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Here are some easy kid-friendly dinner ideas that will get healthy meals on the table fast with minimal effort. Packed with flavor, these are all baby and kid-friendly recipes that will help get you out of the dinner time rut.

A four image collage showing 4 recipes each plated for adult, toddler, and baby.
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Easy Kid-Friendly Dinner Recipes

Dinner time is often times the hardest, especially if you have little kids attached to your hip. Everyone’s feeling exhausted and hangry and the last thing you want to do is cook dinner. 

And truly there’s nothing wrong with getting takeout on nights when you just…can’t! But if you have the desire to make home cooked meals for your family, here are some easy-to-follow recipes to try!

Now when you think of “kid-friendly,” the usual suspects like chicken nuggets, pizza, and hamburgers might come to mind. While there’s nothing wrong with those classics, it’s equally important to introduce kids to a diverse range of foods.

For parents dealing with picky eaters, my aim as a pediatric registered dietitian is to shift the mindset towards addition rather than subtraction. Instead of taking away their favorites, consider ways to incorporate added nutrition.

I’ve curated these family meal ideas to include dishes that kids generally adore, but with a healthier twist.

So bookmark any of these kid-friendly dinner ideas so that you can get nourishing dinner on that table fast even on your busiest weeknights. Less time in the kitchen, more time with family is what I want to gift you!

toddler pushing bowl away

Is your toddler becoming picky?

Arm yourself with these strategies that will transform your mealtimes!

1. Turkey Sloppy Joes without Ketchup

Turkey Sloppy Joes plated three ways - for an adult, toddler, and baby.

Quickly transform a pound of ground turkey (although you can use whatever you have on hand) into a hearty filling and nestle in a soft bun. What sets this healthy sloppy joes apart is that it’s loaded with veggies and replicates the classic beloved sweet and savory sauce without ketchup!

2. Hamburger Helper

Cooked dish in a large dutch oven with fresh parsley and a large orange spatula

If you have a picky eater at home, this easy hamburger helper is sure to be a winner! Think cheesy hamburger meat, pasta, and a creamy sauce—all cooked together in one pot. And guess what? You can cook the pasta right in the same pot as the sauce. It’s a double win for convenience and deliciousness!

3. Chicken Nuggets with Veggies

Baked golden nuggets on parchment paper.

Chicken nuggets – a dream meal for every child. While it’s totally okay to grab some from the store (because let’s face it, feeding little ones is exhausting), if you’re up for a simple, wholesome version with added veggies, I will leave this homemade chicken nugget recipe right here for you.

4. Mini Pizza

An overheard shot of pizzas on a white plate with extra sauce in the center.

Not sure about yours, but my kids absolutely love anything in mini size. These mini pizzas are a fantastic way to make use of whatever you have available. Got leftover chicken, veggies, or anything else?

Just toss them onto your preferred dough – be it mini naan, mini bagels, or refrigerated biscuit dough, or this 2 ingredient protein pizza dough – cover with cheese, and pop them in the oven! Easy, customizable, and a guaranteed hit with the little ones.

5. Pizza Casserole

cooked casserole with melted cheese in a blue baking dish.

For a tasty variation on the classic pizza, try out this pizza casserole. It brings together all the familiar pizza flavors but with a nutritious twist. While the recipe features couscous, you can easily switch it up with orzo or any small-shaped pasta you prefer.

6. Green Pasta Sauce (Hulk Pasta)

Green pasta plated for mom, toddler, and baby.

Whip up this effortless green pasta sauce with spinach, avocado, and cheese, toss it with pasta, and here’s the trick – call it “Hulk Pasta.” Now watch as they eagerly gobble it up!

And here are more easy veggie-loaded pasta sauces.

7. Tacos

One mini taco dipped in salsa sitting on the edge of cup of salsa surrounded by more mini tacos.

Taco night is so fun —you set up a taco bar, and everyone gets to build their own tacos just the way they like. For the main course, try these rotisserie chicken tacos! They come together in minutes with a homemade chicken taco seasoning that’s a breeze to make (or you can use store-bought).

And if you’re into baked goodness, give these mini tacos a go because, you know, anything mini is bound to be a hit with the little ones!

8. Pressure Cooker Steak Fajitas

flank steak fajitas served family-style with an assortment of toppings and toddler, baby, and adult's plate with tortilla.

Here’s another great meal to serve family-style – Instant Pot steak fajitas! Thanks to the pressure cooker’s magic, the steak becomes wonderfully tender, and it keeps the vibrant flavors of the fajitas intact for a taste experience that kids will absolutely enjoy.

9. Chicken Broccoli Pasta Bake

An overhead shot of pasta bake with bottom left mixed in with cheese.

Forget the usual pasta casserole chaos that involves all these separate steps of making the sauce, cooking pasta, transferring to a casserole dish, and now you have to deal with a mountain of dishes

With this chicken pasta bake, just toss everything together (yup the uncooked chicken and dry pasta), then pop it in the oven. It doesn’t get easier than this!

10. Creamy Chicken Orzo

A very close up shot of orzo to showcase its creaminess.

Alright, it’s becoming clear – one-pot meals are a lifesaver when it comes to whipping up speedy, kid-friendly dinners. This chicken orzo is bathed in a creamy sauce that’ll give you vibes of risotto or a hearty, thick chicken noodle soup with pasta.

11. Pumpkin Pasta Bake

Baked pumpkin pasta in a casserole dish with fresh basil.

Loaded with pumpkin, kale, cheese, mushroom, and basil, this cheesy pumpkin pasta bake makes for a well-rounded, satisfying meal that is sure to nourish your whole family.

It’s also a great dish for feeding an army of people or to make for new moms or friends in need.

12. Creamy Carrot Pasta Sauce

Adult and toddler plates with carrot pasta, blueberries, and broccoli.

Introducing a wallet-friendly meal that not only delivers a nutritional punch but also comes in a kid-approved form. While your little ones might not be fans of carrots or white beans on their own, transform them into a creamy, sweet, and savory sauce, and you’re guaranteed a hit!

Toss this carrot sauce with pasta or spread onto toast, this high protein pizza dough, cheese quesadilla or add to sandwiches for toddlers and kids!

13. Stuffed Shells with Meat and Veggies

A close up shot of baked shells with fresh basil.

Jump pasta shells stuffed with meat and frozen veggies, covered in your favorite marina sauce and cheese, and baked to ooey gooey perfection. Enough said!

14. Philly Cheesesteak Casserole

A close up shot of scooped baked casserole.

Here’s another tip for family-friendly meals: embrace the simplicity of casseroles! Take Casseroles not only offer convenient portioning but also provide leftovers for days, making your meal planning a breeze.

Whether you prefer this as a casserole, sandwich, paired with crackers, or stuffed into bell peppers, the versatility of this Philly Cheesesteak casserole is unmatched.

15. Beef Enchilada Casserole

A big slice of enchilada casserole topped with tomatoes, cilantro.

This beef enchilada casserole is layers of corn tortilla, cooked ground beef and veggies, and enchilada sauce baked to golden perfection!

16. Instant Pot Chicken and Noodles

Chicken and noodles served three ways.

Think of this Instant Pot Chicken and Noodles as creamy chicken and dumplings meet chicken noodle soup.

It is made with few pantry and freezer staples, requires minimal prep work, and is especially great to serve when you or your child isn’t feeling well.

17. Cream Cheese Pasta

A close up shot of baked cream cheese pasta.

Cream cheese in pasta may not have crossed your mind, but when baked with cherry tomatoes, it produces a flavorful and indulgent sauce that is simply incredible! Just five ingredients are all it takes to whip up this straightforward yet hearty family meal.

Or if you have boursin cheese around, try this equally simple boursin pasta!

18. Sausage Tortellini Soup

Cooked tortellini soup in a white bowl.

Pillowy, tender cheese tortellini swimming in a thick and creamy tomato soup – yes please!

And you really can’t mess up this recipe! Simply dump and stir. Feel free to add extras or swap ingredients – the chances are your sausage tortellini soup will still turn out absolutely divine.

19. Pizza Quesadilla

four pizza quesadilla triangles spread out on a parchment paper with pizza sauce spread on two pieces and fresh basil sprinkled throughout

I love coming up with ways to boost the nutrition in kids’ favorite foods, like quesadillas. This pizza quesadilla packs in all the components and flavors that kids love – delicious sauce and ooey-gooey cheese – while cleverly incorporating some veggies and beans that your child won’t even mind.

20. Hidden Veggie Pasta Sauce

Pasta sauce stored in mason jar with vegetables on the side.

Blend together six veggies, and you’ve got this incredible veggie-loaded pasta sauce bursting with both flavor and nutrients. It’s perfect for tossing with pasta or using in any recipe that calls for tomato sauce or marinara.

21. Sheet Pan Pancakes

3 pieces of pancakes on a plate, one with strawberries, one with blueberries and one with grated carrots and chopped nuts.

Have you tried breakfast for dinner? It’s a delightful way to spark excitement in kids with minimal effort on your part. This sheet pan pancake made from a mix is fantastic because you won’t have to stand over the stove, flipping pancakes one by one. Simply pour the batter onto a baking sheet, add your favorite toppings, and let it bake!

And here are more delicious pancakes for babies and toddlers all in one place!

22. Broccoli Cauliflower Soup

An overhead shot of soup with spoon.

This broccoli cauliflower soup brings the classic rich and creamy goodness of traditional broccoli cheddar soup but with a healthier twist – less cheese, less butter, and an added dose of beans for extra creaminess and protein

23. Sushi Bake

A close up shot of scooped sushi bake on top of seaweed sheet.

Oh this is a fun one!! What is a sushi bake, you may be wondering? It’s basically a sushi roll in casserole form with layers of rice, seasonings, and fillings that gets baked to golden perfection. You can also think of it as a deconstructed sushi roll.

The beauty of this dish is that everyone can assemble their own sushi roll the way they like it!

Here are more baby and kid-friendly Healthy Asian recipes.

24. Healthy Fried Rice

Cooked fried rice in a large skillet.

When I have leftover cooked rice and veggies, or even frozen veggies, this healthy fried rice is my ultimate go-to meal. Just stir fry it with your protein of choice, add a super easy sauce, and voila – you’ve got a delicious and wholesome meal that the whole family will love!

25. Fun Snack Dinner for Kids

A four image collage showing unique snack trays.

Feeling burnt out from the hustle and bustle of daily life? Use what you might have on hand for an uncomplicated, easy weeknight dinner for the entire family. Picky eaters will love the variety of options to choose from while still being nutritious and enjoyable. 

Here’s the Ultimate Snack Try Ideas that are just perfect for any busy night.

Additional Resources:

Also, if mornings are also a struggle, here are some easy meal prep breakfast ideas. Not sure what to pack for kids school lunch? Check out these preschool lunch ideas and lunch box ideas for kindergarten and beyond.

About Min

Thank you so much for stopping by! I am Min, a Registered Dietitian, a Christ follower, a wife, and a mom to our two miracle babies! Currently, I’m having a ton of fun feeding their tummies and sharing our baby led weaning journey! Follow me on Instagram if interested in seeing daily menu as well as tips and tricks.

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