Dinners for kids do not have to be prepared for two hours in the kitchen to be healthy. Many nutritious meals are now sold already made, or in dinner kits. Preparing a few favorite meals in bulk and freezing the extras is another way to have quick and healthy dinners ready in less time for busy parents and kids.
For a healthy dinner for children, consider using the “rule of three.” The main meal entree should be accompanied by two smaller portion side dishes, with at least one as a vegetable. One dish meals can be excluded from this equation, but the best one dish casserole or crock pot meals will inclde vegetables as a part of the recipe.
Chicken Strips and Macaroni and Cheese
Look for a family sized package of all-white chicken breast strips when purchasing chicken strips for kids. This is one of the most popular meals among kids, but the chicken strips are often better than the nuggets made with a variety of chicken blends. If chicken nuggets is the favorite in your household, consider paying a little more for all-white meat nuggets. Macaroni and cheese can be purchased already prepared by companies like Stouffer, or as two-part mixes, such as the kind that Kraft markets. The Kraft meals that contain the cheese sauce in the box are easier to prepare than the boxed macaroni and cheese that requires milk and margarine.
Mini-Meatloafs and Mashed Potatoes
Prepare your favorite meatloaf recipe ahead of time and bake in kid-friendly mini loaf pans. These mini-meatloafs can be frozen for future meals. Mashed potatoes are now available at many grocery stores in the pre-made real potato blends. Bob Evans sells a side dish of mashed potatoes that serves about 5 people for around $3.49, well worth the convenience for busy parents. Green beans makes a nice side vegetable with this meal.
Polish Sausage and Pierogis
Polish food may not be concerned with the higher calorie content, but many kids enjoy a good Polish dinner. Hillshire Farms sells kid-friendly Polish Sausage, and Mrs. T’s Pierogis are sold frozen in most grocery stores. If you have a good pierogi recipe, these are even better homemade, and can be stored in the freezer for future meals. Both the sausage and pierogies can be boiled and then pan fried. Kids may enjoy small, thinner slices of sausage, rather than larger slices that need to be cut.
Crockpot Comfort Food
Crock pot dinners can be very easy to prepare ahead of time and many recipes add vegetables. Meats cooked in a crockpot are often more flavorful and tender for kids. A few of the best crock pot dinner meals for kids include the following:
Beef stew is easy to make ahead of time and many stores sell pre-cut stew beef and stew vegetables to make preparing this dinner even easier. Most beef stew recipes require about 6 hours to cook on a low setting, making this a perfect meal to prepare in the morning for a hot dinner at five o’clock.
Many kids enjoy a tender pot roast dinner because it is easy to eat and tasty. Select the size pot roast that will serve your family and place in the crockpot with some vegetables and a sauce mix (many can be purchased in packets). The pot roast should cook all day and be ready for dinner, when it is set on a low setting in the morning. Larger roasts will require more time.
Asian dinner meals are often very healthy choices for kids, and cooking time is generally short. The amount of healthy vegetables in most Asian dishes is a benefit of serving Asian dinners to kids. Terriyaki sauce or Duck sauce are sweeter Asian sauces that many kids prefer in Asian dishes.
Many stores sell packages stir-fry kits that will only require a quick cooking on a wok or large skillet. For busy parents, these stir-fry kits are very handy. To prepare a homemade stir-fry, just choose your favorite meat (shrimp, chicken, steak) and some Asian vegetables or vegetable mixes, and a stir-fry sauce. Most stir-fry recipes require that the meat be cooked first. Add the vegetables and sauce and cook until vegetables are just slightly crisp still. Serve with rice or noodles.
Italian Pasta Favorites
Pasta is one of the least expensive meal bases to be found. The large variety of pasta options for a healthy dinner for kids, makes Italian dinner choices a favorite for busy parents. The leaders for kid-friendly Italian dinners include spaghetti, frozen raviolis, and fun-shaped pastas. Most pastas require only a ten minute or less cooking time, and sauces may be purchased in jars that only require warming. Brown some lean hamburger or ground turkey in a side pan or sautee some vegetable to toss in the pre-made pasta sauce to add more nutrition. Parmesan cheese is a favorite topper for pasta dinners for kids.