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Healthy Kids Meals Even Picky Eaters Will Love

Caroline Del Col

Have a kiddo who refuses to touch the meals you make? Welcome to the club: 30 to 50 percent of parents say their toddler is a picky eater, and often it’s a habit that’s not so easy to outgrow. We polled the parents on our team for some tips that have coaxed their little ones to expand their eating repertoire beyond the basics.

TIP 1: Prepare one family meal

Unless you’re aiming to become a short-order cook, plan to cook just one dinner — and make it clear that it’s the only one you’re making. Try not to fall into the trap of personalizing each plate per family member, and limit post-dinner snacks. Once your kids learn that there’s one dedicated dinner, they will begin to try it (and avoid late night tummy grumbles).

TIP 2: Ask your kids for input

When you include your kids in choosing which foods to serve (within reason), they’re more likely to feel some sense of initiative and will be more apt to eat it. Allow them to help choose a protein, a starch and a veggie — and make sure these options are ones they will eat.

TIP 3: Don’t give up

Trust us: It’s no fun to slave over the stove only to have your kids turn up their nose. But don’t throw in the towel! Keep offering different foods since it can often take up to 15 introductions for a child to get used to foods, according to a study published in the journal Physiology Behavior.

TIP 4: Remember that no one’s perfect!

While you try to eat clean most of the time, enjoying birthday cupcakes and candy sometimes is not just okay — it’s what makes life sweet! Don’t beat yourself up if your kiddo isn’t inhaling kale smoothies 24/7. Getting in fruits and veggies when you can is great, but nutrients come from all different sources. If you’re really worried about your child’s diet, talk to your pediatrician first and he or she might recommend a multivitamin. (Our kids love ones from Hello Bello and Smartypants!)

Now, ready for some kid-friendly recipes? Our little ones love these options.

Meal Idea #1

One of our go-to combos: Applegate Chicken Nuggets served along with a side of RightRice and a pouch of Once Upon a Farm Applesauce. Our kids literally can't get enough!

Meal Idea #2

We love this easy, meatless cheese lasagna, made with protein-rich Good Culture cottage cheese!


·      1 jar (26-28 ounces) tomato sauce

·      1 14-ounce jar can diced tomatoes

·      1/2 cup water

·      1 ounce fresh parmesan cheese, grated (1/4 cup)

·      1/4 cup fresh Italian parsley, chopped

·      1 egg (we love Nellie’s Free Range or Pete and Gerry’s)

·      1 cup Good Culture cottage cheese

·      10 uncooked lasagna noodles

·      3 cups shredded mozzarella cheese, grated


1.    Preheat oven to 400°F. Combine spaghetti sauce, tomatoes and water, then set aside.

2.    In a small bowl, whisk egg then add ricotta cheese, Parmesan cheese and parsley and mix well.

3.    To assemble lasagna, spread 1 1/2 cups of the sauce over bottom of a 9-inch by 13-inch baking dish. 

4.   Arrange 5 of the uncooked noodles in single layer over sauce by placing 4 noodles lengthwise and 1 noodle crosswise to cover bottom of dish. Press noodles into sauce.

5.    Spread cottage cheese mixture over noodles, then sprinkle with half the mozzarella cheese. 

6.    Top with 1 ½ cups of the sauce and remaining 5 uncooked noodles, breaking noodles to fit. Press noodles into sauce. Spread the remaining sauce over noodles. Cover dish with aluminum foil. 

7.    Bake for 45 minutes, then remove from oven and uncover carefully. Sprinkle with remaining mozzarella cheese. Cover loosely with foil; let stand 15 minutes. Cut into squares.


Meal Idea #3

This recipe for Easy Peanut-Ginger Noodles from Justin's is perfect for older kiddos and those who have no nut allergies.


·     3 tablespoons Justin’s Classic or Honey Peanut Butter  

·     1 tablespoon rice vinegar (can sub apple cider vinegar) 

·     2 teaspoons soy sauce  

·     2 teaspoons honey, (omit if using Honey PB)  

·     1 ½ teaspoons freshly grated ginger 

·     ¼ cup of warm water 

·     1 9-ounce box of fettucine 

·     8 ounces of any veggies your kids will eat (frozen stir fry veggies, snap peas, carrots, mushrooms, whatever you have on hand


1.   In a small bowl, whisk together sauce ingredients. Set aside. 

2.   Cook pasta according to package directions. Add in fresh veggies to the pasta water during the last minute to cook. If using frozen veggies, pre-cook before adding to pasta. Drain. 

3.   Combine pasta and veggies with peanut sauce and toss gently to coat. Serve immediately.

Meal Idea #4

Our kids go crazy for these Once Upon a Farm Brocc-On Chickpea Fritters.


* ½ cup of chickpeas (softened, drained and rinsed) 

* ¼ cup of Once Upon a Farm Brocc On! 

* 1 tablespoon of Parmesan Cheese 

* 1 ½ tablespoons of chickpea flour or flour of choice



1.   In a small bowl, combine chickpeas and Brocc-On! Mash well (but not completely smooth) with a fork. 

2.   Add parmesan cheese and chickpea flour then mix until well combined. 

3.   Slightly dampen your hands with water to prevent sticking and divide fritter dough into five parts and form patties with your hands. 

4.   Spritz a pan with olive oil and heat to medium-high heat. 

5.   Place fritters on hot pan and cook about 3-4 minutes on one side. 

6.   Flip fritters and press down lightly with your spatula. Cook 3-4 minutes until done. 

7.   Let the fritters cool before serving and enjoy

Meal Idea #5

Finally, because who doesn't love breakfast for dinner, these Grain-Free Cinnamon Roll Pancakes from Purely Elizabeth are a sure-fire, nutrient-packed crowd-pleaser your kids will flip for.


·     1 serving Purely Elizabeth Grain-Free Pancake Mix

·     1 egg (We love Nellie's Free Range or Pete and Gerry's) 

·     2 tablespoons of coconut oil 

·     2 tablespoons of water 


For Cinnamon swirl: 

·     1 tablespoon of coconut sugar 

·     ½ teaspoon of cinnamon

·     ½ teaspoon of coconut oil



1.   Prepare pancakes per package instructions. 

2.   In a small bowl, mix together the cinnamon swirl ingredients and microwave for 10 seconds. 

3.   Pour pancake batter onto a heated griddle, pour cinnamon swirl on top of each pancake and use the tip of a knife to swirl around. 

4.   Once fully cooked, remove from the griddle and serve with or without maple syrup

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