Sometimes you just have to stick with what works, right? Adding something new into the dinner routine is refreshing for me, but when it comes to my kids, sometimes I just want to feed them something that is a sure thing. Or a variation of a sure thing. Do you see where I am going with this? Basically I am trying to avoid this. And while frozen chicken fingers and mac and cheese are the epitome of a sure thing, I’m not willing to go there night after night. So, I’ve rounded up some of my favorite kid-friendly real food recipes that make our family a happier one. Happy dinners = happy life, right? Here are some of our favorite dinners that have gone over big with the little guys. Be sure to check out some reader recommendations at the end!
Garlic Chicken with Spinach – This might be the easiest and tastiest and most kid-friendly dinner I’ve made in a really long time. I served it over buttered bow-tie pasta, sprinkled with parmesan and oh my where has this dish been all my life?
Turkey Burgers – This dinner is always a sure thing. My mom’s signature move is to make these in bulk, freeze them individually and distribute to her daughters. Nice move, right? SO I can’t say that I made these the last time we ate them, but they are easy to make ahead, freezable, and super kid friendly. And besides being one of the weirdest canned foods out there, who doesn’t love cranberry sauce? I do have a recipe for homemade cranberry sauce (my grandmother’s!) but I’ll save that for another day.
Mongolian Chicken – I’m pretty sure my kids thought this was crack. They all wanted more but I didn’t have enough flank steak to go around – we had to ration. Making this again and doubling the meat. Served over Trader Joe’s (frozen) organic brown rice and a big bowl of cucumbers for the kids to fight over. Red peppers and cucumbers are my g0-t0 kid-friendly side dish in those oh-crap-I-need-a-veggie moments. You know those? Personally, I thought the meat was a little – er um – chewy. Any advice for me?
Weeknight Bolognese – Last week I went out for dinner with some girlfriends and faced that what-do-I-make-my-kids-before-I-go- out-dilemma? So I went to the store, bought ground turkey, crushed tomatoes, and tomato paste with the intentions of making this dinner. But theeen I was like, oh why all the effort? Can’t I just brown the turkey and toss it with some marinara sauce to make bolognese? Can you even do that? I considered it, but wasn’t willing to waste my $7 marinara on an experiment (why is sauce so expensive by the way???). So I started making Ina’s version, realized, hey this is actually almost as easy…. and it calls for some red wine, so I did what any expert chef does and poured a glass for myself too. Just go with it. After my kids ate, I brought my glass of wine up to my bathroom pretended like I was getting ready to go out like I used to when I was in college – you know, put on music, touched up my make up, sipped on the wine….. Then once I changed my kid-encrusted shirt, it dawned on me that I was going out to dinner with 3 friends who are ALL pregnant. Wow, how life has changed! I make homemade bolognese and have three friends who are pregnant? Wow. Life is good. I’m not sure why I felt inclined to tell you this anecdote, but I’m telling you guys, good vibes with this dish. Good vibes.
Reader Recommendations (recipes their kids go nuts over!):
Family Friendly Lettuce Wraps! Kelly B. says her kids beg for this meal.
Salsa Chicken – Thanks Natalie!! My boys love this too!
Megan S. says her kids “love bean/cheese/chicken quesadillas. I’ll shred a rotisserie chicken to make it even easier. Little olive oil in the pan then the quesadilla filled with everything…cook for a few minutes on each side until cheese is melted and the tortilla gets a little crispy. They dip in salsa/sour cream or ranch” – Um, yes please!
Alex H. makes this Lemon Chicken with boneless, skinless breasts and serves with green beans and mashed potatoes.
Any other kid-friendly real food recipes that go over big in your house?