10 Easy Toddler-Approved Meals
I’m sure many of you mamas can relate that cooking a meal for a toddler is no easy feat so I’m always looking for tips and tricks to make meal time go smoothly. (And, is it just my kid or do toddlers change their minds about what they will or will not eat on the daily?!)
Cooking in the kitchen with my toddler
Lately, the thing that has allowed me to get a good home cooked meal on the table when I'm home alone with the boys is to let Ryan get involved!
While he's often more "in the way" than truly helpful, it's still a lot of fun to share these moments with him. He especially loves to use the lemon squeezer to squeeze lemon juice onto our salads for the finale. I'll do pretty much anything to see his face light up with a big ol' smile.
While I cook and Ryan acts as sous chef, little brother Leo chills in his high chair with some toys and snacks. For those times when he won't tolerate the high chair, we ask baby Leo to shop for groceries for us.
A few ways to keep your toddler busy while you cook
Another way to keep curious toddlers busy but still engaged in the kitchen is to fill up a few bowls or liquid measuring cups (plastic, of course) with water so your kiddos can use a small measuring cup to transfer the water from one bowl to the other.
You can also ask your little chef to be the official trash collector and hand them all the scraps to toss away. (If your kids are older, you may want to introduce the concept of sorting recycles, too.) Ryan loves to throw the trash away... "I'll get that, mommy!" Ha.
If you have the space, putting a play kitchen in your kitchen or family room can be a great way to get everyone cooking at the same time. While you're whipping up a toddler-approved dinner, they can bake cookies, make ice cream, or pour a cup of pretend coffee for you. We don't have a play kitchen yet, but I've been eyeing this one.
Kids quickly catch on to what we as parents are doing, and it's so fun to see them mimic what we do in the kitchen.
10 dinner ideas for toddlers:
1. Baked wild salmon with sides of brown rice or quinoa and a veggie (steamed broccoli, cucumber, and avocado are our faves). This meal can be ready in less than 25 minutes, and you can do whatever else around the house during the 15-20 minutes of bake time.
2. A kid-friendly charcuterie "snack board" inspired by Weelicious. We like to add fresh fruit, veggies, yogurt, deli meats, chips, hummus, and dips! It's a fun way to sneak in some healthy foods, and who doesn't like finger foods?
3. Chicken noodle soup is staple in our home because both my boys love it and gobble it up (fast)! And, mama loves that it's loaded with veggies like carrots, onions, and potatoes!
4. A good ol' frozen cheese pizza from Trader Joes. Some days require dipping into the emergency freezer stash, mamas. I cut sides of a fruit and veggies to make the meal a little more nutritious.
5. Kids' tapas! Turkey and cheese roll ups, carrots and hummus (kids loooove anything that involves dipping), sliced apples, with a fruit and veggie pouch.
6. Lentil soup. Because it's easy to make and super healthy! Lentils are high in protein and promote heart health and good digestion. I like to add potatoes and either cilantro or mint in to make it more filling and flavorful.
7. Breakfast for dinner! Is there anything easier and faster to make than breakfast? Once in a while, when Ryan is being extremely picky and refuses to eat what I've made, I know he'll say yes to breakfast: buttery hard boiled egg, bacon, and a side of fruit.
8. Quesadillas with salsa for dipping, black beans, & avocado. Sometimes, when I have extra chicken breast, I toss it in the crockpot with chicken stock and seasoning, then I shred it and freeze it for later. It's the perfect addition to change up a plain cheese quesadilla.
9. Pasta with meat sauce with a side of fruit and veggies. It's simple and satisfying. Sometimes you need to keep it basic!
10. A green smoothie! When in doubt make a smoothie with lots of hidden veggies, they think it is a treat but us mamas know they are getting all their greens!
Is there a go-to meal in your home that you know your kiddos will always eat?
Let me know in the comments because I’m always looking for new ideas. Us mamas need to stick together and share our tips and tricks for getting our kiddos to eat healthy and fun meals.