Easy and fun meals for children

Online culinary colleges are teaching students to cook for a variety of audiences. Sometimes the hardest to please are children, who tire quickly of repeated recipes and are likely to be somewhat picky. Try these easy and fun dishes the next time you're cooking for a tyke!

Croque monsieur
This traditional French sandwich is basically a fancy grilled-cheese. With that in mind, the way to cook a croque monsieur is the exact same, except for adding ham to the cheese in the middle. Stick to the chosen cheese of the child and cook the sandwich on both sides until golden brown. Typical croque monsieurs also call for Dijon mustard and French cornichons, but feel free to leave either or both off the sandwich if the child prefers.

Swedish meatballs
Egg noodles and pre-bought meatballs make this dish delicious and quick. A light, butter-based sauce will please the simplest of eaters and the meatballs pack a punch of protein. Broccoli or asparagus also make a good addition to this tasty meal, if your eaters aren't too picky. If so, eliminate the vegetable and garnish with a touch of basil.

Potato nachos
Potatoes are a good pick for the base of a meal for children. Their taste can be manipulated by whatever you add to them. These nachos swap out the tortilla chips for russet potatoes, which provide a healthy dose of potassium. Allow kids to help cook by picking out what healthy toppings they'd like to add! A fast after-school snack, potato nachos contain healthy ingredients and are fun to cook together.

Broccoli Chicken Casserole
This dish has it all – cheese, rice, chicken and broccoli – each with its own healthy addition to the overall meal. Rice is a healthy grain, broccoli fulfills the option for a vegetable, chicken is a good source of protein and cheese contains potassium. A 45-minute recipe, the only other ingredients are cream of mushroom and cream of chicken soups, milk, butter and an optional onion. While the casserole is cooking, you'll have plenty of other time to spend time with the child you're cooking for.

Students in culinary arts programs know that children can often be the hardest critics to please. Stick to fun and inventive dishes that are kid-friendly and let the children help, if possible. Even the pickiest of eaters will find eating more enjoyable if they get to aid in the cooking process.

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