Calorie Boosters and Food Options For Kids Who Need to Augment Calories

Calorie Boosters 

  • Stir powered non-fat milk (25 cals/tablespoon) into potatoes, soups, ground meats, cooked cereals, pudding, yogurt, milkshakes, canned soups, and other milk-containing foods. Add 2-4 tablespoons of non-fat milk powder per cup of flour when baking cookies and cakes or making pancakes. 
  • Add cheese sauce or melted cheese (100 cals/ounce) to vegetables, casseroles, fish, meats, eggs, pasta, and rice.
  •  Add sour cream (50 cals/tablespoon) to potatoes, beans, and squash. Mix in gravies, casseroles or with salad dressing to use as a dip.
  • Add heavy cream (60 cals/tablespoon) to hot chocolate, hot or cold cereals, mashed potatoes, desserts, scrambled eggs, canned soups (creamed types) and milkshakes.
  •  Add butter, margarine or cooking oils (canola or olive oil) (45 cals/teaspoon) to soups, gravies, mashed potatoes, cooked cereal, rice, spaghetti sauce and pasta. Spread on crackers, breads, and muffins. 
  • Spread cream cheese (50 cals/tablespoon) on toast, crackers, muffins, bagels, bread and fruits. Try a sandwich with jelly. 
  • Add mayonnaise to sandwiches. 
  • Spread peanut butter (100 cals/tablespoon) on toast, bread, crackers, cookies or fruits such as apples and bananas. Stir into yogurt or pudding. 
  • Add wheat germ (25 cals/tablespoon) to cereals, salads, yogurt and meats. Mix into cookie batter, casseroles, and other foods. 
  • Add cooked and diced meats, shrimp, and tuna (50-75 cals/ounce) to soups casseroles, cooked noodles, and sauces. 
  • Add Carnation Instant Breakfast mix (130 cals/packet) to milk, cereals, pudding, yogurt, milkshakes, and other milk containing foods 
  • Cut avocado or cooked sweet potato (60 cals per 14 cup) into thin slices and add to sandwiches, grilled cheese and salads. Puree avocado or cooked sweet potato and add to soups or tomato sauce. Mash avocados and add to salsa for an easy dip. 

Healthy Ways to Add Calories

Listed below are sources of high calorie foods, which can help promote weight gain.

Oils (canola, safflower, olive,coconut) 

  • Use to stir fry or roast vegetables, cook meats and eggs, add to pasta, pasta sauces, salads, and casseroles.
  • About 120 cals/tablespoon depending on the type of oil 

Nuts and Seeds (wheat germ, oat bran or ground flax seed)

  • Add to hot or cold cereals, fruit yogurt, smoothies, milkshakes, mix into muffins and breads, vegetables, casseroles, salads, sprinkle on ice cream and pudding
  • 160-170 calories and 5-7 grams of protein per 1 ounce of whole nuts.
  • ***Whole nuts can be a choking hazard for kids under the age of 3.

Nut Butter (peanut, almost, cashew, sunflower, Nutella)

  • Spread on bread, bagels, crackers, pretzels, pancakes, and waffles. Use as a dip for fruits and vegetables, blend into milkshakes. 
  • 95 calories and 4 grams of protein per tablespoon on average.

Margarine and Butter

  • Add to potatoes, vegetables, hot cereals, soups, noodles, breads, rice, sauces.
  • 100 cals/tablespoon

Carnation Instant Breakfast, Nestle Quick or Ovaltine Powder

  • Add to flavour whole milk, yogurt, smoothies, or milkshakes.
  • Carnation Instant Breakfast = 130 cals, 7 grams protein per packet.

Nonfat Dry Milk Powder 

  • Add to milkshakes, smoothies, casseroles, mashed potatoes, macaroni and cheese, cream soups, and hot cereal to increase protein content.
  •  33 cals and 3 grams of protein per tablespoon

Dried Fruit 

  • Use in trail mix, add to sweeten hot or cold cereals, mix into salads and yogurt, or eat plain as a snack
  • Calorie content varies, refer to package information.

Honey and Jam 

  • Add to hot cereal, fruit, bread, bagels, pancakes, waffles, crackers, smoothies, add to ice cream and cake.
  • 60 calories per tablespoon.


  • Slice on sandwiches and salads, mask as a dip for chips and vegetables, add to salsa, add to fruit smoothies to give creamy texture, mix into pasta, and rice dishes.
  • 160 cals and 2 grams of protein for 1 of avocado.


  • Add hard boiled eggs to salads, casseroles, and soups. Add extra eggs to pancakes and waffle mixes, add to chicken and tuna salads. Mix cheese and heavy cream into scrambles eggs.
  • 80 cals and 7 grams protein per egg.

Canned coconut milk 

  • Add to sauces, Soups, cereal, and smoothies (do not use light version) 
  • 240 cal and 2 g of protein 12 cup (4 ounces)


  • Make sure to choose full-fat cheese, not part skim.
  • Use as toppings for sandwiches and soups, melt into casseroles, on vegetables, and plain as a snack
  • Low lactose cheeses: mozzarella, cheddar, Parmesan, Swiss, ricotta, Cream cheese .
  • On average 100 cal and 7 g of protein per ounce or slice

Half and half or heavy cream

  • Add 1-2 tablespoons to each glass of milk: add to smoothies, milkshakes, coffee, and hot chocolate in place of milk. Add cream-based soups, Rice, Mashed potatoes, And hot or cold cereals. Use to make cream sauces for pasta
  •  20 cal per tablespoon Half and half. 50 cal per tablespoon heavy cream

Whole milk yogurt

  • Look for 4% milk fat or whole milk yogurts. Greek yogurt will have higher protein.
  • Mix into smoothies, top with granola and fruits or nuts
  • If unable to find a full fat yogurt in the grocery store look for yogurts marketed for

infants (typically made with whole milk).

  • 1 cup provides 220 cal and 8 g of protein


  • Uses a dip for vegetables, crackers, and pita bread. Spread onto sandwiches
  • Make sure to read the nutritional facts label to look for hummus made with oil and tahini to provide the highest calories
  • 23 cal in 1 g of protein per tablespoon

Other high calorie options: Cream cheese, sour cream, cream-based salad dressings, mayonnaise, granola.

High Calorie Foods by Meal


  • Bagel-add cheese, butter, jam, cream cheese, nut butter.
  • Breakfast bars-look for high calorie bars was added nuts, chocolate, and dried fruit
  • Breakfast breads and muffins-chocolate chip banana, pumpkin, blueberry. Top with butter or jam 
  • Breakfast sandwich-eggs, cheese, breakfast meat on biscuits, bread, or croissant
  • French toast, waffles, or pancakes-top with butter, syrup, fresh fruit, whipped cream 
  • Oatmeal or grits-make with cream. Add butter, dried fruit and maybe syrup or make savory grits with butter and cheese Scrambled eggs-make with heavy cream, cheese, ham, sausage, or bacon
  • Parfait-whole milk yogurt topped with granola, nuts, fresh fruits, and honey


  • Burrito-tortilla with cheese, meat or beans, cheese, rice, vegetables. Top with salsa, sour cream, and guacamole.
  • Cheeseburger-add mayonnaise, extra cheese, and bacon
  • Chicken/tuna salad or lunch meat sandwich-add extra cheese and salad dressing to taste
  • Cream soup-potato soup, broccoli and cheese, clam chowder, tomato cream soup
  • Grilled cheese-made with extra cheese and cooked in butter
  • Peanut butter sandwich-mix with jelly, bananas, or marshmallow fluff. Can add Nutella as well. Try a hot PB&J made like grilled cheese.
  • Ravioli or pasta-topped with cheese, Alfredo sauce, or butter
  • Side items: vegetables with high calorie topping, canned fruit juice heavy syrup, chips, granola bars, pudding, pretzels with peanut butter, yogurt, whole milk, or nutrition supplements


  • Beef, chicken, pork, turkey, veal, breaded fish-add sausage and gravies (ranch, cream of mushroom or chicken soup, Honey Mustard, sweet and sour sauce). Served with mashed potatoes, buttered noodles, macaroni and cheese, and vegetable.
  • Casseroles-try a cheese tuna noodle casserole, chicken casserole, or a taco casserole
  • Chicken Parmesan-use breaded chicken and taco sauce and cheese.
  • Lasanga- use feelings of your choice: Ground beef, turkey, chicken sausage, vegetables. Use multiple types of cheese: mozzarella, ricotta, cream cheese, etc.
  • Pizza-buy a plain crust and top with your child’s favorite items: pepperoni, sausage, vegetables, extra cheese Quesadilla-fillet tortillas with cheese, meat, beans, and vegetables. Grill or microwave and top with salsa, sour cream, guacamole

Tips To Help Your Kids Eat More 

When kids don’t want to eat, it can be difficult to get them to eat. Try these tips to help ensure your child gets enough nutrients:

  • Offer smaller, more frequent meals. Serve meals on a smaller plate, since a large plate of food can seem like too much to someone with a decreased appetite.
  • Always have food on hand. Whether it’s a breakfast bar, a liquid nutrition drink or shake, or fruit, keep that handy in case your child suddenly gets hungry.
  • Try bland foods. If your child seems sensitive to strong smells or tastes stick to plan meals like breads, pastas, rice, crackers, and broth-type soups.
  • Don’t offer liquids with meals. Serve drinks in between meals, instead of with meals. This way, your child doesn’t fill up on fluids and has an appetite to eat.
  • Make up for lost calories. On days when he/she doesn’t take their medication, make up for the decreased intake with high calorie foods.
  • Be creative. Use vanilla/chocolate/strawberry flavoured nutritional supplements, Instant milk when making smoothies, milkshakes, oatmeal, pancakes, and even muffins.

High Calorie and Protein Drinks: 

  • Boost Kid Essential 1.0 (240 cals and 7 g protein per 8 oz)
  • Boost Kids Essentials 1.5 (360 cals and 10 g protein per 8 oz)
  • Pedisaure Grow and Gain (240 cals and 9 g protein per 8 oz) – with and without fiber
  • Pediasure 1.5 (350 cals and 14 g protein per 8 oz)
  • Scandishakes (difficult to find and expensive, but 540 cals and 12.5 g protein per 8 oz)