Every year in January it seems like it would be a good idea to make an effort to cook healthier meals for my family. Of course, I’m kind of a lazy cook, so while the idea of cooking healthy food sounds good, I’m probably not actually going to do it if it takes lots of extra time. And then there’s the fact that my children are perhaps the pickiest kids on the entire planet (I know, it’s my own fault for not exposing them to lots of different foods when they were younger, but if you’ve ever had a kid that throws up every night at the dinner table for weeks on end you’ll understand why I caved and started serving nuggets and yogurt on a regular basis).
Anyway, we’ve actually made great strides in the past few years and recently I’ve managed to sneak in some healthier options (my kids actually like quinoa!), but I’m always looking for new healthy dinner recipes my kids will actually eat. Here are 20 easy, healthy main dish recipes that also happen to be kid-friendly.
1. We tried these super easy & healthy Santa Monica street tacos a few months ago and the kids request them weekly now! Fresh ingredients and a quick cook time make this recipe a winner.
2. I was slow to jump on the cauliflower bandwagon (‘cuz AS IF my kids are going to eat that), but when I made fried rice using chopped cauliflower instead of the rice my kids couldn’t even tell the difference!
3. My kids love cheesy chicken & rice casserole – this lighter version uses brown rice and adds broccoli for even more nutrition.
4. Spaghetti and meatballs in always a hit with kids, and when you use a flavorful sauce you might be able to swap out the noodles for spaghetti squash without anyone noticing!
5. My older kids are finally realizing that salads can be delicious! This colorful Thai chicken salad has a peanut butter based dressing that kids will love – allowing you to sneak in extra veggies.
6. Familiar southwest flavors make it easier to switch from rice to quinoa without causing the kids to boycott dinner. Try this slow cooker quinoa tex mex meal.
7. Stews and soups are the easiest way to get veggies in my kids’ diet – since the vegetables cook soft and take on the flavor of the meal as a whole they go down a whole lot easier. I can’t wait to try this vegetable tomato basil chicken stew!
8. Cauliflower strikes again – this time as a substitute for potatoes in a low carb loaded chowder that tastes surprisingly like your favorite cream of potato soup.
9. Chicken tortilla soup is a classic for good reason: tons of flavor, lots of nutrition, super low in calories. Yum.
10. My kids absolutely love rotisserie chickens from the grocery store – we just slice them up and serve them with fresh fruit, cheese, and raw veggies for a healthy, simple meal. Learn how to make you own rotisserie-style chicken in the slow cooker with this recipe.
11. Just about everyone likes chicken parmesan, but there’s not way the classic fried version counts as healthy. This easy to make lightened up chicken parmesan looks just as tasty for a fraction of the calories.
12. I’ve tried loads of “light alfredo” sauces and they’ve all been terrible. Except for this guiltless alfredo sauce! My kids LOVE alfredo – they’d eat it every single night – so I love having a version we don’t feel bad about eating regularly.
13. I was really nervous my kids wouldn’t eat this teriyaki chicken stir fry because it contains ingredients they wouldn’t eat separately, but everyone loved it!
14. Store-bought dressings can be so bad for you that they defeat the purpose of eating a salad, so I’m looking forward to trying this taco salad with easy homemade catalina dressing.
15. Lasagne was one of the first meals all five of my kids would eat without complaint, but classic versions aren’t exactly healthy. These skinny lasagne rolls lose some of the calories and sneak in some spinach while keeping all the flavor of lasagne.
16. Another healthy lasagne hack: vegetable lasagne soup.
17. Here’s another kid classic made over: veggie mac and cheese. The sauce is made with olive oil instead of butter to cut calories, and the vegetables amp up the nutrition.
18. Even my young kids love the taste of sweet potatoes, and they’re higher in nutrients than regular old potatoes. Clever topping substitutions make these loaded baked sweet potatoes extra tasty without lots of added calories.
19. Another comfort casserole option, this easy chicken and stuffing bake is much lighter than other casserole options, especially if you use reduced fat cream of chicken soup.
20. If your kids like scrambled eggs, they’ll like frittatas – and they’re great for adding veggies (try chopped spinach – you can hardly taste it!
Have any favorite healthy meals your kids will actually eat? Let us know!