Healthy Meal Ideas for Kids

Healthy meal ideas are as easy as creating healthy habits and teaching kids how to make healthy choices. Easier said than done? We're here to help you learn more about healthy eating.
healthy meal ideas

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How to Start Using Healthy Meal Ideas

I remember hearing a preschooler state he hated vegetables and would never eat them and at the same time ask for more broccoli. He didn't know what a vegetable was but he was sure they were yucky, even though his favorite food was broccoli.

Children learn from what they see and hear from those around them. If they hear others stating they dislike healthy foods or that vegetables are icky they will assume this is true. It is important to teach your children from the time they are quite young about a variety of fruits and vegetables. We require more nutrients than we can get from packaged processed foods that have had the nutrition removed during processing.

Limiting choices that are available but not forbidding any foods is the best way to insure your child will make healthy food choices. Your child is going to want to make choices so instead of trying to make candy compete with broccoli you need to have limited choices and have your child choose from them. For example serve 2 or 3 vegetables with dinner instead of only one. It allows kids to make their own choice. Every parent knows kids like to make their own choices! Every parent has the same question, how can you incorporate healthy meal ideas into your families diet?

We have some healthy meal ideas for getting your kids to eat healthy and ways to provide more nutrition.

Ideas to Add to your Menu Plans

  1. Add vegetables wherever possible. For example, shredded zucchini or carrots can go in breads, muffins, scrambled eggs, spaghetti sauce, cupcakes! Try adding shredded vegetables to soups if your kids don't like the chunky version. Or you can puree them in a blender. 

  2. Add wheat flour instead of white flour when baking even a little wheat flour mixed with white flour is beneficial.

  3. Add wheat germ or flax seeds in granola, yogurt or baking for a little extra nutrition.

  4. Snack on vegetables cut in sticks, nuts, fruit slices or cheese. Have these available for easy snacking. Don't give into the impulse to buy easy bagged snacks like chips. If your kids don't have it available to snack on they'll find something else quick and easy. If you don't have the time to slice and dice vegetables or fruit buy the no prep work version. From the salad bar or fruit already in cubes or slices are easy for kids to grab and go.

  5. Grow a garden, small or large, if kids are involved in the growing process they will enjoy the fruits of their labor. Not to mention they will love to pretend to be a bunny eating a fresh picked carrot.

  6. Have a salad with dinner. It doesn't have to be the same one everyday, invent something new each day.  Check out some salad and side dish recipes in 6 ingredient or less section.

  7. Take a field trip to an apple orchard, pumpkin patch or visit a farmer's market. Help inspire your children's interest in fruits and vegetables.

  8. Use our food fact pages for an easy reference while you are cooking with your kids. Offer a variety of not only foods, but also offer a variety of food groups and a variety of textures, flavors, colors. The wider the variety of foods that you give your child to choose from the more vitamin content you will be giving your child.

  9. When preparing dinner set out carrot sticks, apple slices or another fruit or vegetable. Kids will be more likely to snack on these while they are hungry for dinner.

  10. Be creative when you serve fruits and vegetables. Sometimes seeing vegetables in a different way can be more appealing to kids. For example, if your kids don't like cooked broccoli try serving it chopped in a casserole or uncooked. Find creative ways to add foods to your child's diet especially if your child has been limiting foods from one food group. Children who are not fond of eating their vegetables will quite often eat raw vegetables dipped in dressing or sprinkled with cheese.

20 Healthy Meal Tips

tips for healthy eating
  1. Start kids cooking lessons with your child. Oftentimes doing something as simple as allowing kids to cook with you will help to improve their healthy eating habits. When they have a hands on experience creating, mixing and preparing food they often enjoy eating it more. If your kids are old enough teach them to make something they can prepare for themselves when they are hungry. (fruit salad, scrambled egg, boiled egg, grilled cheese sandwich)

  2. Cut out sugary cereals. Replace these with wholegrain cereal, hot cereal or cooked breakfasts. If mornings are too busy try preparing things the night before. Stir together pancake batter or scrambled eggs and store in the fridge. Wake up the next morning and just cook it! If your kids really want their sugary cereals serve them mixed with wholegrain cereals.

  3. Reserve dessert for once a week. It will be an anticipated event instead of an everyday occurrence. Instead of having a sugary dessert after each meal, make dessert count. For dessert you can have things such as fresh fruit and yogurt, a fruit smoothie or fresh fruit topped with a small amount of whipped cream. Don't eat sugary desserts everyday, but save them for special occasions or one day a week.

  4. Start by limiting the amount of unhealthy or junk foods that you allow to enter your house. If your kids do not have the constant exposure to foods with little to no dietary value then they won't crave them. It may take you a month, or perhaps a year, but if you and your kids continue to follow the healthy eating tips you will find your children prefer to eat healthy foods over junk foods.

  5. When serving your kids from the time they are toddlers you should always serve a little bit of everything from the basic food groups. Most toddlers, when given balanced meals, will pick and choose each day but by the end of the week will have eaten a wide variety of foods with something from each category in the food pyramid.

  6. Have a list of snacks that kids can have after school. Post this on the fridge or somewhere for the whole family to see. Here is our printable healthy snack list.

  7. Make healthy substitutions. Replace fruit for sugary products such as adding fresh or frozen, thawed berries to your pancakes instead of syrup. See more substitution ideas here.

  8. Cut out sugar drinks and soda and replace them with water or milk. Even juice should be limited to 100% juice and no more than 8 oz. a day.

  9. Eat together as a family. This does wonders for kids healthy eating habits and their self esteem. Read more about the benefits of eating with your family.

  10. Lead by example. If you want to serve kids healthy meals, practice healthy eating in front of your children. It can help to instill values when it comes to foods and food choices. Your children learn from what you do in front of them. If you are eating your vegetables your child will most likely learn to eat vegetables.

  11. Add some hidden vegetables. Read more about how to add vegetables to your recipes.

  12. Replace white flour with wheat and other whole grains.

  13. Serve vegetables and fruits in a variety of ways. Some kids may prefer frozen versus fresh vegetables. Even canned or dried fruits and vegetables taste differently.

  14. Think of fun ways to serve meals. Food served in a fun way may be more likely to get eaten than lumped onto a plate. Get creative with your food! Better yet get the kids to help you serve fun food!

  15. Snacks aren't all bad. Encourage snacking on healthy fruits, vegetables and cut out the processed high fat/sugar snacks.

  16. Listen to your stomach when eating meals. When you start to feel full, its time to be done eating.

  17. Dessert doesn't need to be a daily thing. Start cutting dessert back to once a week or/and change dessert to fruit or low sugar items. Or try replace them with some healthy dessert ideas.

  18. Encourage kids to at least try a bite or two everytime. It takes repeat tasting of flavors and new foods before children will like it.

  19. Host a family color night. Try a new food such as purple cauliflower or yellow corn. Plan dinner around this color for a fun activity.

  20. Visit our food facts section to learn more about different fruits and vegetables.

Learn more about kids healthy portion sizes.

There are many ways of increasing the nutrition in your kid's meals. Some quick healthy meal ideas for kids is to cut back on pre-packaged foods as much as possible, eating as many fresh foods and whole grains as possible and making snacks count nutrition wise. All of these healthy eating tips for kids are important for your children's health as well as your own health.

Start new healthy meal ideas and habits

making healthy choices
If your family is having difficulty making healthy food choices then it is important to keep in mind that it takes approximately three weeks to make a new habit.  Start looking at ways that you can break these habits today and implement them as soon as possible.

Once your family is in the habit of making good food choices and using healthy meal ideas you will find that instead of worrying about their food choices you will know that they are making healthy choices at home as well as when they are away. So go ahead and make your healthy meal plans and see how great your family will feel.

Add 5 a Day to Your Diet

You should get at least 5 or more fruits and vegetable servings every day, so include many different colors of fruits and vegetables in your meals.See our fruit and vegetable color nutrition chart.
fruit and vegetable nutrition chart

Adding More Fruits and Vegetables Ideas

  • Prepare scrambled eggs or omelets with chopped veggies.
  • Serve fruit with breakfast.
  • Serve fruit with low-fat yogurt for a healthy snack.
  • Fresh veggies with low-fat dipping sauce, make great snacks too.
  • Serve a fresh cut salad with veggies with dinner.

What to Eliminate in your Eating

5 a day Let’s talk about the foods you need to eliminate from their diets.
  • Processed fruit snacks. Replace with real dried fruits.
  • Chips and dip. Replace with baked corn chips and salsa.
  • Cookies and candy bars. Replace with healthy granola bars.
  • Milkshakes and full-fat milk. Replace with real fruit smoothies.
  • White floured products. Replace with products made with whole wheat flour.
  • Sugary desserts. Replace with fresh fruits and low-fat yogurt.

Healthy Shopping Ideas

Making all of these changes can be difficult, but here’s a few shopping tips to help you get started.
  1. Primarily shop the outside of the grocery store, as most processed foods are found in the inside aisles.
  2. Get all of your fresh produce prepared (wash, chopped and stored) on the day you bring it home from the grocery store to make it easily accessible.
  3. The majority of the items you buy at the grocery store should be in the produce section followed by whole grain products and lean meats.

Kids Cooking Video: How to Cook Healthy Food

Share your Healthy Meal Ideas and Recipes

Share your Ideas

Do you have a great homemade idea? Is it edible or food related. Go ahead and share it!

Related Easy Kids Meals and Ideas:
~Easy Kids Meals, ~Easy Meal Ideas, ~Breakfast, ~Breakfast 6 or fewer, ~Side Dishes, ~Snacks, ~Main Dishes, ~Desserts, ~No Bake Recipes, ~Kids Lunches, ~Portion Sizes, ~Microwave Meals, ~Hidden Vegetable Recipes, ~Healthy Kids Meals, ~Picky Eater Tips, ~Family Dinner, ~How to menu plan, ~Diabetic, ~Toddler Ideas, ~Low Calorie, ~Gluten Free, ~Vegetarian, ~Low Carb

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