Now my children are at school we have entered the realm of friends coming to play after school, and usually for tea as well.  So what do you feed them?  You want them to be happy, and to eat, and generally the obvious staple for playdate food is fish fingers  or chicken nuggets , chips and beans . However I have been trying some alternatives which provide something a little more varied and balanced and will still please my own children who are very fussy eaters.

Here are a couple of quick, easy and tasty ideas:

1.  Traffic light pasta – make plain pasta (and this can have a cheese or tomato sauce with it) but have carrots, sweet corn and peas in it – easy, simple and healthy. Another variation on this is to make treasure hunt pasta – but a variety of veg/meat/cheese etc in bottom of the dish and pile with cooked pasta – get children to ‘dig’ for treasure and see what they can find.

2.  Spaghetti bolognese or carbonara, favourites with most children, are good filling dishes, easy to make and messy and fun to eat!

3.  Naan bread pizzas – I discovered these a couple of years ago – and even better the kids can make their own and they are ready in minutes! Buy some mini naan breads and get the children to spread them with a tomato based sauce and then add whatever they would like – so ham, cheese, chicken, sausage and half cherry tomatoes – simply grill for a couple of minutes and serve.

4.  Wraps or tortillas – I came up with this to try and encourage my own children to join in when we had chilli. Simply cut tortillas into thirds and give to children to stuff their own. Have bowls with chicken, ham, sausage, cheese, tomatoes, cream cheese, grated carrots, sliced peppers, guacamole etc, giving them a great chance to experiment – also messy fun whilst eating as can all be done with fingers

5.  Stuffed pasta – you can now easily buy large pasta shells which if you pre-cook can be stuffed by the children with a selection of the fillings suggested above, or you can make a selection for them to choose from.

6.  Presentation – it’s slightly gimmicky but fun to make ‘normal’ dishes more appealing by presentation. I have just done mashed potato volcanos with beans spilling out and halved sausages up the sides. You could also try  jacket potato pirate boats – scoop out the potato and mash with cheese and re-fill – make a ‘mast’ with slices of bacon or sausage ‘oars’ on cocktail sticks and a ‘sea’ of  gravy with some vegetable islands. And you can always add funny vegetable faces to anything

playdate food

Cheer up your food – photo by Shutterstock

And let’s not forget puddings!

7.  Pancakes – easy to make and again very versatile with fillings – fruit, ice cream and yoghurt are always big favourites….and if you are feeling very creative make your own fruit sauces

8.  Chocolate dip – provide a selection of fruit – strawberries, grapes and bananas are ideal, or shortbread and marshmallows with cocktail sticks for dipping.

9.  Fruit kebabs or fruit salad – allow children to make own and help with the chopping as well – most fruits are easy enough with blunt/plastic knives.

10. Ice-cream – make an old favouite  more exciting with sprinkles, sweets, sauces, grated chocolate, chopped nuts, or some fruit if you’re feeling virtuous!

If you have any ideas for fun playdate food for kids then please leave a comment – the more the merrier!