My kids are grown up now, but I still remember how difficult it was to come up with meals that were healthy, easy to make and that they loved to eat. I thought I’d share my own kids’ dinner recipes for those struggling to know what to cook. I’ve made sure they’re all easy on the pocket, too.
Milly Molly Mandy Potatoes
I got the inspiration for this recipe from some old-fashioned books called the Milly Molly Mandy series, which I used to read to my children. The main character tucks into what she calls a ‘lid potato’ – a jacket potato standing up on the plate, stuffed with cheesy potato. Here’s my version.
Prep time: 5-10 minutes
Cook time: 40 minutes
- 4 large jacket potatoes
- Thick honey-roast ham slices
- Cheddar cheese
- Fresh chives
- Bake the potatoes in the oven at 200°C for around 45 minutes. You can check if they are done by sticking a fork into a potato – if it slides in without resistance, they’re ready.
- Slice the bottom off each potato, so it will stand up straight on the plate.
- Slice off the top to make the lid. Then remove the potato filling, taking care not to carve too deep and break through one of the sides.
- Mash the potato. Add butter, salt, pepper, grated Cheddar cheese, chopped chives and diced ham.
- Put the mixture back into the potato and grill for five minutes, until the top goes golden brown.
- Serve with green vegetables.
Fruit animal toasts
I always found it hard to get my kids to eat fruit and vegetables, until I hit on the idea of serving them arranged in funky animal patterns. I soon realised that if you arranged animal shapes out of fruit on toast, you could make a complete meal for young children.
Prep time: 5-10 minutes
- 8 or more slices of wholemeal toast
- 300g strawberries
- 4-6 bananas
- Peanut butter
- Low-fat cream cheese
- 200g packet blueberries
- Toast bread.
- Slice strawberries lengthwise (to make triangular shapes) and bananas
- Decorate the toast so it resembles an animal’s face. For example, you can make an owl by smearing a cream cheese oval onto the bread, by adding banana slices with blueberries on top for eyes, the tip of a strawberry triangle for a beak, and further slices of strawberries for feathers. If you Google ‘fruit animal faces toast’, you’ll find lots of images to inspire you.
Chicken nuggets and smileys – the healthy version
It sounds like a lot of work to make chicken nuggets from scratch, but I promise you it’s really easy, and it’s something the kids enjoy helping out with as well. You can serve your nuggets with McCain Sweet Potato Smiles – a healthy version of the potato smileys kids know and love.
Prep time: 10 minutes
Cooking time: 15
- 3-4 chicken breasts (depending on size)
- 1 egg, beaten
- 3-4 tablespoons flour
- Garlic salt or plain salt
- McCain Sweet Potato Smiles
- Start off by preheating the oven to 210°C. When it’s hot, add the smiles and cook for 17 minutes. Make sure to turn them over so they crisp on both sides.
- Dice the chicken breasts into nugget-sized pieces.
- Place a saucer of flour next to a bowl of beaten egg, which is placed next to a plate of breadcrumbs mixed with salt to taste.
- Dip each chicken piece into the flour, followed by the egg mixture, and then the breadcrumbs.
- Fry the nuggets on a medium heat until golden brown. Cut the largest one open to make sure they aren’t pink inside before serving.
Sticky sausage bake
This is a family-favourite recipe that I still serve today. Sticky sausages, soft potatoes and sweet apples are a totally addictive combination. And since no oil is used, it’s a healthy alternative to fried bangers and roast potatoes.
Prep time: 5 minutes
Cooking time: 1 hour
- 8-12 sausages (depending on appetite)
- 2 leeks
- 3-4 carrots
- 500g new potatoes
- 2 medium apples (Russets, if you can get them)
- vegetable stock cube/powdered bouillon
- 1 jar red-onion marmalade
- fresh thyme
- Preheat oven to 160°C.
- Chop new potatoes and apples. Peel and chop carrots. Arrange on a large oven tray. Season with salt, pepper and fresh thyme. Place sausages on top.
- Mix together around 100ml of stock and pour over. Spoon the marmalade generously over the mixture.
- Cook in the oven for an hour or so, stirring the mixture around the halfway mark. It’s ready when the sausages and vegetables are caramelised.
I hope you have fun cooking these healthy dinner recipes, and that your children enjoy eating them – mine certainly do! What do you cook your kids for dinner?