Kid-Friendly Meatloaf

The things we do for our kids, right?

This recipe was inspired when Gemma and I were looking through the Better Homes and Gardens New Junior Cookbook that we had taken out of the library, wondering which recipe to try together.

I must confess to never having made meatloaf in close to 7 years of married life.  I ate a lot of it growing up since my youngest sister deemed it her favourite meal and chose it whenever she got the chance, and I’ve never disliked it, but I think it needs a new name.  A loaf made of meat is just not an appetizing idea to me.

I figured this was a fear I should conquer since the big 3-0 isn’t many years away now and what 30-year-old has never made meatloaf?  I don’t know the answer, but I didn’t want it to be me.

(*Aside: the cookbook also inspired Carl to get in the kitchen with the kids, using cookie cutters to cut shapes out of toast and topping it with chocolate spread and chopped strawberries, which Gemma enthusiastically declared “the BEST SNACK EVER”.  Amazing how good toast can taste when Dad helps you cut it into a teddy bear shape.)

And while this may be geared at kids, let’s be honest – I kinda did this for me too.  I’m not into football by any stretch of the imagination, but I do love to make people smile, and this made the whole family grin.

And Carl threatened to pick it up and throw it, obviously.

Football meatloaf

You can make this with any meatloaf recipe you usually make – it won’t take even 2 seconds longer, except for the cutting and arranging of the cheese, that’ll take about 45 seconds.  Hang in there!

Not only do I now do meatloaf, I do meatloaf cute :)

Football shaped meatloaf

This meatloaf recipe is adapted from the one in the cookbook, but, as I mentioned, any meatloaf recipe will look equally cute as a pigskin.

What’s your favourite way to dress up a meal for your kids in under a minute?  

Total time
Delicious with pasta or mashed potatoes, a basic meatloaf gets a special twist to make the family smile at the dinner table!
Recipe type: Dinner
Serves: 6
  • 1 large egg
  • ⅓ cup quick cooking oats
  • ⅓ cup shredded carrot (1 medium carrot)
  • ¼ cup panko or regular bread crumbs
  • 3 Tbsp milk
  • 2 Tbsp grated Parmesan cheese
  • ⅓ cup grated cheese (mozzarella, havarti, cheddar...whatever you like)
  • 1 Tbsp dried minced onion
  • 1 tsp Italian seasoning
  • ½ tsp garlic powder
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 1½ lbs ground chicken (or ground turkey or beef)
  • ⅓ cup pasta sauce or BBQ sauce (I used a combination of the two)
  • Additional white cheese for "stitching" decoration
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Spray a 2-qt / 8x11" baking dish with non-stick cooking spray and set aside.
  3. Lightly beat the egg in a large bowl. Add the oats, carrot, panko, milk, Parmesan, grated cheese, and seasonings. Stir to mix well.
  4. Add ground meat and mix well with a fork or your hands.
  5. Gather the chicken mixture into a ball, place it in the prepared baking dish, and shape it with your hands into a football shape, about 2" thick.
  6. Bake for 45 minutes, remove from oven, and top evenly with pasta sauce or BBQ sauce. Return to oven for another 5-10 minutes, until cooked through.
  7. Meanwhile, cut some cheese into strips to resemble football stitching (1 long piece and several short pieces). When meatloaf is done, transfer to serving platter and top with the cheese strips to complete the football look.



  1. says

    I have also never made meatloaf. Meat loaf. Eugh it just sounds gross. The taste usually isn’t bad but to be honest if I’m going to put in effort to actually make a decent dinner it’s not going to be meat loaf.

  2. says

    Anna…I’m not a football fan either, but I LOVE this! I love meatloaf, but have yet to find a good recipe (mine are hopelessly dry). So I am really happy to give this a try! Love your cheese stitches too!


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