Picky Eater-Approved: Meals to Make Dinnertime Easy

Pepperoni Pizza Pockets

Photo by: Marshall Troy ©2012, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved.

Marshall Troy, 2012, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved.

Are family dinners a struggle in your home — you all but begging your little ones to eat something other than packaged pizza, chicken nuggets, and macaroni and cheese while your kids stare back at you, adamantly refusing even a taste of something more wholesome? If so, know that you could be in for more manageable suppers simply by letting them eat the meals they want but opting for homemade versions of them, instead of relying on store-bought varieties. While it's indeed best to attempt to patiently introduce children to diverse groups of food, that approach may prove unrealistic in many homes. In those cases, embracing kid-friendly foods in from-scratch recipes for pizza, chicken nuggets, and mac and cheese may make for happier times at the dinner table. Your kids will be pleased because they'll think they're enjoying their favorite meals, and you'll feel better knowing they're eating wholesome, home-cooked food. Check out Food Network's top takes on classic kid-approved picks like pizza, chicken nuggets, and macaroni and cheese below to find must-try meals that will satisfy even the pickiest eaters in your home.

Just like traditional pizza, Jeff Mauro's Pepperoni Pizza Pockets (pictured above) boast creamy mozzarella cheese, pepperoni and a crunchy crust, but they're formed into easy-to-eat pouches instead of an open-faced pie. The secret to Jeff's recipe is starting with prepared pizza dough; having one on hand makes meal prep a cinch and ensures that these golden-brown beauties can be ready to eat in less than an hour. Serve each pocket with a side of Jeff's sweet tomato-basil sauce, and let your kids indulge in this eat-with-your-hands meal with deliciously simple dunking.

Instead of deep-frying chicken to achieve a crispy coating, Rachael opts to bread lean white-meat tenders in a textured coating in her 25-minute recipe for Crunchy, Oven Baked Chicken Toes. She cuts the chicken into bite-size pieces — the toes — then dredges them in a mixture of crushed corn flakes with brown sugar and a pinch of allspice before baking them until crispy on the outside and moist inside. Round out Rachael's top-rated dinner by offering dip-ready honey mustard and tangy barbecue sauce on the side.

Stove Top Mac-n-Cheese

Stove Top Mac-n-Cheese

Food Network's Stove Top Mac-n-Cheese

Photo by: Matt Armendariz ©2012, Television Food Network, GP. All Rights Reserved.

Matt Armendariz, 2012, Television Food Network, GP. All Rights Reserved.

While kids — and many grownups — crave boxed macaroni and cheese because of its distinct cheesy taste and smooth, creamy sauce, that flavor and texture isn't unique to the store-bought stuff, thanks to Alton's Stove Top Mac-n-Cheese (pictured right). He combines eggs, evaporated milk, a dash of hot sauce, a bit of dry mustard and just-cooked noodles with a shower of sharp cheddar cheese to create the ultimate look-alike macaroni that's simple to prepare and richly satisfying. Perhaps best of all, because this recipe isn't baked, it's ready to eat in only 35 quick minutes, making it a can-do dinner on busy weeknights.

Browse Food Network's Family and Kids Headquarters for more easy recipes and tips on impressing picky eaters.

Next Up

How to Make 3 Delicious Dinners Out of 1 Pork Roast

One mom shares her secret to cooking one big meal early in the week and transforming the leftovers into two more dinners, each with totally different flavors.

8 Afternoon Snacks That Won’t Fill Your Kids Up for Dinner

Hear from one mom as she shares her take on easy, kid-friendly bites to serve the little ones.

35 Possibilities for Dinner on a Cutting Board

Think beyond the everyday dinner and find out how one mom opts for an eat-with-your-hands approach to supper.

Fun Thanksgiving Projects for Kids

This Thanksgiving, set the kids up with one of these fun projects. Little kids can roll cheese balls and cut out shapes with cookie cutters, and older kids can do more-complicated projects like creating a turkey-shaped veggie platter.

5 Double-Duty Dinners: Turn Leftovers Into School Lunches

Make your dinner do double duty by repurposing the leftovers as fuss-free kids' lunches.

Kitchen Safety: How to Cook Responsibly With Kids

Get Food Network's top tips for cooking safely with your kids, plus find easy, kid-approved recipes that the whole family will enjoy.

10 Homemade Ice Pops to Keep You Cool All Summer

Trust us: These are not the store-bought ice pops you grew up with.

Cooking with Kids for Connection

Melissa offers tried-and-true tips for meaningful cooking with your little ones.

How to Put Your Freezer to Work, Plus Frozen Meals Made Fresh

Learn how to safely freeze food, plus find Food Network Kitchens' easy recipes for kid-friendly dinners that can be made ahead, frozen and baked later.