Top 10 healthy meals for kids
Discover healthy, budget-friendly meals for children 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. Below are ideas for nutritious and tasty recipes you can make for your children.
1. Pitta pocket
This is a quick and easy snack 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.
Try our pitta pockets.
2. Super veg pasta
Your child will enjoy at least two of their five-a-day in this dish, which includes red peppers, tomatoes and carrots. Vegetables are versatile and packed with essential vitamins and minerals that are needed to support overall health.
Try our super veg pasta.
3. Porridge with blueberry compote
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 lovely porridge is loaded with fibre-rich oats and contains blueberries, which contribute to your child’s fruit and vegetable intake. The Greek yogurt is a good source of calcium, which contributes to healthy bones and teeth.
Try our porridge with blueberry compote.
4. Macaroni cheese with veg
The whole family will love this mac and cheese with lots of added veggies, 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.
Try our macaroni cheese with veg.
5. Salmon egg-fried rice
This is a family-friendly supper 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.
Try our salmon egg-fried rice.
6. Fish fingers & mushy peas
This quick, classic 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.
Try our fish fingers & mushy peas.
7. Tofu scramble
This 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.
Try our tofu scramble.
8. Sweet & sour chicken skewers with fruity noodles
Offering your child a mixture of savoury and sweet foods at lunchtime and their evening meal can help them enjoy a variety of different foods, nutrients and flavours. Why not try this meal idea that takes just 20 minutes to prepare? It's low in saturated fat and includes starchy carbohydrates, protein and vegetables, all of which are part of a balanced diet.
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 offer a good source of iron, which is essential for healthy blood and transporting oxygen around the body. Why not consider 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 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 published on 18 March 2021.
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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