When your household has a picky eater—or two or three!—providing a balanced, nutritious and flavorful dinner can feel like mission impossible. If you’re tired of offering the same-old, same-old with little success, try out our 10 dinner ideas for picky eaters. At least a few of these nutritious, creative, kid-friendly meals for picky eaters are sure to turn “Ew, yuck” into “More please!”
Our Favorite Meals for Picky Eaters
1. Baked Potato Bar
With a serve-yourself baked potato bar, your little ones can assemble their own dinner creations! Skip the butter, bacon and sour cream, and instead set out healthy toppings like low-fat cheese, ground turkey, black beans and steamed broccoli. This option puts plenty of nutritious offerings on the table while inspiring a bit of creativity and independence.
2. Pizza Bagels
Everyone loves pizza, and these whole-wheat pizza bagels are a healthful, low-prep alternative to frozen pizza pockets. For maximum fiber and nutrients, be sure to use bagels or English muffins that are labeled “100% whole grain” or “100% whole wheat”—not just “multigrain.”
3. Mac & Cheese with Cauliflower
A nutritious twist on one of the most kid-friendly meals, Nurture Life’s mac and cheese features pureed cauliflower for an extra measure of fiber and vitamins. Your little ones will love the familiar flavor and texture of cheesy macaroni without even realizing that the veggies are there!
4. Chicken Fajitas
Build your own chicken fajitas with succulent roast chicken, lightly charred onions and sweet bell peppers. This recipe uses a sheet pan, so all you have to do is place the ingredients on a pan and let them roast to perfection! For extra-crunchy goodness, swap the tortillas for homemade black bean chips.
5. White Bean Burgers
White bean burgers incorporate plenty of protein, fiber and nutrients without a ton of meal prep. Using canned beans and flavorful spices, these simple meatless burgers can be dressed up with low-fat cheese, fresh tomatoes and your kids’ favorite sauces.
6. Peas & Cheese Tortellini
Combining bright English peas with a mixed veggie Bolognese, Nurture Life’s peas and cheese tortellini is packed with hearty yet familiar flavors. The bite-sized tortellini are also great to serve with cute character food picks or other fun tools for picky eaters!
7. Veggie Wraps
Another low-prep, assemble-yourself option, veggie wraps let your kids select their favorite toppings. Saute tofu with sliced carrots or other kid-friendly vegetables, and then set out crispy lettuce cups and crushed peanuts for a fun, DIY meal.
8. Chicken Bites, Mashed Yams & Green Beans
Chicken nuggets are practically synonymous with kid-friendly meals, and Nurture Life’s chicken bites balance nutrition and taste. Instead of deep-fried, our chicken bites are oven-roasted until crispy and served with delectable mashed yams and French green beans.
9. Breakfast for Dinner
Incorporating fun is always one of the best ways to win over picky eaters—so why not surprise your kids by serving breakfast for dinner? Invite them to help prepare their own egg-in-a-hole using whole-wheat toast.
Frequently recommended by Nurture Life’s pediatric registered dietitian, Lara Field, eggs are rich in B vitamins and one of our favorite superfoods for kids.
10. Beef Kofta
A type of Mediterranean meatball, beef kofta are lightly spiced and served with a side of calcium-rich Greek yogurt. For extra fiber and lean protein, consider reducing the meat and substituting plant-based proteins such as lentils or mushrooms.
It takes time to successfully navigate picky eating, but with some effort and consistency, your child’s finicky habits can be overcome. Start by trying out some of our picky eater dinner ideas above, and your kids’ evolving tastes may just surprise you.
Even if your little one is still hesitating to take a bite, Nurture Life has freshly made, kid-friendly meals to meet your child’s taste preferences. With balanced meals that can be prepped in 3 minutes or less, you and your picky eater can always feel good about dinnertime.
More Meals for Picky Eaters – Ingredients to Work Into Your Picky Eater’s Diet
When it comes to mealtime, some kids will eat whatever you put in front of them while others can be almost impossible to please. But the reality is that picky eaters are often picky because they’re not being challenged with new and exciting foods, and because it’s all too easy to return to their favorites to avoid an argument before dinner.
Typical “kids food” isn’t doing you any favors with over-the-top flavors and preservatives that are intended to preserve their shelf life, not give your kids what they need nutritionally. So when our kids grow up eating sugary, over-salted foods, their tastes get skewed by what’s available, and there’s no competition when you’re trying to serve meals for picky eaters that have more greens, fruits and veggies, as well as more reasonable protein choices than red meat.
The good news is that by repeatedly introducing your child to new foods, you’ll broaden the flavors that they’re exposed to, and after time they’ll start to crave new and interesting foods. But for them to give it a shot in the first place, meals for picky eaters must be delicious, and that doesn’t have to mean fried, cheesy, or otherwise unhealthy.
While even the suggestion of broccoli might send an image of disgust across your child’s face, broccoli doesn’t have to be some mushy and smelly meal. In fact, if you lightly fry or sauté broccoli, you might find that it becomes a meal for picky eaters that they’ll love. Add some salt for flavor and your kids might not even know they’re getting valuable nutrients.
- Try it from Nurture Life: Chicken Parmesan with Broccoli
- Try making it at home: Roasted Fresh Broccoli
Tomatoes are also an excellent food for picky eaters, but kids don’t like the seeds and mushy feel of raw or cooked tomatoes. Instead, try a nice, hot bowl of tomato soup that doesn’t have any seeds or lumps, making it a quick and easy meal for the picky eater in your home. If you make it from scratch, you can control the salt content, and in a pinch a low-sodium brand is much healthier than that generic can of tomato soup. If the soup isn’t enough on its own, try adding some fun crackers to get their attention.
- Try making it at home: Garden Fresh Tomato Soup
The nice thing about preparing meals for picky eaters is that you don’t necessarily have to tell them what’s in it, which will come in handy for our next pick, fried calamari. Sure, if you regale them with pictures of squid before serving, you might get the stink eye and be left with a mouth sealed shut. But all they’ll know is that it tastes great, and the calamari you bake at home won’t have all the fat and grease of a take-out option.
- Try making it at home: Calamari Fritti Rings
Sometimes you don’t need to make meals for picky eaters when a quick snack will do. That goes double for our next pick, pomegranate seeds, which are both sweet and sour — tastes that kids love. They’re great for toddlers or as a light snack throughout the day, and their flavors almost seem candy-like to kids’ taste buds. But you don’t have to feel guilty with this superfood and its powerful antioxidants that helps promote good heart health and comes with anti-cancer benefits. Whether you buy them fresh or frozen, you’ll always have a great snack at the ready.
- Learn More: 12 Health Benefits of Pomegranate
- Try making it at home: Pomegranate Pear Green Salad with Ginger Dressing
Oddly enough, most picky eaters are fine with meat, but their tastes could lead them to consume too much red meat if it becomes an everyday staple. Instead, promote chicken and other white meats in your child’s diet, which is healthier and contains more good proteins than red meat. A simple chicken satay is sure to catch the attention of the pickiest of eaters, and the skewers provide a fun little activity to enjoy together as a family.
- Try it from Nurture Life: Butter Chicken with Peas, Rice, & Mini Naan
- Try it from Nurture Life: Chicken Biryani
- Try it from Nurture Life: Japanese-Inspired Chicken & Vegetable Noodles
As we mentioned earlier, cauliflower is an excellent substitute when it comes to mac and cheese. By including a little less cheese and adding in cauliflower, you’ll be contributing valuable veggies without your kids even noticing. But did you know that cauliflower also makes an excellent faux steak, and you can top it with tomato sauce, parmesan cheese and whatever else you’d like. Cauliflower-based pizza crust is yet another way to do meals for picky eaters — just make sure you don’t load up with too much gooey cheese.
- Try making it at home: Creamy Mashed Cauliflower “Potatoes”
By themselves they’re kind of underwhelming, but if you roast them with olive oil, salt and pepper, you’ll end up with a tasty snack that beats any bag of chips or crackers. If you serve them right after cooking, or if you quickly heat them up before serving, you’re sure to get a warm reaction from the picky eater in your family. Add herbs, spices and citrus for more adventurous flavorings.
For some healthy food that’s also fun, try edamame, which are as delicious as they are fun to pop. At home, they’re easy-to-prepare meals for picky eaters that just require some steaming and a sprinkling of salt. Citrus zest and other spices and herbs can also be used to provide a unique spin on the dish each time you serve it up.
- Try it from Nurture Life: Chicken & Vegetable Dumplings with Edamame
- Try making it at home: Garlic Edamame
While fish is usually a no-no when it comes to meals for picky eaters, kids that do like fish are usually sold by the sauce, which is often a soy-based, teriyaki sauce. Grilled on the stove top or baked in the oven, fresh fish with sauce on a bed of rice or angel hair pasta can win over just about any picky eater. But whether you’re using cod or tilapia, or you’re starting the journey with fish sticks, find out what sauce your little one likes before you commit to the dish.
- Try it from Nurture Life: Salmon Slider with Rainbow Carrots & Green Beans
- Try making it at home: Fish Cakes for Kids and Picky Eaters
- Try making it at home: Tuna and White Bean Sandwiches
It may not look like it, but green beans can be an excellent meal for picky eaters, as long as you make them crispy. Stay far away from soggy with flour, eggs and panko bread crumbs, baking them with canola oil to heighten the flavor. Your kids won’t seek out green beans on their own, but as part of a crunchy, tasty snack, you’ll have a winner on your hands with hardly any prep.
- Try it from Nurture Life: Chicken Bites with Green Beans & Roasted Sweet Potatoes
- Try it from Nurture Life: Turkey Meatloaf with Mashed Potatoes & Green Beans
- Try making it at home: Green Beans with Lemon and Garlic
If you’re dealing with a resistance to whole-grain waffles, the last of our meals for picky eaters is coconut waffles. The coconut masks the bitter taste of whole grains, and to a kid it seems like they’re sprinkling on extra goodness — except you don’t have to tell them that it’s also good for them. Go ahead, cover that entire waffle in shredded coconut. It’s a fun activity, and it’s also adding valuable nutrients to the dish.
- Try making it at home: 30-Minute Coconut Curry
- Try making it at home: Roasted Butternut & Coconut Soup
Meals for Picky Eaters Made Easy: Try Nurture Life Kids Meal Delivery
If you’re feeling overwhelmed with meal ideas for picky eaters, try Nurture Life kids meal delivery service. Each one of our meals is formulated for kids and picky eaters in mind, and it only takes a couple minutes to have a delicious meal or snack for the whole family. They’re perfectly balanced with nutrients that your kids’ growing bodies and minds need, and they’re also flavored in ways that kids like.