Great vegetables don’t need to be complicated — or nuclear colored. These easy vegetable side dishes for kids are delicious and easy to prepare!
Bonus! Get a free printable Eat More Veggies Bingo card to help you and your family eat the rainbow.
I got the text during a busy day running errands. It was shocking. I had to do a double take.
My teenage son had messaged me with a request to buy something. Something I didn’t think my kids would ever ask me for.
When are you going to buy more broccoli?
I wish I would have taken a screen shot. Then I’d have proof.
Yes, it was true! My son was asking me to buy more broccoli. More. Broccoli.
It was a mother’s dream come true.
As a mom, meal planning sometimes seems like a losing battle. What the kids like one day, they scorn the next. A 9×13 pan produces too many leftovers one week, but a mere seven days later there’s not enough food!
Kids’ preferences and appetites can change like the wind.
How do you get kids to eat more veggies?
After reading French Kids Eat Everything, I started to take a second look at how I was enabling some of my kids to be picky eaters. It was a transformative experience for all of us. I realized that somewhere along the line I’d given in; the pushback from the kids had overwhelmed my desire to feed them nutritious food.
That book, along with Salt Sugar Fat: How the Food Giants Hooked Us, gave me the guts I needed to start over. To push veggies to the front of the buffet line and make vegetable side dishes more of a priority for my family’s meals.
It didn’t hurt that when I turned my own nutrition toward #veggiesmost, I lost over 20 pounds in four months!
Want to Make the Easy Vegetable Side Dishes Your Kids Will Love?
Now, the journey to a vegetable-laden table is not as easy as a stroll down the produce aisle. If your kids aren’t accustomed to eating a lot of veggies — or any, for that matter! — then you’ll need to take some baby steps.
How do you get kids to eat vegetables?
For our family it’s been a process of exposure, repetition, and variety.
Exposure: Expose your family to as many different fruits and vegetables as you can. Make it fun and light-hearted. Don’t put on the pressure for your kids to like something right at the start, but encourage open-mindedness.
Try it, you may like it. If not, we’ll try it again in the future.
Repetition: They say that a person needs to be exposed to a food 21 times before they develop an affinity for it. If a kid doesn’t naturally care for a certain vegetable, it will take some time before they like it.
Even if they refused it before, don’t be afraid to offer it again. Remember, kids’ taste buds are fickle and ever-changing.
Try, try, try again.
Variety: Offering more than one vegetable at a meal gives kids options. They aren’t locked into any one thing or forced to commit to something they don’t like.
Instead allow for a sampling of several different vegetables so that everyone gets some variety which makes the plate more interesting.
What veggies do kids eat?
The world holds so many delicious vegetables, it’s really hard to say which ones your kids will eat and like at the start. Consider these tasty basics:
- bell peppers
- cucumbers (technically a fruit, but let’s ignore that for now)
- green beans
- peas (sugar snap, sweet, and snow)
What are some easy vegetable side dishes?
These side dishes are some of my family’s very favorites. They go well with grilled and roast meats.
Each is easy on the budget and simple enough to please any kid’s palate.
Nowadays, if you’re a child at my table, you get to sample everything. No matter what. But, you also get to have as much of something you love as you want. While supplies last, of course.
And then you can just text me to buy more broccoli.
Easy Vegetable Side Dishes Your Kids Will Love
Help your kids learn to eat the rainbow -- and like it with these quick and simple vegetable side dishes.
Grilled Vegetable Couscous Salad
Israeli couscous gets a nutrition kick with a load of tender, grilled vegetables. The flavorful dressing keeps things and interesting.
Homemade Vegetable Chow Mein
Your kids will think you stopped for take-out when they bite into this Panda knock-off. You'll be pleased that it's chock-full of veggies.
Fajita Vegetables, Simple & Delicious
Fajita vegetables are super easy to cook up; offer them on taco night or when you're making burrito bowls. Choose colored peppers that your kids prefer.
Kale Salad with Red Grapes, Almonds, and Scallions
This Kale Salad is super delicious, dotted with juicy grapes and crunchy almonds. It makes it easy to eat your greens.
Vegetable Fried Rice
Fried rice is an economical way to use up leftover rice and a fantastic vehicle for piling on the veggies.
How to Make Cauliflower Rice
Cauliflower rice is incredibly easy to make yourself at home -- and it looks just like rice on the plate! Mix it in with regular cooked rice or serve it as an alternative for the fam.
Quinoa Vegetable Salad
This Quinoa Vegetable Salad is packed with protein and flavor and full of all the colors of the rainbow. It’s perfect for packing.
Cabbage Slaw with Apples and Almonds
Want to add something crisp and fresh to the table tonight? Stir up a batch of this super yummy Cabbage Slaw with Apples and Almonds.
Zucchini and Sweet Potato Hash
Zucchini and Sweet Potato Hash is so delicious! Add some onion and chopped mushroom as aromatics, and you’ll be so pleased you’re eating healthfully!
How to Cook Spaghetti Squash In The Microwave
It’s so easy to cook spaghetti squash, you’ll wonder why you don’t do it more often. Spaghetti squash is a great, low-carb alternative to pasta or polenta. Its sweetness appeals to kids palates, too.
Enjoy a taste of the Mediterranean with this easy Escalivada, chock full of eggplant, zucchini, onion, tomato, and peppers, drizzled with olive oil.
Sautéed Mushrooms are an inexpensive way to add flavor, fiber, and texture to a meal. Seasoned with herbs and garlic, these mushrooms are delicious piled on grilled meats.
Creamy Coleslaw That Won't Go Soggy
Forget that stop at the deli salad counter! Mix up this easy and delicious slaw from good cheap ingredients.
Lemon Broccoli and Peas
Seasoning vegetables doesn’t have to be rocket science, but can be the difference between okay side dishes and fabulous feasts. Learn simple seasoning for broccoli, peas, and more!
Fry up a batch of zucchini fritters. Your kids, or your spouse, won’t know what hit them! Zucchini never tasted so good!
Mixed Grilled Vegetables
Mixed Grilled Vegetables take on a smoky, earthiness when cooked over an open flame. They are an easy and delicious accompaniment to grilled meats.
Cumin-Scented Cabbage Salad
It’s a beautiful thing when you can make a cabbage salad that tastes just as good the second night — if not better — as it did the first night you served it. This is that salad.
Carrot Salad with Cilantro and Pepitas
What kid doesn't like carrots?! Shredded carrots get oomph from a simple dressing of orange juice and spices with pepitas adding some crunch for a delicious side salad you'll want to put on regular rotation.
Easy Garlic Green Beans
Green beans are such an easy side dish! These Garlic Green Beans are super simple to throw together with just a handful of ingredients.
Spring Greens Salad with Pepitas & Feta
Liven up your nights with a fresh Spring Greens Salad with Pepitas & Feta that is bursting with fresh and vibrant flavors.
Chopped Salad with Avocado and Radish
Celebrate the fresh flavors of fruits and veggies with this Chopped Salad featuring avocado, radish, cucumbers, and sunflower seeds. So delicious!
Grilled Vegetable Kabobs
Cook even your side dishes out of doors this summer with these tasty, quick-and-easy Grilled Vegetable Kabobs. Everything tastes better on a stick -- every kid knows that!
Broccoli Cranberry Salad With Pecans
This slightly sweet Broccoli Cranberry Salad is full of texture, thanks to pecans, cranberries, and red onions. It makes a delicious side salad your whole family will devour.
Vegetable Pasta Salad with Pesto
Looking for quick dinners that will bring comfort and nourishment without a lot of hassle? This meatless Vegetable Pesto Pasta is hearty without being heavy. Bonus: It comes together in minutes and is loaded with veggies.
Want to make it easier to buy — and eat — more broccoli?
You can have all the good intentions in the world, but sometimes you need a little extra push to make things happen, especially when it comes to vegetables and children!
No problem, sister. I gotcha covered. I created a little Eat More Veggies Bingo Game. It’s specially designed to help you eat more veggies without all the decision fatigue.
- Download the free cheat sheet. When you subscribe to the free Good Cheap Eats Gazette, we’ll send you access to the free printable library.
- Print. Any paper will work, but the thicker the better.
- Keep the idea sheet near where you do your meal planning. On the fridge or in the pantry cupboard are good places since that’s where we gravitate when we don’t know what to make.
- For fun, let your kids mark up the card as they enjoy veggies this week.
But what if you’re super duper serious about this whole veggie thing?
I’ve also put together the Eat More Veggies pack. It’s a package of digital downloads to boost your veggie intake to dynamic levels.
Included in the pack:
- A Month of Meals: Salad’s On! – 4 weeks of meal plans all done for you
- Mom Food: Salads – a week’s worth of lunches perfect for packing on busy mom days
- Get Fresh This Summer – a recipe book full of summer produce recipes
- The Eat More Veggies Bingo Card
- a big fat discount – get a break on Healthy Eating Made Easy e-course.
Buy the pack here: https://fishmama.com/product/veggies-pack/
Have you got a favorite side dish your kids love?
Did something get messed up on this post? All the recipe links are for taco fillings. I will grant you can put veggies on the tacos, but I don’t think that is really what you were going for here.
It’s a malfunction with the plugin. We’re working on fixing it. Thanks.
I’m not sure where you get these kid that will eat beans? But I wish I had them. It would make dinner so much easier. I have looked and looked online everywhere to find side dishes my kids will eat. The problem is they say kid friendly but that they are not. I have asked every mom I know and they agree. So if anyone knows of a website where I can find actual kid friendly dishes please help? It would be greatly appreciated. Thank you
I’m sorry to hear that you’re struggling to get your kids to eat. It happens to us all. I have six kids, currently aged 8 to 19. Some are pickier than others; believe me, some are very picky. All would eat these side dishes, including the beans. In fact, when we were getting out of debt, beans was a main dish for 2-3 meals/week.
It may be a question of what the dinner time expectations are, how old the kids are, and what else is being served. We serve milk or water for a beverage, a main dish, a vegetable side, and a starchy side (if the main dish doesn’t already have it included). I don’t buy kid-targeted processed foods, like dinosaur nuggets and things like that. That said, I think that any child can become accustomed to eating good real food. We’ve had to work at it, but slowly it’s happening.
Jessica thank you replying. My kids are 5 and 11. The 11 yo will eat whatever dinner is. And as you do, we also do main dish, starch and veggies with salad. My 5 yo has been a picky eater his whole life. We went thru an entire 6 months where all he ate was peanut butter. We finally got over that. I’m still pretty sure he won’t eat a bean. But I’m gonna give it a shot. Thank you so much for you reply again. I’m enjoying your site
The picky eater battle is a HARD one. My first child with that tendency one day stopped doing it and now eats most things without any prompting, including vegetables. My other picky child is still there and some days it breaks me. Hang in there. Keep offering options with the expectation to try one bite. Eventually it will take. I hope!
I’m looking for side dish ideas for my picky eater both every night, and especially for Thanksgiving. He won’t eat any of the sides I am making, or the turkey. (Green beans, sweet and mashed potatoes, stuffing, salad, cranberry sauce). He really only eats pasta, which I hate serving nightly as it has no nutrition and is fattening. He will eat apple slices or baby carrots, but neither cooked. Thanks. (PS many folks will just recommend that I kick his #$%. I get where you’re coming from, but my husband is firm on not forcing him and ruining our dinners, as we tried that for a few years.)
I hear ya. We had/have one child who is veggie-phobic. It’s taken a lot of work and patience. I think with some kids it is a power struggle and it can ruin dinner, for sure. Have you read this series? It might help. I hope.
Last week I made your tortellini pasta salad along with sesame grilled chicken. It’s always a big hit with my family. The leftovers are yummy too. I also sometimes make fettuccine with cream sauce as a side to roast chicken or baked chicken parmesan. I combine a little melted butter, cream, and spaghetti sauce and toss it with cooked fettuccine.
So glad to hear that it’s a hit. Your cream sauce sound yummy! I’ve been wanting to do that. Your method sounds super simple.
A simple salad of spinach and baby tomatoes is my older daughter’s favorite side dish. A bowl of fresh blueberries or strawberries is the favorite of my youngest. My husband’s favorite side is baked beans. My favorite side is sliced carrots and radishes with a bit of cream cheese. We all enjoy a simple rice pilaf. And nothing beats a baked potato fresh from the oven served with a bit of sweet butter.
Sounds like you’ve got a great meal plan right there where everyone is happy. Does anyone hate anyone else’s favorite?
Oh there is always one in every crowd. My husband will not eat spinach, tomatoes or radishes.
The only time mashed potatoes are supposed to be smooth are when they’re instant. There’s no cause to mess up good mashed potatoes by running them through a ricer or however those crazy people make ::shudder:: smooth mashed potatoes.
My kids are big fans of “Nana’s mac and cheese.” I think my mother based it on a Paula Deen recipe though, so it’s not something we have often. Corn on the cob is something they will both eat as well.
Ha! Thanks for making me feel better about my lumpy potatoes!
Hi, I never see you mention Swiss chard. It’s a little milder than spinach, but I find it a tasty green, leaves and stems both. We all like it.
Hi Carol! Several years ago when we belonged to a produce co-op, we did a lot of chard because it was plentiful. We liked it okay, but honestly, since it’s not packaged as easily as kale and spinach, I don’t often reach for it. I don’t think ALDI even carries it. Thanks for the reminder, though! I will keep it in mind.