Quick Kid-approved Meals for Busy Parents

Today, social media and the digital age inundates parents and caregivers with messaging regarding what, when, where, why and how to feed children. Eating healthy is likely a universal goal and I would venture to say that all caregivers desire to serve their children a well-balanced meal three times per day. I, however, would like to challenge what that meal looks like. A healthful meal is not determined by the time it took to prepare. In general “slow food” is healthier, but quick meals can be just as nutritious and buy caregivers more time to enjoy them with their children at a table.

A healthy meal is one that provides a variety of energy sources and thus a variety of food groups. There are five food groups: grains, fruit, vegetables, dairy and protein. The protein group is unique because it is relatively lower in carbohydrate, the body’s primary energy source, and thus can help to balance meals by slowing digestion and promoting satiety and satisfaction. Therefore, most registered dietitians will encourage individuals to strive for at least three different food groups at each meal: a source of energy, protein and fiber. If this is breakfast, it may be a serving of grain, fruit and high protein dairy. However, at lunch and dinner it may be a serving of grain, lean protein and vegetables served up.

Now, let’s get real and get away from the idea that a healthy dinner needs to be roasted turkey, quinoa pilaf and steamed broccoli, as well as, the idea that a quick meal has to be acquired from your favorite fast food chain. Here are some quick, kid-approved dinners for anyone looking to save time on meal prep and spend more time making memories.

  • Pre-cooked tortellini, mozzarella, cucumber and cherry tomatoes with a pesto dipping sauce.
  • Turkey, Swiss cheese and spinach wrapped in a whole wheat tortilla with skewered apple slices or grapes.
  • Ground turkey meatballs, 3 cheddar cheese cubes skewered with cherry tomato, lettuce and pickle slices.
  • Lean ham rolls with mini bell peppers and pineapple chunks.
  • Hard boiled egg with whole grain crackers, cherry tomatoes and sliced avocado.
  • Chopped chicken breast with green pepper, onion, avocado and salsa with a side of baked tortilla chips.
  • Hummus spread stuffed into a whole grain pita pocket with cucumber, grated carrot and lettuce.
  • Grilled portobello mushroom with melted provolone cheese on whole grain toast.
  • Mozzarella cheese with baby spinach, basil leaves and sliced tomato with a side of whole grain crackers.
  • Peanut or almond butter spread on whole grain bread with sliced banana and a side of celery and carrots.
  • Whole grain English muffin toasted with mozzarella cheese, tomato sauce and baby spinach.
  • Grilled cheese with your choice of cheese melted over sliced tomato and spinach on whole grain bread, or make it a quesadilla with a whole grain tortilla and a side of salsa.