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Ninja Doctor

Meal ideas for small children

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We have got total mental block with outlet meal planning and need some ideas for meals that are viable for two small children (3 & 6). 


Theyre generally not not to bad at eating things that aren’t beans and chips but we need ideas. 



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the main thing we struggle with is spice, as in the boy can't really take any. So whenever we're bored of the standard set of recipes, about 905 of my intuitive suggestions won't work. Bah!


Teriyaki salmon and rice with vegetables goes down well.

Steamed fish (sea bass usually) and rice and veggies also actually, Chinese things going on with the steaming but nothing particularly strongly flavoured.

God, what else do we eat. Various roast bits of chicken and vegetables. Bangers 'n mash, obv. Very Mild Chilli Con Carne That I Top Up My Portion Of With Tabasco. And all the other standard things to do with mince. 


I need ideas too, essentially.

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Things fried in breadcrumbs always went down well with ours when they were younger, and still go down well now.

  • Cut up strips of chicken breasts/cod loins/tofu, perhaps? You can also do the same with whole turkey steaks - the thin ones work best. I reckon you could also do it with cauliflower steaks, but these would probably need to be cooked, or nearly cooked, beforehand.
  • Coat in seasoned flour*
  • Dip in beaten egg
  • Roll in Panko breadcrumbs (normal fried breadcrumbs work OK, but Panko gives a better crunch/texture)
  • Chill for 30 mins or so (longer is fine so can be done way in advance)
  • Shallow fry on a medium heat for a few mins until cooked (chicken will take longer than fish)
  • Drain on kitchen paper and serve straight away with chips/new potatoes/Hasselback roasties, and veggies. The chicken ones go brilliantly with chilli ketchup (I mix normal ketchup with sriracha) or a decent BBQ sauce, and the fish ones go really well with tartar sauce or standard mayo.

You can get your children to help with coating - fun but messy!


*As a minimum, add salt and pepper to the flour (this is best for the fish, I think) but I also add ground cumin, smoked paprika, oregano and garlic granules for extra flavour. I also sometimes sprinkle this mix of over parboiled spuds when I make roasties. I make up a decent sized batch and keep it in an airtight jar.

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One meal my 3 year old really likes is burritos. We fry chicken, onion, garlic in fairly bland seasoning (cumin, tumeric, paprika, tomato puree) and then have lots of things they can add (cheese, tomatoes, avocado, yoghurt, etc). She likes making it and it gets her eating it.


Have you come across Annabel Karmel? We've had some success with her recipe books. Good for ideas at least. 

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The general advise I've heard is that meals where the kid can assemble it them-self at the table are really good for encouraging veg and new flavours, so homemade mini pizzas, tacos, kebabs and wraps, even side salads. And to avoid meals with little bits mixed, as kids need to be able to identify, taste and even touch (ie. play with) each individual item for it to register as 'food', either as part of eating it or as part of 'helping' cook.


Other then that most parents I know do a mix of 'laid out meals' such as chicken, sausages or fish fingers with mash and peas, broccoli or carrots (most popular veg with kids). And very simple pasta dishes such as a tomato sauce, or a mac n cheese (cauliflower can be a good addition to this).

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Mine are three, five and eight. Middle child doesn't really like anything spicy, won't try anything new and doesn't really do veg. 


Pasta works well. Spaghetti bolognese is the absolute favourite. We also do: pea and bacon orzotto (essentially risotto made with orzo. It's really, really easy to make)

chorizo and red pepper orzotto (roasted red peppers out of a jar)

Pizza pasta (I think this is a Slimming World recipe, it's probably on Pinch of Nom).

Pasta bake (using leftover bolognese)

Gnocchi with spinach and ricotta

Spaghetti and meatballs (the Tesco ones are favourite)


Rice goes down well:

Chicken fried rice

Thai baked rice 



Curry (chicken and veg, lamb and chickpeas, that kind of thing)


We tend to have something with wedges or chips at the weekend (we do slimming world ones. Microwave the spuds whole for five or six minutes. Chop into chips or wedges. Spray with fry light or toss in olive oil. Stick in an oven at about 200 degrees for half an hour or so). So things like grilled chicken strips, sausages (the local meat shop does 5% fat ones) or burgers. Pork chops or gammon with baked potatoes work well. Depending on what we're having, we get peas and sweetcorn or corn on the cob.


Toad in the hole goes down well. As does campfire stew (another pinch of nom recipe) which you can do with baked potatoes or rice. I also do the fajita filling off Pinch of Nom with wedges or rice.


The thing that we do is cheat as much as possible. If you can buy stuff pre prepared, we do. We don't go as far as mash out of a packet, but garlic and ginger comes out of a jar (we use the TRS stuff), chopped onions and peppers come out the freezer, as do baked spuds. We buy diced bacon and chorizo.  I know some people will look down on this sort of thing, but cutting out a good chunk of prep time makes it more feasible to cook slightly more complicated things during the week.


We definitely need to expand our repertoire a bit though. Bored of the same things all the time.

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Kids: 6 and 19 month old:


  • Fish fingers/Fish cakes
  • Mashed potato in various forms 
  • Sausages
  • Quorn chicken bit things
  • Sushi
  • Pasta in any form
  • Scrambled eggs
  • Breakfast for dinner (porridge and stuff) 
  • Home made soup - pan fry 4 decent sized carrots, one suede, one onion, couple garlic cloves, tomato puree, canned chopped tomatoes and then blitz to high heaven
  • Rice and things
  • Noodles and things
  • Cheese on toast
  • Pizzas (home made normally)
  • Roasted X and veggies
  • Boiled Chicken
  • BBQ stuff



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