5 quick, kid-friendly meals to expand your dinner repertoire

Kinderling News & Features

Life is hectic but we all gotta eat! So a few ideas for easy cooking never go astray.

Emma Braz is the Coles food editor and a mum of three. If you’re stuck in a cooking rut, she has some great insight for creating interesting, yet time-saving meals.

“A good way to introduce new foods is to pick one new recipe a week,” Emma says. “Then if the kids like it, you can add it to your .”

Listen to Emma chat to Kinderling:

Here are her easy suggestions for mixing it up while keeping meals quick:

  • BBQ chicken is a really good time saver and a cost effective ingredient, Emma says. “You can add it to soups, add it to pasta, you can make pies out of it.”
  • “Pasta is a go-to with many families,” Emma says. Add in veggies and leftover meat to get some nutrition in there.
  • Massaman curry is a quick, mild introduction to spicy foods for the family. You can add veggies, peas, swap potato for sweet potato and get creative.
  • Emma’s go-to fast meal is a sausage casserole (because both her husband and kids love it!). You cook up the sausages, add canned tomatoes, some potatoes and whatever veggies you like, (maybe some frozen peas).
  • Using a pre-prepared spice mix can add flavour and save time.
  • Canned beans also save preparation time since they’ve been soaked already.
  • Prep/chop extra veggies to save time the next day.
  • Look at prep and cooking times before committing yourself to the recipe. Do things that you’re already comfortable doing when you need to cook quickly and healthily.

Need a few recipes? These should help get you started.

Sausage Bolognese

Serves 4.  Prep 10 mins.  Cooking 15 mins.

  • 375g pkt penne
  • 1 tablespoon Coles Brand Pure Olive Oil
  • 500g pkt Coles Brand Italian Pork Sausages, skins removed
  • 1 red onion, chopped
  • 1 zucchini, quartered, sliced
  • 575g jar Bolognese Chunky Pasta Sauce
  • 40g shaved parmesan
  1. Cook the pasta in a large pan of salted boiling water following packet directions. Drain.
  2. Meanwhile, heat the oil in a deep frying pan over high heat. Cook the sausage meat, breaking up with a wooden spoon, for 4-5 mins or until browned. Use a slotted spoon to transfer to a bowl. Cook the onion and zucchini for 3-4 mins or until tender. Return the sausage meat to the pan with the pasta sauce. Simmer for 1 min or until heated through. Add the pasta and toss to combine.
  3. Divide the pasta mixture among four bowls and sprinkle with parmesan. 

Soft fish tacos

Serves 4.  Prep 15 mins.  Cooking 10 mins.

  • 4 (about 100g each) firm white fish fillets
  • 1 tsp ground paprika
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • ½ wombok cabbage, finely shredded
  • 1 large Granny Smith apple, cored, cut into matchsticks
  • 2 red radishes, ends trimmed, cut into matchsticks
  • ½ cup chopped coriander leaves
  • 2 tbs whole-egg mayonnaise
  • 1 tbs lime juice
  • 1 ripe avocado, stone removed, peeled, finely chopped
  • 1 red birds-eye chilli, seeded, chopped
  • 1 tbs olive oil
  • 8 (about 15cm diameter) mini tortillas
  • Coriander leaves, extra, to serve
  • Lime wedges, to serve
  1. Use a large sharp knife to cut each fish fillet into 2cm-thick pieces. Place in a large bowl. Sprinkle with paprika and cumin and toss to combine.
  2. Combine the wombok, apple, radish, coriander, mayonnaise and half the lime juice in a medium bowl. Combine the avocado, chilli and remaining lime juice in a small bowl.
  3. Heat the oil in a large frying pan over high heat. Add half the fish and cook, turning, for 2-3 mins or until golden brown and cooked through. Transfer to a plate. Repeat with the remaining fish.
  4. Heat the tortillas following the packet directions. Place one tortilla on a clean work surface. Top with wombok mixture, fish and avocado. Fold in half to enclose. Repeat with remaining tortillas, wombok mixture, fish and avocado. Sprinkle with coriander and serve with lime wedges.  

For bubs: Puree some of the cooked fish with chunks of fresh avocado and steamed potato for a delicious fish dish.

For tots: For tastebuds that are still learning to be adventurous, serve the fish in the wrap with some shredded lettuce, grated carrot and plain, mashed avocado. For easy eating you can also serve a ‘deconstructed’ taco, with the filling placed separately on your tot’s plate alongside strips of warmed tortilla.

Chicken & soba noodle soup

Serves 4.  Prep 10 mins. Cooking 20 mins.

  • 300g Coles RSPCA Approved Chicken Breast Fillets
  • 1L (4 cups) salt-reduced chicken stock
  • 2 tsp salt-reduced soy sauce
  • 5cm-piece ginger, peeled, cut into matchsticks
  • 90g soba noodles
  • 200g snow peas, trimmed, thinly sliced lengthways
  • 1 carrot, peeled, cut into matchsticks
  • 4 spring onions, cut into matchsticks
  • 1 tsp sesame oil
  • 1 tsp toasted sesame seeds
  • ¼ cup coriander leaves 
  1. Place the chicken, stock, soy sauce and half the ginger in a large saucepan over high heat and bring to the boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer, turning the chicken occasionally, for 10 mins or until the meat is cooked through. Transfer the chicken to a plate and use 2 forks to coarsely shred the meat.
  2. Increase heat to medium. Add the noodles to the pan and cook for 3 mins or until almost tender. Add the snow peas, carrot, spring onion and remaining ginger. Cook for 2 mins or until the vegetables are just tender. Return the chicken to the pan. Add the sesame oil and stir to combine.
  3. Divide the soup among serving bowls. Sprinkle with sesame seeds and coriander leaves to serve.

For bubs: Blend the cooked chicken with a little of the stock and vegetables.

For tots: Omit the coriander and make sure the noodles and veggies are cut into a manageable size for your toddler. Serve with or without the broth.

Braised paprika chicken & lentils

Serves 4.  Prep 5 mins.  Cooking 45 mins.

  • 2 tsp sweet paprika
  • 8 Coles Australian RSPCA Approved Chicken Thigh Cutlets
  • 400g can lentils, rinsed, drained
  • 300ml light cooking cream
  • 350g Coles Kaleslaw Kit, salad mix and seed mix only
  • ¹³ cup flat-leaf parsley leaves 
  1. Combine paprika and chicken in a large bowl and toss to coat. Season.
  2. Heat a large heavy-based non-stick saucepan over high heat. Cook chicken, in 2 batches, for 2 mins each side or until golden. Return chicken to the pan with lentils, cream and ¼ cup (60ml) water. Simmer, covered, for 25 mins or until the chicken is cooked through.
  3. Stir in the kaleslaw mix, reserving the seed mix. Cook, covered, for 5 mins. Cook, uncovered, for a further 5 mins or until the sauce thickens slightly.
  4. Sprinkle with reserved seed mix and parsley.

Fettuccine & zucchini carbonara

  • Serves 4.  Prep 5 mins.  Cooking 10 mins.
  • 375g pkt fresh fettuccine
  • 1 cup (120g) Coles Brand Australian Frozen Peas
  • 2 zucchini, cut into matchsticks
  • 100g Coles Deli Ham, thinly sliced
  • 490g jar carbonara pasta Sauce
  • ½ cup flat-leaf parsley
  • Finely grated parmesan, to serve 
  1. Cook the pasta in a large saucepan of boiling water following the packet directions or until al dente. Add the peas and zucchini and cook for a further 1-2 mins or until heated through. Drain well and return to pan.
  2. Meanwhile, heat the ham and carbonara sauce following the packet directions. Pour the sauce mixture over the cooked fettuccine mixture. Gently toss to combine. Divide among serving plates. Top with the parsley and sprinkle with parmesan to serve, if desired.

For bubs: Store-bought sauces can often be too rich for tiny taste buds, but your bub doesn’t have to miss out. For older babies, use kitchen scissors to chop the cooked fettuccine and zucchini into manageable pieces. Gently warm a dollop of Greek yoghurt with a sprinkle of grated cheese in the microwave, then stir until the cheese is melted and mixed through. Stir through the pasta and zucchini, along with some cooked peas, and allow to cool before serving.

For tots: This dish is delicious as is!