Making dinner for kids is never as simple as it may sound, but that is part of the fun. While adults like some experimentation, kids prefer foods they know and love. Their tastes are not developed to the point where they want to experiment with foods; what you make for dinner has to allow for that. Kids prefer simple proteins, like chicken nuggets and ground beef, because they know about them and will eat them readily. If you keep that in mind when preparing meals for kids, your recipes will be a hit.
Keep It Simple
This point cannot be stressed enough: What you make for dinner must be simple when cooking for kids. Kids just do not have the sophisticated tastes that adults do and, as such, are less likely to appreciate the time and effort you took seasoning and preparing the meals you make. They want something that tastes good can fill them quickly and allows them to get back to what they are doing. While an adult may prefer meals that give them a chance to rest and act as a respite, that is not something kids want from their meals. Kids always rush to get somewhere, even if it is back to lounging around.
This means simple proteins usually work best. This is why chicken nuggets and fries are seen as a great kids’ meal: It is simple, taste good, and allow them their sauce of choice. This is why it is easy to find a kids’ recipe for chicken, ground beef, and even a variety of beans, but not steak, pork, or even quinoa. When you are fixing dinner for a child, remember to omit subtle seasonings and spice, get rid of the hot stuff, and go for bold and brash tastes. The closer the tastes keep to sweet and sour, the better; salty and bitter need to be avoided completely, and anything similar to umami is better left to your adult friends.
Use Appealing Vegetables
One of the big problems parents have when it comes to dinner is the vegetables. The problem is that kids’ taste buds are better suited to sour and sweet, and anything even slightly bitter is bad, while adults’ tastes tend to the salty and savory. Adults are more willing to deal with bitter foods, seeing how they can be blended effectively with other tastes to create some really great dinners. Adults are also less likely to prefer overtly sweet or sour vegetables, while kids prefer it that way. This is why Chinese fast foods are so popular with kids: They are sweet and sour, and the spiciness is more fun than serious.
This means that you should have no problem getting your kids to eat vegetables such as corn, carrots, tomatoes, or pickles; they have tastes that appeal to kids, and their bright colors make them appealing. Green leafy vegetables, however, are a problem because they have a bitter taste when cooked, and kids rarely react favorably to that. While you can use cauliflower in pizza crust recipes, all others must be served raw and with some ranch (or similar) dip. If you cook them, keep them steaming and involve cheese sauce; otherwise, they will face rejection. If it helps, kids love salads, especially if they are covered in a dressing, and that may be a better option than cooking them.
Above all, have some fun with the meals. Kids love finger foods, and it keeps your cleanup simple. Foods that work well together are great; a grilled cheese sandwich and tomato soup is a great recipe as it gives the kid the ability to dip his sandwich into something. Foods on a stick are a great way to serve proteins and vegetables, especially if you give the kids a limited area to walk around in. Asian foods are great because the chopsticks give them not only another skill to master, but it can be fun as well, and they offer some great vegetables as well. Have some fun with the dinners, and your kids will eat them.
When making dinner for the kids, remember to keep it simple, use appealing vegetables, and have some fun with the food. You need to remember that kids have far simpler tastes than adults and are not as likely to appreciate some of the weirdness of adult foods. This may seem like a handicap, but it can give you a chance to play with some ingredients that you have not thought about in years. For those looking to have fun, making meals for kids can be fun when approached with the right mindset.