7 Easy Tweaks to Have a Kid-Friendly Dinnertime

Is there such a thing as a kid-friendly dinner that will also please the adults in your family? You know the truth. Kids are picky eaters. (and if yours are not, hooray! You win the internets!) For the rest of us, here are some ideas for kid-friendly dinners.

Picky Eater tips

Dinnertime = Chaos time

Dinnertime is often chaotic. My kids are running around blowing off steam. Two of them are fighting, another one is rooting through the pantry for a snack. I am trying to fix dinner, and wash the breakfast dishes, and answer homework questions. Meal planning helps ease this a little. However, will my kids even eat what I cook?

I calm things down by getting my kids involved. The twins are becoming gifted sous chefs, thanks to our weekly cooking lessons.  I try to prep my meals ahead of time as much as possible (but with “big kids” advanced prep runs the risk of becoming a late-night snack!)  What is left to be done, my kids can do. For instance, I let them shake the plastic bag holding the pork chops and the breadcrumbs. Little hands can crumble the bacon for salads and casserole toppings. Diced potatoes can also be shaken in a bag of spices before baking. This feeds their curiosity AND it takes a lot of the mystery out of the recipes I prepare.

Kid-Friendly Dinner Ideas

  1. Add an appetizer – Just because you aren’t in a restaurant doesn’t mean that appetizers are off the table. Serve up chips and salsa. Add chopped vegetables to the mix. Kids like finger foods.
  2. Jazz up their favorites – Do they like macaroni and cheese? Add diced tomatoes for color and a bit of ham or bacon for texture and added protein. My kids won’t complain about peas or broccoli in mac and cheese, but they catch me every time I try to switch it out for whole grain pasta–so know your limits! The nutritional value of that pasta dish has just been bumped up a notch.
  3. A variation on a theme – Ham and cheese is just as good on a pita with mild cheddar or mozzarella. Cut it into smaller pieces for kids to pick up. Add a side of fresh fruit.
  4. Try soup – Soup is easy to prepare and even easier to eat. Offer a choice of additions to make the meal that much tastier: toasted croutons or bread chunks, cheese cubes,  or diced veggies and pasta. Soup is nearly always a win in our house.
  5. Make it homemade– Instead of buying chicken nuggets from the store, make your own variety at home. Use an egg wash and breadcrumbs to bread diced chicken pieces and bake. Add a side of oven baked French fries or homemade sweet potato fries. You’ve just leveled up the nutritional value of a kid favorite!
  6. Try breakfast for dinner – This only works when my husband is out of town, but my kids would eat pancakes and scrambled eggs every night if they could!
  7. Let them make their meal –  Think about having a taco or fajita night. They can choose their meat, add their toppings and choose a sauce. Kids decide what foods they like and are guaranteed to eat them.

You don’t have to make a separate meal for your kids anymore. Use these hints to ensure each meal is something they will enjoy.

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Written by Dakotapam
I'm a Lutheran pastor's wife and mom to six kids, including young adult sons down to 8-year old twin daughters. My life is sometimes normal, and sometimes crazy; but through it all, I know that I am blessed! Some people say that I have my hands full, I prefer to call it living life with both hands full, and I love it!