Feeding the bottomless pit: a guide to making sure your teen is eating right

Sustaining your teens appetite may seem like a daunting task at times, especially if your teen is pretty active. We could generalise and say teen boys are more likely to be the biggest eaters in the house however, teen girls have high requirements for nutrients such as iron and will also need to eat frequent, nutritious meals and snacks to remain healthy.

How do we ensure our teens are eating enough?

  • Put in place a regular breakfast routine and make sure there is some sort of fruit or vegetable served at breakfast time.

  • Encourage your teen to take leftover meat and vegetables in their lunches the following day with a good carbohydrate source such as a wholemeal pita or wrap. Eating protein at lunch will help sustain your teen throughout the afternoon.

  • Make sure to have heathy snacks on hand that your teen can grab and go. Pre-cut vegetables with hummus, fruit, baked potatoes with mince or even leftover stir-fry in snack-size containers are great options to have in the fridge.

  • Educate yourself and your teen on healthy portion sizes so you know they’re consistently eating enough, and not too much.

What nutrients are important for teens?

  • Iron

  • Calcium

Eating from each of the four food groups will help your teen meet their daily nutrient needs.

Lean red meat like beef and lamb are good sources of iron, zinc and protein. During the teenage years, rapid growth and development takes place. It’s important to include lots of healthy foods each day to help meet the increased demands.

Meal Ideas

The following recipes were selected because they’re rich in all the proteins and nutrients that your teens need for healthy development. They’re tasty, easy to cook and prepare (to ensure that your teen can still eat healthy when they leave the nest), and include the right ingredients for a balanced diet.


Versatile, quick and delicious, mince is a Kiwi favourite. As it’s easy to whip up for a variety of different meals (including breakfast), this is a recipe to always keep on hand.


‘Magic Mince’

Low in fat and sodium and an excellent source of iron.

Top Tip: Serve magic mince with cooked rice, in taco shells or on toast. To turn into a dish of nachos, place cooked magic mince in an ovenproof dish, top with chopped avocado and tomato, sour cream and grated cheese. Place under a hot grill for about 1 minute to grill the cheese.


This recipe takes steak sandwiches to the next level. As this dish suits being a lunch or dinner and you can choose whether to have a sandwich lid or just eat it open with a knife and fork. So get the BBQ fired up and get the kids stuck into making this awesome sandwich!


Steak, Cheese, and Onion Melt

Quick to prepare and tasty to eat

Top Tip: The key to cooking a steak well is having the pan searing hot when it goes in – you want to hear a sizzle. If the pan isn’t hot enough, you’ll end up stewing it making it tough and rubbery.

Introducing a different cuisine is a great way to introduce new flavours to your teens everyday cooking. A Mexican style toasted tortilla is perfect for a casual, easy meal or snack for children of any age. They’re packed full of veges and easy to make mince balls, if you want more spice add some chilli to the mince patties. Served hot or cold these quesadillas will be a hit with any teenager!


Beef Quesadillas

Bring the taste of Mexico to your home

Top Tip: No tortillas? Use beef patties in hamburger buns, pita breads or wrapped in lettuce leaves. 

Let us know what your Teen’s favourite meals are on social media or in the comments section below.