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Deciding what to make for family dinner each day can be a challenge, but this list of healthy family meals includes over 50 favorites—including ALL the best kid-friendly dinners! A quick scan of this list will make quick work of meal planning.
Healthy Family Meals
I know it can be hard to find recipe ideas when we start with the entirety of the internet, especially when it comes to dinner, so I hope that this post narrows it down for you. And helps you sort through some of the top kid-friendly meals around that parents and kids can enjoy together.
All of these family meals have veggies in the mix and many include the nutrients we all need more of: fiber, protein, complex carbs, and vitamins. They are all doable meals to create at the end of the day or to make ahead, and I’ve sorted them by main ingredient so you can easily scroll and find options to put to use in your family.
I try to plan our meals on Sundays so I have a general sense of what’s coming for the week. I like to allow myself the flexibility to switch a meal around if needed (like Monday’s chicken might go to Thursday if we have a sudden change in after school plans).
And I like to have at least 1-2 “theme nights” like Mexican, pizza, or pasta night to make it easier to plan meals without always feeling like I’m starting at square one.
What are healthy meals for kids?
In my mind, healthy meals for kids are meals that include a range of nutrients but that also are easy for kids to eat. I also think a healthy meal is one that is a happy one, so it’s only partly about the nutrition for me—because meal times are about so much more than just the food.
They help kids learn manners, new words, and allow us the much needed time to catch up with each other.
The food can be totally homemade, store-bought, or a mix of the two. It can also be a snack dinner, leftovers, or a random mix of foods.
The recipes I’m sharing here include easy options—which you can make even easier by adding no-cook sides to surround them. Foods like applesauce, salad, sliced cucumbers, diced fruit, and cheese can round out any meal.
TIP: Since you never know what of the meal the kids will eat or not eat, focusing on the together time part of this part of the day is often much saner.
Healthy Kid-Friendly Dinners
I hope that this master list of dinner ideass, which are all chosen to be kid-friendly and toddler-friendly, helps you come up with easy recipes to make for your family. I’m a big fan of making less work for ourselves, so all of these meals are ones that you can cook and serve to everyone at the table, no short order cooking required.
Easy chicken dinners are a simple way to please a crowd and offer up a meal rich in protein. These family dinners with chicken are perfect for families and can be adjusted for the youngest eaters at the table.
Easy Pan-Seared Chicken
Try these quick and easy chicken tenders for a kid-friendly weeknight protein paired with a grain and a veggie (or fruit!)
With just four simple and affordable ingredients, you can make tender Baked Chicken Meatballs to share with the kids. Bonus: You can tuck a veggie into the mix, and they are perfect to batch-cook and stash in the freezer!
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. Adapted from The Multi-Cooker Baby Food Cookbook.
You can double this recipe and use 2 pounds of chicken if desired. Just do your best to spread it into an even layer in the instant pot. (Note: The nutrition facts will vary based on the bbq sauce that you use.)
With iron and protein, beef is a great addition to a family dinner. Plus, most recipes with ground beef or shredded beef are really easy for little kids to chew and eat. Here are some favorite kid-friendly beef recipes.
Healthy Meatballs (with Hidden Vegetables)
With the texture you expect from a traditional meatball but added nutrition from three types of veggies, your whole family will love these.
You can use whichever type of rice your family likes best. We rotate through short grain brown rice, basmati, and jasmine. Adults may want to top their portions with shredded fresh basil and/or crushed red pepper.
With plenty of plant-based nutrition, these vegetarian recipes are ideal for busy weeknights—and for satisfying those hungry little people at your table.
Homemade Broccoli Tots (Better Than the Freezer Aisle!)
Crispy on the outside and tender in the middle, these tots are a seriously fun way to serve broccoli. You can cook the rice up to 5 days ahead of time and store it in the fridge until you're ready to bake the tots.
These easy quesadillas can be made with pumpkin puree, sweet potato puree, or butternut squash puree. You can also skip it and just go with beans and cheese! I make these as half moon shapes since it helps contain the mess a little when feeding these to kids.
This salmon salad is packed with protein, healthy fats, and calcium and can be used as a dip or a spread for sandwiches. We use homemade relish in this recipe, but you can use any that you like the flavor of.
With a quick 20-minute cooking method perfect for a weeknight dinner, this easy Shrimp and Noodles recipe has a flavorful (yet kid-friendly!) Asian sauce with a refreshing hit of citrus. You can use fresh or frozen shrimp in this recipe. If using frozen, defrost according to package directions.
Quick, easy to cook, and available in so many nutritious varieties, pasta is a pantry staple most families can’t (and shouldn’t!) live without. These recipes are some easy ones to share with the kids at the dinner table.
Cauliflower Mac and Cheese (5-Ingredient)
With a simple cheese sauce—no standing and stirring over the stove here!—a solid dose of veggies, and a super creamy final result, this Cauliflower Mac and Cheese is a fast lunch or dinner option for toddlers. (And the rest of the family, too!)
This recipe makes enough for two meals. You can cut it in half if desired, but I like to make the larger batch and keep half in the freezer for a future meal—it's the same amount of cooking effort, so why not!
This pasta recipe is quick and delicious and the flavor from the sausage is really key. (Just a heads up that you'll need to reserve a little of the pasta cooking water, so keep that in mind BEFORE you drain the pasta.) Chicken sausage is usually leaner than pork, so when making this with chicken sausage, I like to add butter or olive oil before serving.
Finish the adult servings (and more adventurous kid plates!) with a squeeze of fresh lemon and maybe crushed red pepper. Note that you’ll want to reserve some of the cooking water, so plan to take some out in a cup before you drain the pasta!
Transform cooked quinoa into a really delicious skillet dinner with this shortcut Quinoa Fried Rice. You can add eggs or omit them, and add more (or less) flavor to your own bowl. See the optional toppings to customize this for each person at your table!
We like this as a vegetarian main dish or as a side for a meat main. You can also double it and use a larger pan to feed a crowd. Updated in Sept 2020 to use instant brown rice to ensure the rice cooks through.
Affordable, versatile, and endlessly easy to customize, making family meals around beans is a great way to serve up protein and fiber—that tastes great! These are some of our go-to family dinners with beans and legumes.
Healthy Baked Sheet Pan Nachos
You can add some of the ingredients to some of the areas—leaving the spinach off, adding more salsa or spice—to customize for everyone at the table. I usually leave about a ⅓ of the pan for the kids with less greens and salsa and then pile it on for my husband and I.
You can use precut butternut squash or sweet potato and shredded carrots to cut down on the prep time if desired. This isn’t super saucy, but you can increase the liquid if desired. See the Notes for details.
I prefer to make these vegetarian since it’s easier, but you can of course add in cooked chicken, beef, or shrimp if you like! Add another can of beans or additional corn to feed a larger family or appetites.
Before you start, roll a tortilla and make sure it will fit with your baking dish. I call for small ones, but the size can vary a lot depending on whether you use flour or corn and the brand. This recipe was updated and streamlined in October 2020.
This makes 6 rolled up tacos, so you can adjust this as needed for your family. Taste the refried beans before you make the roll ups and adjust the salt and/or cumin if needed. You can also serve the ingredients in separate bowls and let your family serve themselves.
This recipe makes enough for 4-5 meals depending on the size and appetites of your family. I make one batch about every 4-6 weeks and freeze the beans in meal-size portions until we’re ready to enjoy them. You can also use just 1 pound of beans if desired and cook them as directed—just cut the seasoning in half as well.
Prep the rice, beans, and veggies ahead if you can or want to. They store well in the fridge and simply need to be reheated. The nutrition information in this recipe will vary based on the ingredients you choose to use.