Top 10 healthy meals for kids
Discover healthy meal ideas for kids with registered dietitian Tai Ibitoye's favourite kid-friendly dishes. She explains exactly why these recipes are so healthy and nourishing for your little ones
From the age of five, children's diets should contain foods from a variety of food groups so they receive a range of nutrients required for growth, development and general health. Their diet should include plenty of starchy carbohydrates, fruit and vegetables, plus some protein and dairy or dairy alternative foods. Get your kids eating healthy dinners with our nutritious and flavoursome recipes for every night of the week.
1. Pitta pocket
Our quick and easy pitta pockets made with chicken, tomatoes and cucumbers. Chicken is a good source of protein, which is essential for growth, maintenance and repair of the body, while the cucumber and tomatoes counts towards your child’s five-a-day intake. Wholemeal pitta also provides a source of energy for your growing child, and fibre, which is filling and important for maintaining a healthy gut.
2. Hidden veg ragu
If you struggle to get your kids eating their vegetables, try our hidden veg ragu. Packed with celery, carrots and tomatoes with pork and beef mince, this makes for a flavour-packed family meal and the kids never need to know about the veg. We've also got more hidden veg recipes you can try.
3. Budget porridge
Breakfast is an important meal for children as it supports their energy stores for morning activities. In fact, research suggests that children who eat breakfast have been shown to concentrate better throughout the morning. This budget porridge is loaded with fibre-rich oats and topped with grated apple, raisins, walnuts and cinnamon. As the name suggests, it's also great for those on a budget. Check out our favourite storecupboard recipes for more money-savvy meal ideas.
4. Macaroni cheese with veg
The whole family will love this mac & cheese with veg, like spinach and cherry tomatoes. Cheese can form part of a healthy, balanced diet for young children, and offers calcium, protein and vitamin A. You can also consider using dairy-free alternatives to cheese, if necessary.
5. Salmon egg-fried rice
This family-friendly supper of salmon egg-fried rice is one that your children will love. Salmon is a source of vitamin D and omega-3 fatty acids. Vitamin D is needed for growth and development, and can help keep your child’s bones and teeth healthy. It also supports muscle function and a healthy immune system, while omega-3 fatty acids are important for heart health.
6. Fish fingers & mushy peas
This quick, classic fish fingers & mushy peas meal is a great way to add fish into your child's diet. Children should be eating at least two portions (around 140g) of fish per week, one of which should be an oily fish like salmon or mackerel. Fish provides protein as well as several vitamins and minerals. There is a maximum intake suggestion for oily fish: boys should consume no more than four portions a week, and girls no more than two. You can also serve this meal with homemade potato wedges or potatoes with the skin on to boost their fibre intake.
7. Tofu scramble
This tofu scramble is a great breakfast idea for your child, especially if they're not a fan of eggs. Tofu is low in saturated fat and a good source of essential fatty acids, protein and calcium. This can be scrambled and served on any bread of your child’s choice. Have a look at our complete list of breakfast ideas for kids so you can help keep their mornings fun and nutritious.
8. Chicken skewers with broad bean hummus
Our chicken skewers with broad bean hummus are a great way to help your kids enjoy a variety of different foods, nutrients and flavours. If the sun is shining, you could always cook these on the barbecue and eat in the garden for an alfresco lunch or dinner.
9. Turkey burgers with sweet potato chips
Sweet potatoes contribute to your child’s vegetable intake, and the wholemeal buns contribute to your fibre intake. These turkey burgers with sweet potato chips offer a good source of iron, which is essential for healthy blood and transporting oxygen around the body. Try serving this meal with a side salad for extra nutrients.
10. Spinach, sweet potato & lentil dhal
If turkey burgers don’t tickle your child’s fancy, try this delicious one-pot spinach, sweet potato & lentil dhal recipe. It contains lentils and spinach, which are great sources of iron. As your child gets older, their iron requirements will increase, and it's important that they're consuming iron-rich foods. Other sources of iron include fortified breakfast cereals, kidney beans, baked beans, tuna, eggs, minced beef and nuts.
It's important to explore different types of foods that your child will find enjoyable, nourishing and satisfying. Children also love to get involved, so consider taking them to the shops to select different types of food and have them join in on the cooking, too.
If your child has specific dietary requirements, perhaps due to allergies or intolerances, speak to your GP or nutrition professional for tailored dietary advice. You can also explore our free-from recipes, including plenty of gluten-free, dairy-free and egg-free ideas.
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This article was updated on 22nd August 2023.
Tai Ibitoye is a registered dietitian and a doctoral researcher in food & nutritional sciences. Tai has experience working in different sectors such as in the NHS, public health, non-government organisations and academia.
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