Four quick pasta recipes on a plate, including spaghetti and meatballs and roasted red pepper and mozzarella pasta.

You can always count on pasta for an easy midweek meal that kids will actually eat. And while there’s nothing wrong with buttered noodles (hey, we’ve all done it!), wouldn’t it be nice to make something you’ll actually enjoy too?

If they help prepare it, chances are higher that your kiddos will make every noodle disappear. Here are some of our favourite quick pasta recipes for kids, from creamy pumpkin rigatoni that looks deceivingly like mac and cheese to dead-easy spaghetti with meatballs that comes out tender and juicy every time.

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Image source: Foodess

Ready in: 30 minutes

Why we love it: Pumpkin purée is not just for pie filling. This easy pasta recipe for kids has all the comfort of a mac and cheese, but it’s packed with veggies that kids will actually eat. Topped with some chili flakes and crispy sage, this is a dish you can get excited about too.

How kids can help: Once you’ve sautéed the onions and garlic, ask your kid to help you gradually whisk in the milk, and then the pumpkin purée, before simmering and stirring in the Parmesan cheese. You can also put them on topping duty, sprinkling each bowl with the finishing touches.

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BUDGET WATCH
This recipe is rich with butter, milk, Parmesan cheese and pumpkin purée but it’s actually pretty budget friendly. Each serving is less than $3.

Missing any ingredients? Order pumpkin purée, rigatoni, fresh sage and more through Walmart.ca Grocery Pickup & Delivery.

Roasted red pepper and mozzarella pasta. Image source: theHUB from Walmart.ca

Ready in: 25 minutes

Why we love it: Think of this quick pasta recipe as a kid-friendly and midweek version of a classic lasagna. The secret ingredient is a can of soup—and kids love it. If you want the top to be crispy, you can also add some breadcrumbs and pop it under the broiler for a few minutes.

How kids can help: Kids are expert stirrers. Get them to add the mozzarella and herbs to the tomato sauce and then toss with the pasta. This is all done on the hot stovetop, so make sure to supervise.

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HEALTH HIGHLIGHT
Red peppers contain more than 200 per cent of your daily intake of vitamin C, a powerful antioxidant that also helps you absorb iron.[1]
Tortellini alfredo with peas and bacon. Image source: Chatelaine

Ready in: 25 minutes

Why we love it: Store-bought frozen or refrigerated tortellini is a shortcut we can always get behind. This warm and comforting pasta recipe for kids is ready in less than 30 minutes. Plus, it’s easy enough for a weeknight and perfect for fussy eaters. Who wouldn’t love fresh pasta in a creamy alfredo sauce with peas and bacon?

How kids can help: Let the kids take charge of the fun parts—crumbling the bacon and stirring in the Parmesan at the end. (While they’re tossing, get them to rustle up a green salad for a side!)

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TIME-SAVING TIP
Buy pre-grated Parmesan and prepared crushed garlic to make this fast meal even faster.

Missing any ingredients? Order fresh cheese tortellini pasta, frozen peas, bacon and more through Walmart.ca Grocery Pickup & Delivery.

Spaghetti and meatballs Image source: theHUB from Walmart.ca

Ready in: 35 minutes

Why we love it: Spaghetti and meatballs in tomato sauce is a classic for a reason—it’s delicious! These quick and easy meatballs come out tender and juicy every time with a little help from some moist and flavourful Italian dressing.

How kids can help: Your kids will love mixing and shaping the meatballs. Let them mix the ground beef with the onions, breadcrumbs, egg and dressing with clean hands until it’s well blended. To make meatballs, take a piece of beef mixture the size of a golf ball or smaller (about two centimetres) and roll between hands to form a uniform ball. Yes, this job involves touching raw ground beef, so teach your kids to wash their hands well before and after, and to roll up those sleeves!

Missing any ingredients? Order extra lean ground beef, onion, Italian dressing and more through Walmart.ca Grocery Pickup & Delivery.

Butternut squash mac and cheese. Image source: Canadian Living

Ready in: 30 minutes

Why we love it: We’re down for any opportunity to stuff more veggies into a pasta recipe and butternut squash has the perfect texture and colour for hiding in a creamy mac and cheese. This dish is also leaner than a typical mac and cheese, with less than 350 calories per serving.

How kids can help: Supervise your kid at the stove as they add the cheddar to the sauce at the last minute. Stir until melted and smooth, then remove from heat and add the green onions and spices.

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TIME-SAVING TIP
Cooking the pasta with the squash saves time and cuts down on dishes. If you don’t have fresh butternut squash, you can also use diced frozen squash.
Pasta bake with spinach and artichokes. Image source: theHUB from Walmart.ca

Ready in: 45 minutes

Why we love it: Packed with spinach, artichokes and tons of melted cheese, a pasta bake is the perfect way to get kids to try new veggies. This one gets extra flavour and texture from Parmesan, cream cheese, lemon juice, chili flakes and a crunchy panko topping.

How kids can help: Ask your kids to measure out the dried fusilli for you—it’s a great sensory activity! They can also help stir the sauce until the cheese is melted and sprinkle the panko crumbs before it goes into the oven.

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TIME-SAVING TIP
Pasta bakes are ideal for make-ahead meals. You can even whip this up the night before and then just pop it in the oven before dinner time.

Missing any ingredients? Order fusilli, spinach, artichoke hearts and more through Walmart.ca Grocery Pickup & Delivery.

One-pot tomato chicken pasta. Image source: Sweet Potato Chronicles

Ready in: Approx. 30 minutes

Why we love it: We love a quick pasta recipe that’s made in one pot. Plus, this versatile recipe uses any kind of short noodle—rotini, fusilli, penne or whatever you have on hand. Its delicious sauce is made with chicken stock, olive oil, whole tomatoes, mushrooms and thyme—plus browned cubes of chicken breast and lots of cheese. 

How kids can help: Your kid will love helping you break up the tomatoes with a wooden spoon. Once the sauce is nice and bubbly, they can also help you push the dried noodles under it. Those bubbles can splatter and burn, so best to do this step off the heat and under careful supervision.

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HEALTH HIGHLIGHT
Chicken breast is a very good source of lean protein—one serving typically contains up to 27 grams.[2]

Missing any ingredients? Order chicken stock, chicken breast, cheese and more through Walmart.ca Grocery Pickup & Delivery.

Creamy whole wheat pasta salad Image source: theHUB from Walmart.ca

Ready in: 25 minutes

Why we love it: This fresh and colourful pasta salad is a great make-ahead meal for dinner or lunch. It’s quick and easy and packed with veggies that your kid may actually eat, especially since they’re presented in a delicious creamy sauce. This one calls for three different colours of bell peppers, but you can swap with any vegetables your kids will love such as cherry tomatoes, peas or corn.

How kids can help: After you’ve cooked the pasta, let your kids take over—from chopping the veggies with a sturdy kid-safe knife to measuring out the dressing ingredients and mixing them all together, there are lots of safe ways for kids to pitch in.

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BUDGET WATCH
This nutritious and budget-friendly pasta salad costs less than $1 per serving as a side and less than $2 per serving as a main.

Missing any ingredients? Order rotini pasta, red bell pepper, mayonnaise dressing and more through Walmart.ca Grocery Pickup & Delivery.

Shop Quick Pasta Ingredients

Article Sources

  1. City of Toronto. Vitamin C.
  2. Chicken Farmers of Canada. Nutrient Analysis Report.

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