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. Make sure that you ask the parents of the children who are coming if they have any strong preferences, aversions or allergies, but hopefully you will find a way to accommodate most children from the list below

1: Toasted cheese sandwiches 

Make grilled cheese sandwiches with whole-wheat bread and your favourite cheese. You can add ham or tomatoes or other fillings if your children like them.

2: Mac and cheese 

This seems to be a firm favourite with children right now Make a batch of mac and cheese with whole-wheat pasta and your favourite cheese sauce.

3:  Spaghetti and Sauce

Most kids love spaghetti bolognese or carbonara, or you could make spaghetti and meatballs with whole-wheat pasta and your favourite meatball sauce. If you are able to make your own sauce and blend it, its amazing how many vegetables you can hide in there.

4: Home Made Pizzas

You can either buy a shop bought pizza base, or use puff pastry, naan breads or tortilla wraps.  Get the children to spread them with a tomato-based sauce (make your own and hide some veggies in it!) 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.  Quesadillas 

Make quesadillas with whole-wheat tortillas and your favourite fillings, such as cheese, vegetables, beans, or meat. You can even let the kids help you make them.

5 Funny Face food

It’s slightly gimmicky but fun to make ‘normal’ dishes more appealing by presenting them differently. 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.

Alternatively serve the food plain and provide the additions separately, and challenge the children to make their own funny creations.

6: Picky Bits

If you have a few children coming, or if you are not sure of their preferences, then a finger food buffet is always a good idea. Here are a few ideas for healthy things to add to a picky bits buffet

  • Hard-boiled eggs are a healthy and portable snack that kids can eat on the go.
  • Vegetable chips: Cut up vegetables into thin strips and bake them in the oven until they’re crispy. You can season the chips with your favorite herbs and spices.
  • Whole-wheat crackers and cheese are a classic snack that kids love.
  • Apple slices with peanut butter are a healthy and delicious snack that kids can eat on the go. Make sure to check for alleriges before serving peanuts
  • Cherry tomatoes and carrot sticks with hummus are a healthy and refreshing snack that kids will love.

And let’s not forget puddings!

7.  Pancakes

These are easy to make (or you can cheat with shop bought ones). You can be very versatile with fillings – fruit, ice cream chocolate spread and yoghurt are always big favourites….and if you are feeling very creative make your own fruit sauces, or colour the pancakes with food colouring. You can even make gluten-free pancakes if you have children with allergies visiting.

8.  Chocolate dip

Provide a selection of fruit – strawberries, grapes and bananas are ideal, or shortbread and marshmallows with cocktail sticks for dipping. You can even make your own churros to dip in the sauce too.

9.  Fruit kebabs or fruit salad

These are a great way to get kids to eat their fruits. You can use any type of fruit you like, and they can be fun to decorate with sprinkles, chocolate chips, or other toppings.

10 Yogurt parfaits 

Another healthy and delicious option. You can layer yogurt with fruit, granola, and honey for a sweet and satisfying snack.

11 Smoothies 

A great way to get kids to drink their fruits and vegetables. You can blend together any type of fruit or vegetable you like, and add yogurt, milk, or juice for a refreshing and nutritious drink.

12 Ice-cream

Make an old favourite  more exciting with sprinkles, sweets, sauces, grated chocolate, chopped nuts, or some fruit if you’re feeling virtuous!

Mini ice creams in basket 

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

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