A few people have asked me to do a round up of sorts featuring my favorite quick easy, healthy kids' meals (that we actually eat at home). I have so many that I'm going to start with just 20 and then do another post at a later time.
Of course I love quick and easy meals; I'm a mom of 3 little kids. And although I like to get creative in the kitchen, making dinner for my family is still a chore and I'd rather not do it on most nights. I mean, who are we kidding! The fun is completely gone when it comes to this process.
But I do have to admit when I hear people say they make Macaroni and Cheese because it's quick and easy, I am perplexed because it's actually not really all that quick and easy (nor is it a healthy meal) in comparison to some healthier meal ideas that I'm sharing with you here. It's all about changing your habits, diversifying your menu, and creating a new shopping routine. And don't worry, you can feed kids healthy for less than $2-3 per head.
20 Tips + Quick Healthy Meal Ideas (dairy + meat free):
Think simply but think ahead.Trick: get creative and make meals that you want to eat but can be easily adaptable for the kids. This will save loads of time.
Homemade tomato sauce for pasta nights.Take some time to perfect a easy one that you can make on the quick. The jarred version are easier. But nothing compares to a raw vegan homemade sauce. You can just blend up the ingredients and voila.
Try making pestoI now can whip up fresh kale pesto in a few minutes and my kids gobble it up)
Get on pinterest and try out a few fun saucesThis isn't a quick or easy task. But once you nail down a recipe, you can just make it up really quickly without measuring. Test a few out on your kids and then if they love one make it all the time. Note: My son told me the other day that he will eat anything as long as it has sauce: "I'm a sauce guy!" haha. But it's so true, and that's a great thing to know. (check out my board of mouth watering dairyfree sauces).
Saute veggies in oil and soy sauce(Tamari here at my house); get them nice and brown. I have found that kids enjoy eating veggies this way.
or put chopped veggies in the ovenat 415 degrees for about 20 minutes until the veggies are crunchy and browned. kids love this.
- walnut meat tacos and wraps at home all the time. It's super cheap (corn tortillas), quick and delicious. I swear by Magestic Garlic Sauce. Kids love it.
- Here is one we made a few years back.
Corn on the cob.For some reason kids love corn on the cob. You can bbq it or roast it in the oven. It's really easy, you don't have to fuss over it. Just butter it up with a dash of salt & pepper.
Bowls.You can see from the photos that we do a lot of bowls. I choose a protein (beans or tofu, fish - if you eat meat - etc.) and always add rice or potatoes. Then I add a veggie. Often times they get to pick the veggie or choose between two different ones. Sometimes I offer greens. They love avocado on this as well. Sometimes we do crunchy seaweed on top and also they love sauce or parm.
- kids' green drink - that way they at least get a great dose of spinach, bananas and OJ. They never complain about the smoothie - it's thirst quenching and easy to drink. Or the milk + greens option if your kids are little.
Mix in cauliflower rice with regular riceto sneak in some veggies.
Lasagna.You might remember my recent dairy-free lasagna recipe. My kids devoured it. My trick - use spiralized OR shaved (using a cheese grater) zucchini. See pizza recipe for the shaved vegetable trick. You can do carrots as well but zucchini turns out almost clear an unnoticeable. I also have an older recipe that includes dairy - you can try that one as well.
Try mushrooms.I saw try because kids think they won't like them at first. Keep trying. If you cook them (on stove top in oil and soy sauce) until they are dry and chewy like meat - a lot of kids will enjoy them. At least try it. One of my sons LOVES them and the other isn't a fan.
Cook rice in the microwave (never every night).But better yet, I invested in a rice cooker which is a great gadget to have on hand (they are cheap) to quickly cook rice while you're organizing everything else.
Homemade sushi.This is a lot quicker and easier than you'd think (again rice can be premade and microwaved which saves time. Trader Joes has white and brown rice frozen). All you need is rice, seaweed or rice paper and avo. But feel free to add other veggies like carrots and cucumber and even those mushrooms I mentioned above. My kids like marinated tofu. Just roll it all up and dip in soy sauce.
Thai rice noodles.Have you made my kids pad thai dish yet? Omit eggs if you're vegan. My kids sometimes eat eggs even though I don't. It's a really GOOD dish that I have had great feedback on. Another rice noodle dish winner is my creamy miso rice noodles. Add some tofu for the kids and whatever veggie they want. Have fun and play around with it. The sauce isn't quick and easy. But the noodles are so versatile.
Tofu + Tempeh.My kids LOVE LOVE the smokey tempeh bacon. Check out my lettuce cups recipe. You can cook the tempeh that way I do in that recipe but then put the bacon in between toast with avocado and whatever sauce you want.
Slow cooker meals.There are so many meals you can cook in 4 hours. Just throw stuff in the slow cooker and hit go. Check Pinterest for ideas; there are endless amounts of healthy ones.
When shopping look for things like:
- Precooked rice
- Organic frozen vegetables (or freeze your organic fruits and vegetables to use at a later time)
- Frozen meat/protein options (i.e. we love vegan Beyond Beef meatballs)
- Canned chili
- Load up on bananas and spinach
- Black bean pastas - my kids love that they are full of protein (Trader Joes makes a good one)
- Precooked lentils
- Certain cereals are now made of beans and Target carries them (I would rather my son eat a huge bowl of one of these cereals for dinner than a bowl of mac and cheese any day)
- Buy vegetables already spiralized or already chopped up (sometimes this costs a lot more money, so check the price first to see if it's worth saving you time)
- Health food stores have super healthy french fries (sweet potato fries, etc.) that you can just pop in the oven for like 20 minutes. Add some organic ketchup and voila
- Frozen pizza crusts
- Premade raviolis or gnocchi (the health food stores have "real" food versions - not filled with a bunch of preservatives)
- Avocados. Always have these on hand
- Have parmesan cheese on hand at all times. We use this vegan kind. Or make our own cashew parmesan (<-- you can buy it or check out my recipe). Kids love it.
- Frozen burritos. There are so many options now-a-days.
All of these images were taken from my own personal Instagram account. I often Snapchat ( name: PureMamas ) or take photos for Instagram showcasing what we eat at home that's plant-based, quick and easy to make.
If you have any quick and easy kids meal ideas - please feel free to leave them in the comments below.