21 of our best family-friendly recipes

Enjoy family meal time with these kid approved main meals and fruity desserts.
Published 21 January 2018 | Updated 17 April 2024
Fish fingers and chips

Recipes to feed the family

If you want to prepare meals your family will enjoy, and you also want to stick to your healthy eating plan, we've got good news: You can have it both ways, and we have the recipes and tips to prove it.

Eating a balanced diet

Family meals should contain a healthy mix of complex carbohydrates (wholegrains, vegetables and beans), lean protein and healthy fats (unsaturated oils, nuts and fish). We all strive for balanced meals but often struggle with pulling them together for the family night after night. By sticking with recipes built around familiar, easy-to-find ingredients such as lean mince beef, pork tenderloin, chicken breast and favourite dishes including lasagne, pasta and hearty soups and salads, you're sure to have a healthy repertoire of ideas.

Cooking for the family

Here are some of our favourite family staples, including a few that sneak vegetables into the mix in case anyone in your house doesn't like to eat them! Enjoying dinner is a great way to spend time together. With our all-time family favourites including fish fingers and chips, meat pies and chicken schnitzel, there is something for even the fussiest of eaters.

Family friendly cooking tips

1. Go for crowd-pleasers. Pick dishes you know your family love. To qualify as "family-friendly," food should appeal to all family members, including picky eaters and those with weight-loss or weight-maintenance goals in mind. And we mean the same food, not lots of individually prepared dishes. Meals should be delicious and healthy so everyone can enjoy. For example, if you know your kids love meat pies try making our recipe for meat pies and fill them with as many veggies as possible like carrot, celery, mushroom and peas.

2. Cut as many corners as possible to save time. Family meals shouldn't require a lot of work. The focus should be on quality time with your family, not faced time with your stove or chopping board.

3. Prep in advance where possible. Whatever you can do in advance like chopping veggies will help you on days when the time is tight.

4. Chop and freeze veggies for next time. When chopping fresh vegetables like capsicum, onion, celery, carrot, always chop extras and store them in snap-lock bags in the freezer. Then, on busy nights you can pull these vegetables straight from the freezer and start cooking, saving you loads of time.

5. Keep some meals in the freezer. Prepare and assemble casseroles, but instead of baking them right away, freeze them for a later date. Most casseroles will last up to six months in the freezer. Just thaw and bake when you've got a busy day planned.

6. Turn healthy foods into fun shapes for the kids. To get kids to try new, healthy foods, try placing fruits and vegetables on skewers or cut fruits or vegetables into fun shapes using cookie cutters to decorate your children's plates.