​Cooking With Kids: Surprise Your Picky Eaters With These Fun, Kid-friendly Recipes by 30Seconds Food

4 years ago

​Cooking With Kids: Surprise Your Picky Eaters With These Fun, Kid-friendly Recipes

Are you living with picky eaters? There may be no tougher food critic than a kid who rejected the dinner you made. Don’t be upset by their judgments – many kids are picky eaters and may be hard to please. Here are a few ways to surprise your kids with some fun, new and delicious dishes that may be hard to reject. Follow this kid-approved list to make your meal-planning easier!

Instant Pot® Mac and Cheese Made With Ricotta

If the Instant Pot® is a regular tool in your kitchen, then there are many ways to incorporate it into kid-friendly meals. Mac and cheese is not just a children’s favorite, it’s also a crowd-pleaser among adults. According to Corrie Cooks, cooking macaroni and cheese in an Instant Pot® makes this simple dish even easier. This delicious kid-friendly meal may become a regular weeknight favorite.

You’ll need:

  • 16 ounces elbow macaroni
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 8 ounces ricotta cheese
  • 1 sprig parsley or basil, finely chopped
  • freshly ground pepper
  • 1/2 cup Pecorino Romano, grated

Here’s how to make it:

  1. Select the “Manual” function on the Instant Pot® pressure cooker.
  2. Set the timer to 6 minutes with "High Pressure" setting.
  3. Add oil, pasta, salt and enough water to cover the pasta.
  4. Release steam through quick pressure release.
  5. Remove the lid and stir in ricotta cheese and parsley.
  6. Garnish with Pecorino Romano and serve warm.

Octopus Spaghetti Dogs

This meal is so easy to make, your kids will love preparing it themselves. Warning: you may have a hard time getting them to stop playing with it, so just let them have fun before they feast. Your kids will love the fact that they made it themselves, and may be eating it in no time. Serve with a garden salad and you have a balanced meal.

You’ll need:

  • hot dogs (each one cut in half)
  • spaghetti pasta noodles
  • black olives (cut up really small for decorating)

Here’s how to make it:

  1. With your child, take the hot dog halves and try to gently pierce them with the dry spaghetti sticks. Get as many sticks in there as you can. (Your child’s help stops here.)
  2. When you are done creating the little octopus spaghetti dogs, put them all in a pot of boiling water for 10-12 minutes.
  3. Take them out one at a time, and when they are at an appropriate temperature for handling, make two small holes on the top of the hot dog (pretend it’s a head and you’re making the eyes).
  4. Place two small olive pieces in the holes. Serve. 

Pasta-Pizza Casserole

This meal is a favorite because it saves you from wasting any previous leftovers. If you find yourself stuck with some of last night’s dinner, you could just add it to your casserole. When the casserole is done, it will look like a beautiful square pizza. Your kids will be amazed by the fact that the crust is made out of pasta. 

You’ll need:

  • pasta (any of your kids’ favorite kind)
  • marinara sauce
  • 1/2 pound ground beef (or last night’s leftover chicken)
  • 4 chopped garlic cloves
  • salt and pepper
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 2 chopped green bell peppers
  • 1/2 cup chopped olives
  • pepperoni
  • 2 cups grated mozzarella cheese

Here’s how to make it:

  1. Cook the pasta according to package directions. Drain. 
  2. Grease a casserole dish with butter. Add the pasta and the marinara sauce.
  3. In a nonstick pan, add the butter and the chopped garlic cloves. Stir them around until they turn a nice golden color.
  4. Add your ground beef, salt and pepper. Let it simmer for about 15-20 minutes on medium heat. When that’s done, pour it into the casserole dish. (Of course, you may skip this step if you have leftover chicken.)
  5. Add the mozzarella, bell peppers, pepperoni and olives (or anything else your child likes on their pizza). Place in the oven at 350 degrees F for about 10 minutes.

Meatball Taquitos

Why not have a themed night for dinner? Your kids will love this take on tacos!

You’ll need:

  • 1 pound ground beef
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 4 chopped garlic cloves
  • salt and pepper
  • Italian seasoning
  • 2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
  • 1 cup whole-milk ricotta cheese
  • flour tortillas (about 12)
  • nonstick cooking spray
  • marinara sauce

Here’s how to make it:

  1. In a nonstick pan, add the butter and the chopped garlic cloves. Stir until golden.
  2. Add the ground beef, Italian seasoning, salt and pepper. Let it simmer for about 15-20 minutes on medium heat.
  3. When the ground beef is cooked, add mozzarella and ricotta cheese. Make sure that the cheese mixes evenly with the beef.
  4. Spread 1/4 cup of the ground beef-cheese mixture down the center of each tortilla. Roll up very tightly and place in the greased baking pan seam side down. Spritz with some cooking spray.
  5. Bake at 350 degrees F until golden. Serve with marinara sauce.

Instant Pot Meatballs

One thing most kids love about spaghetti is the meatballs. This is an easier way to make delicious meatballs with your Instant Pot®.

You’ll need:

  • 1 1/2 pounds ground beef
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce
  • salt
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic
  • 1 1/2 cups beef broth

Here’s how to make them:

  1. In a large bowl, add all the ingredients and mix well with your hands until combined.
  2. Make golf ball-sized meatballs from the mixture. Arrange on a large parchment paper-lined baking sheet. Freeze for 20 minutes.
  3. Cook on “Manual” with “High Pressure” for about 5 minutes. 
  4. Press “Cancel” to release steam for about 10 minutes before removing the lid.

With these very easy recipes, it's very likely that your kids will be asking for seconds. Children may be tough critics, but they usually express their approval if served something appealing. Decorate the plate with any vegetable they seem to like, add the gooiest melted cheese to their favorite type of pasta or even shape a very regular meal into a funny character. Dinnertime can become more fun with little effort. 

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Elisa Schmitz
Such great food ideas! I always love cooking with my kids, and I know for a fact that when they help make a meal, they typically eat more of it. Helps them to gain a sense of adventure and risk taking with their food choices. These recipes are so fun and yummy!
Julie Rose
Yummy recipe ideas! 🙌
Great tips for picky eaters.
Instant Pot mac n cheese, yes please! 😋

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