Kids can be the harshest food critics. Sometimes it doesn’t matter if we spend an extra ten minutes making a smiley face out of raw veggies or attempt to hide peas in a pasta sauce—if they decide they don’t like it, there’s no pretending or “polite bites.” Of course, there are times when you have to drop the parental boot and menacingly count to three to ensure they eat a balanced meal, but some nights it’s okay to serve crowd-pleasers from a box. When you don’t want to go to war at the table, rely on these kid (and parent) approved meals to maintain peace during mealtime.

 

 
 
 
 
 
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1. Gardein Seven Grain Crispy Tenders
Even if your child has never crawled through the recesses of the PlayPlace or sat in the backseat at a drive-thru, it is virtually inevitable that they will come to know and crave chicken nuggets. These crispy bites of breaded white meat are must-haves on kids menus, from fast-food joints to sit down restaurants, no matter the cuisine. Allow your child to partake in the nugget craze by serving them a (healthier) vegan equivalent. Our kid testers gave Gardein Seven Grain Crispy Tenders two thumbs up—and we might have snuck a few off their plate as well. These aren’t gummy or overly chewy like some vegan nuggets; we found them to be perfectly crisp on the outside and juicy on the inside. Serve as is with steamed broccoli or chop a few up and toss with some vegetable-based pasta for a meal both kids and adults will enjoy.

 

 
 
 
 
 
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2. Beyond Meat Beyond Burgers
These are great for kids who are previous meat eaters. Beyond Meat plant-based patties mimic the beef burgers your kids grew up with in smell, texture, appearance, and taste—they even sizzle like animal-based meat. While you might try to maintain a whole foods plant-based approach to meal time at home, these burgers come in handy at barbecues and birthdays where your kids will be interacting with a company of mixed eaters. They can enjoy a burger just like everyone else—just be sure you remember which is yours, because you really can’t tell the difference between beef and Beyond Meat. There’s a reason why these patties are sold in the meat section of the grocery store.

 

 
 
 
 
 
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3. American Flatbread Vegan Harvest
You know it’s pizza night when your schedule includes chauffeuring your kids from soccer practice to band rehearsal then home to finish that science project you told them not to procrastinate on. For these lovely stress-induced evenings, always keep a frozen pizza in the freezer. Our finicky kids loved American Flatbread Vegan Harvest out of multiple frozen vegan options, and we agreed. With a thin, crispy whole wheat crust, tomato sauce packed with veggies, and a generous topping of dairy-free mozzarella cheese, we enjoy this pizza even when the kids aren’t around. Serve with a colorful side salad to round out the meal.

 

 
 
 
 
 
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4. Field Roast Grain Meat Frankfurters
Not only are hot dogs considered a carcinogen, but they are also the top choking hazard for children under three years old. Despite these startling facts, hot dogs remain a beloved kid food, right up there on kid’s menus with chicken nuggets and hamburgers. Save your kids the cancer risk and swap in Field Roast Grain Meat Frankfurters. These links are hearty, offering 21 grams of protein per serving. Chop them up and stir into a vegan mac and peas or bring to a grill party and top with classic ketchup and mustard. Your kids won’t notice the difference, and neither, likely, will any of the adults. Note: due to the choking hazard, these are not recommended for children under three years old.

 

 
 
 
 
 
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5. Amy’s Rice Mac & Cheeze
Ask anyone from Gen X to Gen Y, and they likely have a childhood memory of the mac and cheese from the coveted blue box. Thanks to the rise in vegan options, Gen Z and the generations to follow may grow up with nostalgic memories of a box of a different color. Our kid critiques devoured Amy’s Rice Mac & Cheeze which has a mild cheddar taste and is just as smooth and creamy as the stovetop variety we grew up with. Find it in the freezer section and stock up! Mix in some frozen peas or broccoli florets for a bit of green and extra fiber.

 

 
 
 
 
 
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6. Amy’s No Chicken Noodle Soup
For those cold winter days, Amy’s No Chicken Noodle Soup is the perfect way to warm up the kiddos after they spend the morning playing outside. It’s also great for picky eaters as it contains the most basic and inoffensive ingredients—bits of carrots, vegan chicken, and slurpable noodles in a mild vegetable-based broth—nothing “weird” about it! For a little extra protein and to increase the satiety, throw in a handful of chickpeas when heating up this soup.

 

 
 
 
 
 
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7. Gardein Meatless Meatball
We’ll admit, spaghetti and meatballs is a messy meal, but what parent doesn’t have a picture of their kid smiling over a plate of pasta with marinara smothering their face? These plant-based meatballs help you make memories and are a hit with the kids. Simply warm them up in a pot of marinara and serve over your favorite pasta. Let it rain vegan parm (try Violife Just Like Parmesan or make your own) and your kid will dive in—potentially hands-first. Get the camera (and napkins) ready!  

 

Jennifer Winters is a self-proclaimed health geek residing in Connecticut with her husband and two children.

Photo credit: Amy’s Kitchen

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