When it comes to making meals that kids will enjoy it seems like a difficult task at times. Kids can be so picky on what they will and will not eat and you can only have chicken strips or spaghetti so many times in a week before you are ready to scream. Instead of those same old meals why not try out some of these fun and easy to make kid friendly meal ideas?
- Corn Dog Bites – What a fun treat for the kids with gluten free cornbread! You can use nitrate-free hotdogs, all beef hotdogs, or even turkey dogs with all natural cornbread batter for a fun and easy snack that will even satisfy the horde of teenage boys that invade after school. With just a few ingredients these baked corn dog look-alikes will have kids clamoring for more.
- Brown Sugar Pork Chops – These pork chops are so good! I made this meal for my family just the other day and my pickiest eater, the one that never eats pork expect for bacon, ate it up! Of course then he asked me what kind of chicken it was, so… Anyway, the brown sugar gives it a nice sweet flavor. I baked mine instead of grilling it and it came out just as good.
- Easy Baked Quesadillas – This is another recipe I made a few changes on, notably the way it is cooked. It is really a recipe for campfire cooking, but I baked it and it came out super tasty. It is great to bake quesadillas instead of pan cook them because you can do a bunch all at once. The recipe does not call for any meat but I like to add some cooked and shredded chicken to mine. Kids love the crispy cheese and I like to dip mine in sour cream and salsa. By wrapping them in aluminum foil you have a mess free meal in no time flat.
- Crock Pot No Boil Manicotti – As a great alternative to spaghetti and meatballs yet again I present a family favorite: manicotti. These cheese filled noodles are usually a hassle to make but with the crock pot it is so much easier. For an added nutritional boost I toss in a bag of frozen spinach to the cheese stuffing mix. Yummy and easy. Best of all I can make it in the heat of summer and never break a sweat!
- Tasty Pot Roast – Another slow cooker recipe, this one is a family secret that I will share with you. Simply take a large beef roast, three to five pounds, and toss it in the crock pot. Add a half of a cup of water, a package of Italian salad dressing seasoning, a packet of ranch dressing mix, and a packet of brown gravy mix. Cook on low for eight hours or on high for four and you will have a tasty roast the whole family will love. Throw in some cleaned carrots, quartered onions and peeled potatoes for a whole meal that is ready to go. The leftover meat makes for great roast beef sandwiches.
- Calzones – Another family recipe we love is calzones. The reason we love them is because each one can be made to order. This is a great Saturday night meal idea because the whole family can get in on the action. With store bought pizza dough and the pizza toppings you love it is easy to make personal sized meals for each individual. Here is a tip for you though: try to keep it small. Think Hot Pocket, not Pizza Hut. Otherwise it takes forever to cook all the way through. Make sure you also cook all meat (besides pepperoni of course) before you add it to the calzone. You don’t want anyone getting sick! Bake as indicated on pizza dough package and you should have a tasty treat for everyone.
- Italian Crescent Casserole – Speaking of pizza this easy to make substitute can be varied to fit any taste. With store bough crescent roll dough and lots of filling options you can change and create to suit your family. I like to make it with Italian sausage and lots of cheese, but try it out and see what you can come up with.
- Cream Cheese Chicken Enchiladas – Living in Texas we eat a lot of Mexican food, or at least a lot of Tex-Mex. Enchiladas are a favorite in my house and this simple recipe is very tasty. You can make them as simple or complex as you would like. I have added more cheese and made spinach and mushroom enchiladas, substituted beef and even done just plain cheese enchiladas. The important thing is to get a good can of sauce. The rest is easy.
- Tacos – You can’t go wrong with tacos. Another family friendly meal that can be changed up to suit any taste. My picky eater eats his with meat, cheese, green onion and salsa. I refer lettuce, tomato, avocado, and mushroom on mine. You can add taco seasoning to the ground beef or even ground turkey if you like or if your kids do not do spices just cook it up with a dash of salt and pepper and a tablespoon of flour to give it that fluffy taco meat look. I love crunchy taco shells but lightly brown corn shells or flour shells work well too.
- Burritos – Yet another Mexican recipe, I know. But they are just so easy to make and so easy to customize! My mother makes the best burritos ever. She uses huge chunks of veggies, ground beef and a layer of refried beans. Toss on some sour cream and cheese and you are in heaven. The thing that makes it really special is the huge flour shells and baking all the ingredients in the oven at 375 for twenty minutes to heat up and soften up the veggies. I like to also add Spanish rice to my combo as it lets me use even less meat. I have gone totally meatless at times and no one commented. Shocking!
- Savory Crescent Chicken Squares – Another quick and easily varied meal idea are what my family calls chicken pockets. Just take crescent roll dough and wrap up chicken pieces and cream cheese for a tasty meal. I make a sort of Cordon Bleu by adding in some ham cubes and extra shredded mozzarella cheese as well. Great with or without the crunchy topping, this is a meal made for last minute on the go days.
- Mexican Cornbread Casserole – Okay, so I tried to stay away from yet another Mexican recipe, but I just couldn’t do it when I remembered this family favorite. How we came upon this recipe shall remain secret, but when I made this for the first time everyone could not get enough. You will need an extra-large casserole dish for this one, I am warning you. It can feed a crowd. First get two boxes of Jiffy corn bread muffin mix. Follow the directions and add a can of creamed corn. Next brown up a pound and a half of hamburger. Add a can of drained whole kernel corn and 16 ounces of salsa (hotness level is up to you, I used medium). Once the meat mixture is complete pour it into a large casserole dish. Mine is a 15 inch by 10 inch one. Now use about one third of the corn muffin mix and cover the meat mixture. Sprinkle on two cups of cheddar cheese. Top with the rest of the corn muffin mix. Bake at 400 for around 20 minutes or until the corn bread is cooked through.
Hopefully I have given you some new ideas for your next meal. Old favorites are good but when it is time to shake it up a bit try one of these fun, easy and tasty kid friendly recipes.
Rachel is an ex-babysitting pro as well as a professional writer and blogger. She is a graduate from IowaStateUniversity and currently writes for www.babysitting.net. She welcomes questions/comments which can be sent to rachelthomas.author @ gmail.com.