It always feels great to watch your child polish off a healthy, home-cooked meal, so we've chosen our favourites for the whole family to enjoy together.
Feeding children can be one of the most satisfying but also one of the most stressful parts of parenting – and it's not uncommon to get embroiled in a fearsome stand-off at mealtimes. So, to avoid the meltdowns, we've cooked up some sneaky ideas for giving kids the foods they love, packed full of the nutrients they need, from breakfast to dessert, with help from our nutritionist Kerry Torrens.
Make the best of breakfast
It goes without saying, but setting your child up for the day with a healthy breakfast will make you both feel good. Something filling and fibrous should get the digestive system going, keep kids full until lunch and help sustain their concentration and mood. Try serving porridge with a side portion of blueberries or chopped banana for an extra boost of vitamins and minerals, and there'll be plenty of fun stirring the colours in.
Some children are less keen to eat first thing – if that’s the case tempt them with an egg served with soldiers for dipping or whizz up a yogurt-based smoothie for a satisfying combination of protein, carbs and valuable hydration.
- Dippy eggs with Marmite soldiers
- Avocado & strawberry smoothie
- Apple & sultana porridge
- Peanut butter & banana on toast
- Berry bircher
- Melon & crunchy bran pots
Pasta provides a good source of energy, plus it makes a great base for sneaking in all sorts of ingredients like tofu or spinach that may not normally be on your little one's list of favourites. You can also cram in their full five-a-day with our clever pasta sauce recipes.
- Meatballs with hidden veg sauce
- 5-a-day Bolognese
- Layered rainbow salad pots
- Tofu & spinach cannelloni
- Creamy ham, leek & mushroom spaghetti
- Pesto chicken kebabs with roasted veg pasta
There is always a temptation to pack the kids full of vegetables and homemade fare, then munch on some toast when they're tucked up in bed. After all, who isn't shattered once the day's work is done? That's why these family meals are designed to suit everyone from toddlers to teens, so you won't be making an excess of different meals (or have an excess of washing-up).
All the meals are freezable, too, so make a couple in advance, or double up your portions and you won't have to reach for a naughty ready meal in times of crisis.
- Easy beef stew with sweet potato topping
- Easy lamb tagine
- Chicken & vegetable casserole
- Easy fish cakes
Fish for thought
It’s worth remembering that we should all be eating more fish – ideally two or more portions a week with one being the oily variety like salmon, trout and sardines. Oily fish supply the healthy fats known as omega-3, which are important for our brain, nervous system and heart. If your child isn't one of those who loves nothing more than mackerel, then these recipes are great for filling them with healthy fresh fish, rich in omega-3, and they'll still feel like they're tucking into something special. They're sure to enjoy speedy homemade fish fingers or salmon and ginger fish cakes – and you can even throw in some sweet potato chips.
- Salmon & spaghetti parcel
- Easy fish pie
- Salmon & ginger fishcakes
- Fish fingers & mushy peas
- Prawn & cod cakes
- Classic chunky fish cakes
Freshly made soups make a great freezer staple for quick lunchtime meals. Try serving some of the classics with toast soldiers, vegetable crudités and let your child sprinkle on yogurt and seeds to keep them digging in double-quick. This lentil soup is packed full of pulses and sweetened with grated apple and sweet potato. Simply adjust the curry powder depending on your child's tastes.
A creamy yet silky tomato soup has to be the ultimate comfort food after a long day at school.
Perfect for sneaking in an abundance of courgettes and the cheesy topping on this soup is often a winner with kids.
Courgette, potato & cheddar soup
Curry in a hurry
- Child-friendly Thai chicken noodles
- Easy butter chicken
- Mumbai potato wraps with minted yogurt relish
- Creamy veggie korma
- Chicken & sweet potato curry
Putting something speedy on the plate is often a priority with kids of any age, but fast food doesn't have to mean food that is high in fat, salt and sugar. Simple ingredients like eggs, pulses and beans can quickly be transformed into a delicious and nutritious supper.
Omelettes can make great finger food for younger children if you cut it into strips. And of course it can be whipped up in no time, using whatever fillings you have to hand in the fridge. Here's some inspiration:
- Melting tomato & basil omelette
- Toddler recipe: Mini egg & veg muffins
- Ricotta, tomato & spinach frittata
- Spinach & courgette frittata
- Potato & paprika tortilla
Whipping up homemade pizza bases is much simpler than you think. Let the kids experiment with decorating their own using healthy toppings which also count towards their 5-a-day. This makes mealtime fun and the end products are bound to be a hit with the whole family. Pizza-inspired dishes are always popular so stir up a little interest with a pizza omelette or a pizza-topped baked potato...
- BBQ chicken pizza
- Caramelised onion & goat's cheese pizza
- Cajun prawn pizza
- Super-healthy pizza
- Pizza omelette
- Pizza baked potatoes
Do the kids get peckish between meals? Try whipping up healthy, speedy snacks like these:
Treats & desserts
What's your go-to healthy family meal? Let us know in the comments below...