12 Weeknight Dinners for Picky Eaters

Picky Eaters. We have all heard the term, and many of us have at least one at home. Our little eaters can be tricky to cook for while making sure they get the nourishment they need. These 12 weeknight dinners are great for eaters of all ages, and even your pickiest of eaters will find something new to love! Dipping, topping, and wrapping are some ways to make dinnertime more fun and interactive for kids. When dinnertime is more fun, kids are more likely to take at least one little bite of something. You can serve many of these dinners with your kid's favorite dips and sauces, and you’ll probably find new favorites along the way!

  • 01 of 12

    Vegetarian Baked Taquitos With Avocado Kale Salad

    Catherine McCord

    Vegetarian baked taquitos are kid­-friendly and much healthier than their deep­ fried cousins. By baking the taquitos instead of frying them, the tortillas still turn out incredibly toasty and crunchy and the black bean/corn/mixed cheese filling still gets melty and gooey, but you lose all the grease. You can freeze the taquitos before you bake them so you always have some on hand for a quick lunch or dinner, and you can easily quadruple the recipe if you are cooking for a crowd. Serve with fresh and crunchy Avocado Kale Salad for dipping!

  • 02 of 12

    Chicken Nuggets With Winter Citrus Salad

    Catherine McCord

    Chicken nuggets are a classic childhood favorite that is an easy sell for even the pickiest of kids. This homemade version is easy to make, delicious, and include only ingredients you can pronounce. Make a double, triple, or even quadruple batch to keep some in the freezer for quick meals later one, too. Serve with your favorite veggies or a fresh salad topped with seasonal fruit.

  • 03 of 12


    Catherine McCord

    Potacos are as fun to make and eat as they are to say! This is a great meal for picky eaters as it is fully customizable to your own tastes. You can use russet or sweet potatoes, and fill them with all your favorite toppings from pesto with cheese to chicken with bbq sauce to beans with sour cream and salsa. Set out a variety of toppings and let each person build their own potaco!

  • 04 of 12

    Tostada Salad

    Catherine McCord

    When I first served Tostada salad to Kenya and Chloe, I took two extra tostadas, put one on top of each salad and told the kids to smash them down so that the shell would break apart over everything. From Kenya and Chloe's point of view, how awesome did I just make mealtime? I had just given my kids a get out of jail free card to channel all of their disregulated 5:30 pm energy into making a delicious mess. They took one look at each other with sheer glee and disbelief before pressing down with both hands and crushing their tostadas all over their plates. They laughed the entire time and even figured out that they could use the tostada shards like edible utensils to scoop up and eat their salads.

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  • 05 of 12

    Sesame Udon Noodles

    Catherine McCord

    My kids adore wheat­-based udon noodles because of their soft texture and thickness, and since they have a neutral taste, they can easily be jazzed up with a myriad different flavor. Don't be afraid to add to this dish. Other foods you may have on hand, from grated carrots to cubed tofu to cooked shrimp, all compliment it beautifully. You can make it your own way and just watch it disappear.

  • 06 of 12

    Vegetarian Chimichangas

    Catherine McCord

    These vegetarian chimichangas are better than anything you would find at a Southwestern or Mexican restaurant. They’re generally made with a flour tortilla, stuffed with anything from beans to rice to an array of vegetables and fried before topping with anything from sliced avocado or guacamole to salsa, cheese, and sour cream. Here I soften the tortillas to make them more flexible if desired, brush them with oil or coat with cooking spray and then bake before serving. I love using a mix of whole wheat and corn or spelt tortillas, but you can use any variety you enjoy. You want to make sure you buy the burrito sized tortillas here so they’re easy to fill and fold.

  • 07 of 12

    Chicken or Vegetarian Lettuce Wraps

    Catherine McCord

    Lettuce wraps are a delicious mix of crunchy, smooth, sweet and salty. More importantly, they’re quick and easy to make, not to mention fun to pick up and eat with your hands. The filling can be made with chicken or tofu to suit both meat eaters and vegetarians. Serve the filling in a big bowl with a few spoons so each person can pick up and fill their own lettuce wrap and sprinkle on some extra crushed peanuts.

  • 08 of 12

    Pupusas With Grilled Corn and Red Pepper Salad

    Catherine McCord

    There have been many times I’ve seen people shy away from an international dish solely based on its name. I totally get that it can be intimidating to order something you know nothing about in hopes that you, or dare I utter, your kids would enjoy it. Just the other day we went to a Mexican restaurant while on vacation in upstate New York and when I named off dishes to the kids that included sopes, huaraches and flautas there was silence in the air for several seconds until Kenya said: “do they have tacos or enchiladas?” It can feel intimidating trying new foods with exotic names, but once you try and enjoy them there’s no going back. Pupusas are generally topped with a vinegary slaw, a side of guacamole and crema to add to the simple flavor of the masa that makes this traditional Salvadoran dish.

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  • 09 of 12

    Green Mac and Cheese

    Catherine McCord

    Since every kid I know seems to love mac and cheese, I wondered how I could bring some verdant color to this classic dish. Offering kids green takes some creativity. While some have no issue eating green foods there are plenty who do. This mac and cheese is not only super creamy and cheesy, but it's also packed with nutritious veggies like spinach, broccoli and sweet peas which only add to the heavenly nature of this traditional, kid-friendly recipe. See, it's easy being green!

  • 10 of 12

    Pizza Bagels With Green Beans

    Catherine McCord

    I started making these Whole wheat pizza bagels for Kenya and Chloe when they were just starting to eat solid foods. You can buy them in the frozen food aisle of your grocery, but why bother when you can have the real thing and make them even healthier with homemade tomato sauce and use fresh whole wheat bagels. The bagels become really soft when you bake them covered by a layer of soft and gooey cheese and tangy tomato sauce. You can top them with all your favorite pizza toppings, too! 

  • 11 of 12

    Spaghetti Pie With Crispy Broccoli

    Catherine McCord

    I've discovered that if I make meals that take the form of a muffin, cake, cookie or pie, my kids are instantly intrigued. Spaghetti is on regular rotation here in our house, so I like to switch it up sometimes with spaghetti pie. It can be made with or without meat depending on your family’s preferences. This has all the favorite flavors of your normal spaghetti night, but served up in pie form so each delicious bite is filled with pasta, cheese, sauce, and meat! Serve this with crispy broccoli for an easy side dish that is sure to please.

  • 12 of 12

    Beef Kofta With Fattoush Salad

    Catherine McCord

    Beef kofta is essentially a meatball jazzed up with a bunch of spices, sautéed and then skewered making it a ton of fun to dip and enjoy, especially for kids. Let’s be honest here, everything tastes better on a stick! I’ve made these with turkey and lamb, but ground beef is by far my favorite. When Kenya and Chloe were both toddlers I found that ground meat was an easy answer to introducing them to meats. There’s nothing “spicy” about these, just tons of addictive flavor. Serve with Fattoush Salad for a veggie­-filled well­-rounded dinner.