#AD With an air fryer and a well stocked freezer, you can put together a tasty, flexible, and nutritious kids meal with very little time or effort! This system is a sanity saver for busy families at teatime, with lots of options to make it your own and introduce new foods in a fun way.
✨ This post is sponsored by Quorn ✨ Thank you for supporting the brands that support Happy Veggie Kitchen 😊
Fellow parents, you know the scene. It’s 5PM, dinner needs to happen, but you need to be doing a million other things all at the same time. My solution: an air fryer and a well stocked freezer.
These two things can work together to make that dinner routine an absolute breeze. With the right ingredients stashed away, you can conjure up a balanced and nutritious meal for your kiddos that cooks in the air fryer (all together in one basket) in about 15 minutes. Your workload is reduced to gathering things and pressing a button and it is glorious.
My ideal starting point for an air fryer kids meal is a bag of Quorn Crispy Nuggets. These are never not in my freezer! My home is vegetarian, but we all know that chicken nuggets are very palatable to children. The crispiness, the easy to eat texture, the consistency and reliability of them. We need all the easy wins we can get around here, so the great thing about Quorn is that we aren’t missing out on the nugget front whatsoever. I can offer my kids a perfect meatless version of this trusty staple… and I can sneak a bite too!
My approach to making air fryer kids meals:
We are combining frozen foods in the air fryer that will cook in the same amount of time. So it’s truly a case of putting these foods in, and waiting for the beep!
In a full basket, Quorn Crispy Nuggets take around 12 minutes to cook at 200C (390F), so that’s what we’re looking for.
For fun, I sometimes serve the meals in a party food box. This just brings some extra joy to mealtime when we need it most – think 5PM on a Friday!
What to include alongside your Quorn Crispy Nuggets:
You can build a well balanced meal here with protein from your Quorn Crispy Nuggets, plus carbs and vegetables. My kids struggle with vegetables, so I like to choose a combination of “easy wins” (the nuggets and fries) and things I’m not sure they’ll like, but that I want to be exposing them to. These meal boxes are such a great way for kids to learn new foods. Air fried vegetables are deliciously crispy, and in this context they’re being served as finger food with dips, alongside their favourite nuggets! It can therefore be quite different from the usual presentation.
The following foods all work here, and cook to the same timescales as Quorn Nuggets:
- Frozen skinny fries : definitely skinny, or they won’t cook in time.
- Frozen sweet potato fries, or other veggie fries like parsnip or beetroot
- Frozen broccoli : These get slightly roasted in the air fryer, and can be picked up and dipped. It’s worth trying if you have a kid who isn’t so sure about boiled broccoli because the taste of roasted can be quite different! At this temperature and cook time, the broccoli will get quite charred.
- Frozen cauliflower : Like broccoli, roasted cauliflower is a very different kettle of fish from boiled and is great with dips, so highly recommended for this recipe.
- Frozen baby carrots or carrot rounds
- Frozen brussels sprouts
- Frozen sliced peppers: these will turn soft and less “dippable” but still nice
If you’d like to add some additional protein, you can also try frozen halloumi fries or mozzarella, or some canned chickpeas. However, all of these options take less time to cook – only about 8 minutes – so add them in after the first 4 minutes of cooking time.
I also like to serve a little pot of fresh fruit – whatever is available – alongside the box.
Tips for Air Frying
- You don’t need to add any additional oil to the nuggets or any other ingredients.
- I would not recommend using a liner in your air fryer basket. We want the air flow all around to ensure that everything crisps up nicely.
- Go easy when shaking or flipping your nuggets, to make sure the coating stays intact.
- All air fryers are a little different so the cook times can vary. The first time you make this, check in after 10 minutes and go from there. You’ll soon work out if your cook time is going to be different from mine.
- Cook time will also be influenced by how full your air fryer basket is. I use a 5.8 litre air fryer basket to make two kids meals. My basket was pretty full, so if you were making one meal your cook time would likely be lower. If your air fryer was smaller and you wanted to fit two meals in it, you would need a longer cook time.
- If you have a dual basket air fryer, it’s a good idea to separate out the vegetables into the second basket.
As you can see, my 6 year old hand model didn’t last long before sneaking a bite… the crispiness of that Quorn Nugget was just too tempting!
Air Fryer Kids Meal Boxes with Quorn Crispy Nuggets
- 6 Quorn Crispy Nuggets
- 2 handfuls frozen skinny fries
- 1 handful frozen sweet potato fries
- 6 frozen broccoli florets, choose larger florets
- Preheat the air fryer to 200C (390F). Arrange your frozen ingredients in the basket, trying to minimise overlap (though it doesn't need to be perfect) and set for 12 minutes.
- Shake or flip the ingredients once during the cooking process. After 12 minutes, check on the ingredients. If you feel it needs a little more crisp, you can put back in for another 2 minutes.
- Serve in party food boxes with an assortment of dips.