60 Favorite Dinner Ideas for Kids (Easy, Yummy, and Nutritious)

dinner ideas for kids in grid of 6


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Make family dinner easier with this master list of dinner ideas for kids…that grownups will enjoy too! These are some of our favorite meals using pasta, chicken, vegetarian staples, pizza flavors, and fast methods to help you feed your family day in and day out.

dinner ideas for kids in grid of 6

Dinner Ideas for Kids

I know that there are loads of lists that call the recipes “kid-friendly” and while I can’t guarantee that all of these will work for your family, I do think that there is a great assortment of options here. And each was developed with little kids in mind AND meant to be easy enough for you to pull off in short spurts of time.

I try my hardest to make recipes that the kids will enjoy and that parents will also want to eat to simplify how much we’re cooking. And I hope this collection offers some ideas the next time you’ve otherwise run out!

I’ve divided these up into sections so you can use the links right below here to go to the one you want, or simply scroll down to see what looks good!


Pasta Recipes for Kids

Pasta is a staple dinner option and the ones here are some of our favorites. And never underestimate the power of plain buttered noodles with a little Parmesan with a simple side—not every dinner has to be all out complicated!

Easy Pesto Pasta Salad Recipe

This is an easy family dinner or lunch. I like to use Spinach Pesto for this, but any will work if you prefer to buy it pre-made from the store.

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Easy Avocado Pasta

Any pasta shape works in this recipe, so choose your family’s favorite! Omit the garlic if you think the flavor might be too strong for your people. My kids prefer this without the garlic. I like it with it for myself!

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Spinach Pesto Pasta with Peas

This bright green pesto is cheesy and mild, making it a perfect sauce for a quick dinner of pasta and peas!

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4-Ingredient Sausage Broccoli Pasta

Just a heads up that you’ll need to reserve a little of the pasta cooking water, so keep that in mind BEFORE you drain the pasta. Chicken sausage is usually leaner than pork, so when making this with chicken sausage, I like to add butter or olive oil before serving.

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5-Ingredient Cauliflower Mac and Cheese

Use yellow or white cheese according to your child’s color expectations!

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cauliflower mac and cheese
5-Ingredient Butternut Squash Mac and Cheese

Use your family’s favorite shape and type of pasta in this recipe. (We like elbows or mini shells!)

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butternut squash mac and cheese
Easy Sweet Potato Mac and Cheese

I like to use a small shape to keep this dish as fast as possible.

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Quick Butternut Squash Pasta with Veggies and Sausage

You can use frozen peas or broccoli in this recipe according to what you have or prefer. See the Notes for vegetarian options.

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Easy Pasta with Summer Squash and Beef

This dish is easy to pull together in a short amount of time and is a nice alternative to tomato based pasta dishes.

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Creamy Pasta with Broccoli

Feel free to cut this recipe in half to make a smaller portion for your family. (Or make the full batch and enjoy the leftovers!)

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Chicken Recipes for Kids

Mixing up chicken recipes is an easy way to make dinner more interesting for everyone at the table. And whether the kids like nuggets, tenders, meatballs, or chicken sandwiches, there are plenty of options here.

Easy Baked Chicken Nuggets (SO Crispy!)

These chicken nuggets have simple ingredients and a pleasantly crispy exterior. Aim to cut the chicken into similarly sized pieces so they bake evenly.

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4-Ingredient Baked Chicken Meatballs

Serve with Marinara sauce, Pesto, Cheese Sauce, or with a side of ketchup or any other favorite dip. We like to have these on hand to use an easy lunch component or have them with pasta.

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Crispy Baked Chicken Tenders

To make these with panko breadcrumbs, use 1 cup and stir ¼ teaspoon salt into the flour before you dredge the chicken.

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crispy baked chicken tenders on white and blue plate
Baked Chicken Meatballs with Sweet Potato

Plan to cook your sweet potato ahead of time. See the Notes at the end of the recipe for options!

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Sweet Potato Chicken Bowls (Easy Meal Prep)

You can meal prep this recipe to have ready for future lunches or dinners to share with the kids or you can make it as a family dinner. Add flavor to your bowl with the optional ingredients.

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Easiest Instant Pot BBQ Chicken

You can double this recipe and use 2 pounds of chicken if desired. Just do your best to spread it into an even layer in the instant pot. (Note: The nutrition facts will vary based on the bbq sauce that you use.)

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Easy Pan-Seared Chicken

Try these quick and easy chicken tenders for a kid-friendly weeknight protein paired with a grain and a veggie (or fruit!)

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healthy chicken tenders on kids platses with green beans and bread
Easy Instant Pot Butter Chicken

Forget takeout—deliver this popular Indian dish to your table instead. Shredded chicken thighs are coated in a rich, buttery sauce with hints of tomatoes, ginger, and garam masala—a messy but very flavorful finger food. Posted with Permission from The Multi-Cooker Baby Food Cookbook

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Homemade Chicken Nuggets with Sweet Potato

You can double this recipe to feed a family of 4-6. Or make this smaller batch and serve to your toddler throughout the week. Try serving these with ketchup, ranch, or marinara sauce.

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homemade chicken nuggets
Slow Cooker Chicken and Bean Tacos

The combination of vegetables listed below delivers really nice flavor and consistency to the sauce, but if you want to simplify, you can just use 2 of the options. This recipe was updated in September 2019 to add an Instant Pot option.

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family style slow cooker chicken tacos

Vegetarian Kids Meals

If you have a vegetarian household or you just want more meatless meals to reduce your grocery budget, here are some of our favs. (Those Tofu Nuggets are so darn delish!)

Crispy Baked Tofu Nuggets (SO Good and Easy)

Tofu is typically sold in 14-16 ounce blocks. If yours is 16 ounces, you may need 1 ¼ cup panko. The garlic powder is optional, but adds nice flavor.

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tofu nuggets
20-Minute Stir Fry Rice Noodles with Veggies

Try this quick family dinner the next time you’re craving healthy comfort food—and want to please the entire family!

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stir fry noodles with veggies
Vegetable Stir Fry with Rice and Tofu

I like to use vegetables like carrots, broccoli, bell peppers, and snap peas in this easy recipe. Plan to cook the rice ahead of time or to get it started first.

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Easy Baked Zucchini Fritters

If you have a lot of zucchini, you can double the recipe to make a full muffin tin‘s worth!

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healthy zucchini fritters
Make-Ahead Egg and Cheese Mini Muffins

These soft breakfast egg cups are packed with protein and vitamins—and can be made ahead of time! Add any veggie you like, whether carrots, butternut squash, broccoli, or spinach.

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Favorite Alphabet Soup

You can use ABC pasta, orzo, pastina, or ditalini—or any other very small pasta shape in this recipe!

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Slow Cooker Black Bean Soup (with Instant Pot Option)

The addition of grains helps to thicken the soup to a nice consistency for little eaters, so don’t be worried if it’s pretty thin before you add them in before serving. (This post was updated and the recipe was streamlined November 2020. You can get the original recipe here.) 

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Vegetarian Quesadillas with Beans and Cheese

You can make as few or as many of these easy quesadillas as you like.

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cut up vegetarian quesadillas for kids on plate
Easy Baked Salmon Cakes (Salmon Patties)

These tender fish cakes make a quick and easy pantry meal when you haven’t planned ahead for dinner. Recipe updated slightly to ensure moistness in June 2021.

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Quick and Easy Shrimp Tacos

If using frozen shrimp, transfer it from the freezer to the fridge the night before or in the morning that you plan to make this.

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shrimp tacos for kids and parents on plates
Italian Lentils with Rice

We like this with rice, but you can also serve this with pasta if you prefer.

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italian green lentils with rice and cucumbers

Pizza Recipes for Kids

I know that takeout pizza (or frozen!) is always an easy option, but here are a few more in case you want to try a different pizza flavor. (Sign me up for Pizza Bites!)

Pizza Bites (3 Ways, with Veggies!)

Fluffy pizza bites are a delicious lunch or dinner option—and you can customize the filling to please your kids! We like these with a little side of warmed marinara sauce for dipping.

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10-Minute Flatbread Pizza (Just 3 Ingredients!)

For delicious homemade pizza without the work and in a lot less time, Flatbread Pizza to the rescue. Adjust this for allergies as you need.

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Quick and Easy Pesto Pizza

You can use any store bought crust for this recipe, or try my easy Whole Wheat Pizza Dough. I like making these as personal pizzas for the kids since they cook so fast, but you can also make one large pizza. See the Notes at the bottom for that info.

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Pizza Pockets with Broccoli and Cheese

If you’re using Homemade Pizza Dough, make it at least an hour before you plan to assemble the pockets. If using store-bought, let it sit at room temperature for at least 30 minutes so it’s not super cold when you try to form the pockets.

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pizza pockets with broccoli and cheese
Mini Spinach and Cheese Pizza Roll Recipe

Be sure to grease your pan well and roll the dough up fairly tightly around the fillings for best results. (But it’s okay if they don’t look perfect when they go into the pan!) This recipe was updated in September 2019 to ensure that the middles of each roll cook through.

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pizza roll on blue divided plate
Homemade Pizza Rolls with Pesto

You can use store-bought pesto if desired in place of the homemade version below.

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pesto pizza rolls
Pizza Muffins (with Veggies!)

These work well to make ahead and warm up for an easy lunch or dinner. These taste best served warm.

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Easy Greek Pita Pizzas

Serve these assembled as shown, or with the toasted pita bread alongside the hummus and toppings depending on how your child will prefer it.

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greek pita pizzas on pink plate with peaches

Veggie-Packed Kids Recipes

Most of the recipes in this post do have veggies in them, but here are some that go a little beyond. Find nuggets, tots, savory muffins and more that pack in the vegetables!

Homemade Veggie Nuggets (with 3 Veggies!)

I like to prep the veggies and rice ahead of time so that the process of making the nuggets is a little quicker. You can of course do it all at once though!

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Homemade Broccoli Tots (Better Than the Freezer Aisle!)

You can cook the rice up to 5 days ahead of time and store it in the fridge until you’re ready to bake the tots.

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homemade broccoli tots
Homemade Cauliflower Tots

With quinoa, cauliflower, and cheese, these healthy little tots are a great finger food for kids. This recipe makes about 20 tots, which is 4-6 servings for toddlers—or 1-2 servings for adults.

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cauliflower tots on white and red plate
Homemade Chicken Nuggets with Sweet Potato

You can double this recipe to feed a family of 4-6. Or make this smaller batch and serve to your toddler throughout the week. Try serving these with ketchup, ranch, or marinara sauce.

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homemade chicken nuggets
Easy Vegetable Pancakes

We like these dipped in sour cream guacamole, salsa, or Cucumber Sauce.

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Easy Veggie Muffins

I like to grate the carrot on a box grater and cut the top of each broccoli floret off and finely dice with a knife. Avoid the stems since they won’t blend into the batter as well.

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veggie muffins on gray towel
Easy Cheese Sauce (with Cauliflower)

This makes enough for 2-3 servings, so you can store any leftovers in the fridge in an airtight container. Reheat it for 15-30 seconds in the microwave to serve. You can also toss any leftovers with pasta for a quick and healthy mac and cheese.

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how to make cheese sauce
Easy Marinara Sauce with Extra Veggies

Serve this sauce with 1 pound of your family’s favorite pasta for an easy and healthy dinner.

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easy marinara sauce in jar on towel
Healthy Meatballs (with Hidden Vegetables)

With the texture you expect from a traditional meatball, but added nutrition from three types of veggies, your whole family will love these.

healthy meatballs in large bowl and small kids bowl
Best Healthy Mini Meatballs

Classic Italian meatballs with kale tucked inside to help toddlers eat their greens! (You can of course use the more traditional parsley instead of kale if you prefer.)

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Easy Dinner Recipes for Family

With skillet recipes, one-pot methods, sheet pans, and short cooking times, these easy family meals are nice options for when you’re short on time and energy.

Easy Stuffed Peppers Skillet

You can use whichever type of rice your family likes best. We rotate through short grain brown rice, basmati, and jasmine. Adults may want to top their portions with shredded fresh basil and/or crushed red pepper.

Get the recipe.

skillet stuffed peppers in white bowl and blue kids bowl
One-Pot Pesto Chicken and Brown Rice

Add some warmed frozen peas, whole grain toast, or a side of fruit to add a few simple sides if desired. This recipe was updated in September 2019 to ensure the rice cooks through.

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healthy chicken and brown rice on kids plate
Sheet Pan Black Bean Quesadillas

These easy quesadillas can be made with pumpkin puree, sweet potato puree, or butternut squash puree. You can also skip it and just go with beans and cheese! I make these as half moon shapes since it helps contain the mess a little when feeding these to kids.

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Healthy Baked Sheet Pan Nachos

You can add some of the ingredients to some of the areas—leaving the spinach off, adding more salsa or spice—to customize for everyone at the table. I usually leave about a ⅓ of the pan for the kids with less greens and salsa and then pile it on for my husband and I.

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healthy loaded potato nachos
Easy Cheesy Rice (with Veggies!)

Choose one veggie to add from the flavor options below according to what you have on hand or what your family likes best.

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cheesy rice 4 ways with veggies
Easy Snack Dinner (to Share with the Kids!)

You can do a big family-style platter or individual ones for the kids depending on your preference. Add anything else that sounds appealing and know that the nutrition info will vary according to what you use.

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Easy Taco Buffet (No-Cooking Required!)

I prefer to make these vegetarian since it’s easier, but you can of course add in cooked chicken, beef, or shrimp if you like! Add another can of beans or additional corn to feed a larger family or appetites.

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Easy Breakfast Burritos

These are called “breakfast” burritos since they have eggs, but you can serve them for any meal of the day!

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Easy Sausage Meatballs

This will make at least two dinners worth of meatballs, depending on how many people are in your family. I like to freeze half of the batch to use in a future meal.

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Quick Teriyaki Shrimp with Zucchini and Rice

We like this with rice or rice noodles, but you can adjust how you serve it to fit your family!

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easy teryiaki shrimp

Kids Dinner Tips

  • Use simple sides like fresh fruits, applesauce, whole grain crackers, cheese, and fruit cups to round out meals when needed.
  • Aim to include 1-2 foods the kids usually like (even if they are the simple sides above) to help make sure family meals work for everyone at the table.
  • Remember that family meals are about nutrition and filling bellies, yes, but also about being together and connecting—and sometimes the kids just aren’t super hungry.
  • Take all of the shortcuts you need to make dinner happen for your family.
  • Start with small portions to lessen food waste.
  • Remind kids to share before taking seconds (or thirds).

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I’d love to hear your feedback on this collection of dinner ideas for kids, so please chime in below to share!


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