healthy meals for picky kids

Figuring out what to feed your kids from breakfast to dinner (and snacks in between!) can feel like a challenge. To help you figure this out, here are 7 healthy meal ideas for kids to get inspired.

rehearsal day for kids eating in the grid

Kids Dining IdeasI’ve experienced firsthand how many times you feel like you don’t know what to do for kids every day. Feeding a family is real! Luckily, I also know that just seeing new ideas can help us break out of the norm – so these seven example days of meal ideas for kids are here to help.

I’ve included breakfast, morning snack, lunch, afternoon snack, and dinner for each day of the sample week. These are the real meals and food I served to my middle child when she was two years old. So be aware that you may need to adjust how the meal is served or your own child’s portion size.

(You can also find some of my favorite toddler recipes here.)

Hint: I hope this is implied, but if you can’t make your own, naturally in similarly prepared or store-bought foods.

How to Plan Kids Meals Step by Step

Before we dive into the details of each meal, here are some tips to keep in mind when planning meals for kids.

Pay attention to day and week changes. Some days your child may want more of one food group, and if you adjust their diet a few days later to balance their diet without forcing them to eat certain foods, that’s fine.
Trust your kids to know their own hunger and don’t urge them to eat more if they’re not really hungry. (There is only you in her body!)
Stick to regular meal times and try not to let them graze in between. This is the best way to make sure they’re really hungry to eat. If the kids are always hungry early, adjust the schedule—or if that helps, try a simple pre-meal appetizer of raw fruit or vegetables.
Depending on your child’s growth, hunger, and activity level, they may need or want a bedtime snack. It’s fine as long as they don’t skip dinner for their favorite snack. When that happens, make bedtime snacks super boring – like bananas! Or if they say they’re hungry before bed, leave them the rest of dinner.
Tip: Keep your child’s personality in mind and adjust the advice accordingly. Every child is unique and may respond differently to different scenarios. There is no perfection here!

Healthy Kids Meals in a Grid of 5 Pictures
Kid’s Meals: Day 1
Swap in leftover homemade pancakes from the weekend or eat low-sugar frozen waffles. I like Kashi or Vans brands.

Breakfast: Banana pancakes or waffles (homemade, leftovers, or store frozen), milk, extra sliced ​​bananas
Morning snack: Homemade granola bars (or store-bought granola bars), optional milk
Lunch: Pizza Bread with Spinach and Cheese, Fruit and Pickles
Afternoon Snack: Strawberry Banana Smoothie with Cauliflower
Dinner: Pasta with Broccoli Pesto, Grilled Chicken, Applesauce
Tip: Iron-rich sources should be included every day to help children get enough of this nutrient.

recipes to try
Banana Oatmeal Pancakes (with Extra Protein)
Very ripe bananas (with brown spots) give these pancakes the best flavor. Cut them into cubes or serve them whole, depending on how the kids like to eat them.
Get the recipe.
Banana Oatmeal Pancakes on Grey Plate
Homemade Granola Bars (to share with the kids!)
We love serving these granola bars as a toddler snack or breakfast with milk or smoothies—they’re also a great addition to a lunchbox. You can keep them simple or choose a flavor to add!
Get the recipe.
Pile of Homemade Granola Bars
Favorite Pizza Wrap (Spinach and Cheese)
Be sure to grease your pan and roll the dough tightly around the filling for best results. (But that’s okay if they don’t look perfect when they go into the pan!)
Get the recipe.
Pizza rolls on children’s plate
Strawberry Smoothie with Vegetables
Prepare simple basic recipes or try one of the variations with vegetarian and more nutritious ingredients. All delicious! Freeze bananas beforehand.
Get the recipe.
Strawberry Banana Smoothie with Cauliflower Glasses
Easy Broccoli Pesto (for Pasta and Pizza)
That’s probably enough for two meals. You can freeze leftovers to eat later. (This recipe was updated in April 2019 to improve flavor and method.)
Get the recipe.
Broccoli pesto on pasta in blue bowl, pink fork
Healthy Kids Eat Day 2
Kid’s Meals: Day 2
If breakfast is easier to put together, add yogurt and granola. Muffins can be made ahead of time and stored in the refrigerator for use throughout the week (and in the refrigerator for future weeks as well).

Breakfast: Raspberry Oatmeal Overnight
Breakfast: Spinach Banana Muffins (with milk if needed)
Lunch: Deconstructed turkey cheese sandwich, fruit and vegetables
Afternoon Snack: Strawberry Applesauce
Dinner: 30-Minute Lentil Soup with Cornbread Muffins or Cookies
Tip: If your child is hungrier after the afternoon snack, add something else to the applesauce, such as B. whole-wheat cereal, crackers, or cheese sticks.

 

recipes to try
Overnight Oats with Yogurt and Berries
This overnight oatmeal recipe makes 2 toddler-sized breakfasts (or 1 mom-sized portion). Double it for extra serving.
Get the recipe.
Overnight Oats and Yogurt in a Container
Sweet Spinach Muffins with Bananas
These healthy muffins taste like delicious banana muffins, but with the added nutrition of a handful of spinach. These store well so you can make them ahead of time and eat them right out of the fridge or freezer.
Get the recipe.
Spinach Banana Muffins on a Pink Plate
Easy Strawberry Applesauce
You can use any kind of apple for this recipe.
Get the recipe.
White Bowl of Strawberry Applesauce
Favorite Vegetable Lentil Soup
I love that our lentil soup mixes well with the veggies, so I chop it up in a blender or food processor. You can also chop them up with a knife. (Recipe updated August 2020, sauté vegetables before cooking to ensure no raw onion flavor.)
Get the recipe.
Vegetable Lentil Soup
Easy Cornbread Muffins
Moist and nutritious, these healthy cornmeal muffins make an easy side dish, breakfast, or delicious snack.
Get the recipe.
Maple Corn Muffins
Healthy Kids Eat Day 3
Children’s Meals: Day 3
If needed, add 1/2-1 cup of milk to each main meal to supplement the day’s nutrition. (It’s okay if your kids don’t like or drink milk, though. They only need 2-3 servings of dairy per day to meet their calcium needs.)

Breakfast: Baked French Toast, Bananas
Breakfast: Peanut Butter Oatmeal Energy Balls
Lunch: Macaroni and Cheese with Peas, Berries, Citrus, Pepperoni
Afternoon Snack: Strawberry Muffins (with milk if needed)
Dinner: Baked Chicken Tenderloin with Cheese and Rice Melon
Tip: Freeze waffles or French toast if that’s easier for you!

recipes to try
Baked Banana French Toast Sticks
You can use any sliced ​​bread you like. I usually use whole wheat or sourdough. You can also bake whole slices of bread and cut them into strips with kitchen shears. See allergy alternatives instructions.
Get the recipe.
Baked French Toast Sticks with Bananas on a Plate
Peanut Butter Oatmeal Energy Balls
These no-bake treats taste like a cross between oatmeal raisins and peanut butter cookie dough. I use natural creamy peanut butter (like Smuckers) and it works really well. (Recipe slightly updated in June 2021 to ensure optimal texture.)
Get the recipe.
Peanut Butter Oatmeal Energy Balls
Healthy Strawberry Muffins
I love the flavor boost fresh lemons give this recipe, so it’s worth adding that ingredient if you can. These can be eaten at room temperature or slightly warmed as needed.
Get the recipe.
Strawberry Muffins with Berries
Crispy Grilled Chicken Tenders
To make these with panko breadcrumbs, use 1 cup to stir 1/4 teaspoon salt into the flour before digging in the chicken.
Get the recipe.
Crispy grilled chicken on white and blue plate
Easy Cheese Rice (with veggies!)
Depending on what you have on hand or your family’s favorite, choose vegetables to add from the flavor options below.
Get the recipe.
Cheese Rice with 4 Vegetables
Healthy Kids Meals Day 4
Kid’s Meals: Day 4
If you want to try a clever egg shortcut, try cooking them in the microwave in under 30 seconds!

Breakfast: scrambled eggs, berries, milk
Breakfast: cheese crackers (also available in store), bananas
Lunch: Vegan hummus, crackers, peach slices, carrot sticks
Afternoon snack: cereal, fruit and milk or water
Dinner: Bean and cheese quesadillas, zucchini, applesauce
Tip: I try to make the veggies taste good to me before serving the kids, so add seasonings, sauces, and dips as needed to make sure it’s delicious!

recipes to try
Preparing eggs in the microwave
You can season hard-boiled eggs with a little salt, butter, or cheese if you want, but it’s just fine on its own. When cooking in the microwave, see Cooking Level Considerations.
Get the recipe.
Microwave eggs on blue kids board
Homemade Cheese Crackers
Try to make them about 1/4 inch thick so they bake evenly. When the milk, cheese, and butter are cold, the dough should spread easily between the parchments. (If the dough is too sticky, put it in the fridge for 5-10 minutes.)
Get the recipe.
White Plate Cheese Cookies
Beet Hummus
You can omit the tahini if ​​allergies call for it.
Get the recipe.
Beet Hummus and Cookies on a Blue Plate
Vegan Quesadillas with Beans and Cheese
You can make as few or as many of these easy quesadillas as you want.
Get the recipe.
Slicing Vegan Quesadillas for Kids on a Plate
Healthy Kids Meals Day 5
Kid’s Meals: Day 5
You can make oatmeal ahead of time, or try this blueberry baked oatmeal for a great breakfast for the whole family.

Breakfast: Baked Oatmeal Cups; Avocado, Banana
Morning snack: breakfast bar, fruit
Lunch: Snack plate and milk or water
Afternoon Snack: Mango Orange Smoothie with Yogurt
Dinner: lentils and rice, melon, cucumber
Tip: If desired, add a simple snack before bed.

recipes to try
Cinnamon Raisin Baked Oatmeal Cups
Turn oatmeal into a delicious and easy-to-eat finger food with this baked oatmeal recipe. You can double the recipe to make more if you want.
Get the recipe.
Baked Oatmeal Cups
Healthy Breakfast Bars with Jam
Use sunscreen to make these nut-free. You can cut them into small strips if desired. If you want to make them a little softer, serve them at room temperature instead of refrigerating.
Get the recipe.
Breakfast bar on white cutting board
Easy Snack Dinner (to share with the kids!)You can prepare a large family platter or individual platter for your child depending on your preference. Add anything else that sounds appealing, and be aware that nutritional information will vary depending on the materials used.
Get the recipe.
Family Snack Plate
Easy Mango Smoothie

 

One-Pot Lentils and Rice

Serve this easy family meal with optional toppings according to what everyone likes.

Get the recipe.

healthy kids meal sample day with 3 meals and 2 snacks

KIDS MEAL IDEAS: DAY 6

I like to make a batch of healthy muffins every week or so to make sure I always have some in the freezer for quick snacks.

  • Breakfast: Apple Raisin Oatmeal and milk
  • Morning Snack: Mini Banana Muffin
  • Lunch: Grilled Cheese with Mashed Butternut Squash, Roasted Broccoli, canned fruit in 100% fruit juice
  • Afternoon Snack: Yogurt and cucumber slices
  • Dinner: Stir Fry Noodles and veggies, pineapple

TIP: You can quickly cut up noodles for kids with a pair of kitchen shears.

RECIPES TO TRY

Apple Cinnamon Oatmeal with Raisins

You can double this recipe to make a larger batch to warm up and serve throughout the week.

Get the recipe.

apple-oatmeal-in-white-bowls

Sugar-Free Banana Muffins

Be sure to use very ripe bananas (with lots of brown spots!) for the best flavor and natural sweetness. (I updated this recipe December 2020 to ensure the most reliable results. The original version of this recipe is the “Egg-free” option in the Notes if you loved that. In the main recipe, I reduced the oil, added an egg, increased the baking soda a smidge, and reduced the baking time. They’re great!)

Get the recipe.

sugar-free-banana-muffins-on-pink-towel

Veggie Grilled Cheese Sandwich (to Share with the Kids)

With just 4 ingredients, including a veggie that blends right in, this Veggie Grilled Cheese Sandwich is a yummy kids lunch to share. It packs extra nutrition in the filling, yet only takes a few minutes to make. Such a great easy meal!

Get the recipe.

veggie-grilled-cheese-on-plate

20-Minute Stir Fry Rice Noodles with Veggies

Try this quick family dinner the next time you’re craving healthy comfort food—and want to please the entire family!

Get the recipe.

stir fry noodles with veggies

KIDS MEAL IDEAS: DAY 7

Green smoothies are a great way to add a lot of nutrients to a snack. Serve it in a cup or a reusable pouch.

  • Breakfast: Banana Oatmeal Breakfast Cookies and berries and milk or water
  • Morning Snack: Simple Green Smoothie
  • Lunch: Deconstructed Kids Salad and fruit
  • Afternoon Snack: Chocolate Protein Muffin with milk or water
  • Dinner: Instant Pot Butter Chicken, rice, naan with Roasted Zucchini

TIP: Add a side of fruit to dinner if needed/preferred.

RECIPES TO TRY

Banana Oatmeal Breakfast Cookies

You can use peanut butter, almond butter, or Sunbutter in this recipe. Choose creamy unsweetened if possible.

Get the recipe.

breakfast-cookies-on-white-plate

Simple Green Smoothie

Frozen bananas give the smoothie a creamy, naturally sweet base, though you can make this with a fresh banana as long as the other fruit is frozen. It’s easy to add whatever berries or fruit you have on hand, so customize it for your kiddo. 

Get the recipe.

green-smoothie-in-glass

How to Make Kids Salad (They’ll Actually Want to Eat)

Here’s a look at basic templates for making kid-friendly salads. Pick and choose the ingredients you like! (Nutrition info will vary according to the ingredients you use.)

Get the recipe.

kids-salad-on-white-plate

Chocolate Protein Muffins (With Veggies!)

These simple blender muffins pack a serious nutrition punch and are dairy-free, with a nut-free option. I prefer the flavor of these once they are fully cooled and chilled in the fridge.

Get the recipe.

healthy chocolate muffins cooling on wire rack

Easy Instant Pot Butter Chicken

Forget takeout—deliver this popular Indian dish to your table instead. Shredded chicken thighs are coated in a rich, buttery sauce with hints of tomatoes, ginger, and garam masala—a messy but very flavorful finger food. Posted with Permission fromThe Multi-Cooker Baby Food Cookbook

Get the recipe.

instant-pot-butter-chicken

SAMPLE KIDS MEAL PLAN

If you’re struggling with when to offer foods and how to time them around activities and snacks, this sample schedule and meal plan will help to give you some ideas.

TIPS FOR MAKING FAMILY MEALS WORK FOR EVERYONE

Learn more about my overall approach to feeding kids—yet serve the same meal to everyone at the table—in this post on the Division of Responsibility.

happy-family-meals-spiral-bound

HAPPY FAMILY MEALS

My full service meal planning system, Happy Family Meals, is here to take some of the work out of feeding your family. It’s an easy to use 4-week meal plan with menus, grocery lists, and helpful hints.

It contains weekly menus built on “themes” so you can easily make your own meal plans in future weeks. It’s so helpful for streamlining family meals.

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About the Author: Heathboy