My husband often works late, which means that a lot of the time, my two children and I eat dinner without him. Sure, it's tempting to head to McDonald's on a nightly basis, but my kids deserve healthier options. Fortunately, I've been able to find meals that I can cook at home that are relatively healthy and easy, and most importantly, eaten without a fuss.

1. Mini Burgers

Kids love kid-sized food, so mini burgers are usually a big hit. Use ground beef for a traditional burger, or make your burgers healthier by using ground turkey or chicken. You could even make black bean burgers if you prefer to go vegetarian, or Sloppy Joe's. As long as you serve the sandwich on one of those mini-sized dinner rolls, most kids love these.

2. Kid's Meals From Amy's Kitchen

The Kid's Meals from Amy's Kitchen look a lot like the Kid Cuisine brand that I absolutely refuse to buy, but they're made from organic ingredients that you can actually pronounce. Occasionally, it comes in handy to have a complete meal in the freezer that you just have to heat and serve, especially when it's something your children will love and you won't feel guilty about serving.

3. Breakfast for Dinner

Pancakes are easy to whip up, particularly if you keep a whole grain-mix on hand. Add some scrambled eggs, turkey bacon or sausage, and a side of fresh fruit or orange juice and you have a complete meal!

4. Roasted Chicken And Pierogies

It's super-easy to roast your own chicken, but it's even easier to pick up one that's already been roasted at your local grocery story. And if you've never tried pierogies, you're missing out. The potato-filled pockets of pasta are quick to make, and always a hit. Add a vegetable like broccoli or corn, and dinner's ready.

5. Bean Burritos

Bean burritos are my go-to meal when I'm too tired to cook. It's easy to keep tortillas and a can of refried beans on hand, and beans are an excellent source of protein for growing bodies. Fresh salsa makes a healthy topping, or try mixing a small amount of ripe, well-mashed avocado into the refried beans. I do this for my kids, and neither one has ever realized that the avocado is even there.

6. Soup

Most kids like at least one kind of soup. If you go for the super-easy canned variety, make sure to read the label and choose one that's low in sodium. Or it's not that difficult to make your own, especially if you have a crockpot. Soups like Chicken Noodle, Broccoli Cheddar, and Pasta Fagioli are all favorites at my house.

7. Macaroni and Cheese

Mac and cheese is considered a staple of many children's diets. And while it isn't the healthiest food, there are ways to improve upon it. One way is to add squash. Another way is to make your own using whole grain pasta and real cheese. If you (like me) want to keep a box on the pantry shelf, try one of Annie's varities. It's my personal favorite because the cheese sauce tastes real and creamy, and isn't tangy and gritty like some of the other healthier boxed varieties I've tried.

8. Breakfast Pork Chops

These super-thin pork chops are great to keep in the freezer because they defrost quickly and cook within minutes. I season them lightly with salt and garlic powder, and serve them with biscuits and fried apples (and stuffing for the grown-ups, because what's a pork chop without stuffing?).

9. Pizza

Avoid the temptation to dial up delivery. Many grocery stores sell fresh pizza dough, so all you have to do is pick some up, top it with your favorites (a fun activity that even small children can do by themselves) and stick it in the oven. If you're feeling adventurous, try making your own dough. Or skip the traditional crust completely and make individual pizzas on English muffins or pita pockets.

10. Meatballs

I think my two year-old could live on meatballs alone. Spaghetti and meatballs is a classic, but consider all the other things you can do with meatballs. Put one on a bun and you have a meatball slider. Make appetizer-sized meatballs and serve them with toothpicks and dipping sauces. And if you make your meatballs from scratch, you can hide all kinds of healthy extras like shredded zucchini or wheat germ in the mix. Meatballs also freeze well, so it's easy to make a large batch and freeze the extras for those days when you need a quick dinner.

11. Lunch Meats

Who says sandwiches aren't for dinner? Buy some good quality lunch meat (such as turkey or roast beef from the Boar's Head All Natural line) and make French Dips or simple turkey sandwiches. Use whole grain bread if your kids will eat it, or skip the bread entirely and serve the meat with some cheese and crackers and raw veggies. What's easier than a meal you don't have to cook?

12. Smothered Baked Potato

Baking a potato is as simple as turning on the oven. You can top it with broccoli and melted cheese, or chili, or even pot roast. Potatoes are a good source of many nutrients like potassium and vitamin C, particularly when the skins get eaten too.

13. Pasta

Pasta is one of the most versatile foods on the planet, and most children like at least one variation of it. You can top pasta with chili beans, your favorite jar of sauce, or just butter and salt. If your kids like white sauce, try sneaking in some mashed cauliflower. If they prefer red, try adding a puree of roasted red peppers. You can also experiment with different types of pasta, like whole grain, rice, corn and quinoa. Many kids won't be able to tell the difference if you serve it with some type of sauce and, of course, buy their favorite shape.

14. Tuna/Salmon Cakes

Not every child will like these — one of mine eats them with gusto and the other one wouldn't touch them with a 10-foot pole — but they're about as kid-friendly as tuna and salmon get. Search websites like or to find a recipe you like, then bake your tuna or salmon cakes in a muffin tin and top them liberally with cheese, and you just might get a stamp of approval.

15. Chicken Nuggets

Chicken nuggets (and the similar and almost equally beloved fish sticks) are another kid favorite, but when they come out of one of those super-convenient bags in the freezer, chances are good that they're not very healthy. The good news is that it's also fairly easy to make your own. Sure, they might not be in the shape of dinosaurs, but you'll feel a lot better about serving them.

I'm always looking for more easy, healthy dinner ideas! What are your favorite go-to meals for kids? Do you have any tips to share with the rest of us?