Dinner time is a crazy time in my home- but we do love it. We are fortunate enough to come to the table each night as a group and eat, which most families cannot do thanks to work or school constraints.
Whether your family eats around the table or eats on their own schedule, it’s important to provide recipes the whole family will love, especially picky toddlers and youngsters. In this article, I’ve rounded up three healthy but tasty dinner recipes kids love and parents will love serving and making.
Recipe 1: Miniature Tortilla Pizzas a la Toaster Oven
Kids love pizza. Moms love pizza because they know their kids will eat it. However, frozen pizzas are a processed food nightmare, and pizzas bought from the local pizza parlor will run the family budget into the ground if bought regularly.
The solution? Tortilla pizzas you make yourself. Toddlers will love the novelty of having their own little pizza, and older kids will enjoy making their own meal as it gives them a sense of independence. These are tiny pizzas you can make right in your toaster oven.
Serve these little pizzas with a huge green salad on the side for a healthy and filling meal idea that will have everyone raving.
Here’s what you need:
- Whole-wheat tortillas, 8-inch size
- 1 tsp olive oil
- Tomato, sliced up into thin slices
- Red onion, sliced thinly
- 3 tbsp cheese of your choice- my kids like cheddar
- 1 tbsp basil- we just use Italian seasoning at my home
- 2 tbsp balsamic vinaigrette
Here’s How to Do It:
Begin by laying the tortilla down on a toaster oven pan covered in aluminum foil. Now brush a teaspoon of oil over the shell, and add your cheese, onion, and tomato. Now toast it until you see the cheese meltdown; this should take about 9 minutes tops.
Now take it out of the oven and add your basil, in my case, Italian seasoning. Cut it up into slices and allow it to cool down before you serve it to children.
I recommend serving with a green salad that you pack with veggies. For our family, I add two bags of salad mix together and grate in some carrots, and cut up a cuke to go inside.
Cherry tomatoes are also a favorite as the kids can pick them up with fingers. With toddlers, this can be hard, so maybe just sticking with slices of carrots and cucumber will be enough.
Either way, this is a fun family recipe to make, and it doesn’t take long at all. Teens love this too, as it’s a quick and cheap way to get something to eat that’s healthy. Your family can dress up their pizzas as you like them- we prefer this vegetarian style pizza.
Meanwhile, my nephew insisted on adding pepperoni to his, which worked out well.
My point? Be creative and use what you like on these. The sky’s the limit.
Recipe 2: Chicken Noodle Soup Casserole
It’s cozy season! That means eating lots of soups and casseroles is on the schedule. Chicken noodle soup is a favorite among kids and adults alike. Some companies are even starting to put character shapes in the cans of condensed soup you find at the stores, which further entices kids.
But chicken noodle soup is not enough to fill up everybody, so we took it a step further with this casserole. It will make your whole family smile on a chilly night, and it’s easy to reheat later on if you happen to have leftovers.
Let’s learn how to make this delicious but simple casserole.
- 2 cups of egg noodles, dry
- 2 c diced cooked chicken
- 1 can or 10.5 oz of cream of mushroom or cream of chicken soup
- 5 cup milk
- 1c frozen carrots or peas
For the topping, you need:
- 2 tbsp breadcrumbs
- 1/ 2 c cheddar cheese (this is optional, my family prefers no cheese)
- 1 tbsp melted butter
How to Make It:
- Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.
- Now cook the egg noodles per the directions on the package. Drain them.
- Place the egg noodles, milk, chicken, soup, and veggies in a 2 quart dish for casseroles. If you want cheese, add that now as the topping.
- Mix your other topping ingredients up in a bowl and sprinkle that over your casserole.
- Bake for 20 minutes and peek inside to see if it’s bubbling. You can also broil the casserole for one minute to get the toppings nice and brown.
- Once complete, remove and cut pieces, so it cools off a bit before serving to little ones. Small kids especially will enjoy picking up the egg noodles with their fingers.
Ideas for this Recipe
Sharp cheddar tastes good on the casserole, or so I’ve heard from a mom friend!
If you prefer to use fresh veg, add them to your pasta water during your last few minutes of cooking, so you don’t have to prepare them separately.
You can use any veg on hand if you don’t have peas. I’ve done it with celery, and it tasted great.
Be sure your chicken is pre-cooked. I used canned chicken.
Cook the pasta al dente as it will continue to cook in the oven.
Indeed, this is a good meal to serve because it has all you need: protein, carbs, a bit of fat from the butter and cheese, and a hearty comfort food taste. Even dabbing a bit of hot sauce on this casserole adds a nice kick you will enjoy.
That nice, crunchy topping is just great, especially when it gets slightly burnt on the edges.
Lastly, I like that the recipe is flexible. You have your choice of any veggie you like. You could probably even use cream of celery soup if you were really in a pinch, though I haven’t actually tried that.
Recipe 3: Better For You Hamburger Helper
Hamburger Helper is a popular staple in family pantries everywhere. But, it’s another one of those processed foods we’d like our kids to avoid. You can absolutely make a healthier version at your own home that might even leave you with leftovers to enjoy the following night- provided everyone doesn’t eat it all first!
The great thing about our version is that you can make it your way. If your family follows a vegetarian diet, you can use soy crumbles.
Or, you can use ground turkey instead of the hamburger. No matter what spin you put on it, your family is going to love it. Let’s get into the ingredients.
- 8 oz small pasta wheels or shells
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 1lb ground meat of your choice- my family enjoys ground turkey
- .5 sweet onion- dice that up
- 2 cloves garlic (we add more- garlic is measured with your heart in my home)
- 5 teaspoons Italian seasoning
- 2 tbsp flour
- 16 oz beef broth
- 1 15 oz can of tomato sauce
- .75 c heavy cream
- Black pepper and Himalayan pink salt
- 5 cups cheddar cheese
How to make it:
- Cook the pasta according to the directions listed on the package.
- Now heat up the olive oil in your skillet at medium-high. Now add in your meat of choice, and season it with pepper and salt. Cook it until it is browned. Then drain off the fat. Cook for about 5 minutes; once that’s complete, put it onto a platter and set aside.
- Now, take your diced onion and add that to the skillet. Cook it and stir frequently until onions become translucent. You might need to add a bit of olive oil, and that’s OK- add it if needed. Stir in your Italian seasoning stir until you can smell it – should take about 1 minute.
- Now whisk in your flour until it is brown. This will take about 1 minute.
- Now whisk in your beef broth and tomato sauce. Bring it all to a boil, then reduce the heat to a simmer and stir. Wait until it reduces down and thickens up- this should take about 8 minutes.
- Now stir in your heavy cream, pasta, the meat of choice and stir until it’s heated all the way through- should take about two minutes. Season it up with pepper and salt, then add in your cheese, allowing it to melt as you mix it in.
- Now scoop it onto everybody’s plate, and watch as they dig in with delight!
We serve ours with a green salad, topped with balsamic vinaigrette and a little seasoning!
I think you will enjoy these recipes as much as my family does! For more kid-friendly kitchen fun, I encourage you to check out two of my family’s favorite cookbooks.
First up is the Big Fun Kids Cookbook by Food Network. It’s jam-packed full of stuff kids can make and eat with your help.
Next up, we love the Kid Chef Every Day cookbook. It’s a nice paperback that has fun and healthy kid-friendly foods that your whole family will love. Check ’em out!
In summary, I hope your family enjoys making these meals- and the bonding experience that goes with it. Good luck!