As a healthy eater with varied tastes, one of the biggest rock-my-socks moments of young motherhood came when my cheerful 11-month old baby, the one who loved everything from soft eggplant to squishy peas, suddenly turned up her nose at everything but cheese and crackers. Keeping your kids healthy and eating sometimes seems like they are at odds with each other. Picky eaters are a staple of preschool mealtime, and packing a sackful of nutritional choices that won’t be rejected can be more than challenging. These are some of our favorite kid friendly healthy recipes that we guarantee even the most discerning child palate will gobble up.
The Deconstructed Sandwich
Turkey deli meat, cubed cheddar cheese, pickle spear, veggie chips, and a side of Mandarin oranges. This piecemeal meal is a favorite among the 3-year-old set and packs well in individual containers or a divided-style box. Feel free to mix and match proteins, cheeses, and fruits for your little one’s preferences.
Nut Butter Rolls
Spread almond, cashew, or sun nut butter on a whole wheat tortilla. Top with sliced and mashed strawberries or bananas. Roll and cut into pinwheels. Serve with an applesauce pouch (so much neater in a busy classroom) and Snapea Crisps. A spin on classic PB&J, this is especially good for peanut-free schools.
Pack hummus and ranch dressing plus baby carrots, bell pepper strips, cucumber slices, broccoli florets, and pita chips with a cheese stick side for a fun hands-on lunch good for Meatless Monday or just to encourage your toddler to eat more fresh veggies. Dipping makes any food more exciting for preschoolers. Snap peas, quartered cherry tomatoes, and squash slices are also good substitutions.
This is probably our favorite. It’s the epitome of kid friendly healthy recipes. Cook whole grain or veggie spiral noodles and mix with large-diced tomatoes, shredded Parmesan cheese, crumbled sausage, a splash of fruity olive oil, and Italian seasoning. Since there’s technically no sauce, new fork users can keep their clothes clean while enjoying a family favorite. Make a big batch of this for dinner and serve the leftovers in a thermos bowl or chilled—delicious either way. Diced zucchini or baby spinach are good nutrition boosters, too.
Breakfast for Lunch
Layer low-sugar or Greek yogurt with granola and frozen blueberries and serve with a big spoon and a banana on the side. Breakfast is the one meal we never argue about at my house, so this healthy choice is a natural for those days you just want a full and happy camper. The frozen blueberries help keep everything extra cold and will turn light-colored yogurt a fun purple color when swirled.
Sip and Snack
Tomato soup in a thermos, grilled cheese on whole grain bread, green apple wedges. Stick a wide smoothie straw in your kid’s lunch pack for drinkable soup, and you’ll make lunchtime go down easy. For bonus points, swap butter for olive-oil based mayonnaise on the outside of the sandwich before griddling, and you’ll add the perfect flavor boost.
Need more inspiration? I love this collection of kid-friendly Cooking Light recipes that are ready in 20 minutes or less!
What are your favorite go-to kid friendly healthy recipes? Let us know in the comments. We love hearing what you’re doing!