Healthy, quick, and tasty is the name of the game when it comes to cooking for kids. Oftentimes we don’t have a whole lot of say in what goes in our kids’ lunches. So making up the difference in quality dinners is a pretty tall order.
Mix things up with a few of these reinvented favorites and a couple new additions. From slow cooker chili that only takes minutes to prepare to fun, exotic sushi—these meals are sure to become family favorites. Get your little one to help in the kitchen. Washing, cutting, measuring, and mixing are all activities that kids love. Studies show that kids who regularly help with meal prep eat 10 percent more of their veggies and make healthier food choices.
- Slow cooker chicken chili
This one gets 5 stars for being fail-proof, delicious, and nutritious. Because of the immense variety of taste and textures, it’ll be awhile before your family bores of this one. Chicken, onion, garlic, corn, beans, and taco seasoning are all you need to make this dish, but a poultry base from scratch is a great addition. Chop up the onion and garlic and throw it all into your slow cooker. If your kiddos are so inclined, add some capsicum. Just about any bean goes well in this chili. Garnish with toppings of your choice such as avocado, tortilla chips, coriander, cheese, and sour cream. Provecho!
- Fried rice
Give leftover rice a second chance and make some kid-friendly fried rice. Adding carrots, peas, and corn makes this meal visually appealing and pack the veggie punch. Try mixing things up with a combination of proteins like tuna, bacon, ground meat, sausage, fried tofu, beans, and egg. If you’ve stayed away from making fried rice because of all the chopping involved, try a food processor. Your kid will love pushing the buttons. Just be sure to lightly pulse the vegetables. We’re not trying to make a smoothie.
- Baked mac and cheese
Try this spin on the old classic when you need something quick, kid-friendly, and comforting. You can also make this gluten-free with gluten-free pasta and bread crumbs. Instead of serving your favorite mac and cheese recipe as-is, add some spinach or vegetable of your choice, cooked chicken breast or ham. Pile this all in a baking dish, top with cheese and bread crumbs and bake for 15 minutes until the top is golden and bubbly. The breadcrumb and cheese topping will give the humble mac and cheese a special flair and help your kids to enjoy the veggies.
- Sushi rolls
Not all sushi must be made with raw fish. The word sushi comes from the traditional slightly sweet and sour flavored sauce added to the rice. Adding vinegar to the rice serves the same purpose as salted plums and helps to keep the rice and fillings from spoiling. The ‘su’ in sushi means vinegar. This is a fun meal any way you look at it. You can make ‘futomaki’ fat rolls ahead of time and serve in pinwheels. Or you can each make your own at the table with your preferred fillings.
Sushi making may sound tricky, but it’s straightforward once you get the hang of it. All you really need is seaweed sheets, sticky rice, and 2 hands. The rest is optional. Popular traditional sushi fillers are crab meat, omelet, pickles, cucumbers, of course, raw fish. But of course, you’re welcome to use whatever suits your fancy. More recent favorites include fish cake, avocado, cream cheese, tuna, carrot sticks, and smoked salmon.
- Breakfast for dinner
Last but surely not least is the glorious omelet. Load this breakfast fare with the traditional cheese, tomato, ham and mushroom. Get a little wild with some spinach or sprouts on top, a little salsa on the side, and a dollop of sour cream or Greek yogurt on top. Pair that with some whole grain bread and fruit and you’ve got yourself a winner!