8 Healthy Meals Kids Will Love (that you can make in 30 minutes or LESS!)

As a parent, and especially as a working parent, it can be pretty tough to find the time to not only cook a healthy meal, but one that your kids enjoy.

There are plenty of easy meals (think mac & cheese, grilled cheese, etc.) but they often aren’t healthy.  I love a good grilled cheese and tomato soup as much as the next person (mmm, dipping the grilled cheese into the soup, soo good…) but we all know it’s not good for you.

So, I set out to track down some recipes that met the following criteria:

  • Quick and easy to make
  • Relatively healthy
  • Most kids will actually like them

And I didn’t want these to be your typical “kids meals.” I’m a big fan of exposing kids to new flavors at a young age, and doing it in a way that gives them a positive experience in the process.

Not exactly an easy quest, but I’ll share with you what I found.

8 Healthy Meals Kids Will Love

1) Pepperoni Pizza Quesadilla

Total cooking time: 10 minutes

This recipe makes a tasty, healthier alternative to pizza.  You get all that pizza flavor with less bread, cheese, and grease.  And it’s super easy (and inexpensive) to make.

If you’re not in a pepperoni mood, you can substitute sausage (or whatever is your favorite topping) instead.

Kids love quesadillas and pizza, so why not combine the two for an interesting, delicious meal that take just a few minutes to put together.

Source: Two Healthy Kitchens (head there to see the full recipe)

2) Crunchy, Oven Baked Chicken Tenders

Total cooking time: 25 minutes

Chicken tenders: a food universally loved by kids (and secretly most adults).

The thing I like about these is that they seem like they would be unhealthy, but unlike traditional chicken tenders, they are baked, not fried.

This is a good one to involve your kids with the preparation.  While you probably need to be the one to cut up the chicken, they can pretty much do everything else.

I think including kids in the preparation allows them to enjoy it that much more when it’s finally done.

Source: Food Network (head there to see the full recipe)

3) Hawaiian Chicken Kabobs

Total cooking time: 30 minutes

I love this one for a nice summer meal when you’re spending time outside and getting some use out of your grill.  Nothing unlocks the sweetness of a pineapple quite like the hot flames of a grill.

It’s simple and sweet, and if you want to keep it healthier and low carb, don’t eat it with rice.

For younger kids, this is a great meal to introduce a sweet and savory combination.

Source: All Recipes (head there to see the full recipe)

4) Banana Blueberry Pancakes

Total cooking time: 30 minutes

So, this one is more of a breakfast instead of dinner.

Or, if you’re like me and thoroughly enjoy brinner, well, this works well for that too.

The secret to making these pancakes healthy is that the batter isn’t just purely flour-based.  It includes bananas (and a little bit of flour), and according to the nutrition facts, 2 pancakes are only 195 calories.  This of course assumes you don’t completely drench them in syrup. 🙂

(I could seriously eat breakfast for every meal of the day.)

Source: Taste of Home (head there to see the full recipe)

5) One Pot Chicken and Broccoli Rice

Total cooking time: 20 minutes

If your kids hate broccoli, this is a great way to get them to eat it.

Let’s face it – broccoli on its own is a hard sell.  But when you mix it with chicken, rice, and cheese (and this recipe uses three different kids of cheeses!), it’s a delicious combination that tricks your taste buds into actually liking broccoli.

And as a side note, this is a great one for leftovers – this meal reheats really well for lunch or dinner over the next few days.

Source: Real Housemoms (head there to see the full recipe)

6) Tomato Basil Chicken Stew

Total cooking time: 25 minutes

There’s nothing as comforting as a good stew (especially on a cool day).

This recipe is healthy and loaded with tons of good flavor.  Much like the previous recipe, this tomato basil chicken stew makes for fantastic leftovers (and is easy for kids to microwave themselves when you’re too busy to prepare something).

Source: Gimme Some Oven (head there to see the full recipe)

7) Cauliflower Crusted Grilled Cheese Sandwiches

Total cooking time: 30 minutes

I drool every time I look at this picture. And I never thought I’d say that about anything that includes cauliflower as a primary ingredient.

Kids love grilled cheese, so here’s a way to do it without all the carbs (i.e. no bread!). It’s easier than it looks; I used to be scared of using cauliflower in any form other than its natural form (maybe baked or steamed), but this is a perfect way to use it as a bread replacement.

When you’re eating loads of cheese, it’s never going to be perfectly healthy, but this is still relatively healthy compared to your average grilled cheese sandwich.

Source: Kirbie’s Cravings (head there to see the full recipe)

8) Honey Garlic Shrimp

Total cooking time: 20 minutes

You don’t normally think of shrimp when you think of kid food, so consider this a good introduction.  The sweet honey glaze will draw them into a lifetime love of shrimp.

Add some veggies, and possibly some rice, and you have a well-balanced meal that feels restaurant-quality when done right.

Source: Sally’s Baking Addiction (head there to see the full recipe)

Hungry Yet?

Looking at food pictures always makes me hungry, so after putting this post together, it’s safe to say that I’m starving.

Next time you’re thinking of making up that box of mac & cheese or putting a frozen pizza in the oven, give one of the above recipes a try.  Provided you have the ingredients, they all take 30 minutes or less, and kids WILL enjoy them (even if they don’t think they will at first 🙂 ).

What are some quick and healthy-ish meals you like to cook for your kids? Leave a comment below!

About Eric and Tiffany Matthews

We're Eric and Tiffany, the parents behind Cynical Parent. We're just normal parents who are navigating parenthood with both eyes wide open (probably because there's a kid yelling nearby). And of course, we're pretty cynical. Don't believe everything you read or hear, whether it's on the internet, or from a close family or friend (or even from us!). Every child is different, and what works for one may not work for another. Sometimes you just need to try and see for yourself. :)


  1. This is such a great post – a really important topic these days, with everyone so busy with hectic schedules! I definitely feel like parents still want to feed their families nutritious meals to fuel all those busy days, but sometimes they feel like there’s just no time. These quick (and healthy!) recipes are great problem-solvers! I’m definitely pinning this to share! And thanks bunches for including our Pepperoni Pizza Quesadillas in this terrific list! It’s been an incredibly popular recipe, both with our own readers, and also on Pinterest – I hope you’re readers will love it just as much! 🙂

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.