I have a lot of discussions with other parents on the topic of meal time and about getting smaller children to eat a healthy meal. There are a number of things that we do as a family to make meal time more enjoyable, but I think the most important from that list is having the children involved in creating the menu plan and ensuring that there tastes are incorporated into the family’s meals.

The food that I cook on a regular basis is not fussy or overly complex, but is healthy, easy to cook and appealing to the children. I have collated a list of family meals that our children love and eat readily and may give you some new ideas for you family dinners.

(1). Fried Rice
It is not an actual fry up dish, but contains steamed rice. It can be cooked in advance and is a great meal to feed a large group.

(2). Mexibake
A little more timely to cook (needs to go in the oven for 45 mins) and would be a healthier meal without the tub of sour cream! It is however an incredibly tasty dish and usually covers dinner for more than one night. A number of readers of this blog have tried this and have found it a winner with their family too.

(3). Pasta with Chicken and Spinach
Ultra quick and tasty meal. Tony on his blog Anthony Malloy Between Coffees, posted a photo from when he tried this recipe and his presentation of this meal is impressive.

(4). Spicy Chutney Chicken with Mixed Rice
A tasty dish, that you can easily play with the ingredients to give more variety. For example we have used cous cous instead of rice and other times added some dired fruit to the rice to mix it up a bit.

(5). Chicken Schnitzel and Salad
There is definitely nothing fancy about this meal, but the children love it. I love it from the aspect that I get the children to help me prepare it. They can grate the carrot, slice the cheese, cut the cucumber etc. It is also a meal that they can serve themselves, which is always a big hit in our house.

(6). Baked Penne With Bacon
Simple dish to cook and one that can be made earlier in the day, for nights when we have after school activities.

(7). Chicken Stir Fry With Seasonal Vegetables
The big issue for us with this meal, is whether it is accompanied with rice or noodles! The family is split about half and half with its preference. We have now agreed on alternating between the two, to keep everyone happy.

(8). Porcupine Meatballs
I loved this meal as a child. I have to say that I love it less as an adult, but genetics has played a part – all my children love this dish and always have multiple helpings.

(9). Spaghetti Amatriciana
Having Matriciana in its name is probably a little generous given that I am the only one in the house who eats anything spicy (hot), so there is only minimal chili in this dish. It is copied from Matriciana styled dishes and my children love anything with bacon in it.

(10). Beef Strogonoff
Now we are in the warmer months here in Australia, this will be off the rotation for a while, but it is a great winter dish. It is also a great slow cooker recipe, which is I can start cooking earlier in the day on those nights when we have after school activities.

Looking forward to seeing what are the favourites for your family! :)

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5 comments...read them below or add one

  • Kathy October 28, 2008 at 1:28 pm

    A recent reader here (I found your blog via Tony’s pasta post and I think it’s terrific!)

    I have a 5-year-old and a 3.5-year-old (both girls), and I am 23 weeks pregnant and also a Coeliac, which somewhat complicates menu planning, but on another level, means we eat virtually no takeaway or pre-packaged food as it’s all got gluten in it. My kids are pretty good eaters – the 5 year old is better than the little one – and mealtimes are generally quite unstressy UNLESS someone is trying it on, or we are in a big hurry (my kids like langorous dinners accompanied by reading of chapter books, which normally I’m more than happy to accomodate -it’s great downtime / family time).

    On to the meals! We have several reliable family favourites (including a couple that overlap with yours – “fried” rice and beef stroganoff), so I’ll just choose 5 at random to get the ball rolling:

    1. Risotto
    My children (and my husband) adore risotto, and I have found a really easy, tasty oven-baked recipe that I use at least once a fortnight. You can put any combination of vegetables or chicken you like in it, but my family’s favourite is pumpkin, sweet corn & bacon.

    2. Chicken & leek pie
    I make this from Stephanie Alexander’s recipe in the Cook’s Companion but substitute gluten-free shortcrust pastry. It isn’t a really quick dinner but isn’t fiddly and can be made the day before. I serve it with green beans and steamed carrots & potatoes and the children adore it passionately.

    3. Shepherd’s pie
    I know this is a bog-standard Australian meal but it’s amazing how much taste, variety and goodness you can pack into one dish! I use lamb mince whenever I can instead of beef, and usually the filling has mushrooms, broccoli, carrots, peas, corn, zucchini, and sometimes kidney beans in it. Again, it isn’t quick to cook (but very quick to prepare), but it reheats beautifully.

    4.Lasagne
    I use a brilliant recipe that I saw at Exclusively Food (http://www.exclusivelyfood.com.au/2007/12/beef-lasagne-recipe.html). It makes 2 full dinners for my crew plus two work lunches for the husband, and everyone loves it.

    5. “Pink & orange” fish & chips
    This is what my kids call it when I make steamed salmon, marinaded in lemon & lime juice from our fruit trees, and serve it with an oven-baked mixture of cubed seasoned potatoes, sweet potatoes, carrots and pumpkin (I put steamed green beans & broccolini on the side, which the little one does her best to studiously ignore ;-) They absolutely adore this and although salmon is not cheap, I try to serve it once a fortnight as it’s such a treat for us all.

    Kathys last blog post..10 Things We Should Never Say to Kids

  • PlanningQueen October 28, 2008 at 11:13 pm

    Kathy – Thanks for the great response. I wish my children would eat risotto. They have this thing about “squishy rice”. Love the pink and orange fish and chips!

  • ickle Kids October 29, 2008 at 10:55 am

    Thanks for sharing your family favourites. I will definitely have to try some out.

    Luckily my kids love risotto as its one of my favourite dishes to eat (not so much cook as it takes time – but worth it in the end with empty bowls!).

    We also love stews in winter – one pot wonders, gotta love that!

    In summer – we love BBQs as its quick and easy and we love eating up in the fort.

    Their favourite is also my homemade sausage rolls – leftovers are great cold for lunch the next day. It has sausage mince, grated carrots, zucchini and cheese, dash of worcestershire sauce, tomato sauce and ground nutmeg … its really delish!

    ickle Kidss last blog post..Travel Tip Tuesday – Car seats on board planes

  • Trish October 30, 2008 at 6:14 pm

    These are some of my absolute favourites and some new ideas to try.Thank you PQ

    Trishs last blog post..Stop and smell the roses …

  • Bettina October 31, 2008 at 12:36 pm

    Chicken Schnitzel with salad definitely tops my kids favourites. Spag bol, sausages and mash, rissoles and wedges, home cooked fish and chips are all high on the list too.

    Though, at 14, 12 and 9 they are not only helping but gaining confidence in cooking ‘themselves’ so we have a lot of simple favourites of late in the form of side dishes that will go with most meals like corn fritters or zuchinni slice. I taught TJ how to make chicken patties and he insists on home made chicken burgers once a week now that he makes himself (with some reminders about what next lol)

    Bettinas last blog post..Flick of the Switch