Whether you have a table of children or adults who are kids at heart, these delicious, healthy, and simple children-friendly dishes will feed the entire family with little grumbling.
This article has several 20-minute children-friendly dinners and some weekend comfort dishes that are worth the time it takes to prepare.
These kid dinner ideas will result in clean plates and big smiles whether you’re trying to switch things up or looking for fun dinner ideas for your family.
Dinner Ideas For Children (Fussy Eaters Included)
1. Chips and Fish
Fish sticks are very popular among kids; nevertheless, that doesn’t mean you should grab frozen ones from the store. Making this dish from scratch allows you to play with your favourite ingredients. It’s also a fast dish to whip up, as it takes an average of 30 minutes to prep and cook.
Nothing beats this delicious fish recipe, whether it’s a last-minute dinner or you need to whip up a snack fast.
2. Tater Tot Casserole
Also called the hot dish, Tater tot casserole is classic comfort food and is loved by all kids—picky eaters included. The dish is made using pantry staples and is packed with healthy veggies making it a nutritious and delicious meal.
It usually takes roughly an hour to prepare and cook, and as with all other delicious meals, you’ll have to double the recipe if you want leftovers.
3. Chicken Quesadillas
Store-bought or leftover chicken and cheddar cheese can come in handy on a busy weeknight when you need to make a simple but nutritious meal. Quesadillas are easy to prepare and cook; assemble all the ingredients and heat them. Serve the dish with nutrient-packed salsa and guacamole.
4. Stovetop Mac and Cheese
Loved by adults and children alike, mac and cheese is a staple in many homes. With its simple ingredients and recipe, your kids will clean their plates when you make this dish. Rather than the regular boxed mac and cheese, you can whip up this dish using real cheese in one pot.
5. Stovetop Cheeseburgers
If your burger-making experience is only limited to grilling, stovetop cheeseburgers are a must-try. Use a skillet or cast iron pot that can handle heat well, and use high-heat oil like neutral-flavoured peanut or canola oil.
Ensure the pan is well-preheated before you start cooking, and leave the burger on the bottom as the char adds to the meat. Don’t form patties with the meat; drop the loose ball and use a spatula to press it firmly together.
6. Swedish Meatballs with Chicken
Nothing beats Swedish meatballs, as they’re full of flavour. Traditionally, these meatballs are made using beef; however, you can make the dish using ground chicken, as it’s healthier and tastes just as good.
7. Sweet and Sour Chicken Meatballs
You can turn this classic takeout meal into a home-cooked meal that your children will find hard to resist. Meatballs are a kid-friendly meal and are easy to make. The effort to whip up this dish will pay off when you see the smiles plastered across your child’s face as they eat this meal.
8. Chicken Tacos
Two nights are among the kid-friendliest dinners; heat the shells, cook the ground chicken, put out the toppings, and let your children assemble their tacos however they please.
9. Chicken Noodle Casserole
It’s easy to love this flavorful chicken noodle casserole that makes a comforting family meal. This dish is loaded with delicious and savoury flavours that will have your kids cleaning their plates. If there are any complaints about the green parts, add some ketchup!
10. Chicken Noodle Soup
The chicken soup shouldn’t just be made when you or your kids are sick; you can also make it when you want a break from your typical weeknight dinners and something delicious and filling that everyone in the family will enjoy.
11. Chicken Tenders with Peas and Potatoes
You can save time and money making crusty, delicious chicken tenders at home rather than buying frozen ones at the store. You can make this classic kid food more flavourful by using cornflake crusts to make the chicken crunchier.
12. Chicken Enchiladas
On busy weeknights, you can use leftover chicken to whip up these 30-minute delicious Tex-Mex enchiladas, sure to be an instant hit. Instead of buying bottled sauce, you can make it from scratch.
13. Ranch Mac and Cheese
Mac and cheese are among children’s best go-to simple dinners; cheesy, creamy pasta is hard to go wrong. You can kick things up by introducing ritzy ranch into the equation.
14. Sloppy Joe
Sloppy joes are a classic kid-friendly meal one can throw together in minutes. While you may be tempted to continue using the canned mix, it’s easy enough to make sloppy joes using fresh ingredients and taste better. You can substitute red meat with ground lamb or turkey for a healthier meal.
15. Chicken Pot Pie With Dumplings
Your kids’ main attraction to this dish will be the dumplings; however, you’ll feel at ease knowing they’re eating a good portion of chicken and veggies. Topped with a flaky golden crust, a scoop of this dish on a cold night is heaven.
16. Tuna Noodle Casserole
This is a children-friendly dish you can make and store in your freezer. This protein-rich and budget-friendly meal use pantry ingredients like egg noodles, frozen peas, canned tuna, and mayonnaise.
A meatloaf is never a bad option when you have ground beef and are looking to make classic comfort food. Although this dish doesn’t receive a lot of fanfare among kids, you can add a delicious twist to the classic recipe by adding cheddar cheese and bacon.
18. Salmon with Potatoes
If your child doesn’t like fish, this is the perfect dish to convince them otherwise. Slow-roasted salmon with potatoes is your way to a never-dry, cooked, and tender meal. This dish promises to be a culinary delight, flavoured with rosemary, thyme, and garlic.
19. Chicken Alfredo
If you’re looking for a simple but elegant pasta recipe to switch things up or want to do something different with chicken. Chicken alfredo is the dish for you. This classic meal is popular among adults and children and takes approximately 40m minutes to whip up.
Even though you can purchase several pasta sauces from the store, making alfredo from the store is better.
20. Chinese-Style Orange Chicken
This delicious, crunchy meal is surprisingly easy to make at home from scratch. This dish uses simple ingredients like water, orange juice, soy sauce, cornstarch, and chicken and takes one hour to prepare and cook.
21. Chicken with Braised Fennel
Nothing comes close to having a hearty chicken meal at the end of a stressful day. Chicken with braised fennel is the perfect meal to make if you’re looking for something that will please the entire family. Fennel adds a uniquely delicious taste to the finished meal, and while it may take a long time to prepare, it’s well worth it.
22. Chicken Marsala
This is a flavorful and simple chicken dish that’s easy to make at home. It takes less than an hour to whip up this dish, which can be paired with rice or spaghetti.
23. Chicken Parmesan
This classic comfort food is easy to make at home and uses ingredients like chicken, breadcrumbs, spaghetti sauce, parmesan, and mozzarella cheese. Pan-fry the chicken first, then bake it for a few minutes and serve it with spaghetti.
24. Braised Beef with Onions and Tomatoes
Braised beef with tomatoes and onions is a staple in many homes during Sunday dinners. The dish offers plenty of flavours, and the meat melts right into your mouth. This slow-cooked meal takes approximately 3 hours to cook and requires little hands-on time.
25. Chicken and Dumplings
Nothing beats classic homemade dumplings and chicken for a comforting and filling meal. Whether your children like chewy or fluffy dumplings, there are various recipes online to suit their preferences.
26. Salisbury Steak
This comforting, delicious, and simple-to-make dish is a Sunday night staple in many homes. You can serve this yummy dish with peas and mashed potatoes; ensure you make enough sauce to pour over the mashed potatoes.
27. Goat Cheese, prosciutto, and pear Pizza with Arugula
It’s difficult to imagine children ever getting tired of eating pizza. This delicious child-friendly pizza that combines three kinds of cheese will save you a lot of money on ordering takeout pizza. This dish offers plenty of unique flavours; it’s best to try making it during peak pear season when they’re ripest.
28. Lasagna Bolognese
If you have leftover bolognese in your freezer, you can use it to make lasagna. Even though most children love traditional lasagna, their eyes will light up when you introduce a new twist to their favourite dish. This delicious, flavorful casserole is the ultimate comfort food.
29. Bolognese Sauce
This dish is perfect for a lazy Sunday afternoon and is best served over spaghetti. For tons of flavour, you can add vegetables, port, and beef so that it can serve as an excellent pasta sauce. Even though it takes a long time to prepare, this dish will be an instant hit once it’s ready.
30. Lemon Chicken
Lemon chicken thighs are among the most popular chicken meals. The lemon brightens the chicken’s flavour and acts as a tenderiser. The simple flavour additions don’t overpower the dish, as the chicken’s natural taste is allowed to shine.
It is ideal for a busy weeknight as it only takes thirty minutes to prep and cook. You can pair the dish with rice and crisp veggies.
31. Spanakopita Pie
Making this classic Greek dish is very easy; its ingredients of creamy spinach, salty cheese, and layers of dough make a tasty, healthy meal. You can serve this dish as a standalone main dish or with dishes like lemon chicken.
32. Gnocchi with Herbs and Parmesan-Roasted Squash
Rather than boiling gnocchi like pasta, you can give it a quick turn in a hot pan to give it a slight char and a chewy-crunchy texture that’ll make it an instant hit.
33. Sausage and Apple Pies
Sausage and apple pies aren’t only great for brunch or breakfast; the dish is hearty enough to serve as dinner. This is a great dish that your whole family will enjoy as it’s a savoury dish with apples giving it a slightly sweet taste.
34. Beef Stroganoff
This classic comfort food consists of dijon, sour cream, egg noodles, mushrooms, and beef. The dish is a blend of crispy sweet, and tangy flavours, making it a culinary delight. While it takes one and a half hours to prepare this dish, the time and effort are well worth it.
35. Fettuccini Alfredo
This is a simple pasta recipe that takes 20 minutes to make, and it’ll leave your children scraping off their plates. The dish uses basic ingredients, including butter, cream, cheese, and pasta water.
36. Stir-Fried Beef and Broccoli
Shepherd, MontanaMaking this delicious takeout favourite is simple as it’s made up of simple ingredients; this meal combines nutritious veggies and tender beef in one pot. Cooking this meal doesn’t heat the kitchen; it only takes 25 minutes.
37. Fried Rice
Making fried rice is a delicious and quick way to transform leftovers into something greater. While you can add garlic and eggs when making this dish, oil and leftover rice are the basic ingredients required to make this classic comfort food.
38. Shrimp Scampi Pasta
This is the perfect protein-filled dish for weeknights and works with any pasta. This lush, buttery dish is simple to prepare, and its blend of flavours will make it an instant hit when you serve it at dinner.
39. Spinach and Chicken Tortellini Soup
This quick-fix soup consists of shredded chicken complemented by cheese tortellini and spinach. This is the perfect meal for busy weeknights as it only takes 25 minutes to prepare.
40. Pepperoni Pizza (Detroit-Style)
Ditch the pizza delivery and try this easy Detroit-style pizza baked in a pan; its crust is topped with various toppings, the main one being pepperoni and cheese.
41. Strip Steak
This simple-to-make meal only takes 30 minutes to cook and is perfect for the days you feel like splurging on dinner. Strip steak is best served with lemon mashed potatoes as the flavours blend well.
42. Pumpkin Pasta with Gremolata
This creamy pasta dish is the best option if you want to make a meal that both adults and children will enjoy. This savoury dish is the perfect condiment for various potato recipes, but it can also be served as a standalone dish.
43. Cheese and Sausage Lasagna
Lasagna is a kid-favourite meal; however, it usually takes hours to prepare and cook. This cheese and sausage is a twist to traditional lasagna, and it’s prepared on a pan and takes 40 minutes to prepare.
44. Tomato Soup and Grilled Cheese
Grilled cheese sandwiches are among the most leisurely meals to prepare and are very kid-friendly. Ensure your bread is adequately sturdy to handle the melted cheese. To make this meal, you can use boule bread, white bread, or sourdough. You can serve it with a bowl of hot tomato sauce to make it more nutritious.
45. Meatballs, Garlic Bread, and Broiled Broccolini
This meal is a blend of rich flavour and nutrition as it comprises spinach with meatballs. To add to the dish’s flavour, you can serve it with garlic bread and broccolini.
46. Chicken with Tomatoes and Fennel
This meal is an adult-pleasing alternative to chicken nuggets. If your child is a picky eater, you can have them try a mild roasted tomato or fennel.
47. Grilled Hotdogs
Regarding classic kid dishes, nothing comes close to a grilled hot dog. If your child is a picky eater, you can customise the hot dog based on their preferences.
48. Turkey Sloppy Joes
This is another excellent twist to the classic sloppy joe, and it has a sweet tomato flavour that the pickiest of eaters won’t pick up. Using turkey as a beef substitute is an excellent option as it’s leaner and more satisfying.
49. Cauliflower Mac and Cheese
If you want to trick your kids into eating vegetables, whip up this creamy and rich mac and cheese with cauliflower that will leave your kids wanting more. It takes 30 minutes to prepare this meal, and the veggies make it more nutritious and add to the dish’s creamy and rich taste.
50. Pork Chops
You can whip up this delicious dish in 30 minutes, stir-fry the pork and serve it with a sweet buttery sauce. You can eat any veggies and serve it over cooked rice.
51. Baked Chicken
Baked chicken is ideal for busy families as it’s mostly hands-off. It’s a healthier and yummier alternative to fried chicken and takes less effort to make. Serve it with your child’s favourite dipping sauce and a quick side dish.
52. Bagel Pizzas
This is a kid-friendly meal that comprises a popular breakfast food and pizza. Bagel pizzas are simple to whip up; they use few ingredients and can serve as a snack or a last-minute dinner.
53. Sesame Meatballs (Chicken)
These meatballs are simple and quick to make and loaded with rich flavours. The sesame chicken meatballs are made using various Chinese ingredients and then fried in homemade sauce with bell peppers and other vegetables. This is a simple weekday dinner, and it combines all takeout flavours in a fun meatball shape.