Pizza. Chicken fingers & fries. Grilled cheese. Hot dog. Mac ‘n Cheese. Hamburger. Kids’ meals.

Every parent knows these foods. They comprise almost all kids menus at restaurants. It’s like we train our kids from toddler age – eat these simple foods!

And if we’re cooking at home or eating out (and sharing our meal), there are plenty of adventurous ‘adult versions’ of these kid staples. Parent approved but still kid friendly. Think Chicago dogs, pizza drizzles and toppings, bacon or fig on grilled cheese, gourmet cheeses added to the Mac, ethnic sauces for hamburgers, the list is awesomely endless.

But kids will often try, and occasionally like, other foods if given the chance too. Keep it mainstream regarding spice, temperature, color and texture and you have a shot at your kid expanding their food horizon.  

Here are some additional ideas that meet our ‘kid-friendly’ criteria while also appealing to adults. My family has served these to our, now, four-year-old for years and she gobbles them up. Maybe you’ll find the next broad-appeal menu or retail item below, or at least thank me for avoiding another nuggets and mac meal…

Sloppy Joe: Keep it classic (meat + mildly spiced ketchup) with offerings to customize: tangy citrus slaw or roasted peppers and onions. Or make them ‘hula style’ with a little pineapple and sweet and sour sauce mixed in!

Asian Bowls: Rice, sliced chicken or steak, carrot, peanuts, sesame seeds and sweet teriyaki. Kids adore, parents add green onion and sriracha or sambal for a kick!

Parmesan Crusted Chicken: Serve with pasta, or as tenders with dip.

Soy Garlic Ginger Shrimp: Breaded or naked, kids like the chicken-like texture of shrimp, and will love this simple Asian glaze.

Chipotle Chicken Quesadilla: Mildly spiced with chicken, black beans, corn and cheese, the signature flavor is in the crema and topping options.

Turkey Burger Sliders: Mix in a little feta cheese and spinach into the meat and cover several food groups without your child knowing.

Taco Night – Taco Casserole: I would be remiss to not include this simple family night tradition, with many ‘plus up’ options for the parents including the fish version (my daughter’s favorite)!


Have a child with allergies, check out these allergy-free products.

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