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37 Quick And Kid-Friendly Dinner Ideas To Try

37 Quick And Kid-Friendly Dinner Ideas To Try

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Dinner is the last meal of the day and is as important as breakfast and lunch. Children require a wholesome dinner to keep hunger pangs at bay and have an undisturbed sleep. Besides, dinner time offers you an opportunity to spend quality family time and learn the importance of making healthy food choices(1).

So, make dinner time healthful and enjoyable for your child by trying some nutritious, kid-friendly dinner recipes for kids shared in this post. These dinner ideas are easy to make and healthy and can be customized as per your family’s eating habits.  

Kid-Friendly Dinner Ideas

Here’s a comprehensive list of kid-friendly dinner ideas that you and your child can try.

1. Teriyaki chicken casserole

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Teriyaki chicken casserole is a Chinese dish that you can prepare with healthy ingredients, such as chicken and veggies. Take it a step further and add dried herbs and seeds to make the dish healthier. Furthermore, you can replace chicken with tofu or cottage cheese to make a vegan or vegetarian version of the dish for dinner.

2. Classic spaghetti with sauce

Spaghetti with sauce is a flavorful Italian dish you can make in different ways by altering the sauces you select to serve with spaghetti. Pesto sauce, tomato sauce, marinara sauce, and Alfredo sauce are common sauces that children enjoy having with spaghetti. So, make your child’s favorite sauce and serve it with spaghetti for dinner.

Make the dish nourishing by picking spaghetti made with whole wheat, millets, or pulses and adding healthy ingredients, such as low-fat cheese, scrambled egg, seeds, and toasted nuts.

3. Baked aubergine boats

37 Quick And Kid-Friendly Dinner Ideas To Try

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Aubergine, brinjal, or eggplant is a nutritious vegetable that children across ages can eat for dinner. One of the easiest and quickest aubergine dishes you can serve to your child for dinner is baked aubergine boats.

All you need to make aubergine boats is to cut the brinjals vertically into two halves, scoop out the flesh, fill the hollow space with a stuffing of your choice, and bake them. Lastly, sprinkle over some cheese and dried herbs to raise the dish’s flavor and make it appealing to children.

4. Fish sticks with zucchini chips

Fish is a high-protein food that you can use to prepare different healthy dishes. One such dish is fish sticks, which children can eat for dinner with homemade dips. Since fish sticks are primarily made of fish fillets and don’t contain any veggies, it’s a good idea to pair them with homemade zucchini chips.

If your child doesn’t like the combination, you can serve fish sticks with baked sweet potato chips or coleslaw salad.

5. Cottage pie

37 Quick And Kid-Friendly Dinner Ideas To Try

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Cottage pie is a classic English dish wherein ground or minced beef filling is first smothered in sauce or gravy and then layered with mashed potatoes to give the dish its golden crust after baking. If your child doesn’t like eating beef, replace the beef with other foods, such as lamb, turkey, chicken, scrambled tofu, and even cottage cheese. Then, all you have to do is wear your chef hat and sprinkle the magic of your creativity.

6. Pasta with toasted nuts

Pasta is yet another versatile Italian dish eaten across meals. You can make healthy and wholesome pasta for dinner by following some simple steps. For instance, pick veggies, such as pumpkin, spinach, mushroom, and asparagus, and make the pasta sauce. Then, select differently colored and shaped pasta made of different ingredients, such as pulses, and cook it.

Once the pasta is done, layer it with homemade sauce and sprinkle some dried herbs, toasted nuts, and seeds to up the pasta’s texture and taste.

7. Bacon-wrapped stuffed chickens

37 Quick And Kid-Friendly Dinner Ideas To Try

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Bacon-wrapped stuffed chicken is a hearty dish your child will enjoy eating for dinner. All you need to do is make a customized chicken filling, wrap it in bacon strips, and bake it in the oven. Once the baking is done, serve the wrapped chicken with a sauce or dip, or pair it with mashed potatoes and sauteed green beans, corn, lettuce, and carrot. Additionally, you can sprinkle herbs and seeds to make the dish healthier.

8. Quesadilla

Quesadilla is a Mexican dish comprising tortilla wraps stuffed with cheese-laden filling. The filling typically consists of foods such as meat and spices. However, one can personalize it by adding or removing food items, such as veggies, beans, sprouted pulses, scrambled eggs, chicken, fish fillets, and tofu or cottage cheese. Additionally, you may add some dried herbs and toasted seeds to make the dish healthier for your child.

9. Meatball sub

37 Quick And Kid-Friendly Dinner Ideas To Try

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A meatball sub is an easy-to-prepare and customizable dish you can serve for your child’s dinner. First, prepare meatballs using ground beef or chicken, breadcrumb, egg, and spices. Then, put the meatballs between the hot dog buns and drench them in homemade sauce layered with low-fat cheese, dried herbs, and seeds. Finally, stuff in lettuce, parsley, cucumber, onion, and tomato, to complete the dish.

If you are a vegan or vegetarian, you can make “no-meat” meatballs with mashed potatoes, tofu, or pulses and create your version of the meatball sub.

10. Lasagna

Lasagna is an Italian baked dish made of flat pasta and filling containing vegetables, seasonings, herbs, and cheese. You can experiment with these basic ingredients and prepare a customized filling using egg, chicken, cottage cheese, fish, and toasted seeds. Then, depending on your eating habits, you can use all or a few of these ingredients in different combinations and make a tasty and nutrient-rich lasagna.

11. Buffalo chicken sweet potatoes

 

37 Quick And Kid-Friendly Dinner Ideas To Try

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Like aubergine boats, buffalo chicken sweet potato is a baked dish prepared by stuffing chicken-based filling and creamy buffalo sauce in sweet potatoes. Homemade garlic dip, pesto sauce, hummus, and tahini are a few accompaniments you can serve along with this dish. Furthermore, try altering the filling and sauce ingredients to enjoy different versions of the same dish.

12. Taco cups

A taco cup is a light yet filling food that most people consume as snacks or appetizers. However, you can serve nutritious taco cups containing healthy ingredients, such as vegetables, cottage cheese, lean meat, low-fat cheese, seeds, dried herbs, and Greek yogurt, to children for a quick dinner.

13. Stuffed shell pizza

37 Quick And Kid-Friendly Dinner Ideas To Try

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Stuffed shell pizza is made of pasta shells that are first filled with cheese and pepperoni and then baked in tomato sauce. Children can eat this flavorsome dish for dinner with a glass of homemade lemonade. You can make the dish attractive and nutritious by adding healthy ingredients, such as vegetables, pulses, seeds, and dried herbs. Additionally, you can replace pepperoni with other lean meats, such as beef, to make the dish healthier.

14. Burgers

Burgers are a perfect on-the-go food that you children across ages can eat for dinner. Usually, burgers have patties made of mashed potatoes, but you can play with the ingredients and make a patty with mixed veggies, lean meat, poultry, tofu, and cottage cheese. Also, you can use different types of buns, such as sesame seeds bun, to make the dish wholesome, tastier, and healthier.

15. Hot dogs

37 Quick And Kid-Friendly Dinner Ideas To Try

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Like the burger, hot dog too is a grab-and-go food that is quick and easy to prepare. All you need to do is make a sausage, put it in the hot dog buns, and pour over some homemade sauce. Generally, sausage is made with ground beef or pork and seasonings. But you can make a vegan or vegetarian sausage using mashed or scrambled cottage cheese, tofu, veggies, and pulses.

16. Honey carrot soup

Soup is an easy-to-digest, nourishing, and soulful food that people generally consume at supper. While there are several types of soups that you can serve for dinner, a must-try soup that you should feed your child is honey carrot soup.

Honey carrot soup is generally made by cooking and pureeing carrots with leeks, honey, and vegetable stock. However, you can tweak the recipe and alter its ingredients by adding low-fat cream and yogurt to make it healthier.

17. Mini quiche

37 Quick And Kid-Friendly Dinner Ideas To Try

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Quiche is a French tart usually made with meat, chicken, seafood, veggies, cheese, and seasonings. You can serve this nutritious and filling dish for dinner, hot or cold. Moreover, you can customize its ingredients, shape, and size to make it appealing to your child.

18. Cheesy meatloaf

Meatloaf is a dish made of ground meat and seasonings. You can feed your child meatloaf with mashed or sauteed veggies for a sumptuous meal. To ensure your child gets all the nutrients they need, add more healthy ingredients such as low-fat cheese, veggies, dried herbs, and toasted seeds.

19. Vegetable ravioli

37 Quick And Kid-Friendly Dinner Ideas To Try

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Ravioli is an Italian pasta dish in which thin pasta sheets are filled with the desired filling and then sealed and cut into small square-shaped pockets. These pasta pockets are then cooked into the sauce of choice to make delicious ravioli. You can prepare a satiating ravioli for your child by preparing ravioli filling and sauce using healthy ingredients such as fish, lean meat, tofu, cottage cheese, vegetables, herbs, and seeds.

20. Slow cooker veggie delight

Slow cooker veggie delight is a satiating dish that you can prepare by putting vegetables, oats, and seasonings in a crockpot and slow cooking them in low temperatures for several hours. Slow cooking is known to make food more flavorful and healthy by retaining nutrients effectively (2). Thus, you can try making soups, porridge, oats, and several such recipes in a slow cooker and enjoy them at dinner with your child.

21. Savoy cabbage rolls

37 Quick And Kid-Friendly Dinner Ideas To Try

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Cabbage is a cruciferous vegetable with a sharp flavor and prominent texture. You can make several dishes using cabbage, but a stuffed cabbage roll is one of the best options for a light yet fulfilling dinner. One can prepare a cabbage roll by stuffing cabbage leaves with a filling. The filling can contain vegan, vegetarian, or non-vegetarian ingredients, such as steamed rice, lean meat, poultry, egg, veggies, seeds, and herbs. Then, steam the stuffed cabbage and serve it with a sauce or dip of your choice, such as sour cream, to enjoy a hearty meal.

22. Nasi Goreng

37 Quick And Kid-Friendly Dinner Ideas To Try

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Nasi Goreng is a traditional Indonesian fried rice dish that is served with fried eggs. Typically, fried rice is made by pan-frying rice with garlic, green chili, spring onion, and seasonings. However, you can add more seasonal veggies, such as mushroom, corn, bell peppers, cabbage, tomato, and baby spinach, to make the dish more flavorful and nutritious. Also, instead of the fried egg, you can serve meatballs or crack chicken to add a fun twist to the recipe.

23. Chicken tenders

Chicken is a protein-rich food that non-vegetarian children love to eat, especially when it’s roasted or grilled. So, give the regular dinner platter a makeover and serve chicken tenders with garlic dip for dinner. All you need to do to prepare this dish is soak the chicken into a marinade made of lime juice, Italian dressing, and honey, and then grill it. What’s next? Your lip-smacking chicken tenders are ready to eat!

24. Franks and beans

37 Quick And Kid-Friendly Dinner Ideas To Try

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Franks and beans is a homemade version of beanie weenies and is extremely healthy and delectable. Generally, franks and beans is made with canned beans (with juices), herbs, spices, onions, and sliced hot dogs. But you can make this dish more sumptuous by adding more veggies, such as parsnip, mushroom, and corn, to it. Also, you can replace the hot dog with a chicken dog, seafood dog, or meatless dog.

25. Queso chicken bake

Queso chicken bake is an easy-to-make, gooey chicken dish perfect for dinner. To prepare this delicious dish, place the chicken in a baking dish, layer it with black beans, tomatoes, corn, and other desired veggies, and bake it. Once done, you can serve this finger-licking baked dish to your children with fresh, homemade lemonade or mocktail.

26. Pizza waffles

37 Quick And Kid-Friendly Dinner Ideas To Try

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A waffle is a sweet breakfast food made of leavened dough topped with freshly diced fruits, powdered sugar, or natural sweeteners, such as fruit syrups, honey, or maple syrup. However, you can make its savory version for dinner by layering it with pizza sauce, veggies, dried herbs, and low-fat cheese.

27. Stuffed peppers

Stuffed peppers are made with peppers stuffed with ingredients such as rice, meat, and cheese. You can personalize this classic dish by filling it with healthy ingredients such as red rice, vegetables, lean meat, egg, chicken, tofu, cottage cheese, and herbs. Additionally, you can experiment with the cooking style and bake, steam, or pan-fry the stuffed peppers, which your child can eat with accompaniments such as sweet potatoes chips, baked zucchini sticks, or dinner rolls.

28. Baked vegetable nuggets with dip

37 Quick And Kid-Friendly Dinner Ideas To Try

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Vegetables are an important part of a child’s diet. Thus, you should add one serving of veggies to every meal you serve your child, and for that, baked vegetable nuggets are a great choice. Usually, veggie nuggets are made with cut or grated veggies, breadcrumbs, dried herbs, eggs, and cheese. However, you can experiment with the ingredients and make a healthier version of veggie nuggets for your child. Some of the nutritious foods you can add to your veggie nuggets variant are tofu, pulses, low-mercury fish, and lean meat.

29. Chili with grains and beans

Beans are a protein-rich food that can make a significant contribution to your child’s daily protein needs. While adding beans to soups, burritos, and casserole is common, there’s one slow-cooker recipe that takes beans to the next level.

Chili with grains and beans is a dish that involves cooking grains, such as wheat berry with kidney and lima beans, seasonal veggies, herbs, and seasoning, in a slow cooker or crockpot. The result is an aromatic and flavorsome dish that your child will love to eat again and again.

30. Couscous with leeks and peas

37 Quick And Kid-Friendly Dinner Ideas To Try

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Couscous is a traditional North African dish made of steamed, small balls of durum wheat semolina. You can prepare couscous in sweet and savory forms by altering the ingredients of the main recipe. For instance, couscous with leeks and peas is a savory variant where couscous is cooked with leeks, peas, onion, and seasoning to make a light grain salad-like dish that you can serve to your child.

31. Asparagus, mint, and parmesan scramble

This quick-to-make egg dish is a sumptuous and nutritious dinner dish for children. The dish has roasted asparagus and is served with scrambled egg topped with parmesan cheese. You can add more veggies, seeds, and toasted nuts to this dish without disturbing its original taste. Additionally, you can serve the dish with grilled garlic bread or a toasted baguette as a delicious accompaniment.

32. Cauliflower bisque

 

37 Quick And Kid-Friendly Dinner Ideas To Try

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Cauliflower bisque is a soup made with roasted cauliflower.  The soup is cooked and pureed with other ingredients, such as milk, onion, garlic, and cream. You can serve it with butter croutons and toasted ciabatta bread to make a nourishing dish that children across ages can devour at dinner.

33. Black bean, corn, and spinach Enchilada

Enchilada is a Mexican dish made with corn tortilla wrapped around a sauce-drenched filling. You can use several different types of filling and sauce to make healthier and tastier Enchilada for your child. When picking ingredients for the filing, remember to include veggies, a protein source, toasted seeds, and dried herbs to make the dish attractive, flavorful, and nutritious.

34. Salmon and Brussels sprouts gratin

37 Quick And Kid-Friendly Dinner Ideas To Try

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Gratin is a creamy casserole dish where grain or cereal, vegetable, and meat-based ingredients are topped with cheese, breadcrumbs, or eggs and then baked. Depending on your family’s dietary practices, you can choose different combinations of foods to make a gratin dish.

One good example is salmon and Brussels sprouts gratin. This dish is generally made with smoked salmon, Brussels sprouts, cheese, milk, roasted potatoes, and sourdough bread to get a creamy yet chunky casserole that’s tasty and satiating for people across ages.

35. Corn cake with aged cheddar and arugula

Corn cake is an ideal dinner dish that’s usually topped with arugula and gooey cheddar. But as creativity has no bar, you can tweak the classic corn cake recipe and make it versatile by adding different veggies. Additionally, you can roast arugula in olive oil and Italian seasoning to give the dish a unique aroma and taste.

36. Creamy polenta with mushrooms

37 Quick And Kid-Friendly Dinner Ideas To Try

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Polenta is an Italian dish made with baked, fried, grilled, or boiled cornmeal. You can top this classic dish with mushrooms sauteed in soy sauce and butter to boost the meal’s texture, flavor, and nutritional value. Children can enjoy polenta for dinner along with steamed rice, lightly sauteed veggies, or even a dinner roll to have a satiating meal.

37. Curried pumpkin and peas

Curries are a traditional food consumed as a main meal in several cultures worldwide. You can make curry with several veggies and pulses and serve it with a dinner roll, rice, or wheat chapati. One nutritious curry you can make is curried pumpkin and pea. This delicious curry is flavorful and easily digestible, so it’s a good choice for children across ages.

Make your child’s dinner time interesting and enjoyable by trying these healthy dishes. Exposure to new dishes acquaints a child with new foods, flavors, and cultures and makes dinner time interactive. Additionally, it motivates children to participate in meal planning and preparation, making dinner time joyous for the entire family.

References:

MomJunction's articles are written after analyzing the research works of expert authors and institutions. Our references consist of resources established by authorities in their respective fields. You can learn more about the authenticity of the information we present in our editorial policy.

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Swati Patwal

Swati Patwal is a clinical nutritionist and toddler mom with over eight years of experience in diverse fields of nutrition. She started her career as a CSR project coordinator for a healthy eating and active lifestyle project catering to school children. Then she worked as a nutrition faculty and clinical nutrition coach in different organizations. Her interest in scientific writing... more