Know the best way to find kid-friendly meals to make – even for picky eaters? Ask the kids. I asked my seven-year-old picky eater granddaughter when it was her turn for a pandemic summer visit, “What’s your favorite meals?” She didn’t even have to think about it…
Macaroni, spaghetti, and toast are quick and easy meals. Kids love pasta and bread. Adults do as well. But those carbs. Here are some meat, vegetable, breakfast, and snack ideas to serve that even the picky eater will try and, possibly, like.
Vegetables to Serve with Macaroni and Spaghetti
If your kids want macaroni all the time, change up how you serve it. Goulash is a Southern macaroni specialty. And it seems that everyone makes it somewhat differently. My mother used to make goulash for my husband because he loved it so much. She used elbow macaroni, added a large onion (cut up very fine), and it was the juiciest goulash. Her secret was V8 juice, the juice with eight vegetables.
Mac and Cheese Made with Cauliflower
I don’t know many people who don’t love macaroni and cheese. However, the carbs are high. Try this “Mac and Cheese” cauliflower recipe:
Have you served spaghetti squash? That can be a fun alternative to spaghetti. The texture is different, however. Picky eaters may refuse to eat more than a taste. But it’s worth a try. The fun part is scraping the squash with a fork and watching it form a spaghetti-like noodle. Then add a topping like barbecue pulled pork, and you’ve already got your vegetable, the spaghetti squash. See the recipe:
Spaghetti and Broccoli
Probably the most popular vegetable to add with a spaghetti meal is a salad. But if your kids don’t enjoy salads, make your typical spaghetti meal and top it with freshly steamed broccoli spears.
Seven-year-old grand’s little sis came to our house for a visit, and her favorite meals answers were:
- Noodle soup
- Chicken soup
- Vegetable soup, “what you made last night (okra from the garden with tomatoes),”
- Spaghetti with meatballs
- Vegetable soup with different vegetables
What soups do your kids like? As you can tell, Little Sis loves soup. Her mom (my daughter) makes the best chicken soup with veggies. Healthy. Easy and quick.
When our grandchildren come to visit, I spend as little time as possible cooking in the kitchen. It’s always fun – and busy. We go, go, go. The kids like to go somewhere every day except the day we plan to stay home all day and play outside – great time for a picnic in the backyard.
For easy picnic food ideas, check out this blog post:
Vegetable Ideas for Kids
We all know that most children don’t like to eat vegetables. And that’s true with my grandkids as well. But it doesn’t stop me from trying. For instance, when Little Sis was with me on her last two-day trip to my house, she helped me gather the okra from the garden. I love okra and was happy that one of my grandchildren loves it as much as I do.
Our tastebuds change. Vegetables that we didn’t like when we were kids often become our favorites later. However, some adults are still picky eaters and have as hard of a time as their kids eating veggies. If that’s you, try some of these ideas like okra. Maybe you’ll find out you really do like vegetables.
She was so excited to help me cook dinner that day. I let her help cut the okra and put it inside the pot to boil. We also had fried okra.
Easy to do. I usually dip it in egg then cornmeal or a mixture of flour and cornmeal.
But this time I was out of eggs. No problem. I just used what I had on hand.
First, I sliced the okra real thin and coated it with cornmeal:
Now, it’s ready to fry. I fried the okra in a cast iron pan, already hot with a little oil to lightly cover the bottom of the pan.
Again, I asked my two granddaughters what their favorite veggies are. Here’s their list:
Big Sis’s favorite vegetables:
- Brussels Sprouts
Little Sis’s favorite vegetables:
- “Smashed potatoes with beans and eggs”
- Black beans
- “Grummy’s okra”
The first night Little Sis was with me, I cooked a hamburger and veggie medley with leftover grilled hamburger and red potatoes. The second night, I added sliced okra and and onions to the medley. Both nights, the hamburger and vegetables were served in a burrito and was very delicious.
Meats to Serve Kids
What meats do your kids like? Like adults, children want a change every now and then. My husband enjoys grilling hamburgers and steaks often, and Big Sis asked me, “Why do you always have hamburgers?” Actually, it’s a summer thing – especially a pandemic summer thing.
Kids can be picky when it comes to meat, too. Like most moms and grandmas, often I choose to go through a drive-through on busy days when my grands are with me. I’ve noticed that my grandkids have gotten tired of chicken nuggets. Easy food to eat but boring after awhile. Therefore, they need us, their parents and grandparents, to be creative in helping them to try different meat entrees. No need for gourmet or hours of cooking. Do a simple meal, and maybe combine the new meat recipe with something else that they like.
Since my granddaughters are my food tasters, I asked their opinion on meats that taste good. Their choices:
- Fresh smoked turkey (We all love the turkey at Rudy’s Barbecue.)
- Ribeye steak (Surprise, surprise. They loved it as we do.)
- Hot dogs (If you like peas, you gotta try this Southern recipe: https://www.kitchenhospitality.com/2018/08/east-texas-style-hot-dogs-and-purple-hull-peas/)
- Hamburgers (Easy. Quick. Healthier with veggies – add onions, tomatoes, and coleslaw. See Patty Cake’s Pantry’s Coleslaw-Seven Delicious Ways.)
The nice thing about ribeyes and, of course, hamburgers, is that you can cook them on the stove, in the oven, and even in a pressure cooker. See my recipe for ribeye steaks in the pressure cooker.
There are other mouth-watering steaks you could consider. One that my husband has grilled that turned out great was a filet mignon. Amaze your family with a filet mignon for dinner. It’s a small steak, great for kids, seniors, and anyone watching their portions. Sara (a mom to three young girls) at dinneratthezoo.com says filet mignon is easy enough to make on a weeknight.
Incidentally, Patty Cake and I will be doing a seven-day joint blog from August 16-22, 2020. We are including an interview with a food blogger, a food failure and what was learned from it, a post about a kitchen product or food, a beginner’s guide to a kitchen-related topic. Check kitchenhospitality.com and pattycakespantry.com daily between now and the 22nd of this month.
Waffles and pancakes
If you’ve visited my blog before, you already know that I absolutely love breakfasts. And so do my grand-littles. Waffles and pancakes are their favorite choices. I give in a lot of times and make them pancakes, sometimes peanut butter. Add a spoonful of peanut butter in the batter. No syrup needed. Make them small and put them in a baggie to go. Easy breakfast snack for on the go.
I think for kids, the best egg breakfast idea is to keep it simple, like:
- Fried or scrambled eggs served with toast
- Fried or scrambled egg sandwich
- Eggs and bacon and/or sausage
Lastly, we must include the snacks. What kid doesn’t like a snack?
My seven-year-old loves junk food, obviously:
But not Little Sis. She said she likes “all the berries.” And on that note, Big Sis listed a nice variety of fruit as her favorites:
You can prepare a fantastic-tasting fruit salad out of that medley. Add crackers and cheese for a filling snack.
Little Sis is like her Grummy (what they call me) in that she likes peaches the best. And I love sweets as much as they do. Would you like to have some peach cobbler with these kids’ meal favorites? Here’s a slow-cooker recipe for a peach cobbler:
Most kids are picky eaters, and that’s okay. We have to be patient with them. Think about the foods you don’t care for and how easy it is to get in a rut and eat the same things you like all the time.
Different food textures and tastes, including the seasonings and spices we choose, can be a challenge for all of us at times. But when our kids and grandkids see that we’re willing to try a new dish, it encourages them to do the same.