Quick dinner recipes for kids...healthy and fun!

Putting together a set of quick dinner recipes for kids is great! Firstly, you can show them that quick can be healthy. Secondly, cooking with kids can be fun, for you and them. Thirdly, you're getting them used to doing the cooking for you!!

Healthy eating does not mean that meals take a long time. In fact, healthy meals can be very quick and very cheap.

I once challenged my son to a contest, we were running late for a dance lesson, so he wanted to get McDonalds on the way...this would be fast he said. I bet him 30 minutes of housework that I could whip up dinner in the time it took him to unpack his school bag, race into his room, jump into his dance clothes and get back to the table. I won!So began nights when we would invest in some time doing quick dinner recipes for kids...by kids

Now, in our house, we have don't actually write these fast recipes down, we pull them together as we go, and the kids do them. I supervise (they're 10, 8 and 6 so hot water and stove usage still scares me a little), but we've developed a way of putting together a quick meal based on what happens to be in the fridge and the pantry.

Quick dinner recipes for kids - healthy is the focus...some protein, some carbohydrates and a lot of vegetables

I've found that most kids love to cook. We love to invent here, and we use very simple guidelines for our quick dinner recipes for kids...it all starts with a few questions:

1. What protein do we have? The kids will go looking and come up with the alternatives...canned salmon/tuna, eggs, lean ham, left over roast beef...

After the kids have pick which protein they're going to work with. They move on to the carbohydrates...

2. Bread (multigrain or wholemeal, white if that's all we have), what pasta we have, potatoes, rice. Again they've gone through the fridge and the cupboards to check what we have enough of.

3. What vegetables do have to go with it? What fruit for afterwards? (Sometimes we're running a little low on vegetables, so we have a fruit based desert.)

Now the thing about this is the kids are also well aware that we're looking for fast meal recipes, and when you're cooking with kids it's good to focus on healthy eating too.

Quick, and by this I mean faster than waiting for the pizza to be delivered, or driving down to the nearest takeaway, can be healthy. If you keep a range of fresh and semi unprocessed groceries in your fridge and cupboards, the kids can come up with some great meals...all on the table in less than 15 minutes, and it's there own quick dinner recipes for kids.

Even if you're running out of things, it doesn't matter, that's the beauty about getting the kids to go through foods and choose what to mix and serve...you might like to guide them, depending on their choices...we decided that raspberries, grated carrots and cheese, spinach and banana, was probably not something we were willing to bet on. But, maybe one day...

Quick dinner recipes for kids - Our favourite egg meals

They all love this one...it's very easy and you can vary the vegetables depending on what you have in the fridge:

Multigrain bread, toasted (although we have used white if that's all we've got), spread with HP Sauce, BBQ Sauce, or avocado.

Top the toast with baby spinach leaves, a couple of slices of tomato, you can also use winter salad leaves, the leaves of baby bok choy, grated carrot, and onion...grill this lightly just to warm it up.

Pop a poached egg on top, add some more of your favorite sauce and...Delicious.

(Just put water in your frying pan, up to about half way, add a little salt, once the water comes to the boil, slide your eggs in, and use a slotted big spoon to remove them).

While the water's coming to the boil, the kids are doing the toast and getting the vegetables ready to go on top, the griller's warming up and...we're all eating. I do the poaching but the eldest puts the water in the pan and gets it started. In fact, he will quite often ask if he can cook this for all of us for dinner. He's not into slaving over a hot stove...neither am I! It,s healthy, filling, and you can vary the vegetables, sauces and bread depending on what each person likes.

Scrambled eggs, poached eggs, hard-boiled eggs...with salad, with steamed vegies, with grilled vegies...add bread, toast, homemade croutons, pasta...all of these are quick to do, healthy and all kid friendly.

Quick dinner recipes for kids - favourite pasta

This is my daughter's favourite carbohydrate to work with, and together the kids have come up with some great healthy, lightning fast dinners.

Fresh pasta is even faster to use when doing quick dinner recipes for kids, because the cooking time is using half that of the dried pastas. But, we use both here, it just depends on what we have in the cupboard.

There is no limit to the toppings you can use, just be careful of cream or oil based...they can be a trap.

The kids favourite for pasta:

Get the pasta water on, while you're waiting for it to boil, put the following into a microwave bowl:

a punnet of cherry tomatoes cut into quarters (with a little salt and pepper), 6-8 mushrooms thinly sliced, half a red capsicum, thinly sliced, 1 crushed clove of garlic, half a cup of tomato puree

Cook all this for 2 minutes on high in the microwave.

Drain the pasta (don't rinse with cold water) and put it back into the pot you cooked it in, pour the tomato based topping over the top, add 2 handfuls of baby spinach (and for those of you who like olives...some of these too), stir and dish up into bowls...dinner is served.

In this meal mushrooms serve as the protein, but if we've got any available the kids also like to add a handful of lean shredded ham into the mix. This goes in with the spinach at the end. They've also added tinned corn, when we haven't had capsicum...tuna instead of ham...worcestershire sauce for a bit of kick (my youngest has the taste for things with zing).

By the time the pasta's cooked everything's done, which is the beauty of these types of recipes, you just mix the topping through the warm pasta and serve.

The kids have cooked many variations of this that don't require cooking at all...such as lightly crushing the cherry tomatoes and sprinkling them with a little salt and pepper, adding a tin of tuna in springwater (drained), spinach leaves or winter mixed salad leaves, tossing this altogether, and then stirring it through the still warm pasta.

Quick dinner recipes for kids - cooking with kids for healthy eating and fast food

The variations are endless...it just depends on what ingredients you have in the house, and what the kids start with...what protein, what carbohydrate and which vegetables...

Healthy meals can be quick, they can be kid friendly, and they can be fun. See what happens when you set children the challenge of a healthy meal made up of a protein (about a quarter of the total meal), carbohydrates (another quarter, potatoes can fill this role to) and vegetables, or salad ingredients (half of the total meal).

Not only will you be surprised at what they can come up with...but you're starting them, without them even knowing it, thinking about what constitutes a healthy meal...and it's faster than fast food.

What can you and your children find in your pantry and fridge tonight, for dinner in 15 minutes?

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