco salad with easy homemade catalina dressing. You can make it with seasoned ground beef or turkey!

Taco salad

20. This healthy and delicious soup has all the flavors of lasagne with considerably less calories and fat, plus it includes veggies! Try vegetable lasagne soup.

Vegetable lasagne soup

Mexican Favorites Lightened Up

Most kids I know like tacos and burritos, so lighter versions of Mexican favorites usually make great kid friendly dinner recipes!

21. Familiar southwest flavors make it easier to switch from rice to quinoa without causing the kids to boycott dinner. Try this slow cooker quinoa tex mex meal.

Ingredients for quinoa tex mex meal in a crockpot

22. We tried these super easy & healthy Santa Monica street tacos a few months ago and the kids request them weekly now! Fresh ingredients and a quick cook time make this recipe a winner.

Street tacos on a plate

23. If you’d asked me if my kids would like stuffed peppers I’d have said no – imagine my surprise when I decided to give them a try and the kids love them! These Mexican Stuffed Peppers are full of healthy ingredients and a chili and cumin spice blend kids will love.

mexican stuffed peppers

24. This Creamy Healthy Chicken Enchilada Skillet is perfect for an easy, 30-Minute dinner!

creamy chicken enchilada skillet

25. Chicken Fajitas are one of the few meals my kids have always loved. Combine juicy grilled chicken with cooked peppers and onions for an easy weeknight meal. Serve with whole wheat tortillas to make it even healthier.

chicken fajitas
Mary Sand
Mary Sand
is a homeschooling mom of 5 who has been featured on Global TV, quoted in Parents magazine, and writes for a variety of websites and publications. Doing her best to keep it together in a life of constant chaos, Patti would describe herself as an eclectic mess maker, lousy crafter, book lover, autism mom, and insomniac.

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