You'll Eat It, They'll Eat It: 5 Dishes That Please Babies and Grownups Alike

Looking for healthy, kid-friendly dinner recipes that please everyone? Try these easy ideas from Food52's Merrill Stubbs

Over the past year I've become more disciplined about weeknight cooking. I haven't had much of a choice: We now have a third mouth to feed -- our 15-month-old daughter Clara, who, unlike us, can't rummage around in the fridge for a meal of cheese and crackers and hummus and eat it on the living room sofa. As a result of better planning and a little more direction -- I often rely on things that keep well and can be re-engineered into multiple dinners without getting tiresome -- the whole family is eating better. Here are five tried-and-true weeknight dishes that work well for babies and grownups alike:

A Simple Bolognese for Grownups and Babies

A Simple Bolognese for Grownups and Babies

James Ransom

This was a staple in our house even before Clara was born. You can use any kind of ground meat you have on hand, including sausage, and this meat sauce is just as tasty spooned over a baked potato as it is tossed with pasta.

Braised Chicken Thighs with Tomato and Garlic

Braised Chicken Thighs with Tomato and Garlic

James Ransom

Clara didn't show much interest in chicken until I did two things: braised it with tomatoes (a magic ingredient that makes all other foods more desirable), and let her eat it off the bone. (Warning: This can be a choking hazard!) Now chicken is one of her favorite foods. Plus, thigh meat stays nice and tender (especially when braised), making it easier for little mouths to chew.

Shepherd's Pie with Sweet Potatoes

Shepherd's Pie with Sweet Potatoes

James Ransom

If you have leftover cooked meat or mashed potatoes, this recipe is a snap -- but even if you make it completely from scratch it requires very little active cooking time. I often make two smaller portions and put one in the freezer for later. I made this pie one week using sweet potatoes instead of my usual Yukon Golds, beating them with olive oil instead of butter and milk to make a supple, sweet mash. That was a hit with both husband and baby. You can also use ground beef instead of ground lamb.

Extra Tender Meatballs

Extra Tender Meatballs

James Ransom

A perfect finger food, these baked meatballs don't dry out, thanks to a few secret ingredients (mayonnaise, Worcestershire and Dijon mustard). Feel free to experiment with different types of ground meat here, too.

Crisp and Tender Roasted Root Vegetables

Crisp and Tender Roasted Vegetables

James Ransom

A simple technique that can be applied to virtually any vegetable, especially root vegetables like carrots, parsnips and sweet potatoes. Make a big batch over the weekend and you'll have an instant side for any night of the week. Roasting the vegetables highlights their sweetness, caramelizing the surfaces to provide a crisp contrast to their melting insides. Toss with oil, salt and thyme and roast in a 400 degree oven for 20 minutes, then flip and roast for another 10 to 20 minutes.

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