Easy kid-friendly dinner recipes the whole family will love

Veggie-loaded spaghetti cake. Picture: The South African Mushroom Farmers’ Association.

Veggie-loaded spaghetti cake. Picture: The South African Mushroom Farmers’ Association.

Published Aug 23, 2023


One of the hardest things about cooking for the little ones is trying to plan great meal options they will actually love. Let us face it, kids are picky eaters and having more than one picky eater can make meal planning an impossible task.

As you know better than anyone, kids have a very selective palate and tend to go for the same couple of foods that they know they enjoy. But we are here to fix that!

Courtesy of the South African Mushroom Farmers’ Association, below are recipe ideas that are sure to please everyone at your table.

Veggie-loaded spaghetti cake. Picture: The South African Mushroom Farmers’ Association.

Veggie-loaded spaghetti cake

Serves: 8


320g spaghetti

250g brown mushrooms, sliced

1 large onion, diced

1 large carrot, peeled & diced

200g baby spinach

200g cherry tomatoes, halved

250ml cream

150ml milk

4 large free-range eggs, beaten

100g cheddar cheese, grated

Olive oil, for cooking

Salt and pepper, to taste

Grated parmesan, for serving


Preheat the oven to 180˚C.

Bring a large pot of salted water to the boil.

Cook the spaghetti until al dente.

Drain and run under cold water to stop the cooking.

Set aside.

Heat a drizzle of olive oil in a large frying pan.

Add the mushrooms and cook until golden brown.

Remove from the pan and set aside.

Add a fresh glug of oil and cook the onion and carrot until tender. Add the baby spinach and switch off the heat, just letting it wilt.

In a large mixing bowl whisk together the cream, milk, eggs and cheese.

Season well with salt and pepper.

Add all the veggies and the spaghetti to the cream mixture and toss to combine.

Mix well so the veg is evenly distributed throughout the spaghetti.

Transfer the mixture to a baking dish.

Bake for 25-30 minutes until golden brown on top and the filling has just set.

Remove from the oven and leave to cool for 10 minutes.

Sprinkle the top with grated parmesan.

Slice into chunky wedges and serve with a green side salad.

Cheesy mushroom macaroni. Picture: The South African Mushroom Farmers’ Association.

Cheesy mushroom macaroni

Serves: 8


500g portabello mushrooms

350g macaroni or similar short pasta

500g medium-fat cream cheese

100g cheddar cheese, grated

2 tsp Dijon mustard

2 tsp onion powder

1 tsp garlic powder

Pinch of nutmeg

1 tbsp fresh chives, minced

100g cheddar cheese, grated

15g or 3 tbsp breadcrumbs

Salt and pepper, to taste

Fresh basil leaves, for serving

28 x 18 cm baking dish


Preheat the oven to 200˚C, fan on.

Place portabellos on a large baking tray, season with salt and pepper.

Roast in the middle of the oven for ±7 minutes until tender and juicy.

Allow mushrooms to rest, drain off their liquid and slice into large chunks.

In a large pot of salted, boiling water, cook the macaroni until al dente.

Using a jug, scoop out a generous cup of pasta cooking water and set aside.

Drain the macaroni.

While the macaroni is cooking, place cream cheese, cheddar, mustard, onion powder, garlic powder and nutmeg in a large saucepan.

Switch the heat to very low and allow everything to melt together.

When the cream cheese is almost melted, pour in a little pasta water, mixing well until you achieve a smooth silky sauce.

Add the drained macaroni and the fresh chives and stir to combine.

Keep adding a little extra pasta water to keep things saucy.

Finally, fold in the large chunks of roasted mushrooms.

Taste to adjust seasoning.

Scoop mixture into a baking dish and top with remaining cheddar and breadcrumbs.

Transfer to the oven and bake for 10 to 15 minutes until the top is golden brown and bubbling.

Scoop into bowls, top with some fresh basil and enjoy!

You can read the IOL Food digimag here.