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20 Healthy And Kid-Friendly Meals For Picky Eaters

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Eating specific foods and refusing several others is a common trait in picky-eating children. When you serve food to a picky eater, they begin inspecting and removing foods they dislike or find unfamiliar.

Although this condition could be frustrating and worrisome for parents, you can help your child gradually outgrow picky eating by planning delicious, kid-friendly meals for picky eaters. These meals spread across the day and are diverse, flavorful, and wholesome.

In this post, we bring you 20 healthy and tasty kid-friendly recipes that you can serve across meals to your picky eater.

Healthy And Delicious Kid-Friendly Meals For Picky Eaters

Not every child perceives food in the same way. Some may find food interesting and readily eat it, while others may find mealtime boring and act fussy or picky. In such instances, you need to:

  • Be diligent with your efforts and ensure you don’t give in to your child’s tantrums or whining. Instead, stay calm and feed them the food they dislike in different forms.
  • Remember that the food’s flavor and presentation can lure a child into eating. So, experiment with different foods to make flavorful, colorful, attractive, and wholesome dishes.
  • Actively involve your child in choosing ingredients and cooking to boost their awareness about healthy eating.

Nutritious Breakfast Ideas For Picky Eaters

Here are some nutritious kid-friendly meal ideas that you can try for your picky eaters.

1. Pressed sandwich

Pressed sandwich

Image: Shutterstock

You will need:

  • 2 rye bread slices
  • 2 slices provolone cheese
  • 1 tomato (sliced)
  • 1 roasted bell pepper (chopped)
  • 2tbsp corn (boiled)
  • 1tbsp vegan mayonnaise
  • ½ tsp Italian seasoning

How to prepare:

  1. Heat panini press for about five to seven minutes.
  2. Meanwhile, spread mayonnaise on one bread slice and layer it with provolone cheese, tomato, roasted red bell pepper, and corn. Sprinkle Italian seasoning over the top and top the sandwich with another bread slice.
  3. Place the sandwich in the panini maker and gently press the lid down. Let the sandwich heat for about five minutes.
  4. After five minutes, transfer the sandwich to a serving plate and let it sit for two to three minutes. Cut the sandwich into two diagonal halves and serve warm with a cup of milkshake or smoothie of your child’s choice.

2. Green pea and feta pancakes

Image: Shutterstock

You will need:

  • 2 cups peas (cooked and mashed)
  • 1 cup wholemeal, self-rising flour
  • ½ cup Greek yogurt
  • ½ cup low-fat milk
  • ½ cup broccoli (grated)
  • ½ cup potato (cooked and mashed)
  • 100g feta (crumbled)
  • 2 eggs (whisked)
  • 1tsp herbs mix
  • Olive oil

How to prepare: 

  1. In a bowl, mix whisked egg, flour, and milk.
  2. Add crumbled feta, mashed peas, mashed potato, grated broccoli, and herbs mix. Mix well to make a smooth-flowing batter.
  3. Heat olive oil in a saucepan over low heat. As the oil warms, pour two tablespoons of the batter and spread it slightly.
  4. Cook each side for about three to four minutes until they turn golden and lightly crisp.
  5. Transfer these hot pancakes to a plate and set them aside to cool down a bit.
  6. Serve warm with ketchup, salsa dip, or any other homemade dip of your child’s choice.

3. Sprouts and veggies jaffles

Image: Shutterstock

You will need:

  • 4 slices of multigrain bread
  • 1 egg
  • ½ cup mozzarella (grated)
  • ¼ cup parmesan (grated)
  • ¼ cup firm tofu (scrambled)
  • ¼ cup broccoli (shredded)
  • ¼ cup zucchini (grated)
  • ¼ cup red onion (finely chopped)
  • ¼ cup corn (boiled)
  • ¼ cup fresh parsley (finely chopped)
  • 1tbsp unsalted butter (melted)
  • 1tsp Italian seasoning mix

How to prepare: 

  1. Heat the jaffle machine as per the manufacturer’s instructions.
  2. Meanwhile, combine mozzarella, parmesan, broccoli, zucchini, onion, corn, tofu, parsley, egg, and Italian seasoning in a bowl. Mix well until everything is well combined.
  3. Butter one side of each bread slice and layer the unbuttered side with the egg and vegetable mixture. Cover with another bread slice with buttered-side up.
  4. Place the sandwich into the jaffle maker, close the lid, and cook for three minutes or until the bread slices turn golden and crisp on both sides.
  5. Once the jaffle is ready, transfer it to the serving plate and serve warm with half-fried egg and a cup of milk, milkshake, or smoothie.

4. Frittata

Image: Shutterstock

You will need:

  • 1 cup zucchini (finely grated)
  • ¼ cup spinach (chopped)
  • ½ cup grated cheddar cheese
  • 3 medium eggs
  • 1tbsp whole-wheat flour
  • ½ tsp onion powder
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • ¼ tsp black pepper powder
  • Olive oil

How to prepare:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F (176°C). Grease a baking dish with some oil and set it aside.
  2. Heat a tablespoon of olive oil in a frying pan over low-medium heat.
  3. Add zucchini and spinach, and fry lightly for three for four minutes until the veggies turn soft. You may even blend these veggies after cooking.
  4. Next, mix eggs, cheese, flour, onion powder, salt, and black pepper in a bowl. Add cooked vegetables to the egg mixture and mix well until everything is well combined.
  5. Pour the mixture into the baking dish and bake for 15 to 20 minutes until the crust turns golden.
  6. Cut and serve it to your child with their favorite dip.

5. Chocolate oatmeal

Image: Shutterstock

You will need:

  • 2 cups rolled oats
  • 3 cups skimmed milk
  • ¼ cup frozen banana (mashed)
  • ¼ cup almonds, walnuts, cashew, and pecans (chopped)
  • ⅛ cup brown sugar
  • 1tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1tbsp desiccated or shredded coconut
  • Few banana slices, for garnish

How to prepare: 

  1. Place mashed banana, brown sugar, and milk into a bowl and blend the ingredients into a smooth-flowing liquid using an immersion blender. You may add some more fruits if you desire, especially those your child doesn’t eat much.
  2. Put oats, milk mixture, chopped nuts, and cocoa in a saucepan and cook the mixture gently over low-medium heat for about five to seven minutes, stirring occasionally.
  3. Once the oats look cooked and the mixture thickens, turn off the heat and transfer some oatmeal into a serving bowl.
  4. Garnish with sliced bananas and serve.

Nutritious Lunch Ideas For Picky Eaters

6. Spinach tortilla wrap

Image: Shutterstock

You will need:

  • 2 whole-wheat spinach tortilla wraps
  • 1 avocado (peeled and cored)
  • 4 halloumi slices
  • 2 roasted bell peppers (sliced)
  • 1 small red onion (diced)
  • 1tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 tbsp vegan mayonnaise
  • 1tbsp Dijon mustard
  • 1tsp extra virgin olive oil
  • ½ tsp herbs mix

How to prepare:

  1. Put a griller skillet over low heat.
  2. Put avocado and a teaspoon of lemon juice into a bowl and mix well while mashing the avocado with a fork.
  3. Take another bowl and put lemon juice, Dijon mustard, olive oil, and herbs mix into it.  Mix all the ingredients well until you get a creamy dressing. Set the bowl aside.
  4. Heat halloumi slices on the grill and cook each side for about three minutes. Remove the slices from the grill and place them in a separate bowl.
  5. Now, assemble the wraps by spreading half of the avocado mix on each tortilla topped with onions and creamy dressing.
  6. Next, put a layer of pepper slices topped with one halloumi slice. Spread some more dressing and roll the wrap from one side to the other.
  7. Place the wraps on the grill and cook each side for three minutes. Once done, transfer the wraps to a plate.
  8. Cut into two halves and serve with a cup of fresh lemonade at home, or you can pack them for the school lunch.

7. Pesto tortellini

Image: Shutterstock

You will need:

  • 2 cups fresh baby spinach
  • 1 cup fresh baby kale
  • 1 cup frozen tortellini
  • ½ cup parmesan cheese
  • ¼ cup walnuts (chopped)
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • 1 garlic clove (minced)
  • ½ tsp Kosher salt

How to prepare: 

  1. Cook tortellini as per the instructions given on the package. Drain and put them in a bowl. Toss in half a teaspoon of olive oil and set aside.
  2. Blend spinach, kale, salt, garlic, walnuts, and parmesan cheese into smooth cream using a blender or food processor. Drizzle some olive oil while processing the pesto to adjust the pesto’s consistency.
  3. Pour pesto over cooked tortellini and serve or pack as a cold lunch for school.

8. Quesadilla

Image: iStock

You will need:

  • 3 multigrain tortillas
  • 2 cups Mexican-blend cheese (shredded)
  • 2 cups mixed veggies ( bell pepper, red onion, tomato, and corn; chopped)
  • 1 cup fresh cilantro (chopped)
  • 1 cup canned pinto or black beans (rinsed and drained)
  • 1 sweet potato (peeled and diced)
  • 1 jalapeño (cored and finely diced)
  • 2tbsp olive oil
  • 1tsp cumin powder
  • ½ tsp chipotle chili powder
  • Salt and black pepper, to taste

How to prepare:

  1. Heat a tablespoon of olive oil in a saucepan over medium-high heat.
  2. Sauté sweet potato for five to six minutes, occasionally stirring, until well-cooked.  Transfer the sweet potato to a separate plate and set it aside.
  3. Add the remaining one tablespoon of oil to the pan. Add mixed veggies and jalapeño, and sauté for four to five minutes.
  4. Stir in cooked sweet potato, black beans, cumin, chili powder, salt, and black pepper powder. Sauté for two more minutes.
  5. Transfer the mixture to a separate bowl and set it aside.
  6. Clean the saucepan and return it to the stove over medium heat.
  7. Place a tortilla in the pan and put some cheese on it. Next, add two large spoonfuls of the veggie mixture on one half of the tortilla and sprinkle over some cilantro.
  8. Fold the other half of the tortilla over the filled portion such that it creates a semicircle. Continue cooking until the tortilla’s bottom is crisp and golden. Flip the tortilla over and cook it for an additional minute on the second side.
  9. Once done, transfer to a serving plate and slice into triangles. Repeat the process with the remaining tortillas.
  10. Serve warm with salsa, guacamole, or sour cream.

9. Stir-fry udon

Image: Shutterstock

You will need:

  • 1 cup udon (cooked)
  • ½ cup broccoli florets
  • ¼ cup green peas (boiled)
  • 1 yellow capsicum (chopped)
  • 1 red paprika (chopped)
  • 1tbsp black poppy seeds
  • 1tbsp roasted peanuts
  • 1tbsp olive oil
  • 1tsp white sesame seeds
  • 1tsp herbs mix
  • Salt, to taste

How to prepare: 

  1. Heat oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add sesame seeds and fry until they turn golden.
  2. Add all the veggies, peanuts, and poppy seeds. Stir-fry for seven to ten minutes until all the veggies wilt and look cooked.
  3. Once done, turn off the heat and set the skillet aside. Sprinkle salt and herbs mix, and serve the noodles immediately or pack them for your child’s lunch.
  4. You can grate the veggies in this recipe if your child fusses about eating veggies. Additionally, you can add crumbled cottage cheese or shredded chicken if your child likes them.

10. Hamburger with baked sweet potato fingers

Image: Shutterstock

You will need:

  • 1 seeded multigrain burger bun
  • ½ cup cottage cheese (crumbled)
  • ¼ cup corn and peas (boiled)
  • ¼ cup carrot (shredded)
  • 2 fresh lettuce leaves
  • 2 slices of tomato
  • 1 red onion (diced)
  • 1 Provolone cheese slice
  • 1tbsp Italian seasoning
  • 1tbsp olive oil

How to prepare: 

  1. Heat a tablespoon of oil in a skillet over medium heat. Once the oil warms, sauté onions until they turn golden.
  2. Add cottage cheese, peas, corn, carrot, and Italian seasoning. Mix well using a potato masher and cook for seven to eight minutes until everything cooks and combines.
  3. Turn off the heat and set the skillet aside to cool. As the mixture comes to room temperature, begin making a round patty.
  4. To make the patty, take two to three tablespoons of the mixture in your palms and roll to make a round and flat patty.
  5. Now assemble the burger by placing a lettuce leaf on the bottom bun and the patty above it.
  6. Above the patty, place tomato slices and top them with the cheese slice. Place another lettuce leaf and place the top bun to complete the burger.
  7. Serve the hamburger with baked sweet potato fingers at home, or pack this delicious combo for your child’s school lunch.

Nutritious Snack Ideas For Picky Eaters

11. Rice cake animals

Image: Shutterstock

You will need:

  • 3 rice cakes
  • 3tbsp Greek yogurt or almond butter
  • ¼ cup colorful cereal
  • ¼ cup blueberries (sliced in circles)
  • 1 banana (sliced)
  • 1 kiwi (sliced)
  • 1 strawberry (cut into halves)
  • ½ strawberry (for making animal features)

How to prepare:

  1. Spread Greek yogurt or almond butter on one side of the rice cakes and place them on a plate. Make animal faces using fruits. You can also decorate them in any other form your child wants.
  2. Serve these cute-looking snacks with milk or a cup of fresh juice.

12. Nutty granola bars

Image: Shutterstock

You will need:

  • 200g rolled oats
  • 100g dried mixed berries (cranberries, cherries, and blueberries)
  • 75g jaggery powder
  • 70g unsalted butter (melted)
  • 50g pumpkin seeds
  • 50g sesame seeds
  • 30g walnuts (chopped)
  • 20g almonds (chopped)
  • 3tbsp honey
  • 1tsp cinnamon powder

How to prepare:

  1. Preheat the oven to 320°F (160°C). Line a baking tray with parchment paper and set it aside.
  2. Mix oats, seeds, nuts, butter, honey, jaggery powder, cinnamon, and dried berries in a bowl using a whisker. Mix everything well.
  3. Heat a pan over low heat and pour this mixture into it. Cook until the mixture looks slightly sticky.
  4. Once done, turn off the heat and pour the mixture into the baking tray. Press down using a spoon and bake for around 30 minutes.
  5. Take the baking tray out from the oven and put it on the wire rack to cool. Cut the baked mixture into bars and serve a few of them with a cup of milk.
  6. Store the remaining in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to a week.

13. Tangy and sweet lotus seeds

Image: iStock

You will need:

  • 2 cups Lotus seeds
  • ½ cup peanuts
  • 1tsp ghee or clarified butter
  • ¼ tsp cumin powder
  • ¼ tsp black salt
  • ¼ tsp dried mango powder
  • ¼ tsp dried mint powder

How to prepare:

  1. Mix all the spices in a small bowl and set the bowl aside.
  2. Heat butter/ghee over low flame and roast lotus seeds and peanuts for about five minutes or more until lotus seeds and peanuts turn light brown.
  3. Turn off the flame and transfer the lotus seeds and peanuts into a large bowl.
  4. Add the spice mix to the lotus seeds and peanuts mixture and gently toss to mix everything well.
  5. Transfer some of this crunchy, quick snack to a serving bowl and give it to your child to relish.

14. Berry and chia seeds smoothie

Image: Shutterstock

You will need:

  • 2 cups coconut milk or Greek yogurt
  • 2 cups frozen mixed berries
  • ½ cup mixed berries (for garnish)
  • ½ cup kiwi and strawberry slices (for garnish)
  • 1 frozen banana
  • 1tbsp chia seeds
  • 1-2 fresh mint leaves for garnish

How to prepare: 

  1. Blend coconut milk, banana, and mixed berries into a smooth-flowing liquid.
  2. Pour the liquid into a mason jar or serving glass and add chia seeds. Mix well and refrigerate for 15 to 20 minutes. If you wish, you can leave this overnight and serve it the next day.
  3. Once ready to serve, add kiwi and strawberry slices and some mixed berries. Garnish with mint leaves and serve.

15. Mini quiches

Image: Shutterstock

You will need:

  • 2 pastry sheets (filo)
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 cup chicken breast (cooked shredded)
  • 1 cup green, yellow, and orange bell peppers (diced into small pieces)
  • ½ cup tomato (sun-dried and finely chopped)
  • ½ cup feta cheese
  • ¼ cup mozzarella cheese (grated)
  • Olive oil

How to prepare: 

  1. Preheat the oven to 356°F (180°C). Grease a six-cup muffin tin with olive oil and set it aside.
  2. Meanwhile, whisk eggs in a bowl and as they begin to froth, add tomato, chicken, bell peppers, and feta cheese. Mix well until everything is combined.
  3. Cut each pastry sheet into 10cm x 10cm squares and place one sheet each into muffin cups.
  4. Pour the egg mixture into the cups and sprinkle over some grated mozzarella.
  5. Put the tin into the oven and bake for ten to 15 minutes until the egg mixture turns firm and golden.
  6. Serve warm with homemade ketchup, hummus, guacamole, or any other dip of your child’s choice.
  7. If you wish, you can add other veggies, such as mushrooms, corn, and green peas, to this recipe. If your child is overly fussy about eating them, finely chop or puree them before adding them to the recipe.

Nutritious Dinner Ideas For Picky Eaters

16. Cauliflower mac and cheese

Image: Shutterstock

You will need:

  • 100g multigrain elbow pasta (cooked)
  • 100g cauliflower (grated and boiled)
  • 100g smooth, light ricotta
  • 80g mushrooms (chopped)
  • 50g green peas
  • ½ cup light, tasty cheese (grated)
  • 1tbsp fresh basil leaves (chopped)
  • 1tbsp bread crumbs
  • 1tbsp chives (finely chopped)
  • 1tbsp olive oil
  • 1tsp herbs mix
  • Pinch of nutmeg

How to prepare: 

  1. Blend cauliflower, ricotta, tasty cheese, herbs mix, and nutmeg into a smooth-flowing cream using a blender. Set the cream aside.
  2. Heat olive oil in a saucepan over a low flame and add peas and mushrooms. Sauté the veggies until they wilt and cook well through.
  3. Add cauliflower cream and pasta and mix well. Transfer the pasta to a serving bowl and garnish with bread crumbs and chives.
  4. Serve warm with a cup of ginger ale.

17. Chicken fajita rice bowl

Image: Shutterstock

You will need:

  • 2 cups low-sodium chicken broth
  • 1 cup brown rice
  • 1 cup canned fire-roasted tomatoes
  • 1 cup canned black beans (drained and rinsed)
  • 1 cup boneless, skinless chicken breasts (diced into one-inch pieces)
  • 1 cup yellow onion (diced)
  • 1 cup red bell pepper (chopped)
  • ¾ cup Mexican cheese blend (shredded)
  • ⅓ cup cilantro (chopped)
  • 3 garlic cloves (minced)
  • 2tbsp olive oil
  • 2tsp chili powder
  • 1½ tbsp fresh lime juice
  • 1½ tsp cumin powder
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

How to prepare: 

  1. Heat a tablespoon of olive oil in a deep skillet over low heat.
  2. Add chicken, one and a half teaspoon chili powder, one teaspoon cumin powder, salt, and pepper. Cook occasionally, tossing for about six or seven minutes until the chicken is cooked through.
  3. Once done, transfer the chicken to an aluminum foil sheet and wrap to keep the chicken warm.
  4. Return the skillet to heat and add the remaining olive oil to it. Sauté onions for about three minutes.
  5. Add bell peppers and sauté for three minutes. Then, add garlic and sauté for a minute.
  6. Add in chicken broth, tomatoes, black beans, half-a-teaspoon of cumin, salt, pepper, and the remaining chili powder. Mix everything well and bring the mixture to a boil.
  7. Add rice and toss the mixture well.  Cover the skillet with a lid and let the mixture simmer for six to seven minutes.
  8. Once the rice is cooked, remove the skillet from the heat and set it aside for five minutes.
  9. Stir in chicken, lime juice, cheese, and cilantro. Serve warm.

18. Baked fish cakes with mashed potatoes and veggies

Image: Shutterstock

You will need:

  • 1 cup fish fillets (chopped)
  • ½ cup orange and red bell pepper (sauteed)
  • ½ cup red onions (lightly sauteed)
  • ½ cup bread crumbs
  • ½ cup coriander leaves
  • 2 potatoes (boiled, peeled, and mashed)
  • 3tbsp lemon juice
  • 1tbsp vegetable oil
  • A handful of spring onions
  • Salt and black pepper powder, to taste

How to prepare: 

  1. Preheat the oven to 392°F (200°C). Line a baking tray with parchment paper.
  2. In a bowl, add chopped fish fillets, spring onions, coriander leaves, and mashed potatoes. Mix well.
  3. Stir in salt, black pepper powder, and a few drops of lemon juice. Mix everything well.
  4. Take two tablespoons of the mixture between your palm and roll it into a round cake. Repeat the process to make more cakes.
  5. Roll these cakes into breadcrumbs and put them on the baking tray. Bake the cakes for about 20 minutes.
  6. Remove the cakes from the oven and transfer them to a serving plate. Serve with mashed potatoes, sautéed onions, and bell peppers.

19. Tomato soup and or zopasta

Image: Shutterstock

You will need:

  • 200g canned tomatoes (chopped)
  • 200g canned chickpeas (cooked)
  • 100g orzo pasta
  • 500ml low-sodium vegetable stock
  • 2 celery sticks (diced)
  • 2 garlic cloves (crushed)
  • 1 red onion (chopped)
  • 1tbsp tomato puree
  • 1tbsp virgin olive oil
  • 2tbsp basil pesto
  • Salt, to taste

How to prepare: 

  1. Heat a tablespoon of olive oil in a saucepan over medium heat.
  2. Add onion and celery and fry for around 15 minutes until the onions turn golden.
  3. Add garlic and cook the mixture for about one minute. Except for pesto, add all the remaining ingredients into the mix and bring to a boil.
  4. Reduce the heat to low and simmer the mixture for six to eight minutes until the orzo cooks and turns tender.
  5. Add salt to taste and cook for a minute. Turn off the heat and transfer the soup into bowls.
  6. Stir in the pesto and serve warm with garlic flatbread, cheesy baguette, or crusty bread chunks.

20. Slow cooker veggie and barley stew

Image: Shutterstock

You will need:

  • 2 cups low-sodium vegetable broth
  • ½ cup pearled barley (rinsed and drained)
  • ½ cup button mushrooms (quartered)
  • ½ cup carrots (sliced)
  • ½ cup sweet potato (diced with peel)
  • 1 red onion (diced)
  • 2 garlic cloves (minced)
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1tsp salt

How to prepare:

  1. Put all the ingredients in a slow cooker. Cover the lid and cook for about four hours on high heat. You can check once every hour to see if stew has thickened and veggies have cooked through.
  2. Once done, transfer some stew into a soup bowl and serve with crusty bread.

Healthy eating is crucial for the proper growth and development of children. If your child is a fussy eater, offer various nutritious dishes across meals to ensure they eat wholesome food. While preparing these dishes, remember to make them attractive, colorful, and diverse in flavors and textures to avert boredom.

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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