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Healthy Recipes for Picky Eaters on a Budget

Those organic chicken nuggets can get expensive!! If you’re looking for healthy recipes for picky eaters (on a budget) and are tired of the same old few staples, I have lots of recipes that are healthier versions of kid favorites.

Note: this post contains affiliate links. As an Amazon Associate and a member of other affiliate programs I earn from qualifying purchases. I only share products I truly love.

How to Cook Healthy Meals for Picky Eaters

healthy recipes for picky eaters on a budget with red lentil pasta

The easiest ways to cook healthy meals for picky eaters? You can add some health-boosting ingredients to the foods they like, or add some fruit or veggies alongside their favorites.

What healthy ingredients should you add to the foods they like? I have you covered! Check out these recipes for ideas!

And if you want some more in depth tips on what to cook for picky eaters, check out this post: Meal plan for picky eaters.

Healthy Dinner Recipes for Picky Eaters

If they are a pasta lover, you have to try the Healthy Pumpkin Pasta for Toddlers (recipe is below) – it doesn’t taste like pumpkin, it is so creamy and smooth and delicious! It’s easier than boxed mac and cheese, I swear. And it has more nutrition than boxed mac and cheese. Win/win!

How to eat healthy as a picky eater

For more easy, healthy and FAST dinner recipes for picky eaters grab my Meal & Snack Survival Guide. It has picky-eater-approved recipes that can be made in literally 15 minutes or less start to finish. And since they are meals made with simple components, your picky eater will at least be able to eat part of the meal. I know lots of picky ones who often don’t want ANYTHING from a meal, so getting them to eat part of it is a win!

Healthy Recipes for Picky Eaters

For a description and insights about each recipe, keep scrolling.

  1. Healthy Sweet Potato Pancakes
  2. The Best Healthy Chocolate Smoothie
  3. Healthy Toddler Muffins
  4. The Best Zucchini Banana Bread Muffins for Kids
  5. Easy Blender Banana Oat Pancakes for Babies
  6. Healthy Protein Pancakes
  7. 6 Healthy Smoothies for Kids
  8. Eggs in Oatmeal
  9. Pumpkin French Toast Sticks
  10. Healthy Pasta for Toddlers
  11. Turkey Meatballs for Baby and Toddler
  12. Kid Friendly Hidden Veggie Dips
  13. Trail Mix Pita Pizza
  14. Red Lentil Pasta with Veggie Packed Tomato Sauce
  15. Simple Mac and Cheese Recipe without Flour (Kid-friendly!)
  16. Healthy Pumpkin Pasta for Toddlers
  17. Secretly Healthy Chocolate Pudding [Dairy Free]
  18. Healthy Cookie Dough Dip with chickpeas (for kids!)
  19. Greek Yogurt Popsicles for Kids
  20. Healthy Orange Popsicles Recipe (with protein!)
  21. Pumpkin Baked Oatmeal Bars

Recipe Category Breakdown:

Breakfast Recipes for Picky Eaters

healthy chocolate smoothie with chocolate shavings and straw

Most mornings, breakfast needs to be fast and easy to make when you are half asleep. I get that. Smoothies are awesome for quick breakfasts, and can be loaded with healthy ingredients without your picky eater complaining. Pancakes and muffins are something I love to make on weekends and then freeze extras for rushed mornings.

Healthy Sweet Potato Pancakes

These taste like fall! My kids love this recipe even though they refuse to eat plain sweet potatoes. It works as waffles, too!

The Best Healthy Chocolate Smoothie

Easiest smoothie to make in the world and perfect for chocolate lovers.

Healthy Toddler Muffins

These muffins are perfect for the toddler who doesn’t like chunks of things in their food, like, “eww I see a green fleck in here! YUCK!” I made this recipe to just have a plain muffin that is sweet enough, but doesn’t have anything inside that they can freak out about.

The Best Zucchini Banana Bread Muffins for Kids

These taste just like banana bread, are egg free and vegan, and it’s the top recipe on my site that people tell me they make over and over again!

Easy Blender Banana Oat Pancakes for Babies

If they won’t eat oatmeal but you’d love to get them eating a nice whole-grain, fiber filled breakfast, give these pancakes a try! They are great for babies, too.

Healthy Protein Pancakes

This was a HUGE reader request! These protein pancakes don’t have any protein powder since I like to minimize it for young kids, but still packs a great amount of whole food protein in to start the day off right!

6 Healthy Smoothies for Kids

Smoothies are king on busy mornings! What can be easier than throwing a bunch of things in the blender and pushing a button. Plus, you can hide all sorts of things in there like hemp seeds or chia seeds or flax seeds! (Get 10% off my favorites at that link with code MAMAKNOWSNUTRITION).

Eggs in Oatmeal

If you’ve never added eggs to oatmeal, this will blow your mind! I needed a way to get my pickier kid to eat eggs because I wanted him to get the good nutrition, but he would NOT eat them plain in any way. When you stir them into oatmeal using this technique, you have no idea they are there. And the oatmeal is SO creamy!

Toddler Recipe: Pumpkin French Toast Sticks

French toast is an all time favorite in my house. It even works as a quick dinner, too! Adding pumpkin bumps up the vitamin content!

Lunch/Dinner Recipes for Picky Eaters

turkey meatballs and pasta

Clearly, pasta always gets eaten in my house, because a lot of these recipes are pasta based! But not to worry if your little one won’t eat pasta. I have TONS more ideas for lunches and dinners inside of Meal & Snack Survival Guide. If you need more help to get your little one to branch out beyond their favorites, check out Simple Steps to Picky Wins.

Healthy Pasta for Toddlers

Have you ever tried a cashew-based cream sauce? It’s amazing for picky eaters! It has a mild taste, and you get them awesome nutrients like healthy fats, protein, vitamin K, copper, iron, magnesium, and zinc.

Kid Friendly Hidden Veggie Dips

For the kids who love dipping, you can hide veggies in these dips (and use veggies as dipping sticks, too!). 

Trail Mix Pita Pizza

The peanut butter and jelly enthusiast will be all over this fun recipe where they can choose their toppings! 

Red Lentil Pasta with Veggie Packed Tomato Sauce

This one amps up the classic spaghetti and tomato sauce with lots of veggies and red lentils for plant-based nutrition. While red lentil pasta is more expensive than traditional pasta, you get so much protein per serving that it’s completely worth the extra cost, since you don’t have to buy any meat!

Simple Mac and Cheese Recipe (Kid-friendly!)

Use your instant pot or stovetop to make this mac and cheese with veggies inside. If they like peas, serve them mixed in or on the side to get some greens in.

Healthy Pumpkin Pasta for Toddlers

I make this for lunch all the time, it’s a staple for us! I love that it incorporates protein, fat, a veggie & fiber all in one dish.

Turkey Meatballs for Baby and Toddler

Mushrooms are the secret star in this recipe! They have B vitamins and several minerals, and mix seamlessly into the meatball mixture. My husband is picky about veggies being mixed into foods, and he loves this recipe!

Snacks/Sweets Recipes for Picky Eaters

close up of healthy apple crisp

Healthy snacks for picky eaters are a must! If they usually stick with things like fishy crackers, fruit snacks, chips, or puffs, they are missing out on a great opportunity to get more nutrition in. For picky kids, I like to get fruit, veg, or other nutritious foods in that they may skip over at meal times.

I swear when I call something a “snack,” no matter what it is, kids are ALWAYS more interested!

Secretly Healthy Chocolate Pudding [Dairy Free]

This recipe is how I got my son to try avocados in his picky phase when he was 2 years old. It’s SO yummy.

You can’t go wrong with cookie dough! My kids usually end up eating this on its own with a spoon, but it’s great for dipping, too.

Greek Yogurt Popsicles for Kids

Mix it up from regular yogurt with this healthy greek yogurt popsicle recipe with different flavor options.

Healthy Orange Popsicles Recipe (with protein!)

Easiest popsicle you’ll ever make, with a good protein boost.

Pumpkin Baked Oatmeal Bars

My friend whose son wouldn’t eat ANY fruits or veggies tried this recipe and he loved it!

More Healthy Snacks for Picky Eaters

Dino Bars

These bars are made primarily from fruit, have simple clean ingredients, and are great for ages 1+. If they like fruit snacks or fruit bars, definitely give these a try!

Use code MAMAKNOWS10 for 10% off.

Skout Organic Bars

Skout Organic kids bars are like the toddler-friendly version of a Larabar. They’re the perfect size and texture for toddlers, and have no added sugar. Plus, they have nut-free flavors, and introduce new seasonal flavors all the time.

Use code MAMAKNOWS for 20% off your first order!

Little Spoon

Little Spoon has smoothie pouches with a variety of superfoods in them, a huge step up nutritionally from just applesauce. If your little one LOVES pouches, I would check these out!

Snack Guide

For a full list of easy grab and go, healthy, low added sugar snack options, check out my toddler-friendly snack guide!

Snack Guide Download Button

How do picky eaters eat healthy?

If you feel stuck with your picky eater and feel like they will NEVER like healthy foods, check out my free Picky Eater Starter Guide to get you moving in the right direction.


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Kacie Barnes holding an apple
Hi, I’m Kacie!

I’m a mom of two and a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist. I offer e-guides and e-books (go to my Shop page), workshops, brand partnerships, and nutrition counseling. Check out my blog for nutrition and feeding tips for your little ones.


This post may contain affiliate links. I may earn a commission. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.

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