23 answers

Dinner for 4/5 Year Old

I have a daughter soon to be 5 and I am requesting dinner alternatives for her. My husband is rarely home for dinner during the week so I am only cooking for the two of us. Large meals typically work once a week (my husband eats when he arrives home) but I am having trouble coming up with ideas for us other than chicken (quantities of everything else are too large). I get take-out at least two times a week (Folks or BBQ) since they typically come with veggies. I try to stay away from frozen dinners due to the salt content. I am also looking for suggestions/hints on veggies. My daughter only likes SOFT broccoli, SOFT green beans, mushrooms, peas and corn. Thanks!!

What can I do next?

So What Happened?™

To all you ladies (and guy): Thank you so much for the wonderful ideas. I have been researching some of the websites provided and have copied some of the basic recipes you've suggested. My daughter loves any kind of Protein (meat, fish, eggs) so your information has been very helpful. Thank you all for your time.

Featured Answers

Try buying frozen veggies instead of canned. The have less salt content and you can use the quantity you need and then put the rest back in the freezer. If you buy large quantities of meat, package it in single services in individual sandwich bags inside a freezer bag, then put it in the freezer. That way you can only thaw out the quantity you need for the 2 of you.

1 mom found this helpful

Wow - I hardly saw anyone mention pasta, and they're sooo fast and easy. I do a lot of tortellini and stuffed pastas, 'cause we're a vegetarian family, and there are a lot of cheese-stuffed tortellini options everywhere these days.

Trader Joe's has a great selection of prepared stuff that generally isn't as sugar- and salt-laden as the stuff you get in most stores. (And they sell extra-long spaghetti noodles that my 4 year old thinks is hilarious. Messy, but fun, to eat.)

1 mom found this helpful

More Answers

Hey D.,

I have a four year old girl and a one year old girl. My four year old is the reigning champion of picky eaters. I have found something though that she really, really likes. Publix sells these turkey meatballs. They're frozen, but they sure are tasty.

As for suggestions on veggies, I take it she'll eat potatoes? Those are a really good option in our house as they are also one of Mia's favorites, as well as Corinne's. If you are looking to get a little more vegetables in your diet, but for your own enjoyment too, try whipped cauliflower. You can pass it off as mashed potatoes. It's really good. Your daughter may really take to that as well.

I have a book filled with recipes for little ones, I believe up to the age of six or seven. It is called "First Meals" by Annabel Karmel. That might be an option for you too.

Bon Appetit!


2 moms found this helpful

Personally I love to find new receipes on kraftfoods.com and bettycrocker.com. They have wonderful kid friendly foods that include tricky ways to incorporate fruits, veggies, fiber, and protein. This works for me cause I have a picky 3 year old who would rather eat meat than anything so I have to get creative. Hope this helps.

1 mom found this helpful

Those are great vegetables for a 4/5 year old to eat. How about carrots with low or fat free ranch? Let her help you prepare a green bean casserol. Cooks always try what they make.
I teach that age group and they have definite opinions about what they like to eat.
be creative with multi-grain wraps. You can put anything in a wrap. They can't "see" it so it is hidden well. Tacos are great for this age group. Cooking together is the key. Two nights a week have her plan the menu. Go to kraftfoods.com/cooking with kids. I use it in my classroom all the time.
Way to go with the vegetbles that you have her eating. I think that you are ahead of the game.

1 mom found this helpful

There is an awesome cookbook called "Once a Month Cooking" that can offer you some great ideas for different meal options. It's an intense two days when you are prepping and cooking, but great to know you have dinner ready in the freezer for several weeks afterward.

At 5 my daughter would only eat hot dogs, bologna, american cheese, dry cheerios and green beans. She turned up her nose at anything else I offered. Now that she is 24 she is much more adventurous in her eating so obviously picky eaters don't starve! I didn't and still don't believe that meal time should be a battle. I always require one bite of any food that is new (I'm now feeding grandchildren) and have found that they will eat when they are hungry. You are fortunate that your daughter will eat the veggies that she does and I wouldn't worry too much about it. Just keep offering and encouraging her to try different things and she'll be fine.

1 mom found this helpful

Another idea I haven't seen on here is a veggie quesadilla, very easy to do even in the toaster oven we use spinach, mushrooms and cheese with either wheat or spinach wraps warm in the toaster oven and voilla and you can add tomatoes, onions, salsa etc.

We have also gotten into making soup, doing a whole chicken one night with stuffing and veggies and then making broth by boiling the carcass and using the meat, veggies and either rice or barley in the crockpot to have an easy ready meal.

I hope that helps!

1 mom found this helpful

If you do happen to do spaghetti as someone else mentioned, use the whole grain pasta for better nutrition and you can blend spinach(puree it) and mix it in with the spaghetti sauce...shouldn't even know it's there. (You can do the same with lasagna.)

You can have a veggie night....broccoli, mashed potatoes, and mushrooms or do other mixtures and add a different one to see if she'll attempt to eat it.

One fun and quick dinner that we like and it doesn't matter how many people eat is having tortillas and putting refried beans on it with all the trimmings (cheese, lettuce, tomato, onions, salsa, sour cream, black olives, etc.) But if she'll only do beans, well, that's a new veggie and some protein.

Chicken nachos...cook chicken tenderloins (non breaded) and cut up. Then have the chips and shred cheese over the chips and melt in microwave (if you use them), then add the chicken over that with anything else you want to throw on top. You get to eat with your hands, which is fun for some! Chicken quesadillas are another one.

Getting food from Sams and separating the portions or even from the grocery store is a good idea. You can separate lots of meats and just cook you one and her one of whatever with some veggies, but always try to put a new one on the table to see if she'll expand her palette.

I have one son that loves lima beans...we just have to get the right kind. The younger baby ones are much better than the huge ones.

You can cook a roast and then make a stew out of it and divide it into portions. Put V-8 juice or other tomato juice in it with peas, potatoes, green beans, corn, just whatever and make it slightly spicy.

One thing that my 2yo loves is avacado....one of the first foods I would feed an infant. I just make a quick guacamole without the chunks and have it for dipping. I just add some salt, garlic powder, salsa and just mix it up. It's really quick and yummy. Now, I can actually add some cayenne pepper and she'll still eat it. I'm trying to liven up her palette, because mommy loves spicy food! lol

1 mom found this helpful

I use www.myrecipes.com

They have lots of recipes that are kid and adult friendly and most can be frozen if you think you're going to have too much.

I have a four year old too- she's going through a I don't like veggies stage right now- my best luck has been with corn (but only on the cob), carrots with ranch and for some reason, salad. I have found some new recipes on the web site above that I plan on trying this week with her, we'll see!

1 mom found this helpful

I have recipie for Chicken Pot Pie that freezes really well. I make an extra large one one night and then divide it into smaller containers and freeze it for my almost three year old for lunch. If I can't get him to eat anything else, he'll eat this.

3-4 chicken breasts (the ones with the bone and skin make the best broth to use in the recipie, but you can use boneless, skinless, just add some boxed chicken broth)

bag of mixed veggies + a couple of potatoes peeled and diced.

1 can cream of chicken soup (healthy request)
1 can cream of celery soup (you can use cream of mushroom if you don't have celery on hand...there's really not that much of a difference)

2 soup cans reserved chicken broth

Boil your chicken in some salted water. Remove skin and pick off bone. Layer in bottom of 9x13 cassarole. Cook veggies until tender. Mix veggies, soups, and two can of reserved chicken broth. Pour over chicken.

For the topping

Mix 1 1/2 c. self rising flour, 1c. milk, 1 stick or 1/2c. margarine, and 1/4 tsp black pepper. Pour over top of veggies.

Bake at 350 til brown and bubbly!


1 mom found this helpful

Dinner for 2, you and your child can be simple, quick and fun. For my daughter, I make Pizza on flour tortillas ( Tortilla, Olive oil, Pizza sauce, shredded mozzerella and 10-15 minutes) Fruit is always a good company with dinner. Also, spaghetti, grilled cheese, and fried chicken and potatoes. I have found that frozen mixed vegatables are a winner as well (Peas, carrots, and corn). Cover vegatables with water and boil for 5 minutes, strain and season with a little sea salt and garlic powder.

I hope that helps. I am a father of 4 girls, but I have been tasked with the dinner for a while.

1 mom found this helpful

D. have you thought about the idea of making a big meal or two getting individual sectioned tray's and freezing your own tv dinners.
Hope this may help L.

1 mom found this helpful

Hi! When my son was small he liked to eat burittos (made from the small tortilla with shredded chicken or ground beef and I always put in a vegetable with the cheese). It is simple, quick and can be put in the microwave -- just cook your meat ahead and use leftover veggies (or canned/fresh).

Hope this gives you a new idea.

E. (Mom of one 16 year old)

1 mom found this helpful

Try buying frozen veggies instead of canned. The have less salt content and you can use the quantity you need and then put the rest back in the freezer. If you buy large quantities of meat, package it in single services in individual sandwich bags inside a freezer bag, then put it in the freezer. That way you can only thaw out the quantity you need for the 2 of you.

1 mom found this helpful

Will she eat fish or shrimp? fish sticks and fried shrimp come so you can seperate into portions only cook a few at a time. For veggies you can do frozen and get some of those new microwave steam bags. They work really well. My daughters fav food is spaghitti so when I make it I cook a whole bunch and freeze some so all I have to do is thaw it out, warm it up and make some noodles. Its easy to do, make a large batch of something and freeze it in small portions so you can just pull some out and defrost it. Theres something I've found you cant make um eat , you can try to hide veggies in other food but it usually dosn't work. Your daughters picky side sounds like its texture oriented. So if you cook your veggies the same way maybe with some cheese sauce she might eat um.

1 mom found this helpful

I love using my indoor grill (similar to George Foreman) for things like Turkey burgers (come frozen and can cook as little as you want), pork chops, steaks. You could also do a ground hamburger mix (your own Hamburger helper). Using just a portion of the hamburger and freeze the rest. YOu could mix most of those veggies with the meat for a great vegetable soup too. I have starting useing recipes from the cook books that hide veggies (Deliciously Deceptive and The Sneaky Chef) I wouldn't let that be your only source of veggies, but it never hurts to get an extra dose of cauliflower in mashed potatoes. You could also make a small shepard's pie for the 2 of you.
HOpe this helps

1 mom found this helpful

3 quick suggestions:
Walmart has frozen individually packaged Tilapia fillets for $6.42 for a bag of about 10. This will give your daughter a chance to get some good fish protein and all you have to do is let 2 fillets sit in warm water for about 10 minutes and then saute.
The other is flank steak, just grill or broil and slice thin across the grain. You can make many different dishes with it, serve it over rice with corn, make steak sandwiches, serve it over salad, make tacos or fajitas, enjoy it plain with summer veggies. You can slice and heat the leftovers so that you don't have to cook every night.
The last is use a crock pot so that it doesn't matter what time everyone eats. If it is only going to the two of you you can put the leftovers in the fridge and eat them another day.

1 mom found this helpful

Wow - I hardly saw anyone mention pasta, and they're sooo fast and easy. I do a lot of tortellini and stuffed pastas, 'cause we're a vegetarian family, and there are a lot of cheese-stuffed tortellini options everywhere these days.

Trader Joe's has a great selection of prepared stuff that generally isn't as sugar- and salt-laden as the stuff you get in most stores. (And they sell extra-long spaghetti noodles that my 4 year old thinks is hilarious. Messy, but fun, to eat.)

1 mom found this helpful

I usually buy our meat in bulk from Sam's Club and when I come home I divide it up and freeze it. In my house there is myself, my husband and 2 kids and my mother and sister live with us. So there is always a different number of people eating dinner. I divide my ground beef up in different portions and only thaw out what is needed. I also buy frozen veggies so that I can take out only what I need. Kroger has a great 10 for $10 sale sometimes and I like to stock up then.

1 mom found this helpful

My husband works late a lot too. It makes it hard to get motivated to cook! My girls both like meatloaf, so I make a Rachel Ray recipe that gets cooked as small patties in a skillet. My girls also like rice and I buy the Success Boil in Bag rice since it makes just 2 cups. We also make breakfast for dinner when Daddy isn't home: pancakes, bacon, or eggs with cheese on them. I buy frozen veggies and cook just enough in the microwave. I always serve fruit with dinner too. Annie's Mac and Cheese is all natural and tastes good too. They like that and I load up on 2 veggies and a fruit when I make it. Doesn't she like macaroni of some sort? Or soup and sandwiches? You can make a reduced sodium soup or make homemade on the weekend and serve it again during the week. There are lots of ideas out there. Check out the Deceptively Delicious cookbook for ideas on sneaking extra veggies in. Good luck!

1 mom found this helpful

I run into the same problem a lot. Busy S/O who's not home for dinner several times a week. So we had a lot of wasted food. I invested in a "Food Saver" which helps a lot. The machine vaccuum packs and heat seals the contents. But buy the new and improved version, NOT the original. Also, it may seem like a lot of money to buy a roll of the packing material, but when you figure up that cost VS. the cost of the food you've had to throw out, you're saving a lot of money. You can buy fresh or frozen foods in the regular quanties and split it up when you get home. Really, you can do the same thing with Zip-Lock bags, but I like the food saver because it removes all of the air and you don't get freezer burn.
Another idea would be to participate in a supper club. If you don't already have one in your area, you could certainly start one. Depending on how many people participate you could be down to cooking one extra large meal every week instead of cooking several small ones all week long.
As for soft veggies: the sky is the limit. In fact, I can't think of a vegetable off hand that can't be soft cooked. Carrots, zuchini, squash, cauliflower, cabbage. Just keep trying new things.
Good luck!

1 mom found this helpful

When you cook the one big meal always cook enough to put 2 complete plates in the freezer for another day. When you have time, cook some meals you know your daughter will eat and freeze them. On your big meal days you might be able to freeze 4 plates for later which would be a big help to you. V.

1 mom found this helpful

Hi D.,

My girls, at that age, liked "my" fried rice. I didn't really fry it, I just warmed it in a frying pan with a small amount of olive oil for flavor. (Keeping cooked rice in the fridge is easy and it's one of the healthy carbs.) You can add any or all of the veggies she likes, you can scramble an egg and chop it up for "egg" fried rice or even add any left over chicken. I have found few kids that don't like rice...and my girls really liked trying the chop sticks!

God bless!


1 mom found this helpful

Hi D.,

Birdseye makes individual steam bags - you can geet two servings for a 5 year old in each bag - and they have peas and corn. My five year old son loves them! Sugar snap peas are also a good option - peas in their pods!

Good luck!


1 mom found this helpful

Food options for two, that don't include a lot of chicken but do include veggies....

veggie pizzas (use bagels as the "crust" and top any way you like)

bean burritos (only have to use amount of ingredients you need - burritos, beans, cheese, lettuce, tomatoes, etc)

mini meatloaves (use cupcake pan and only use/thaw out 1/4-1/2 pound of meat)

breakfast foos: eggs & sausage/bacon, pancakes/waffles, oatmeal, omelets


hamburgers (again only use/thaw out 1/4-1/2 pound meat)

salads (we put fruit like strawberries, mandarin oranges and grapes in our regular salads instead of meat sometimes, also sub eggs for meat)

rice & veggies

tomato soup with grilled cheese sandwiches

sandwiches in general

veggie spaghetti - noodles and steamed veggies with sauce, use amount of noodles the two of you wuold eat

make a "regular" meal, what you don't eat freeze for another night

try websites like kraftfoods.com, cooks.com, allcooks.com and type in the main ingredient you want to use and pick from the multitude of options that appear :)

Hope you find a few meals the two of you will enjoy!

A. C

Required Fields

Our records show that we already have a Mamapedia or Mamasource account created for you under the email address you entered.

Please enter your Mamapedia or Mamasource password to continue signing in.

Required Fields

, you’re almost done...

Since this is the first time you are logging in to Mamapedia with Facebook Connect, please provide the following information so you can participate in the Mamapedia community.

As a member, you’ll receive optional email newsletters and community updates sent to you from Mamapedia, and your email address will never be shared with third parties.

By clicking "Continue to Mamapedia", I agree to the Mamapedia Terms & Conditions and Privacy Policy.