A Month of Healthy Summer Dinner Ideas for Kids
EatingWell's best kid-friendly, healthy recipes perfect for the summertime. You can count on recipes like healthier fried chicken salad, shrimp and asparagus kebabs, and one-pot pasta to refuel the little ones after long days spent in the sun.
Individual Seven Layer Dip in Jars with Baked Tortilla Chips
These little jars are like nachos for the road—with plenty of protein from zesty black beans and taco-spiced Greek yogurt, heart-healthy fats from avocado and a little crunch from toasted corn. Homemade baked tortilla strips are a perfect dip delivery system; their length helps you dig out every last bite from the portable jars.
BBQ Carrot Dogs
Shock everyone with this recipe for veggie dogs that actually taste like hot dogs. They're an amazing (and healthy!) vegan alternative to traditional meat hot dogs. Serve in whole-wheat hot dog buns and top with all your favorite toppings, such as sauerkraut, relish, ketchup and mustard, for the ultimate barbecue meal.
Mini burgers make a fun, kid-friendly meal. Italian herbs, marinara and melty mozzarella give them the appeal of pizza.
Tortilla Pepperoni Pizza
This easy pizza takes only 15 minutes from start to finish and uses simple ingredients you could find in your pantry. Tomato paste adds flavor without sogging out the crust. Skip the pepperoni for a vegetarian-friendly version, or add your own favorite toppings.
Turkey, Cheese & Veggie Plate
This colorful picnic dinner idea features tasty munchies you don't need utensils for and mild flavors that kids prefer, like deli meat, cheese and crunchy raw veggies. It's easy to assemble this complete menu, and adults will enjoy it as much as the kids. The menu calls for store-bought hummus and cookies, but you can easily make them yourself (see Tips, below).
One-Pot Lemon-Broccoli Pasta with Parmesan
This hearty pasta dish with bright, fresh flavor is ideal for busy weeknights. The Parmesan adds welcome saltiness and notes of umami and you get added texture from the slight crunch of broccoli and whole-wheat noodles. Add some shredded rotisserie chicken, grilled shrimp or crispy chickpeas to punch up the protein.
Skillet Caprese Chicken Casserole
This one-skillet dinner features the flavors of a summer caprese salad. Fresh tomatoes and basil are combined with chicken and pasta and cooked in a creamy sauce before being topped with a layer of melted mozzarella. A good-quality balsamic vinegar and a sprinkling of fresh basil completes the dish.
Tuck these tasty chickpea patties into whole-wheat pitas and top with tahini sauce. Be sure to soak the chickpeas overnight for the creamiest mixture. The quick-soak method won't work for these pan-fried falafel patties.
Cornflake Air-Fryer Chicken Nuggets
These crispy air-fried chicken nuggets are a quick kid-friendly dinner that parents will love too. The homemade nuggets are healthier than fast-food versions—and more flavorful, thanks to the cornflake coating. You can also cut the chicken into strips for air-fryer chicken tenders. Be sure to cook those 2 to 3 minutes longer, or until done.
Grilled Chicken Tacos with Slaw & Lime Crema
In this easy and healthy chicken taco recipe, we top grilled chicken tenders with a crunchy and colorful vegetable slaw and a simple blend of sour cream, lime juice and cilantro. In this recipe, the chicken is cooked on a grill pan, but feel free to cook it on the grill outside.
American goulash, also known as old-fashioned goulash, is the perfect economical family meal. The pasta cooks right in the sauce, so this satisfying dish can cook in just one pot.
Philly Cheese Steak Sloppy Joes
Two of our favorite comfort-food sandwiches join forces in these family-friendly dinner sandwiches. We found that softer buns make this easier to eat, and it's all the better when wrapped takeout-style in a sheet of foil.
One-Pot Spinach, Chicken Sausage & Feta Pasta
A little bit of Sunday meal prep goes a long way in this one-dish pasta recipe. The pasta is cooked ahead of time and stored in the fridge to use for meals all week, but any leftover cooked pasta you have on hand will do. Chicken sausage with feta is especially good in this recipe.
Black Bean Tacos
Mixing mashed canned beans with whole beans and seasonings makes an incredibly simple taco filling from your pantry. Top these speedy 5-ingredient tacos with lettuce, tomato and salsa or any of your favorite taco toppings.
Slow-Cooker Baby Back Ribs
This easy load-and-go crock pot recipe is a great dinner to make with your kids. Let the kids stir the sauce while you rub the ribs, then just let the slow cooker do the rest of the work! Serve with a colorful coleslaw and brown rice.
Garlic Shrimp & Asparagus Kebabs
Shrimp and asparagus both cook very quickly, making them a perfect pair on the grill. We've seasoned them in delicate flavors--lemon, garlic and dill--so their natural sweetness can shine through. Pick fat asparagus stalks for easier skewering.
Broccolini, Chicken Sausage & Orzo Skillet
We love this quick skillet meal for busy evenings. The sausage and orzo simmer together in chicken broth, resulting in a creamy, risotto-like dish in under 30 minutes.
One-Pot Lemon Asparagus Pasta with Shrimp
This quick one-pot shrimp and pasta dinner is cooked with asparagus in a lemony sauce. Feta cheese sprinkled over the top adds another savory layer, but feel free to skip it and add additional fresh herbs and a lemon slice instead.
Stir-Fried Chicken & Broccoli with Mango Chutney
Resist the urge to make this stir-fry chicken recipe in a skillet instead of a wok, which will hold all your ingredients better. Buy a carbon-steel wok at an Asian market (or online) for around $30 and you'll have it forever. Make one stir-fry and you'll wonder how you survived without it.
Clam Chowder with Broccoli Stems & Corn
Keeping frozen corn, canned clams and clam juice on hand means spur-of-the-moment chowder in any season. If you typically compost your broccoli stems, save them for this soup--they hold up better than florets. Set out bowls of toppings like diced red bell pepper, snipped chives or more bacon.
Turkey Burgers with Spinach, Feta & Tzatziki
Creamy tzatziki and crisp sliced cucumber add a refreshing twist to this easy burger recipe loaded with feta and spinach. No tzatziki? No problem! Make your own at home by combining plain strained yogurt with a squeeze of lemon, dill and finely chopped cucumber.
Pearl mozzarella isn't just for snacking! Try slicing it to top an individual pita pizza with fresh tomato and basil. A little goes a long way.
Chicken & Zucchini Casserole
This baked chicken and zucchini casserole is creamy, hearty and low-carb! The whole family will love this easy casserole, plus it's a great way to get the kids to eat their veggies (concealed in a delicious cheese sauce!).
Pizza Lettuce Wraps
Go light and fresh when you're craving pizza: these easy lettuce wraps have all the taste with fewer carbs and calories.
Camping Chicken Quesadillas
These make-ahead quesadillas are a genius campfire dinner solution. Assemble and wrap in foil at home, then once you get to camp, just throw over hot coals for a quick campsite meal.
Cacio e Pepe Pasta with Peas
The sauce for this pasta dish is just cheese and pepper (aka cacio e pepe in Italian). Try this with kids as a simple yet sophisticated alternative to standard mac and cheese. Lots of black pepper adds a touch of heat, priming picky palates for spicier food.
Fried Chicken Salad with Buttermilk Dressing
A blend of whole-wheat panko and fine cornmeal gives this healthy chicken recipe the perfect amount of crunch even though it's not deep fried. Making an easy homemade buttermilk ranch dressing recipe means you can skip bottled, which may have additives and stabilizers.
Noodle Bowl with Rainbow Veggies & Peanut Sauce
With tons of colorful vegetables, sesame rice noodles and a healthy peanut sauce, this noodle bowl is a hit with adults and kids alike. Assemble the bowls before serving or let everyone make their own. Serve with Sriracha hot sauce, if desired.
Avocado, Tomato & Chicken Sandwich
In this healthy chicken sandwich recipe, the avocado is mashed to create a healthy creamy spread.
Quick Risotto with Shrimp, Corn & Edamame
In this healthy, quick risotto recipe, we use instant brown rice instead of arborio rice, and frozen corn and edamame to speed up the cooking time and add fiber. To get the creamy risotto texture without slow cooking, we stir in cream cheese and Parmesan just at the end of cooking.