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Published on October 12, 2018

15 Flavorful and Healthy Family Meals That are Perfect for Picky Eaters

15 Flavorful and Healthy Family Meals That are Perfect for Picky Eaters

I think you’ll agree with me when I say that finding one meal that everyone in the family likes is a challenge!

But as busy parents we also don’t want to have to make separate meals for the kids either. The good news is there are some amazing healthy family meals out there that are:

  • Healthy
  • Cost-effective
  • Easy top prepare
  • Great tasting
  • Sure to please kids and parents alike

There are a lot of food and recipe sites out there, but we’ve whittled down the thousands of recipes to these top 15.

These healthy family meals are sure to please even the pickiest of eaters and will make a great addition to your dinner table. More importantly, these winning recipes meet the challenge of today’s busy families.

Let’s review the best healthy family meals for your picky eaters!

1. Chicken Pot Pie Turnovers

    This recipe, courtesy of Melissa d’Arabian of The Food Network is delicious, healthy and surprisingly easy to prepare. It’s no wonder it has over 100 reviews and rates 5 stars!

    Melissa is the host of Ten Dollar Dinners and The Picky Eater’s Project. She’s also a mother of four and recent first-time cookbook author.

    This amazing recipe features:

    • Store-bought puff pastry saves a lot of time
    • Only 20 minutes prep time
    • Kids will love the “hot pocket-style” but the flavor of a traditional chicken pot pie

    ~ Check out the recipe here!

    2. Mini Meat Loaf

      This healthy family meal, courtesy of Susie Cover’s book The Supper Club: Kid-Friendly Meals the Whole Family Will Love and published on Parenting.com is a healthy option in that it can be prepared with either ground beef or turkey.

      Kids will love that these fun-sized mini meatloaves are easy to dip in ketchup. They are also perfect for packing for a school lunch or picnic.

      Susie has over 15 years as a professional chef, cookbook author, and founder of a series of prepared food companies.

      This future family staple:

      • Tastes great warm or at room temp
      • Can be formed to any size – no wasted food!
      • Can easily be made gluten-free by using gluten-free panko breadcrumbs

      ~ Check out the recipe here!

      3. Cheesy Cauliflower Pasta

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        This delicious and healthy mac ‘n cheese alternative comes to us from Hillary Smith over at Bon Appétit.

        Hillary is the associate marketing director at Bon Appétit, but clearly knows her way around the kitchen too. Here, Hillary does the unthinkable and gets picky eaters come back for seconds on cauliflower!

        This new family favorite:

        • Is easy to make
        • Features delicious parmesan and pine nuts
        • Roasts the cauliflower to get it tender with a deeper flavor

        ~ Check out the recipe here!

        4. Barbecued Chinese Chicken Lettuce Wraps

          This 5 star recipe is from Rachael Ray, courtesy of The Food Network’s 30 Minute Meals.

          This amazingly flavorful dish:

          • Can be made in 25 minutes
          • Is so delicious kids won’t even question eating lettuce
          • Is packed with veggies

          ~ Check out the recipe here!

          5. Eggplant Parmigiana in a Pasta Sauce

          This amazing recipe re-do comes from Ole & Shaina Olmanson and Babble is a much healthier, but just as tasty a version of traditional eggplant parmesan.

          This fantastic dinner option:

          • Cuts the fried eggplant and lengthy prep stages
          • Calls for ground beef but could easily be made vegetarian
          • Tastes even better the next day!

          ~ Check out the recipe here!

          6. Po-tacos!

            This creative reinvention of the classic taco comes from Weelicious founder Catherine and her friend Joanna. The idea is to use a baked potato split down the middle as the “shell” for your taco.

            Of course a baked potato is healthier than a fried taco shell or fat-laden tortilla. But she also gets incredibly creative with the topping options, going far beyond a typical taco.

            This new classic:

            • Has endless filling possibilities from pesto veggies to pulled pork
            • Could easily be made with sweet potatoes instead
            • Only take a whopping 10 minutes prep time!

            ~ Check out the recipe here!

            7. Crispy Chicken, Ham, and Swiss Roll-Ups

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              This tasty addition to our healthy family meals comes from Jiselle Basile over at Cooking Light. Jiselle has taken the classic ham and cheese sandwich and reinvented it as a roll-up.

              This “meaty, cheesy, moist and crunchy” treat gets healthy by going in the oven instead of into a frying pan.

              This amazing recipe:

              • Is only 351 calories per serving
              • Uses all white meat chicken and ham
              • Is low in sugar and saturated fat

              ~ Check out the recipe here!

              8. Easy 30 Minute Orange Chicken with Rice

                This amazing redo of everyone’s favorite Chinese takeout comes from Kristen over at A Mind “Full” Mom.

                Kristen has crafted a recipe that is not too spicy or sweet. That makes the kids happy. But it’s has enough complex flavors to have the adults coming back for seconds.

                Healthy family meals never tasted so good!

                This fantastic recipe:

                • Is ready in under 30 minutes!
                • Uses fresh orange juice
                • Skips the fryer and the unnecessary calories

                ~ Check out the recipe here!

                9. Noodle Pudding

                This creative recipe, courtesy of Barbara Wener and Country Living is a great way to get kids to eat cottage cheese and cut the fat from traditional baked pasta dishes.

                Country Living features the best food and drink recipes that are delicious and easy to prepare. The recipe was handed down to Barbara from her mother and remains a family favorite.

                This tasty treat:

                • Has under 400 calories per serving
                • Will have kids gobbling it up like mac n’ cheese

                ~ Check out the recipe here!

                10. One Pan Chicken and Potatoes with Garlic Parmesan Spinach Cream Sauce

                  The key to truly healthy family meals is getting picky eaters to eat their vegetables.

                  This fantastic recipe, courtesy of Christina Cherrier, editor at Eatwell101, does just that.

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                  Christina has crafty a yummy cream sauce that packs a flavor punch of garlic, tomato, spinach, and cheese. Even the pickiest of eaters will be back for more.

                  This amazing dish:

                  • Lightens the fat with half and half instead of cream
                  • Gets kids to eat their spinach
                  • Saves on clean up by using just 1 pan

                  ~ Check out the recipe here!

                  11. Super Easy Skinny Veggie Crockpot Lasagna

                    This no-hassle lasagna recipe, comes to us from Lindsay over at Pinch of Yum.

                    Lindsay and her husband Bjork run both Pinch of Yum and Food Blogger Pro and are here to save us a boatload of time, cutting calories in the process.

                    This amazing dish:

                    • Is all done in the crockpot
                    • Is loaded with veggies
                    • Calls for uncooked lasagna noodles

                    ~ Check out the recipe here!

                    12. Crispy Baked Parmesan Chicken Strips

                      All kids love chicken strips. Thankfully this classic recipe redo skips the fryer and still delivers a delicious healthy family meal.

                      Amy Roskelley, of Super Healthy Kids, walks us through the simple steps to get extra crispy chicken without the deep fryer. Amy is mom of 3 and has a background in health and nutrition and in shows!

                      This amazing dish:

                      • Skips the salt, fast & preservatives of fast food chicken nuggets
                      • Are amazingly crispy
                      • Packs 36 grams of protein per serving

                      ~ Check out the recipe here!

                      13. Sausage, Brocolli & Rice One Skillet Meal

                        This delicious weeknight staple comes to us from Kasey Schwartz over at All Things Mamma.

                        With a hungry husband who helps parent their 3 kids, Kasey knows a thing or two about healthy family meals. Her recipes are designed for busy parents looking for quick, easy and healthy meals during the school week.

                        This tasty mealtime option:

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                        • Is ready in under 30 minutes
                        • Is a great way to get kids to eat their broccoli
                        • Can be made with turkey or chicken sausage to cut the fat

                        ~ Check out the recipe here!

                        14. Baked Chicken Chimichangas

                          This simple, yet tasty Mexican-themed dinner staple comes from Christy Denney over at The Girl Who Ate Everything.

                          Christy makes healthy family meals for her husband and their 5 kids. And with 5 kids, you can bet Christy knows how to please even the pickiest of eaters.

                          This awesome dinnertime staple:

                          • Are oven baked instead of fried
                          • Can be prepared in under 15 minutes
                          • Goes great with guac and low-fat sour cream

                          ~ Check out the recipe here!

                          15. Baked Gnocchi with Sausage, Kale, and Pesto

                            This delicious baked pasta dish comes from Maria & Josh over at Two Peas and Their Pod.

                            Maria & Josh love cooking, entertaining and creating healthy family meals that are simple, fresh, and kid-friendly. We think you’ll agree!

                            This delicious dish:

                            • Is a great way to sneak kale into kid’s diets
                            • Can be prepared in under 15 minutes
                            • Cut even more fat with lower fat sausage and cheeses

                            ~ Check out the recipe here!

                            Did you find some new favorite healthy family meals here?

                            In this post, we looked at the challenge all parents face in creating healthy family meals that everyone in the family will actually eat.

                            Finding ways to overcome picky eating habits with our kids can be a challenge.

                            To help, we researched and found 15 amazing recipes that even the pickiest eaters will love and want more of. So if you’re getting resistance at the dinner table and aren’t sure where to turn, the recipes above will quickly get you what you need.

                            All the winning recipes linked above were hand-selected.

                            They are the answer to your dinner-time problems and will help all parents by removing a little bit of that stress at the end of a long day.

                            Make sure and bookmark your favorites as you’ll assuredly be back for more.

                            Featured photo credit: Annie Spratt via unsplash.com

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                            Jeff Campbell

                            A husband and father trying to help other dads and moms navigate through the worlds of mindfulness, health, parenting, marriage/relationships& more.

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                            Last Updated on August 20, 2019

                            How to Control Your Thoughts and Be the Master of Your Mind

                            How to Control Your Thoughts and Be the Master of Your Mind

                            Your mind is the most powerful tool you have for the creation of good in your life, but if not used correctly, can also be the most destructive force in your life.

                            Your mind, more specifically, your thoughts, affect your perception and therefore, your interpretation of reality. (And here’s Why Your Perception Is Your Reality.)

                            I have heard that the average person thinks around 70,000 thoughts a day. That’s a lot, especially if they are unproductive, self-abusive and just a general waste of energy.

                            You can let your thoughts run amok, but why would you? It is your mind, your thoughts; isn’t it time to take your power back? Isn’t it time to take control?

                            Choose to be the person who is actively, consciously thinking your thoughts. Become the master of your mind.

                            When you change your thoughts, you will change your feelings as well, and you will also eliminate the triggers that set off those feelings. Both of these outcomes provide you with a greater level of peace in your mind.

                            I currently have few thoughts that are not of my own choosing or a response from my reprogramming. I am the master of my mind, so now my mind is quite peaceful. Yours can be too!

                            Who Is Thinking My Thoughts?

                            Before you can become the master of your mind, you must recognize that you are currently at the mercy of several unwanted “squatters” living in your mind, and they are in charge of your thoughts. If you want to be the boss of them, you must know who they are and what their motivation is, and then you can take charge and evict them.

                            Here are four of the “squatters” in your head that create the most unhealthy and unproductive thoughts:

                            1. The Inner Critic

                            This is your constant abuser who is often a conglomeration of:

                            • Other people’s words; many times your parents.
                            • Thoughts you have created based on your own or other peoples expectations.
                            • Comparing yourself to other people, including those in the media.
                            • The things you told yourself as a result of painful experiences such as betrayal and rejection. Your interpretation creates your self-doubt and self-blame, which are most likely undeserved in cases of rejection and betrayal.

                            The Inner Critic is motivated by pain, low self-esteem, lack of self-acceptance and lack of self-love.

                            Why else would this person abuse you? And since this person is actually you– why else would you abuse yourself? Why would you let anyone treat you this badly?

                            2. The Worrier

                            This person lives in the future; in the world of “what ifs.”

                            The Worrier is motivated by fear which is often irrational and with no basis for it. Occasionally, this person is motivated by fear that what happened in the past will happen again.

                            3. The Reactor or Trouble-Maker

                            This is the one that triggers anger, frustration and pain. These triggers stem from unhealed wounds of the past. Any experience that is even closely related to a past wound will set him off.

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                            This person can be set off by words or feelings, and can even be set off by sounds and smells.

                            The Reactor has no real motivation and has poor impulse control and is run by past programming that no longer serves you, if it ever did.

                            4. The Sleep Depriver

                            This can be a combination of any number of different squatters including the inner planner, the rehasher, and the ruminator, along with the inner critic and the worrier.

                            The Sleep Depriver’s motivation can be:

                            • As a reaction to silence, which he fights against
                            • Taking care of the business you neglected during the day
                            • Self-doubt, low self-esteem, insecurity and generalized anxiety
                            • As listed above for the inner critic and worrier

                            How can you control these squatters?

                            How to Master Your Mind

                            You are the thinker and the observer of your thoughts. You must pay attention to your thoughts so you can identify “who” is running the show; this will determine which technique you will want to use.

                            Begin each day with the intention of paying attention to your thoughts and catching yourself when you are thinking undesirable thoughts.

                            There are two ways to control your thoughts:

                            • Technique A – Interrupt and replace them
                            • Technique B – Eliminate them altogether

                            This second option is what is known as peace of mind!

                            The technique of interrupting and replacing is a means of reprogramming your subconscious mind. Eventually, the replacement thoughts will become the “go to” thoughts in the applicable situations.

                            Use Technique A with the Inner Critic and Worrier; and Technique B with the Reactor and Sleep Depriver.

                            For the Inner Critic

                            When you catch yourself thinking something negative about yourself (calling yourself names, disrespecting yourself, or berating yourself), interrupt it.

                            You can yell (in your mind), “Stop! No!” or, “Enough! I’m in control now.” Then, whatever your negative thought was about yourself, replace it with an opposite or counter thought or an affirmation that begins with “I am.”

                            For example, if your thought is, “I’m such a loser,” you can replace it with, “I am a Divine Creation of the Universal Spirit. I am a perfect spiritual being learning to master the human experience. I am a being of energy, light, and matter. I am magnificent, brilliant, and beautiful. I love and approve of myself just as I am.”

                            You can also have a dialogue with yourself with the intention of discrediting the ‘voice’ that created the thought, if you know whose voice it is:

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                            “Just because so-and-so said I was a loser doesn’t make it true. It was his or her opinion, not a statement of fact. Or maybe they were joking and I took it seriously because I’m insecure.”

                            If you recognize that you have recurring self-critical thoughts, you can write out or pre-plan your counter thoughts or affirmation so you can be ready. This is the first squatter you should evict, forcefully, if necessary:

                            • They rile up the Worrier.
                            • The names you call yourself become triggers when called those names by others, so he also maintains the presence of the Reactor.
                            • They are often present when you try to fall asleep so he perpetuates the Sleep Depriver.
                            • They are a bully and is verbally and emotionally abusive.
                            • They are the destroyer of self-esteem. They convince you that you’re not worthy. They’re a liar! In the interest of your self-worth, get them out!

                            Eliminate your worst critic and you will also diminish the presence of the other three squatters.

                            Replace them with your new best friends who support, encourage, and enhance your life. This is a presence you want in your mind.

                            For the Worrier

                            Prolonged anxiety is mentally, emotionally and physically unhealthy. It can have long-term health implications.

                            Fear initiates the fight or flight response, creates worry in the mind and creates anxiety in the body.

                            You should be able to recognize a “worry thought” immediately by how you feel. The physiological signs that the fight or flight response of fear has kicked in are:

                            • Increased heart rate, blood pressure, or surge of adrenaline
                            • Shallow breathing or breathlessness
                            • Muscles tense

                            Use the above stated method to interrupt any thought of worry and then replace it. But this time you will replace your thoughts of worry with thoughts of gratitude for the outcome you wish for.

                            If you believe in a higher power, this is the time to engage with it. Here is an example:

                            Instead of worrying about my loved ones traveling in bad weather, I say the following (I call it a prayer):

                            “Thank you great spirit for watching over _______. Thank you for watching over his/her car and keeping it safe, road-worthy, and free of maintenance issues without warning. Thank you for surrounding him/her with only safe, conscientious, and alert drivers. And thank you for keeping him/her safe, conscientious, and alert.”

                            Smile when you think about it or say it aloud, and phrase it in the present tense; both of these will help you feel it and possibly even start to believe it.

                            If you can visualize what you are praying for, the visualization will enhance the feeling so you will increase the impact in your vibrational field.

                            Now take a calming breath, slowly in through your nose, and slowly out through the mouth. Take as many as you like!

                            Replacing fearful thoughts with gratitude will decrease reactionary behavior, taking the steam out of the Reactor.

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                            For example:

                            If your child gets lost in the mall, the typical parental reaction that follows the fearful thoughts when finding them is to yell at them.

                            “I told you never to leave my sight.” This reaction just adds to the child’s fear level from being lost in the first place. Plus, it also teaches them that mom and/or dad will get mad when he or she makes a mistake, which may make them lie to you or not tell you things in the future.

                            Change those fearful thoughts when they happen:

                            “Thank You (your choice of Higher Power) for watching over my child and keeping him safe. Thank you for helping me find him soon.”

                            Then, when you see your child after this thought process, your only reaction will be gratitude, and that seems like a better alternative for all people involved.

                            For the Trouble-Maker, Reactor or Over-Reactor

                            Permanently eliminating this squatter will take a bit more attention and reflection after the fact to identify and heal the causes of the triggers; but until then, you can prevent the Reactor from getting out of control by initiating conscious breathing as soon as you recognize his presence.

                            The Reactor’s thoughts or feelings activate the fight or flight response just like with the Worrier. The physiological signs of his presence will be the same. With a little attention, you should be able to tell the difference between anxiety, anger, frustration, or pain:

                            • Increased heart rate and blood pressure; surge of adrenaline
                            • Shallow breathing or breathlessness
                            • Muscles tension

                            I’m sure you’ve heard the suggestion to count to ten when you get angry—well, you can make those ten seconds much more productive if you are breathing consciously during that time.

                            Conscious breathing is as simple as it sounds; just be conscious of your breathing. Pay attention to the air going in and coming out.

                            Breathe in through your nose:

                            • Feel the air entering your nostrils.
                            • Feel your lungs filling and expanding.
                            • Focus on your belly rising.

                            Breathe out through your nose:

                            • Feel your lungs emptying.
                            • Focus on your belly falling.
                            • Feel the air exiting your nostrils.

                            Do this for as long as you like. Leave the situation if you want. This gives the adrenaline time to normalize.

                            Now you can address the situation with a calmer, more rational perspective and avoid damaging behavior.

                            One of the troubles this squatter causes is that it adds to the sleep depriver’s issues. By evicting, or at least controlling the Reactor, you will decrease reactionary behavior, which will decrease the need for the rehashing and ruminating that may keep you from falling asleep.

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                            Master your mind and stop the Reactor from bringing stress to you and your relationships!

                            For the Sleep Depriver

                            (They’re made up of the Inner Planner, the Rehasher and the Ruminator, along with the Inner Critic and the Worrier.)

                            I was plagued with a very common problem: not being able to turn off my mind at bedtime. This inability prevented me from falling asleep and thus, getting a restful and restorative night’s sleep.

                            Here’s how I mastered my mind and evicted the Sleep Depriver and all his cronies.

                            1. I started by focusing on my breathing—paying attention to the rise and fall of my belly—but that didn’t keep the thoughts out for long. (Actually, I now start with checking my at-rest mouth position to keep me from clenching.)
                            2. Then I came up with replacement strategy that eliminated uncontrolled thinking—imagining the word in while breathing in and thinking the word out when breathing out. I would (and do) elongate the word to match the length of my breath.

                            When I catch myself thinking, I shift back to in, out. With this technique, I am still thinking, sort of, but the wheels are no longer spinning out of control. I am in control of my mind and I choose quiet.

                            From the first time I tried this method I started to yawn after only a few cycles and am usually asleep within ten minutes.

                            For really difficult nights, I add an increase of attention by holding my eyes in a looking-up position (Closed, of course!). Sometimes I try to look toward my third eye but that really hurts my eyes.

                            If you have trouble falling asleep because you can’t shut off your mind, I strongly recommend you try this technique. I still use it every night. You can start sleeping better tonight!

                            You can also use this technique any time you want to:

                            • Fall back to sleep if you wake up too soon.
                            • Shut down your thinking.
                            • Calm your feelings.
                            • Simply focus on the present moment. 

                            The Bottom Line

                            Your mind is a tool, and like any other tool, it can be used for constructive purposes or for destructive purposes.

                            You can allow your mind to be occupied by unwanted, undesirable and destructive tenants, or you can choose desirable tenants like peace, gratitude, compassion, love, and joy.

                            Your mind can become your best friend, your biggest supporter, and someone you can count on to be there and encourage you. The choice is yours!

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                            Featured photo credit: Priscilla Du Preez via unsplash.com

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