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Guest Post: Taking Kid Food “Out of the Box”

kids food recipes

I’m not sure how “kid food” actually came to be.  Did it begin with kids asking for “plain” or was it perhaps parents thinking their kids wanted bland food?  Then the question became, how did kid food segue into ground up chicken parts, formed into cartoon shapes then breaded & fried?  Or unusable bits and pieces of beef and pork ground up, packed into casing and place on a bun with ketchup?  How did “kid food” become so unhealthy?  As a children’s nutrition advocate this is a question I ask myself daily.  How did our culture determine that the appropriate food for kids should be full of sugar, unusable parts of animals, or deep fried in hydrogenated oil?  It’s time to take back processed “kid food” and start making “healthy food for kids”.

How can we now take our kid’s food Out of the Box and begin making fresh?  I think you’ll be surprised at how easy that actually is. I’m going to share a couple of tricks & recipes to help ease the transition from boxed kid food, to fresh, homemade food for kids.

The first step to making easy kid food from scratch is to level the playing field.  If our children rely solely on “kid food” such as hot dogs, chicken nuggets and macaroni and cheese for their meals, we as parents are forced into the role of short-order cook.  Start offering one meal for the whole family.   If dinner is baked chicken for us, then dinner can be baked chicken for them.  Think of how often our children try to emulate us.  They put on our shoes to traipse around the house, they use expressions they hear us using, they want to be big.  Make it a privilege to eat grown-up food.

Let’s take a look each meal of the day:

Busy school mornings. How many of us turn to frozen waffles and pancakes that easily pop into the toaster for a quick weekday breakfast?  I understand the ease of these boxed products, but why not make a batch and freeze them to use just as you would a boxed waffle or pancake.  I am going to give you a fresh, whole wheat & flax pancake batter recipe that can be baked up in a waffle iron, or on a griddle, cooled, frozen and then popped into your toaster for easy weekday mornings.  This Out of the Box Food Waffle & Pancake recipe is full of whole grain, omega-3s, and protein which will fuel our children for the active day that awaits them.

Lunch and Dinner. How about chicken nuggets that don’t involve turning to a box of cartoon shaped, pressed chicken parts?  Here’s a fresh chicken nugget recipe — made with organic chicken breasts, breaded in whole wheat flour, and baked with olive oil — that you can keep in the freezer and quickly reheat for occasional treats.  These Out of the Box Food Chicken Nuggets are whole, real food made with quality ingredients you put together yourself.

Dessert. It doesn’t need to mean junk.  There are so many ways to offer sweet treats without sacrificing nutrition. Boxed cookies and other processed treats can contain potentially harmful ingredients and loads of sugar.  By baking fresh we not only avoid artificial ingredients, but we can limit the sugar and include whole grains and other nutritious ingredients.  These Out of the Box Food Mini Banana “Cupcakes”, turn the word cupcake into a synonym for nutrition.  With only 1/3 cup of added sugar for the entire batch, these cupcakes offer whole grains, heart healthy flax meal and fresh fruit.  When topped with 72% dark chocolate chips or a sour cream frosting, this wholesome snack is elevated into a special dessert treat without compromising nutrition.

I’m on a journey to bring nutrition back into our kids’ food.  I hope you’ll join me by taking your kids’ food Out of the Box.

Out of the Box Food creator, Kim Gerber, is a Los Angeles mom, home-cook and Children’s Nutrition Advocate with a focus on feeding children healthy, unprocessed food.  For more processed food comparisons and fresh alternative recipes visit


  • Laura @SuperGlueMom
    July 27, 2011 at 8:10 am

    I am so glad you posted this! I’ve shared it in my pages because I know so many parents that feed their kids from the box. Sadly, when they come to my house they sometimes eat what I cook from my kids but most of the time they think it tastes weird. I am always flabbergasted that REAL FOOD tastes WEIRD?? Thanks so much for writing this post, it can encourage some parents who think out of the box is not convenient at all… when we know the truth, that real food can be made ahead of time, frozen and heated up conveniently! thank you!

  • Amelia
    July 27, 2011 at 2:29 pm

    Great moms think alike 🙂 Here’s to real food!

  • yellowdoggranny
    July 28, 2011 at 11:21 am

    my kids are 37 to 46…I used to send them to school with gazpacho and home made yogurt for lunch. The other kids teased them, but there was no way they would eat that crap at school.

  • Karen O'Mara
    July 29, 2011 at 1:01 pm

    I agree- once kids are old enough to chew and grind, it ought to be on the same food as adults–so that they can emulate the food traditions and culture, in addition to the nutrition. Don’t “dumb down” food for kids. Of course, don’t expect them to each amounts like an adult, but DO expect them to eat the same foods their parents are eating–if they can’t, then there’s something wrong with what the parents are eating, too!

  • Amelia
    July 29, 2011 at 10:57 pm

    What a great story. My friend’s mom used to give him warm homemade whole wheat bread with home-ground honey peanut butter after school. He would complain and beg for Wonder Bread with Jif 😉 But she stuck with it and he’s now not only grateful but a very healthy eater on his own. So its certainly worth the struggle!

  • Amelia
    July 29, 2011 at 10:59 pm

    So true! I’ve never understood “kids menus” at restaurants – which are inevitably made up of junk. Makes more sense to have ‘kid food’ just be smaller portions of ‘adult food!’

  • Joanne
    July 30, 2011 at 7:25 am

    My husband and I have been making lunch boxes for our children for 5 years now. It still surprises me what the school “nutritionists” consider acceptable lunches. We send homemade granola bars, portabella mushroom sandwiches, edamame, and sometimes veggie sushi. What is more important…the kids help too. It becomes another chance to bond.

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