mac & cheese
Kids, Nutrition, Recipes, Toddlers

Best Quick Meals for Kids—Ready in 5 Minutes or Less

When many busy parents think quick meals for kids, fast food is the first thing to spring to mind. But you don’t have to drive through McDonald’s or stop in Subway to fill up your little ones in a jiffy!

Give your children just as much yum—with a whole lot more nutrition—by serving up these simple meal ideas instead. Whether for packed lunch boxes or easy weeknight dinners for kids, these nutritious meals can be ready to munch in 5 minutes or less.

Check out the video here and find the full recipes just below.

1. Homemade Lunchables

Lunchables always rank among the top easy lunch ideas for kids, but the pre-packaged options on grocery store shelves tend to be jam-packed with sodium, preservatives and added sugar. By making your own version of Lunchables, you’ll be able to choose which type of deli meat, cheese and crackers your kids are consuming.

For well-balanced kid nutrition, we recommend sticking with fiber-rich whole grain crackers, minimally processed cheese and low-sodium deli meats.

Ingredients

  • Sliced turkey
  • Cheddar cheese
  • Whole wheat crackers
  • Grapes

Instructions

  1. Roll up the turkey slices and fold the rolls in half so that they can fit cutely into a serving tray.
  2. Cut the cheddar cheese slices into small squares.
  3. Serve the turkey, cheese and crackers with several stems of grapes on the side.

2. Cucumber Bagel Sandwiches

Who says bagels are only for breakfast? While whole wheat bagels make a great healthy breakfast for kids, they’re just as convenient at any time of day. This recipe serves up a light and fresh bagel sandwich that’s perfect for on-the-go lunches as well as quick weeknight meals for kids.

To round out this sandwich with extra vitamins and minerals, serve it with a side of your children’s favorite fruits and veggies!

Ingredients

  • Whipped cream cheese
  • Fresh dill
  • Whole wheat bagel
  • Cucumber

Instructions

  1. Finely chop the dill and stir it into the whipped cream cheese.
  2. Slice the bagel in half and smear both halves with the dill spread.
  3. Slice the cucumber into thin rounds and place them on one half of the bagel.
  4. Close the sandwich and serve!

3. Nurture Life Mac & Cheese with Cauliflower

Want something even quicker than low-prep Lunchables or easy bagel sandwiches? Nurture Life’s ready-to-serve kids’ meals require no washing, slicing, chopping or assembling. To serve our nutritious mac & cheese, simply pop the tray in the microwave and heat on high for 1–2 minutes, and voilà—creamy, cheesy, comfort-food goodness is on the table!

Because our mac & cheese sauce has smoothly blended cauliflower already in it, you can even skip the extra veggies on the side.

Ingredients

Instructions

  1. Microwave: Pierce the seal and heat on high for 1–2 minutes.
  2. Oven: Preheat the oven to 350°F, remove the seal and heat for 10–15 minutes.

4. Hummus & Veggies

Hummus is a simple and fiber-filled way to dress up freshly cut veggie sticks, and many kids especially love the tactile fun of dipping and crunching. We’ve suggested baby carrots and bell peppers for this recipe, but feel free to spice things up with other kid-friendly veggies too!

Ingredients

  • Rainbow baby carrots
  • Red bell peppers
  • Pretzel sticks
  • Red pepper hummus

Instructions

  1. Cut the red bell peppers into thin slices, lengthwise.
  2. Serve the sliced peppers with rainbow baby carrots, pretzels and a scoop of red pepper hummus.

5. Banana SunButter Bites

Have a picky eater in the house? These bite-sized banana delights work especially well with character food picks and other picky eater tools—and they provide just as much protein, fiber and healthy fats as they do fun!

If you’ve never tried SunButter, it’s a delicious kid-friendly peanut butter alternative that’s made from roasted, US-grown sunflower seeds. Because it’s free from the top 8 food allergens, SunButter is an ideal ingredient in allergy-friendly yet easy lunch ideas for kids.

Ingredients

  • Whole wheat tortilla
  • SunButter
  • Banana

Instructions

  1. Spread SunButter over the whole wheat tortilla.
  2. Place the whole peeled banana in the center of the tortilla.
  3. Roll the tortilla around the banana and slice into bite-sized chunks.

Just because you’re short on time doesn’t mean your meals have to be short on nutrition! Whether for lunch or dinner, these five quick meals for kids provide wholesome nutrients on even the busiest days.

Want more no-prep, easy weeknight meals for picky eaters? Explore Nurture Life’s thoughtfully planned menu for baby, toddler and kids’ meals ready to serve in 3 minutes or less!

RJ Bio

Rachael Janas

Rachael joined the Nurture Life team as the Marketing Production & QA Manager. From menu design to nutrient analysis, she covers all things food. Rachael is a Registered and Licensed Dietitian with a strong foundation in clinical nutrition and a keen interest in nutritious food with phenomenal flavor. Her passion for incorporating whole foods and creative cuisine while focusing on age-specific nutrient needs of children is essential to Nurture Life’s menu design. Rachael has been practicing dietetics since 2011, with the bulk of her experience in clinical nutrition at Loyola Medical Center, specializing in patients with cystic fibrosis as well as critical care nutrition related to lung disease and lung transplant. She also has experience in cardiac health and nutrition during pregnancy. Rachael received her B.S. from Saint Louis University in Missouri and completed a dietetic internship with Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston. Rachael’s interests include creative cooking at home, using a variety of ingredients, spices and herbs for a unique meal each night. She truly believes nutrition and food should be enjoyable and that all food can be enjoyed in moderation.