How to feed a family

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 (aged four and up) the foods they love. With help from our nutritionist Kerry Torrens, we’ve selected recipes full of the nutrients your child needs that will take them happily from breakfast through to supper. Adjust portion sizes according to your child's needs.


Find kid-friendly recipes for:

• Breakfast
• Pasta
• Batch-cooking
• Fish dishes
• Soups
• Curries
• Fast food
• Burgers
• Snacks
• Sweets & treats

Discover all our ideas for family meals, including healthy dinners for kids and family-friendly lunches. Check out our easy family meal plan, top sugar swaps for your family and our best batch-cooking family recipes.

1. Breakfast bonanza

Vegan almond berry baked oats

It goes without saying, but setting your child up for the day with a healthy breakfast will make you both feel good. Something satisfying, with slow-release energy, should keep kids full until lunchtime and help sustain their concentration and mood too.

More like this

Try serving porridge with a side portion of berries for an extra boost of vitamins and minerals. Plus, they'll have plenty of fun stirring in the colours.

Some children are less keen to eat first thing. If that’s the case, tempt them with an egg and soldiers for dipping, or whizz up a yogurt-based smoothie for a satisfying combination of protein, carbs and valuable hydration. Smoothies are best enjoyed with other foods, but can be a useful option if appetite is low. Limit smoothies and juices to one 150ml glass a day.

Remember, the fat in whole dairy provides valuable calories, vitamins and minerals for younger children (under the age of 2). However, if your child is older, you can opt for a lower-fat option as long as they’re a good eater and have a varied diet.

Here are our favourite kids’ breakfasts:

2. Perfect pasta

Super veg pasta with tomatoes and a fork

Pasta provides a good source of energy and makes a great base for sneaking in all sorts of ingredients that may not normally be on your little one's list of favourites, such as tofu or spinach. Young children don’t need as much fibre as older children and teenagers, but most of them still need more than they are currently getting. That said, wholemeal carbs can quickly fill small tummies so be mindful of the portion size of pasta you offer.

You can also cram in all of their five-a-day with our clever pasta sauce recipes:

Meatballs with hidden veg sauce
5-a-day bolognese

3. Batch ‘em up

Creamy tomato soup

There's always the risk that, after feeding the kids plenty of vegetables and homemade fare, you won’t have enough energy to make something for yourself 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 have to set about making different meals (or be faced with an excess of washing up).

All these meals are freezable, too. Make a couple in advance, or double up your portions, and you’ll always have something healthy to hand in times of crisis.

Easy lamb tagine
Chicken & vegetable stew with wholemeal couscous
Creamy tomato soup

4. Fish for compliments

Fish fingers & mushy peas on a white plate

It’s worth remembering that we should probably all be eating more fish – ideally two or more portions a week, with one being the oily variety (such as salmon, trout or sardines). Oily fish are an excellent source of omega-3 fatty acids, which are important for our brain, nervous system and heart and may help soothe conditions like eczema. Just make sure you're buying sustainably.

These recipes are great for filling up little tums, even if they’re not a fish fan! They're sure to enjoy speedy homemade fish fingers or salmon and ginger fish cakes – and you can even throw in some crunchy sweet potato chips to top up their five-a-day.

Salmon & ginger fishcakes
Fish fingers & mushy peas
Prawn & cod cakes
Classic chunky fishcakes

5. Super soups

Courgette, potato and cheddar soup

Freshly made soup makes a great freezer staple for quick lunchtime meals. Try serving some of the classics with toast soldiers or vegetable crudités, and let your child sprinkle on yogurt and seeds to keep them digging in.

Our lentil soup is packed with pulses and sweetened with grated apple and sweet potato. Simply adjust the curry powder depending on your child's tastes.

6. Curry in a hurry

Easy butter chicken on a plate served with rice and chutney

Experimenting with different flavours is a brilliant part of developing your child's tastes. These healthy, mild dishes make a great starting point for introducing them to spicier food.

Easy butter chicken
Mumbai potato wraps with minted yogurt relish
Creamy veggie korma

7. Faster than fast food

Ricotta tomato and spinach frittata

Getting something on the plate quickly is often a priority with kids. But fast food doesn't have to mean food that's high in fat, salt and sugar. Simple ingredients like eggs, pulses and beans can quickly be transformed into a delicious and nutritious supper.

An omelette has to be the ideal fast food and, when cut into strips, can make great finger food for younger children. Whipped up in no time you can use whatever fillings you have to hand.

Egg & rocket pizzas
Ricotta, tomato & spinach frittata
Spinach & courgette frittata

8. Brilliant burgers

Mushroom and chickpea burgers

It should be easy to get the kids to the table for a burger. Try some of these healthy recipes that feel like a cheeky takeaway, but are actually lower in fat and salt and loaded with good-for-you nutrients.

Mushroom & chickpea burger
Turkey burgers with beetroot relish

9. Pizza time

BBQ chicken pizza

Whipping up homemade pizza bases is much simpler than you think. Let the kids decorate their own using healthy toppings that also count towards their five-a-day. Getting everyone involved 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 pizza-topped baked potato.

BBQ chicken pizza
Caramelised onion & goat's cheese pizza
Cajun prawn pizza
Super-healthy pizza
Pizza baked potatoes

10. Savvy snacks

Smashed bean dip with celery

Do the kids get peckish between meals? Try whipping up healthy, speedy snacks to keep them going.

Smashed bean dip
Lemon & coriander hummus
Vegan chocolate & banana ice cream

11. Sweet enough

Frozen strawberry yogurt in a tub with a scoop taken

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 answer. Remember, though, that we should all be minimising our intake of free sugars. Free sugars include those added to food or drinks and those found naturally in honey, syrups, unsweetened juices, smoothies and purées.

Juicy Lucy pudding
Frozen fruit sticks with passion fruit & lime drizzle
Frozen strawberry yogurt

More healthy eating tips for kids

Healthy foods kids will love
10 tips for happy family meal times
15 healthy lunch ideas for kids
A balanced diet for toddlers
Healthy eating: what young children need
Top 15 after-school snacks for kids
Top 10 quick after-school suppers

What are your kids’ favourite meals? Share in the comments below….

Emer Delaney BSc (Hons), RD has an honours degree in human nutrition and dietetics from the University of Ulster. She has worked as a dietitian in some of London's top teaching hospitals and is currently based in Chelsea.


All health content on is provided for general information only, and should not be treated as a substitute for the medical advice of your own doctor or any other health care professional. If you have any concerns about your general health, you should contact your local health care provider. See our website terms and conditions for more information.

Comments, questions and tips

Choose the type of message you'd like to post

Choose the type of message you'd like to post