Pssst….No matter if you’ve ever struggled with feeding teens and tweens, or know that ONE day you will, these expert tips & easy recipes will help YOU keep your sanity, AND keep your kids well nourished!

6 Secrets to Feeding Teens & Tweens + Easy Recipes They'll Love! | Get expert tips and teen/tween approved recipes @thespicyrd www.eastewart.comJust when I thought I had it all figured out when it comes to feeding my kids, they did that annoying joyous {insert just a hint of sarcasm here} thing, and turned in to teens.

Now, before you start thinking there’s nothing good about this, I’m here to tell you, at least on the feeding front, there’s just as much as much good, as there is “not so good.” And, for the “not so good” parts I’ve enlisted the help of family nutrition experts to share their own challenges along with their own secrets to feeding teens and tweens. Let’s get started!

Feeding Teens and Tweens: Expert Tips & Easy Recipes They’ll Love

No.1 School starts way too early. What should I feed my teens & tweens when they aren’t hungry {Or are too rushed!} for breakfast?

Katie Morford, author of Rise & Shine: Better Breakfast for Busy Mornings, and mom of 3 teens {her eldest started college this year!} says this became an issue for her two older daughters when they started high school. Her solution? “Have something ready they can grab on their way out the door. If I have a smoothie in a to-go cup, or a little jar of yogurt parfait, or an egg sandwich, they usually go for it.”

For more tween and tween friendly breakfast ideas for busy mornings, be sure and print out these EASY genius ideas from Katie–>12 Speedy Breakfasts for Busy School Day Mornings. P.S. Don’t have any kids? No doubt, you will love these ideas for yourself too!

And, Janice Bissex, one of the super cool Meal Makeover Moms, totally relates to this dilemma too. “The most frustrating thing for me when my daughters were tweens/teens was them saying they weren’t hungry in the morning and wanting to run off to school without breakfast. That just would not work for this dietitian mom!” This lead to the creation of her nourishing & delicious “grab and go” granola bar that’s not only tween/teen approved, but mom approved as well!


Wild Blueberry Acai Smoothie Bowl w/ Strawberries, Coconut, and Macadamia Nuts ~ Teen & tween approved for a quick and easy breakfast! | Recipe @thespicyrd

No. 2 It’s not cool to pack a lunch or take a lunch box to school anymore, but the school lunch options aren’t very nutritious {or don’t taste good}.

Jill Castle, childhood nutrition expert, mother of 4, and author of Just the Right Byte blog has some great advice on this topic! First, after her teens’ refusal to take a thermos, let alone a lunch box to school, she tried letting them buy lunch for awhile {it’s always worth a try!}, but her kids ended up getting tired of the school lunches, or not eating enough to fuel them for the rest of the day.

Jill’s solution? She sat down and talked with her kids to come up with a plan that worked for everyone. And, what’s that you wonder? Purchasing school lunch 1 x week, then packing a simple teen/tween friendly lunch the rest of the week featuring sandwiches or wraps with lots of veggies, fruit, and water. That’s it. Oh, and it’s all packed in a brown paper bag! For more of Jill and her teens’ school lunch solutions, check it this great post–>Trouble With My Teen’s School Lunch.


Teen and Tween approved brown bag school lunch! Mango Chicken Salad Wraps | Recipe by EA Stewart, The Spicy RD, at The Food Network's Healthy Eats Blog

No. 3 After school sports and activities keep my teens and tweens busy. What should they eat to stay fueled until dinner???

Liz Weiss, the other fabulous mom, and nutrition expert from Meal Makeover Moms, packs “mini meals” for her sons to nosh on after school and before dinner. Her teen son’s “go to” meals include a balance of complex, fiber rich carbs {whole grain bread + apples slices or bananas} for quick energy, plus healthy fats and protein {nut butters} for staying power until dinner time.

This easy, 4-ingredient Peanut Butter Yogurt Banana Dip from the Meal Makeover Mom’s, paired with your teen’s or tween’s favorite fruit and whole grain or gluten-free graham crackers, will keep your athlete well fueled until dinner time!


Packed w/ protein & complex carbs, these Mediterranean Feta & Quinoa Egg Muffins are a healthy grab-and-go after-school snack that's teen and tween approved! | Recipe @thespicyrd

No. 4 I know it’s important to sit down to dinner as a family, but, HELP, between all the after school activities and homework, there’s no time {or desire} for this!

Although I’ve yet to experience resistance to family dinner time, I’m sure it will come up one of these days, so I LOVE these posts from Jill and Katie about how they have handled their own family dinner struggles, and have made this oh-so-important ritual “non-negotiable”.

Bottom line? If family dinner time is important to you, {and I really hope it is!} there may be a trial and error period to find out what works best for you and your own family. In the end, I think it’s one of the most important things you can do, not necessarily from a nutrition standpoint, but from enjoying this precious family time together, and keeping the lines of communications open with your kids. In other words, #justdoit !


This quick and easy Rainbow Rotisserie Chicken Salad w/ Avocado & Honey Mustard Dressing is a hit with my teenagers for a busy weeknight dinner! | Recipe @thespicyrd

No. 5 My kids are growing like weeds! What can I feed them on a healthy diet without going broke???

In addition to sharing her school lunch and family dinner tips, Jill also has some excellent advice on what to feed growing teens and tweens in this post, 7 Ways to Support Your Teen’s Growth Spurt. Key nutrients for growing teens, according to Jill, are protein plus calcium + vitamin D for healthy bones {most bone building is complete by age 19}. If you’re concerned your teen or tween isn’t getting enough calcium, check out Jill’s calcium e-book for creative ways to get more of this important nutrient in your child’s diet.

And, one of my own little secrets for feeding my own teenagers {without going broke} is to swap nutritious AND economical beans and legumes for meat based protein whenever possible. I’ve shared ’em before, but I’ll share ’em again, because these Crunchy Lentil Tacos w/ Feta Guacamole are always a huge hit with both my kids, so be sure to try them!

Easy, delicious, and budget friendly recipe for growing teens and tweens! Crunch Lentil Tacos w/ Avocado Feta Guacamole | Recipe @thespicyrd

No. 6 My teens and tweens are becoming so independent. How can I help them make healthier choices while still keeping their independence?

Sally Kuzemchak, mom of 2 kids, and author of the popular blog, Real Mom Nutrition, lays it out like it is {and I totally respect this!} “First, you have to accept that your kids are going to eat junk food when they’re with their friend. FACT. I can’t spend time stressing about that or trying to control what he does at all times. I don’t shame my son for these choice either, but we do talk about balance and about how food makes him feel“{i.e. too much “junk food” may lead to stomach aches or low energy.}

Sally’s solution? She makes sure to stock “dependably healthy” food at home, and try and make his main meals and snacks count in terms of nutrients, including fruits and vegetables whenever possible. I couldn’t have said it better myself! Try this super simple Back-to-School Peanut Butter Breakfast Shake {a favorite of Sally’s son} for a nourishing meal, your tween or teen will love!


Peanut Butter Sweet Potato Teff Cookies w/ White Chocolate Chips ~ Healthy

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Thanks so much to Janice, Jill, Katie, Liz, and Sally for sharing your expert advice! Be sure and visit their blogs for more fabulous tips on feeding your own teens and tweens, all while keeping your sanity!

P.S. As to that “good stuff” I alluded to at the beginning of this post, it really is true! As teens, both my kids continue to venture out with trying new foods. SiSi requested {and helped me make} sauteed zucchini, carrots, and green beans recently {Um, there might have been a wee bit of butter on top!}, plus she finally tried beets after one of her close friends cooked them at our house.

And Big Tex, my former non-salad eater, has actually requested salad for dinner on several occasions now. Let’s just say a little chopped up bacon thrown in never hurts!

Even better, we’ve had some FABULOUS dinner conversations, talking about everything from politics {yes-we will ALL be glad when this election is over!}, to sports {I’m rooting for the Cubs to win this year’s World Series}, to what’s new on Netflix {tell me YOUR favorites!}. All-in-all {thus far}, these teen years have been way better than I ever imagined 🙂

Let’s chat!

  1. Do you have a teen or tween living with you now? If so, what are your biggest challenges feeding them? And, what are your best tips?
  2. If you’ve survived raising teens and tweens, what are your words of wisdom for those of use who are still in the trenches?
  3. If you don’t have kids, or yours still haven’t reached the teen/tween stage, what’s the best piece of advice you’ve learned today???

If you enjoyed this post, I greatly appreciate you sharing it to help spread the word that healthy IS delicious. Cheers!

Does your diet need a DELICIOUS re-boot? Click here to learn more about my nutrition coaching services and healthy cooking classes!

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