Three Kid-Friendly Foods… for Adults!

posted by Andrea | 05/24/2012

(crispy chicken salad made with chicken nuggets)

The other day, I was talking with some of my friends who have really picky eaters — and are often “forced” to make multiple meals each day in order to avoid temper-tantrums.

We’re not quite to that stage of life yet — however, I couldn’t help but think about how much I do NOT want to make two meals to satisfy the kids and the adults in our house (somedays I don’t even want to make one meal!)

Obviously, I think we need to encourage our children to continue trying new foods (and sometimes force them to just try ONE bite) but there might be other ways to please everyone and still get by with only one meal.

Below are three popular kid cuisines (chicken nuggets, grilled cheese, and macaroni) and their adult-friendly alternatives… which means you don’t have to make two meals!

1. Chicken Nuggets / Crispy Chicken Salad

What is it with kids and chicken nuggets? It seems like every kid I know loves chicken nuggets.

So the next time you’re making this kid-friendly lunch, throw a few extra nuggets on for yourself… and then make a crispy chicken salad (see photo above).

This is actually one of our favorite quick meals when we’re in a hurry and nothing else sounds good. We always have tons of lettuce/spinach in our house, so we simply chop up the baked nuggets into small chunks, add chopped veggies, cheese, bacon bits, croutons, and our favorite dressing.

It’s quick, delicious, somewhat healthy, and should satisfy your adult tastebuds.



2. Grilled Cheese / Tomato, Basil, and Cheese Panini

All kids love a good grilled cheese sandwich — and in just a few extra minutes, you can also whip up a gourmet panini for yourself . Simply add a slice of tomato, fresh basil, and maybe some bacon or ham… YUM!

We make “paninis” on our George Foreman grill — they’re just as good as the sandwiches at fancy bistros, just without the expensive price tag!



3. Macaroni / Pasta with Pesto

Macaroni and cheese might not be the most adult-pleasing food, but the next time you make a batch for your kidos, scoop out a few plain noodles for yourself (before you add the cheese) and make a simple pesto sauce with fresh basil, olive oil, pine nuts, and parmesan cheese. Here’s a good pesto recipe to try.

Of course, you could also add alfredo or marinara sauce — the point is that you only have to cook one batch of pasta to please everyone.


I’m sure I could go on and on with different kid foods — but these three seem to be the most popular, and they all have such easy grown-up substitutions!

Do you have picky eaters? If so, I’d love to know if you have any other creative meal ideas to add to my list.

What are your favorite kid-friendly meals for adults?

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  1. Prerna@The Mom Writes


    Lovely ideas, Andrea! I agree, ‘taking one bite’ is a great rule. My 4-year old often refuses something simply because it doesn’t look good, but once she’s tasted it, she ends up loving it. So, yeah. I’m going to be trying out the crispy chicken salad. It looks yum!


  2. Debra Kapellakis


    That is a wonderful idea.


  3. Kris


    Home made pizza – pick your own toppings
    Quesadillas – can put different things inside each persons
    Tacos are popular with the kids and the husband
    Pasta and Meatballs – my younger one doesn’t love them but sine they are small I can get him to eat one
    Kielbasa with potatoes and peppers/onions cut big so I can leave the out of the kids

    I also give the kids small servings. If they want more great. If they don’t like it I feel it’s a small enough amount they can suffer through eating it. I only make one meal so they know that’s it. If they eat what’s on their plate and are still hungry but didn’t like the meal I’ll let them have yogurt and or fruit. That usually makes them happy and me.


  4. Carolyn


    Favorite kid-friendly adult meal? Spaghetti and Meatballs!!!


  5. jerilyn


    I used to make crispy chicken salad all of the time in high school! yummy!
    Now as a mom our rule is you eat it or go to bed (either nap time or bedtime). My children can be picky about meat and some leafy greens but they aren’t really picky and I’m not catering to them. They’ll eat it when they get hungry enough!


  6. Cheryl


    We have always had the “one bite” rule at our house. One small bite, each and every time we made it. When they were smaller it was hard, but it was non negotiable, so they had their one bite. Our oldest was about 7 when she decided she DID like mushrooms on pizza!! Now, at ages 13 and 10, the only things they don’t like are raw onion and cooked carrots. The other thing we taught them was not to say something was “gross” , just to say that they did not care for it as much as other foods. Now the same relatives who always criticized our rules, now comment frequently about how adventurous our girls are when it comes to trying new things, and how well mannered they are. LOL I figure if other moms want to cook multiple meals, that is their choice, but for me, I only wanted to prepare one meal. 🙂


    Andrea Reply:

    Yeah, my parents had the one-bite rule too — and I can remember sitting at the dinner table for several hours after dinner because I wouldn’t take one bite of a tater tot!
    Of course, now I absolutely love tater tots and my sisters and I are all very “un-picky” eaters. We’ll try anything and we almost like everything.


  7. Cathleen


    Crispy chicken salad is one of our family favorites!! It is devoured by both husband and kids and it makes a nice summer meal.
    Chicken wings are another family pleaser that kids and adults in my family love – either teriyaki or bbq (nothing hot and spicy for the kids).
    This pimento mac and cheese recipe has satisfied both the kids and adults in our house:


    Cathleen Reply:

    forgot to mention we substitute roasted red peppers for the other peppers mentioned in the mac and cheese recipe so that it is not too hot for the kids!


  8. Lee Cockrum


    I agree with Donielle above!! The only time my Mom ever made us something different was when she made liver for her and Dad. I will never eat chicken nuggets unless they are made with whole pieces of white meat like Chick fil a. After all I read about processed meats, just can’t do it!


  9. Julie


    I too, am one of those mean moms that doesn’t make more than one meal. If my kids don’t like it, they can opt to not eat it or eat what they want and leave the rest, but there will be no snacks or dessert for them. They get nothing, but water until the next meal. We require at least 1 bite of everything, before they can get away from the table. We don’t have sensory issues, so we don’t have to worry about that…but my kids are some of the most adventurest kids I know, food wise that is. My kids also help make dinner and have input as to what the weekly meal plan will be so that helps too!!


  10. Donielle @ Grand Rapids Natural Living


    Yea…I’m the mean mom that doesn’t make them anything special. If they don’t like what I put in front of them – they can wait until the next meal or eat what they like and leave the rest. 🙂 And if it’s a new food, they have to try at least two bites. Every time I serve it, since it takes about 15 tries to begin ‘liking’ a new food.

    I do think babyled feeding really helps with the whole “picky” thing. My DD is a lot more adventurous than my son, but she also never got baby food or the icky cereal – just real, whole foods from about 9 or 10 months on.

    Oh, and another thing to think about with picky eaters is sensory issues. Some kids literally can NOT eat certain foods because of the texture and there are sensory integration therapies that can be really effective at helping them eat better.