5-Ingredient Meals for Happy Kids & Healthy New Year Resolutions

updated Sep 30, 2020
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(Image credit: Maria Siriano)

As a parent, one of my biggest goals is to raise my kids to have a healthy relationship with food so they can avoid bouncing between indulgence, “clean” eating, and guilt. So they can enjoy a Christmas cookie in one bite and some broccoli the next. And I know that the key to this is modeling it myself. So this year, instead of making some sweeping resolution aimed at stripping my diet down, I have a simple goal that I think we can all get behind: Add more produce to our meals.

(Image credit: Maria Siriano)

This is one of the easiest ways to do something to improve (and maintain) our health at every meal and it offers all of us ample opportunities to get our recommended servings of fruits and veggies. It can help make foods like sweet potatoes and spinach less intimidating and more likely to be something that kids will choose to eat on their own as they grow. And while this may still be a tall order where picky eaters are concerned, I’ve found that the more you have produce around, the more familiar it becomes and the more likely everyone is to enjoy them in all sorts of ways.

To help you succeed in this goal, we’ve put together a week’s worth of five-ingredient dinners to make both the kids and adults happy. Each one focuses on fresh flavors and simple cooking methods, because the reality of cooking for a family often means you’re doing it while holding a cranky toddler or squeezing it in before running out to drop off a kid at dance class. Many of the recipes rely on pantry staples, so you can tuck the ingredients away in the fridge, freezer, and pantry and have quick dinners on tap for those nights when you haven’t planned anything. And the recipes are inherently versatile so you can adjust for allergies and preferences, and tweak to suit your own particular family’s needs.

The flavors in the recipes are kid-friendly, yet interesting enough for adults so the entire family can enjoy the meal. The textures were chosen with kids in mind, so there are no kale salads here, and the ingredients are accessible — because the last thing your January budget needs is a cart full of groceries you’re not sure anyone will eat.

(Image credit: Maria Siriano)

That said, we of course can’t guarantee that your kids will eat every ingredient in every meal, but that’s not really the point. (Plus, many of the recipes can be deconstructed so the kids can eat the parts they choose while adults enjoy the whole dinner!)

The more you have lots of produce and plant-based meals, and the more you surround them with nutritious foods, the more normal and expected it will become. And that’s really the big-picture goal — not just how many bites of broccoli are eaten tonight at dinner. So, make one or slot all of these recipes into your meal plan for a whole week and feel confident that you’re serving your family food that will make them healthy and, hopefully, happy, too.