Where there’s a kid’s birthday party, there’s usually pizza. Convenient and easy, pizza is also a surefire hit with most kids, and it can save tired party-planning parents from another task.
But pizza isn’t exactly nutritious. In fact, it packs quite a punch in fat and calories, and considering most kids attend several birthday parties a year, those slices can add up. With a little creativity and some out-of-the-box thinking, you can serve a nutritious birthday party meal that’s easy, crowd-pleasing and affordable. Here are 10 ideas to help get you started.
Make-your-own sandwich station
Prepare a make-your-own station for kids with whole wheat bread, lean meats, protein- and calcium-rich cheese slices and veggies (think bell peppers, tomatoes and dark greens like spinach). Skip the chips and offer a side of fresh fruit.
Kid-friendly taco bar
Create a taco bar with whole wheat tortillas, lean meats like ground turkey or shredded chicken and veggies like onions, bell peppers, avocado and shredded lettuce. And forget the sour cream; low-fat Greek yogurt will do the trick as a creamy, savory topping.
Easy to prepare the day before, kabobs are a good source of protein and nutrients. Pack your bamboo skewers with healthy grill-friendly veggies, lean meat and some flavorful seasoning. Not enough time? Many grocery stores carry pre-made kabobs that are already skewered and seasoned, minimizing your effort and maximizing convenience.
Whether frozen or made fresh the day before, pierogies are a winner with kids. These Eastern European dumplings can give kids energy all afternoon, especially when stuffed with sweet potatoes or spinach and cheese.
A healthy snack spread
Let kids choose from a variety platter to make their own meal. Try whole wheat pita triangles with hummus, fresh fruit, veggies and multigrain crackers with cheese.
Kids love little sandwiches in bite-sized triangles. Try turkey and cheese, ham and cheese or a nut butter with whole fruit jam, all on whole wheat bread. Or ditch the bread completely with Inside Out Cucumber Sandwiches.
Whole wheat mac and cheese
Mac and cheese is a kid favorite and can be made easily in bulk. Opt for whole wheat pasta and try adding in some cauliflower for extra nutrients. With a side of fresh fruits and veggies, this meal will be a guaranteed hit with kids.
Baked chicken nuggets
Chicken nuggets don’t have to be heavily breaded and fried. Chicken nuggets or strips can be baked with a little panko with minimum effort on your end. Let kids have fun with a variety of dipping sauces such as barbecue, low-fat ranch, honey mustard and low-sugar ketchup. Here are four kid-favorite dip recipes that you can make yourself.
You really can’t go wrong with breakfast for lunch! Try a spread of whole wheat pancakes or waffles plus a fruit platter with granola and low-fat yogurt. Fluffy scrambled eggs can make another great addition to the breakfast bar.
Homemade mini pizzas
Are you and your kids still hankering for pizza? Try a pizza-making station, but keep it healthy. Offer whole wheat pita or English muffins for the “crust,” followed by low-sodium tomato or marinara sauce, grilled chicken, bell peppers, mushrooms, shredded mozzarella cheese and any other meat and veggie toppings you’d like to add.
Providing healthy meals for your kid’s party doesn’t have to be a hassle. Give one of these recipes a whirl and see how easy it can be!