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Those of us with young children know all too well the need for easy, kid-friendly recipes. Easy because nobody wants to be rolling out from-scratch puff pastry while the three-year-old is screaming about his dire need for a snack; kid-friendly because picky eaters happen. I’ve put together a list of recipes that are both. When I asked my own preschooler which he would like the most today, he said mini pizza bites. That said, he usually scarfs the sausage and egg breakfast rolls down so fast that I just make a double batch. So, as is typical of life with small children, nothing ever stays the same from one day to another. That’s why this list is a pretty wide cross-section of flavors and meals. I know how it is. Without further ado:
1) Mini Pizza Bites from The Mad House – What kid doesn’t love pizza? Well, I didn’t, but I was weird and I know it. My own kids go bananas for pizza, and the preschooler in particular likes kid-sized food. It often gets him to eat more than he otherwise would. He’s not a picky eater overall, but he can be at any given meal, if you know what I mean. He decides he wants one thing and only one thing. Nothing else will do. But small food, for some reason, sneaks around that and gets him to eat. Pizza + tiny food = kid-friendly to the max.
2) One Pot Chicken Ranch Pasta from Damn Delicious – I can vouch that this is, in fact, delicious, and it comes together quickly. It’s a great, kid-friendly way to use up leftover rotisserie chicken. To make it even more irresistable to kids, use wheel-shaped pasta. If you can’t find it, macaroni is a familiar and beloved shape for kids, too.[thrive_optin color=”orange” text=”Join my newsletter!” optin=”26″ size=”medium” layout=”horizontal”]
3) Easy Ham and Cheese Quesadilla from I’m Luving This Life – This is one of our default “need to get some protein in today” options. My son doesn’t like full slices of ham so I tend to cut it into squares or strips, but it’s still something, at least. We also use leftover rotisserie chicken, veggies, whatever. Quesadillas are also, conveniently, my husband’s domain. He’s just really good at making them. I’d hate to usurp his place. You know.
4) Crispy Oven-Fried Fish Bites with Homemade Tartar Sauce from Cooking and Craft Beer – I, too, love fish sticks. The baby (well, she’s a year old now, so I guess she’s a toddler) thinks they’re OK. The husband and the preschooler? Not so much. And I admit they can be a bit fishy. These are a nice option because you can choose a mild fish and, if served with enough ketchup, you can just pretend they’re chicken nuggets. Also, if you use storebought tartar sauce, I won’t tell. Making your own is fun, though, and I love chopped hard-boiled eggs and capers in mine. Maybe not so kid-friendly, though.
5) Kids’ Favorite Baked Oatmeal from Allrecipes – This is delicious and not too sweet. I’m not a fan of giving kids too much refined sugar. I mean, sugar is kid-friendly in that they like it, but at this point I think we all realize it’s not a great choice for them. You know I don’t hesitate to use packaged foods to save my sanity, but I try to keep the big picture lower in sugar. OK. Enough saying the word “sugar.” These are easy and portable! Win all the way around!
6) Apple Peanut Butter Pancakes with Sauteed Cinnamon Apples from Nutralicious – Who doesn’t love pancakes? And peanut butter apples are amazing. I haven’t actually made this with any alternate nut butters, so I can’t speak to how successful it is. I plan to try that in the future and I’ll update the post when I do. In the meantime, even I can get behind these sauteed apples – and I typically don’t love cooked apples. But pair them with pancakes and you have something special. It definitely gets the kid-friendly seal of approval, too; mine both love soft, cooked fruit.
7) Sausage and Egg Breakfast Rolls from Jo Cooks – These are glorious. They have a few steps but nothing too odious, and the process itself is kid-friendly. My son enjoys placing the sausages and helping to pinch the dough closed. But his greatest joy is to brush on the egg wash. The resulting pastries are really very tasty, and I don’t love canned doughs (they have a strangely bitter flavor to me), but here the other flavors win out. Another fantastically portable meal, too, so I find these good to keep on hand for breakfast during the week.
8) Chili Dog Tater Tot Casserole from Countryside Cravings – Chili dogs are a thing of wonder. As are cheese fries. You can make this casserole with frozen fries, if you’re not a tater tot fan. If you use canned chili it really involves next to zero effort, and it’s the kind of thing most everyone at the table will enjoy. The tots can reasonably be separated from the chili dog portion if you have kids who prefer their food to be separate.
9) Broccoli Cheese Sticks from The Rebel Chick – This works with cauliflower, too! It’s less obvious so if your kids can spot a green veggie a mile away, try cauliflower. I love all the brassicas (I think) so I think these are great. Some marinara sauce for dipping and it’s almost like pizza, which, as discussed in item (1), is the ultimate kid-friendly food.
10) Green Bean Fries from The Lean Green Bean – Using hummus to make the coating stick is genius. I have a chicken tender recipe that does this as well. It doesn’t taste particularly hummus-y but it gives a really amazing, savory flavor and also it’s easier than using an egg, I think. I find that calling anything “fries” makes it automatically ten times more kid-friendly. At least. I recently asked my three-year-old if he wanted broccoli “fries” (not even with breading, just… cut into sticks) and he said yes.
I hope you give these recipes a try! I’d love to hear about it if you do. Hop over and join our Facebook group and share your favorites!
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