Chow Parents - Any ideas/recipes for Healthy Home Cooked Dinners for Kids?
Treading on thin ice with this subject, but I've just always fed my daughter exactly what the adults are eating. The earlier you start with this, the better it works. It isn't an automatic truth that kids don't like Chinese or Indian or whatever - think of what the kids in those places eat.
Aside from that I'd suggest lots of roasted vegetables (on their own or in pastas, soups, etc.), stir frys.
Indian food was my friend's daughters fave food when she was 2-3 years old. We took her to an Indian restaurant every Friday so she could get her "pink chicken" (tandoori) fix. She would wear her tutu and her butterfly wings and the people that owned the restaurant would spoil her rotten by bringing her little bites of this and that to try. She's loved Indian food ever since.
True, but this is easier with some kids than others. My daughter will eat almost anything and has from day one. She requested sushi for her seventh birthday dinner recently, and her favorite restaurant is Taiwanese. My son on the other hand is much pickier even though we raised him similarly. But sticking with it and not accommodating short order requests does pay off, just not as easy with him.
Something that my kids have recently discovered they love is "super salad" night where I basically set up a salad bar and they get to pick what goes on their salad. Perfect for summer when you dont want to turn on the oven. Who knew that my picky eater would eat an entire plate of salad?
If you eat "healthy" than your kids should already be eating "healthy". By serving and eating lots of nutritious, whole food yourself your kids will eventually do the same. Basically, model the behavior you want to see and then don’t sweat the small stuff. As the parent you control what comes into the house. Don’t want them eating “junk” don’t bring it in the house. What? Grandma keeps slipping him cookies? Don’t sweat the small stuff.
Instead of focusing on healthy foods that kids will like focus on healthy foods for the whole family. There are so many great threads on this site about “healthy” meals (and just as many debating what “healthy” is, LOL) that I am sure you can find some great insight.
One big step, if you even do this, is to stop buying premade packaged foods and start making things yourself. Our whole family loves homemade chicken fingers made with honey mustard and panko crust served with spicy catsup. Add a green veggie and that’s is a healthy meal. Pizza made from scratch can get a boost from WW crust. Plus you control the salt/sugar/fat and no preservatives needed. Happy to provide recipes!
I like to follow Ellyn Satters advice from "How to get your kids to eat" which is as parent it is my job to offer healthy meals and snacks and it’s the kids job to eat (or not) as they see fit. No cajoling, no more “just one bite-ing”, no bribing. Simple in theory but difficult often to execute because so many of us think “skip a meal=starvation”. With rare medical exception kids eat when they are hungry. So what if he pushes away his plate? Focus on manners not the food as you know he will be offered a healthy snack or another meal in a few hours.
I took a cooking class a few years ago called “But will my Kids eat it” and it was all about cooking a single meal for the family but adding twists for adults/more adventurous eaters. It really helped me when my son when thru “I don’t like spicy/nut/food touching/etc phases” . It kept meal time enjoyable and meant my husband I didn’t have to give up our favorite dishes. It also meant I could accommodate his likes/dislikes without being a short order cook.
Also keep in mind that food jags in kids are developmentally appropriate. So is liking food one day and not next. It also developmentally appropriate for a kids to take a looong time warming up to new foods. So instead on focusing on what a kid eats at each meal, each day or even a week focus on the long term. When you really pay attention most kids really do get balanced nutrition.
We ate what my parents ate, my Mom only made one meal- Coq au vin, whole artichokes, whatever it was was what there was for dinner. The only thing I can really think of her doing that was specifically for us kids was that she would serve sauces/ condiments on the side so those could be enjoyed by those that liked them and tried first if it was something new that we were unsure of without "ruining" a whole dinner if we weren't sure of it or if it was too spicy, etc. Is that something that might work for you?
My 2yo eats pretty much the same thing we eat
Some of her favorites
Stir fried broccoli
Steamed green beans
Breaded/baked chicken cutlets
Grilled chicken cutlets
Grilled London broil
Mashed sweet potatoes
Butternut squash fries
Ww pasta with spinach pesto
Veggie rice (mixed w/Greek yogurt)
Tilapia- baked with peppers, onions, marinara