I share my three favourite healthy kid-approved and budget-friendly dinners including recipes for spaghetti squash mac and cheese, gluten-free chicken nuggets, and mini pizza bites.
Let’s see a raise of hands from those of us who overdid it on the holiday cheer this year? OH, HEY THERE, THAT’S ME! Between too many mini-sausage rolls and going a little crazy on the Kris Kringle, I definitely went overboard, financially and nutritionally. And, I’m sure I’m not alone.
And while I’m over here feeling exhausted from the overeating and overspending, I only have three months to get my life together before baby comes. THREE MONTHS!! GAH!! So, while I totally get that I’m quite a way away from needing to bust out kid-approved recipes, I figured I better get in some practice before I’m too tired to try. I wanted to share with you my favourite three healthy kid-approved budget-friendly dinners to help get everyone back on track. These recipes are great for helping everyone (parents or otherwise) get their life back in gear and hop back into a healthy, budget-conscious routine.
How to Make These 3 Healthy KID-APPROVED Budget-Friendly Dinners
To help get me out this January, I’ve been doing all of my grocery shopping at my local Walmart because they have a great variety of healthy and organic products, and the savings are really amazing. I also have been paying exclusively with Interac® Debit to make sure I am spending money I have in my account, to stay on track this year. I need all the financial help I can get because babies are EXPENSIVE!
Okay back to these amazingly delicious healthy kid-approved budget-friendly dinners. Truth bomb time- you don’t have to have kids or be a kid to ADORE these recipes. Everyone loves mac and cheese, chicken nuggets and pizza so let’s just accept that we’re all secretly pumped about healthy versions and get to it.
Spaghetti Squash Mac and Cheese
Spaghetti squash is nature’s gluten-free pasta, so spaghetti squash mac and cheese will become your BFF. It’s a great, inexpensive way to get your kids to eat their veggies, while making sure you meet your cheese quota per meal. You know, because cheese pretty much makes any vegetable exciting. I also add some frozen broccoli and cherry tomatoes to my spaghetti squash mac and cheese for an extra dose of colourful antioxidants. And, guess what- it’s only $2.43 per serving?!
Gluten-Free Chicken Nuggets
Okay so full disclosure: I was raised on chicken nuggets, but not these healthy gluten-free chicken nuggets. These days, however, I make my own my mixing together whole grain oats and whole wheat panko for a super crispy crust. Kids love them, adults love them, dinner dilemma solved. And you’re looking at just $1.97 per serving!
Veggie Pizza Bites
Little hands need little pizzas and these veggie pizza bites are one of my favourite healthy kid-approved budget-friendly dinners. They’re also basically made with stuff you have in your fridge anyway. Roll out your kid’s favourite whole grain bread and pop it into muffin tins filled with pizza sauce, cheese and lots of leftover veg. Handheld and totally customizable, these veggie pizza bites are great family dinners or after-school snacks. And get this- just $0.46 per serving!
Okay so for all the parents out there, help me get ready for this motherhood thing. What are some of your fool-proof healthy kid-approved budget-friendly dinners for getting life back on track after the holidays?
Are you going to try these recipes? Which one is your favourite?
Leave me a comment below with your ideas!
Disclosure: This post is sponsored by Walmart Canada and Interac as part of the #UpstairsAmy program. In exchange for this post, I have received perks in the form of products and/or compensation. All opinions are my own.
– Interac is a registered trade-mark of Interac Inc. Used under licence.
Spaghetti Squash Mac and Cheese
- 1 spaghetti squash
- 1 tbsp butter
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- ½ onion finely diced
- ¼ cup Great Value Whole Wheat Flour
- 3 cups 1 or 2% milk
- 2 cup very sharp cheddar cheese grated, divided
- 1 cup parmesan cheese grated
- ½ tsp sweet smoked paprika
- 2 tsp Dijon mustard
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 1 ½ cups frozen broccoli
- 1 ½ cups baby tomatoes
- Slice the squash in half lengthwise and place on a plate covered with plastic wrap. Microwave for 15-17 minutes or until it easily pulls into strings. Reserve the squash shells.
- Meanwhile, preheat oven to 375 F.
- Heat the butter and oil in a large non-stick skillet over medium heat until melted. Add in the onion and sauté until softened and lightly browned. Add in the flour and stir until well coated then pour in the milk.
- Add in 1 ½ cups of cheddar and ½ cup parmesan cheese and stir until melted. Add the paprika and mustard and stir until incorporated and allow to cook over medium until thick and bubbly. Taste and season generously with salt and pepper.
- Fold the squash into the sauce, along with the tomatoes and broccoli. Stuff the shells with the filling. Top with the additional ½ cup cheddar and ½ cup parmesan cheese and bake for 10-12 minutes or until bubbling and melted. Enjoy!
Mini Pizza Bites
- 12 thin slices whole grain bread
- 1 cup Great Value Pizza Sauce
- 1 ½ cup mozzarella cheese grated
- 1 ½ cup assorted veggies finely diced
- Preheat oven to 375 F and lightly grease 12 muffin tins.
- Press or roll out the bread to be just a few millimeters thick. Press into the muffin tins and cut around the edges to yield a nice round cup.
- Fill with pizza sauce, cheese and veggies. Bake for about 10-12 minutes or until the edges are golden brown and the cheese has melted.
Gluten Free Chicken Nuggets
- 1 2/3 cup Great Value One Minute Oats divided
- 1 1/2 tsp salt divided
- 2 eggs
- 1 cup whole wheat panko
- 1/2 tsp pepper
- 1 1/2 tsp paprika
- 1 lb chicken breasts cut into nuggets
- Preheat oven to 400 F.
- In a food processor, pulse 2/3 cup of the oats until it reaches a flour-like consistency. Place in a bowl with ½ teaspoon of salt.
- In another bowl, beat the two eggs.
- In a final bowl, mix together the remaining 1 cup of oats, panko, 1 teaspoon salt, pepper, and paprika.
- Dip the chicken in the flour, then eggs, then the panko-oat mixture and place on a lightly greased baking sheet.
- Bake for 10-12 minutes, flipping once half way throughout until golden brown and cooked through. Serve with plum sauce or ketchup.
Updated on April 30th, 2020
Abbey Sharp is a Registered Dietitian (RD), regulated by the Ontario College of Dietitians. She is a mom, YouTuber, Blogger, award winning cookbook author, media coach specializing in food and nutrition influencers, and a frequent contributor to national publications like Healthline and on national broadcast TV shows.