As a busy parent, you don’t always have time to cook elaborate, full-course meals. The good news is that you can still feed your kids healthy and nutritious dinners! The trick is to find recipes that don’t sacrifice quality for quickness. If you want to help your children grow their minds and bodies to be the best that they can be, here are just a few healthy dinner ideas to keep them going.
1. Avocado Mac and Cheese
Kids love mac and cheese, but they’ll go especially crazy for the avocado version. It’s green!
Made with lime, garlic, cilantro and plenty of avocados, this tasty dish will destroy your preconceived notions about macaroni and cheese. Not only is it packed with nutritional benefits, but it still retains the gooey, cheesy texture of good comfort food.
It’s also a fun green color that will delight your little ones. You can’t ignore the impact of a food’s appearance on your child’s willingness to eat it, and thankfully, “avo-mac” will pass the visual test of your pint-sized food inspectors.
Put avocado mac and cheese on the menu if you’re looking for dinner ideas that are quick but memorable. You don’t have to slave over a hot stove to make an impression with your meals, and when the food’s this good, your kids will definitely ask for it again.
2. Turkey Burgers
Burgers are one of the most popular dinner ideas for kids, but you don’t want to give them too much red meat, especially if you’re pairing it with fries or tater tots. Try a turkey burger instead!
Turkey burgers are made with ground turkey instead of ground beef. You mold them just like ground beef patties, and you can mix or marinate them the same way as well.
The trick to cooking a good turkey burger is to freeze the patty for 20 – 30 minutes before applying heat. This will firm them up and keep them from crumbling when they’re being baked, fried or grilled.
A well-done turkey burger will taste just like a regular burger, so your kids might not even notice your switcheroo. Try it and see! Put a turkey burger on a sesame seed bun with all of their favorite toppings. If they can tell the difference, they have an advanced palate to admire.
3. Cauliflower Rice
This is more of a side dish than a main course, but it can still be incorporated into healthy dinner ideas. Cauliflower rice looks and tastes just like the real thing, but it has even more nutritional power than the original!
There are several different ways to prepare cauliflower rice. The easiest is a food processor that can take whole cauliflower and turn it into granules, but you can also chop or grate it to reach the same consistency. The latter might be best if you have picky eaters or kids who are particularly sensitive to texture. With your own knife, you can control the size of the granules.
Once your cauliflower has been turned into rice, it’s just a matter of cooking it with whatever other dinner ideas that you have in mind. Bake it in a casserole; pack it into a lettuce wrap; stir fry it with veggies and sauces. It’s up to you!
4. Ten-Minute Pizza Bake
Pizza gets a bad reputation as junk food. However, if you make it at home, you can take out all of the fatty, greasy ingredients and replace them with healthier ones. You can also customize your pizza recipes depending on your family’s unique nutritional needs. For example, if someone needs more potassium in their diet, you can increase the amount of potassium-rich tomato sauce.
As for the ten-minute pizza bake, it’s quite simple. The crust is made with refrigerated biscuits that you spread on the bottom of a pan, and after slathering it with tomato sauce, just sprinkle your desired ingredients on top. Pop it in the oven and bake.
Healthy pizza toppings include garlic, spinach, bell pepper, mushroom, and diced chicken. You can also substitute the usual cheeses for low-fat ones. A tasty slice doesn’t have to be a guilty indulgence when you’re mindful of your ingredients!
5. Thai Salad
If your kids react with horror movie screams to the thought of a salad, you might have better luck with Thai salads. They’re crunchy, colorful and flavorful, and they can expand your family’s horizons with far-flung ingredients like soy sauce and peanut butter dressing.
Despite their exotic nature, Thai salads are also quite simple to prepare. Just toss the ingredients into a bowl and make sure that their sauces and spices are evenly distributed. Like any salad, they can also be customized to your exact tastes; if you don’t like a certain ingredient, leave it out.
Thai salads are a great way to try something new in your usual rotation of dinner ideas. Bring a little bit of the east into your kitchen if you’re looking for fun and tasty meals for the whole family!
6. One-Pot Chicken and Broccoli Pasta
Broccoli has many health benefits, including stronger bones, improved digestion, improved cardiovascular function and stability for your blood sugar levels. The challenge is getting your kids to eat it.
Fortunately, chicken and broccoli pasta can help. You can even make it in a single pot if you’re pressed for time. Heat up the chicken in a bit of broth; add your noodles, sauces, and spices; top it off with broccoli in its final stages. When you stagger the cooking like this, you can prepare it without the need for multiple plates and utensils.
The end result will be a delicious pasta dish that’s both simple and healthy. You can sneak some veggies to your kids, and you won’t have to spend a lot of time on clean-up afterward. Everyone wins!
7. Loaded Sweet Potatoes
Baked potatoes are another food with a PR problem. They’re actually quite nutritious, especially if you eat the skins, but they’re so often loaded with artery-clogging ingredients that they’ve gotten an unfair reputation as a junk or party food.
If you’re willing to try this dish, however, you’ll see that baked potatoes can be yummy and healthy. It swaps out regular potatoes for sweet potatoes, and it allows you to top them with good ingredients like onions, black beans, bell peppers, and pumpkin seeds. You can even substitute sour cream for a dollop of Greek yogurt!
Don’t miss out on a healthy meal just because of stereotypes. Loaded sweet potatoes are quick, easy, cheap and nutritious, so they’re ideal for busy moms and dads who need something simple to put on the table.
8. Lemon Dijon Pork
Studies have shown that citrus fruits are rich in nutrients such as flavonoids, alkaloids, and antioxidants. But how can you incorporate them into healthy dinner ideas instead of just munching on them as snacks?
One option is lemon Dijon pork. Made with lemon zest and Dijon mustard, it can be prepared with everything from pork chops to pork tenderloin, and it’ll offer powerful flavors with a nutritious foundation. It’s also quick and simple to prepare: Just marinate the meat before cooking as usual.
Lemon has been used for centuries as a healing and energizing ingredient. Mustard is a tasty addictive that your kids will love. Put them together, and lemon Dijon pork is sure to be a hit in your household!
9. Vegetable Frittata
Frittatas are the perfect last-minute meal. As long as you have eggs and milk, you can whip up a super-healthy frittata.
As for what actually goes into your omelet, that’s up to you. A vegetable frittata is one of the healthiest options since it doesn’t have any fats or greases from meat products, but if you’re a family of carnivores, it won’t hurt to add them. You’ll also have the choice of baking or frying your frittata depending on how much time you have and how healthy you want it to be.
Think about ingredients like celery, basil, broccoli, zucchini, and leeks. Think about the different cheeses that you can use to glue them all together.
Frittatas are an excellent option for quick and easy meals. If you’re staring at the clock and wondering what you can make for dinner on short notice, try a frittata!
10. Lasagna Rolls
If you love the thick, savory taste of lasagna but hate the hours of preparation that it can require, consider lasagna rolls instead.
Lasagna rolls have all of the same ingredients as lasagna casseroles, but they’re cooked in layered or rolled-up noodles for easier handling. Instead of having to saw away at a plate of lasagna with the edge of your fork, you can just pop a lasagna roll in your mouth.