Healthy food kids will love

  • By BBC Good Food team

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.

Tomato pizzas on a tray with salad

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

Apple and sultana porridge
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.

Perfect pasta

Layered rainbow salad 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. 

Family time

Beef stew with sweet potato topping in dish
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.

Fish for thought

Salmon & spaghetti in a parcel
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.

Super soup

Sweet potato & lentil soup
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.

Sweet potato & lentil soup

A creamy yet silky tomato soup has to be the ultimate comfort food after a long day at school.

Real tomato soup

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

Noodles with chicken in bowl
Experimenting with different flavours is a brilliant part of developing your child's tastes and these healthy, mild dishes make a great starting point for introducing them to spicier food:

Fast food

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

Tomato and spinach frittata in slices on board
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:

Burgers

Mushroom and chickpea burgers with tomatoes
It should be easy to get the kids to the table for a burger. Try out some of these healthy recipes that feel like a cheeky takeaway, but are actually packed with nutrients.

Pizza

pizza with courgette on platter
Whipping up homemade pizza bases is much simpler than you think. Let the kids experiment with decorating their own using healthy toppings. 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...

Do the kids get peckish between meals? Try whipping up healthy, speedy snacks like these:

Treats & desserts

Summer fruit pudding
If you want to give the kids something a bit special for dessert, but don't want it to be packed full of sugar, then these fruit-packed puds might be just the thing.

Want more inspiration on cooking with children? Discover our guide to cooking with kids by age and top 10 tips for cooking with kids.

What's your go-to healthy family meal? Let us know in the comments below...

Comments, questions and tips

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sophiebrown
30th Jun, 2015
Where are all the meat free recipes the home page promises?
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