Coming up with ideas for what to feed the kids from breakfast through dinner (and those snack times in between!) can feel like such a challenge. To help, here are 7 days worth of healthy kids meal ideas for some inspiration.
Kids Meal Ideas
I know firsthand how it can often feel like you’re totally out of ideas for what to make the kids each day. The endlessness of feeding a family is real! Thankfully, I also know that simply seeing new ideas can help bust any of us out of a rut—so these seven sample days worth of kids meal ideas are here to help.
I’ve included a breakfast, morning snack, lunch, afternoon snack, and dinner for each day of a sample week. These are real meals and foods that I’ve served to my middle kiddo when she was two years old, so know that you may need to adjust the specifics of how a food is served or the serving size for your own child.
(You can also find some of my go-to shortcut toddler recipes here.)
TIP: I hope this is implied, but OF COURSE sub in similar prepared or purchased foods if and when you can’t make everything homemade.
How to Plan Kids Meals Step-by-Step
Before we jump into the specifics of each meal, here are a few tips to keep in mind when it comes to planning out kids meals.
- Aim for variety over the course of the day and the week. Some days your kids may want more of one food group and that’s okay if you adjust what comes on days after to help balance their nutrition without forcing them to eat certain foods.
- Trust that your child knows their own hunger levels and don’t push extra bites if they truly aren’t hungry. (They’re the only ones in their bodies!)
- Stick to a set schedule of meal times and aim to avoid letting them graze in between. This is the best way to ensure that they’ll actually be hungry for meals. Adjust the schedule if the kids are consistently hungry before it’s time—or try an easy appetizer of raw fruits or veggies before dinner if that helps.
- Depending on where your kiddo is with growth, hunger, and activity level, they may need or want a bedtime snack. That’s okay as long as they aren’t skipping dinner to get to a snack they prefer. If that’s happening, make the bedtime snack super boring—like a banana! Or save the rest of their dinner and offer it to them if they say they’re hungry before bed.
TIP: Keep the personality of your child in mind and adjust any advice accordingly. Every kiddo is unique and may react differently to different scenarios. There’s no perfect here!
Kids Meal Ideas: Day 1
Swap in leftover homemade pancakes from the weekend or pick up a low sugar frozen waffle. I like Kashi or Vans brand.
TIP: Each day should include an iron-rich source to help kids get enough of that nutrient.
Recipes to Try
Very ripe (with brown spots) bananas will give these pancakes the best flavor. Dice them up or serve whole, according to how the kids prefer to eat them.
We like to have these granola bars as a snack or toddler breakfast with milk or a smoothie—and they’re an excellent lunch box component too. You can make them plain or choose a flavor to add!
Be sure to grease your pan well and roll the dough up fairly tightly around the fillings for best results. (But it’s okay if they don’t look perfect when they go into the pan!)
Make the simple base recipe or try one of the variations with a veggie and more nutrient-dense add-ins. All are delicious! Freeze the banana ahead of time.
This will likely make enough for two meals. You can freeze the leftovers for a future meal. (This recipe was updated to improve the taste and method in April 2019.)
Kids Meal Ideas: Day 2
Sub in yogurt with granola if that’s easier for you to pull together for breakfast. The muffins work well to make ahead and stash in the fridge to use throughout the week (and into the freezer for future weeks).
TIP: If your kiddo is hungrier for afternoon snack, add something else to go with the applesauce such as whole grain cereal, crackers, or a cheese stick.
Recipes to Try
This overnight oats recipe makes two toddler-size breakfast portions (or 1 mama-size serving). Double it to make additional servings.
These store well, so you can make them ahead of time and pull them out of the fridge to serve. (Post updated October 2019)
You can use any type of apple you like in this recipe.
I like our lentil soup with the veggies pretty blended in, which is why I chop them finely in a blender or food processor. You can also just chop them with a knife. (Recipe updated August 2020 to saute the veggies before simmering to ensure that there’s no raw onion flavor.)
Moist and nutritious, these healthy cornmeal muffins are an easy side, breakfast, or yummy snack.
Kids Meal Ideas: Day 3
Add 1/2-1 cup of milk to each main meal if desired to round out the nutrients in the day. (It’s okay if your child doesn’t love or drink milk though. They just need 2-3 servings of dairy a day to meet their calcium needs.)
TIP: Sub in freezer waffles or toast for the French Toast if that’s easier for you!
Recipes to Try
You can use any sliced bread that you like. I typically use whole grain or sourdough. You can also bake full slices of bread, then cut into sticks with kitchen scissors. See Notes for allergy-substitutions.
These no-bake bites taste like a cross between oatmeal raisin and peanut butter cookie dough. I use natural creamy peanut butter (like the kind from Smuckers) and it works really well. (Recipe updated slightly in June 2021 to ensure the best texture.)
I love the burst of flavor that the fresh lemon adds to this recipe so I strongly suggest you use it if you can, but they are also great without it! (Recipe updated slightly April 2021 to ensure dry ingredients are evenly distributed throughout.)
To make these with panko breadcrumbs, use 1 cup and stir ¼ teaspoon salt into the flour before you dredge the chicken.
Choose one veggie to add from the flavor options below according to what you have on hand or what your family likes best.
Kids Meal Ideas: Day 4
If you want to try a genius shortcut for the eggs, try cooking them in 30 seconds in the microwave!
- Breakfast: Scrambled eggs, berries, milk
- Morning Snack: Cheese crackers (you can do store bought if you prefer), banana
- Lunch: Veggie Hummus, crackers, sliced peach, carrot ribbons
- Afternoon Snack: Cereal, fruit, and milk or water
- Dinner: Bean and Cheese Quesadillas, zucchini, applesauce
TIP: I try to make veggies taste good to me before I serve them to my kids, so add seasoning, sauces, and dips as needed to make sure they are yummy!
Recipes to Try
You can season the cooked egg with a little salt, butter or cheese if you’d like, but it’s very good as is. See the Note about the heat setting when cooking in a microwave.
Try to get them about 1/4-inch thick so they bake uniformly. If your milk, cheese, and butter are cold the dough should be easy to roll out between parchment paper. (If the dough seems too sticky, stick it into the fridge for 5-10 minutes.)
You can omit the tahini if needed for an allergy.
You can make as few or as many of these easy quesadillas as you like.
Kids Meal Ideas: Day 5
You can make the oatmeal cups ahead, or try this Blueberry Baked Oatmeal that’s a great breakfast for the whole family.
TIP: Add a simple snack before bed if needed.
Recipes to Try
Transform plain oats into a yummy and easy to eat finger food with this baked oatmeal recipe. You can double the recipe to make more if desired.
Use Sunbutter to make these nut-free. You can cut these into smaller bars if desired. If you want them a little softer, serve them at room temperature rather than chilled.
You can do a big family-style platter or individual ones for the kids depending on your preference. Add anything else that sounds appealing and know that the nutrition info will vary according to what you use.
This simple smoothie is thin enough to drink through a straw and thick enough to eat with a spoon. And of course, it’s super creamy!
Serve this easy family meal with optional toppings according to what everyone likes.
Kids Meal Ideas: Day 6
I like to make a batch of healthy muffins every week or so to make sure I always have some in the freezer for quick snacks.
TIP: You can quickly cut up noodles for kids with a pair of kitchen shears.
Recipes to Try
You can double this recipe to make a larger batch to warm up and serve throughout the week.
Be sure to use very ripe bananas (with lots of brown spots!) for the best flavor and natural sweetness. (I updated this recipe December 2020 to ensure the most reliable results. The original version of this recipe is the “Egg-free” option in the Notes if you loved that. In the main recipe, I reduced the oil, added an egg, increased the baking soda a smidge, and reduced the baking time. They’re great!)
With just 4 ingredients, including a veggie that blends right in, this Veggie Grilled Cheese Sandwich is a yummy kids lunch to share. It packs extra nutrition in the filling, yet only takes a few minutes to make. Such a great easy meal!
Try this quick family dinner the next time you’re craving healthy comfort food—and want to please the entire family!
Kids Meal Ideas: Day 7
Green smoothies are a great way to add a lot of nutrients to a snack. Serve it in a cup or a reusable pouch.
TIP: Add a side of fruit to dinner if needed/preferred.
Recipes to Try
Frozen bananas give the smoothie a creamy, naturally sweet base, though you can make this with a fresh banana as long as the other fruit is frozen. It’s easy to add whatever berries or fruit you have on hand, so customize it for your kiddo.
Here’s a look at basic templates for making kid-friendly salads. Pick and choose the ingredients you like! (Nutrition info will vary according to the ingredients you use.)
These simple blender muffins pack a serious nutrition punch and are dairy-free, with a nut-free option. I prefer the flavor of these once they are fully cooled and chilled in the fridge.
Sample Kids Meal Plan
If you’re struggling with when to offer foods and how to time them around activities and snacks, this sample schedule and meal plan will help to give you some ideas.
Tips for Making Family Meals Work for Everyone
Learn more about my overall approach to feeding kids—yet serve the same meal to everyone at the table—in this post on the Division of Responsibility.
Happy Family Meals
My full service meal planning system, Happy Family Meals, is here to take some of the work out of feeding your family. It’s an easy to use 4-week meal plan with menus, grocery lists, and helpful hints.
It contains weekly menus built on “themes” so you can easily make your own meal plans in future weeks. It’s so helpful for streamlining family meals.
I’d love to hear what your toddler’s favorite meal is right now—or which meal gives you the biggest trouble!
This post was first published August 2018.