Monday, August 24, 2015

Toddler Meals {HELP!}

Mamas, I need some help! I am desperate for some new toddler dinner ideas to throw into our regular chicken nugget, mac & cheese and spaghetti rotation for Caroline. On the days that I can get it together enough to have dinner ready for the whole family by the time Matt and Caroline get home we eat the same meal together as a family. However, once I return to work that will be a tad unrealistic because I'll have exactly 4 minutes from the time I walk in the door until the time that Caroline will completely melt down for dinner so quick is key!
Don't judge! Here's what you can usually find on Caroline's plate (or the floor):
  • Frozen vegetables (usually broccoli)
  • Fruits (usually blueberries, grapes, watermelon or a banana)
  • Cheese sticks
  • Chicken Nuggets 
  • Spaghetti
  • Macaroni & Cheese
  • Applesauce
  • Yogurt
  • Turkey slices
  • Scrambled eggs
  • English muffin or toast with peanut butter
  • Grilled cheese
  • Sweet potatoes
  • Beans (usually black or chick peas)

Even Charlie is sick of these foods. So I need some new ideas - preferably healthy, preferably easy and quick to make, preferably something I can prep on Sunday and feed for the entire week!
Kitchen / Chef Outfit (similar) / Eggs

*Side note: the egg crate set has been one of Caroline's most played with toys since her birthday. Worth every penny (and hour spent looking for the pieces around the house)!
What do you feed your toddler?!



  1. We are kind of in the same boat and our menus look very similar. Ellie is going through a weird phase and only wants to eat Cheerios and pouches (she loves the Go Go Squeez pouches that are fruit with some sort of veggie hidden in it). Like I said, our menus are pretty similar, but also, we try grilled cheese or cheese quesadillas! Ellie also loooooves all kinds of rice. She can't shovel it into her mouth fast enough! We usually make her something quick on Mondays and make our dinner while she's eating, then give her whatever we ate that night the following evening, and so on. That way, we can just heat it up whatever she is eating quickly and avoid meltdowns. Hope this helps! :)

  2. Following because we're running out of ideas too! Wish I had some ideas for you mama, but no dice. However I like the idea of quesadillas may have to try that out.

    liz jo @ sundays with sophie

  3. We try to get our little to eat the same thing as us. We do lots of crock pot meals. I also try to make sure it is enough for two meals, so I am only booking every other day. Some great crock pot meals are chicken tortilla soup, pot roast, pean soup etc!
    That is our strategy!

  4. Have you tried fish - salmon in particular? Freddy will gobble up some "fish fish." And we always have at least one box of Dr Praeger's Spinach Littles on hand. So yummy. I also make open faced grilled cheese with Ezekiel bread, ham, and cheese so it's a protein and fiber filled meal. Other favorites are crab cakes, chicken noodle soup

  5. Sorry, technical difficulties! Chicken sausage is also a fave. I also love for tons of healthy ideas!

  6. We are really similar here! For the most part, I try to give my son what we are eating. When I'm in a pinch and need to feed him something quick I usually go with grilled cheese, quesadilla, or breakfast foods! He loves bagels with cream cheese, eggs, french toast sticks, pancakes (even better to make a big batch and put them in the freezer! Toaster and from frozen and ready!) and then fill in with fruits and veggies. Another fun meal his cheese, crackers, pepperoni. Kind of like the idea of lunchmates. Or mini pizzas are easy too on english muffins. Good luck! Our toddler is very picky but I know that in the coming years it will get easier and I can start preparing family meals again! xo

  7. My son eats whatever I cook for the family, but he is usually ready for dinner before I have it cooked so at times I have to make him his own little meal so he can eat right away. I always do one side of veggie (love the steam fresh frozen veggie bags because they are easy to pop in the microwave and make enough for a couple meals) usually broccoli, peas, corn, beans, or avocado. I will also do one side of fruit because that's his favorite- strawberries, blueberries, banana, diced pears or mandarin oranges, grapes, etc. and usually a cheese stick or slices of cheese. Then for his main food I'll do some kind of meat or pasta usually. some favorites are:
    Rotisserie chicken.. I can buy one at the beginning of the week and there's enough to last him several meals. He eats it plain or I put it in different recipies.
    Veggie hummus sandwich on wheat bread
    American chop suey
    Tortellini with sauce
    Chicken, veggie, rice stir fry
    Grilled cheese
    Canned salmon mixed with pasta or mixed with plain Greek yogurt served on bread
    Mozzarella stuffed meatballs (recipes on Pinterest)
    Broccoli and cheddar quiche, sometimes with ham
    Turkey burgers
    Turkey hot dogs
    Bbq grilled chicken thighs
    Disassembled taco..ground beef/turkey, tortilla wrap, tomatoes, avocado, cheese
    French toast
    Scrambled eggs

    That's our usual rotation right now. I think the rotisserie chickens from the grocery store are the best deal.. I can throw them in anything or give it to him plain and he loves it! So easy for a quick meal with a few sides

  8. We make a lot of flatbread pizzas. We switch between pizza sauce and pesto, sprinkle with shredded mozzarella and pop it in the toaster oven for a few minutes. Tortellini with olive oil & parmesan and Qrunch quinoa burgers are some other quick-prep meals we make frequently.

  9. The menu at my house looks very similar - except for my two will not eat mac and cheese! What??! One thing I would add to your list - frozen meatballs. They are so easy to pop in the microwave and serve with a veg and fruit or, their favorite, boil the meatballs and a vegetable (usually peas or green beans) with some sort of small, shaped noodle.

  10. Buy salmon fillets and freeze in small portions with a little marinade (or buy premarinated). They thaw in luke warm water in a few minutes and cook in 3-4 minutes.
    Make a big batch of meatball and freeze. Serve with marinara for dipping.
    Quesadillas- black bean and cheese is a go to here

  11. This looks exactly like what we eat around here. A few more options Grilled cheese, edamame, mini quiche- cook them in a muffin tin and then you can freeze them and pop in the microwave when you get home. It's the only way I get Miller to eat veggies these days because he can't taste them with all the cheese and heavy cream ;) Cheese ravioli is also a big hit around here as is mini pizza (which I try to add veggies to) and anything that looks like a french fry. We sometimes do "dip" night because he's big into dipping so I'll do mashed avocado and hummus with crackers and veggies. Hope that helps! Toddlers are so hard!

  12. Following! I would LOVE to food prep on Sunday for a whole week! Looking for healthy and easy recipes. I scoured Pinterest and didn't find much out there. We need a good blog entry on toddler meal prep for a week. We do a lot of the Earth's Best frozen items (e.g., spinach bites, fish sticks) for protein and I try to do a veggie and a fruit. Thank goodness our day care does fresh cooked snacks and lunches every day. Other go to foods for us: eggs, peanut butter and banana, sweet potatoes (microwave), soup with noodles and veggies, cottage cheese, yogurt, rice, toast with avocado on it, corn, pancakes (make ahead of time and freeze), chicken or turkey sticks, Morning Star frozen patties/nuggets, etc. Hope that helps give you some ideas. Can't wait to see what others post!

  13. I'm in desperate need of some more ideas too, but the foods I usually have on hand for my 15 month old are:
    Rotisserie chicken
    Turkey meatballs (Jessica Alba's recipe is good and makes a big batch for the week)
    Veggie Pasta (Ronzoni makes a garden delight tri color rotini that my daughter loves!)
    Quesadillas (with cheese and/or chicken (pre-cooked) and/or veggies)
    Applegate hot dogs
    Hard boiled eggs
    Steamer bag veggies
    Plain greek yogurt with berries smashed in it
    Avocado spread on whole wheat toast

  14. We do baked potatoes with some sort of shredded meat (BBQ chicken, pork, etc.), and a veg mixed right in. Easy to prep ahead of time and very quick to reheat. Black beans, rice, shredded lettuce & guac mash up (or make it into a quesadilla). We love lentil soup with toast because it is loaded with veggies. The toast makes the soup less watery and easier for the little one to feed themselves. This can of course be done with any soup. Grilled cheese or grilled turkey sandwiches. Spaghetti squash in a pesto or marinara sauce with some shredded/ground meat and cheese.

  15. -toast pizza (toast bread, add toppings and broil just enough for cheese to melt)
    -quesadillas (so easy so fast any toppings work)

    Super Baby Food by Ruth Yaron has hundreds of very easy, fast, and healthy ideas. Especially toddler h'or duerves that basically could be a meal by themselves!

  16. Rotisserie chicken is seriously a working moms best friend! I feel like I pick one up after work on Monday and do some sort of starch and steamed veggie with it. Then I'll use leftovers for pizzas, tacos, quesadillas or over salads.

    One idea for toddler meals is to give her the night before's leftovers. Just prep a plate during dinner clean up and keep it in your fridge. Then when you walk in the door, zap it and feed her that while you prep your dinner. Also, keeps a whiny toddler off your feet while cooking!

  17. I sometimes make a pot of a chicken stew type dish - really chicken noodle soup that is just thicker and I love using the frozen egg noodles by Reames ... I put a bunch in the freezer and he eats off of it for the week and loves it. We also do ground turkey just sautéed with onions and garlic and keep some of that in the freezer handy. Canned beets are great and we have gotten into the frozen bags of mixes like lentils, spinach and white beans, etc. My LO also really loves any kind of stewed pork or beef that's shredded. We blend up bananas, oats and eggs for pancakes and freeze those so we have a quick thing to take out in the mornings

  18. I have loved following your blog; Caroline is almost exactly one month older than my daughter. Several suggestions (and I think you're doing a great job, btw):

    1. Love organic, pre-grilled chicken and/or turkey breasts strips I can microwave and season in different ways to keep her toddler palate interested when I'm short on time
    2. Toddler "pancakes" is a great way to get protein, veggie and fruit all at one time and they are legit delicious:
    --fully mash half of a banana, add and completely mix in one egg, then add pureed veggies (i.e. pureed spinach) or cubed cheese. Preheat a skillet (I just use coconut oil spray so it doesn't stick) and cook like mini pancakes. They take a little longer to cook because of the moisture from the banana and/or veggies, but are delicious and easy!! Best of luck

  19. Ah she is so precious! I don't have a toddler yet but my friends who do make plain chicken in the crockpot on the weekend and then they use it for quesadillas and other quick meals like that!

  20. We are in the same boat so I am loving this post and all the comments... thanks!

  21. Trader Joes has a great spinach tortellini and a butternut squash ravioli that are easy to cook quickly! You can serve with a sauce or plain. I also make veggie pastas with small noodles such as the mini bow tie and sautéed veggies like red peppers, tomatoes, broccoli, peas, carrots etc. I cut the vegetables very small so they are toddler approved!

  22. Sounds like my toddler's meals!! She would live off Mac and cheese if I let her haha. Here's some of our go to's you didn't mention- the little fruit cups you buy on the shelf (peach, pear, mandarin oranges), frozen uncrustables (the pbj sandwiches), Teddy Graham's, Mini Nilla Wafers, frozen waffles (heated of course) with cream cheese, Birdseye brand steamables makes new "kid" ones that's pasta mixed with a veggie, Mini goldfish, Ball Park's smoked turkey hotdogs.. Hm I think that's about it that you didn't mention!

  23. Charlotte almost always eats what we do, unless it's too spicy or she's had a long day and won't last that long . She is starving by the time we get home from work /daycare since her snack was 3 hours earlier, so I bring her a snack for the ride home-- granola bar, fruit strips, goldfish, puffs. On nights she doesn't eat with us, she has mac and cheese, spaghetti, leftovers that are more toddler -friendly, etc.

  24. Charlotte almost always eats what we do, unless it's too spicy or she's had a long day and won't last that long . She is starving by the time we get home from work /daycare since her snack was 3 hours earlier, so I bring her a snack for the ride home-- granola bar, fruit strips, goldfish, puffs. On nights she doesn't eat with us, she has mac and cheese, spaghetti, leftovers that are more toddler -friendly, etc.

  25. You have a great list going! One of the meals I make in rotation for my littles are turkey and spinach meatballs. I just take some ground turkey, mix in some chopped frozen spinach. Add egg, s&p, breadcrumb... bake @ 350 for 25-35 minutes depending on meatball size. She will never know she is eating spinach. Make a batch on Sunday- Freeze and pull out as you need. Add some ketchup for dipping- toddlers love to dip.

  26. chicken pot pie! Amelia is 18m and loves it! I also do beef stew, Shepards pie, baked ravioli and she likes them sl!

  27. My friend's daughter loves eggs in any form. Good luck!

  28. My niece is the same age as Caroline. She loves Taco Salad. She eats this when we're having Tacos. I take the taco meat, shredded lettuce, shredded cheese, diced tomatoes and mix it together with a little bit of salsa and sour cream. She loves it! The taco meat is really easy to make - you just take a beef roast or a pork roast and throw it in the crockpot with taco seasoning and cook it on low all day and it's ready for dinner time. The lettuce and tomatoes can be diced up the night before or earlier in the week so you don't have to cook anything at the last minute. I didn't expect her to like this because of the taco seasoning - but she LOVED it.

  29. I have been a long-time reader of your blog but have never commented before! I recently sent my sister in law to the following website for ideas to change up her weekly meal rotation with her toddler and she loves it!

    This link is full of quick, healthy and busy mom/child approved crock pot meals that feed a family. Plus, there is the option to place all of the ingredients into a zip lock bag and freeze (no cooking required, and you can prep a few on a Sunday), and then place them into the crock pot while you are at work. Directions are quick, easy, and simple to follow. Hopefully some of these help to freshen up your meal rotation- enjoy!


  31. My kids love meatballs (I found a great clean eating recipe on Pinterest that incorporates finely chopped spinach), chicken pie (family recipe), quesadillas filled with beans or whatever type of taco meat we are having, enchiladas, honey Rosemary chicken (freezer/crockpot meal), Mongolian Beef (freezer/crockpot meal), breakfast for dinner (eggs, bacon, toast), English muffin pizzas... If you want any of these recipes, my email is ashleykirby81@gmail.

  32. I make muffin tin meatloaf. I found the recipe on pinterest. They work great frozen. When Harper is starving, I just take a muffin out of the freezer and pop it in the microwave for a minute or two and it's completely ready to eat by then. Another think Harper loves is taco bites. You can fix those ahead of time as well!

  33. Your rotation looks so much like ours. We also add in quesadillas and a few times a month we do "Taco Tuesday" which my daughter loves because she helps set everything up. On those nights she'll eat veggies, beans, avocado, cheese, etc while we're prepping all the toppings for our tacos. She's not a huge fan of meat, but will eat sauteed sausage most of the time. I just take it out of the casing and crumble it while it cooks. I love all the other suggestions on here! Thanks for this post, we need it!

  34. Check out 3 Ladies and their Gent. She has twin girls and a new baby and she is a dietitian. She has a regular post of "Toddler Eats."

  35. Canned sweet peas and black eyed peas are a favorite in our house, and it only takes 3 minutes to dump it in a bowl and microwave it. Our kids also love avocado and it's easy to slice quickly. Also, cheese and crackers, PB&J, fruit pouches (if you don't have time to cut fruit), and we occasionally throw in a Gerber Graduates Lil Entrée if we're SUPER pressed for time. They're kind of expensive, so you probably wouldn't want to do it too often, but they are perfect for emergencies... they're healthy and it's a hot meal that's ready in 30 seconds!

  36. We do chicken and rice casserole once a week I make on Sundays, chicken meatballs, stuffed shells.

  37. Mannlymama dot com - click on kidlet dinners in the top menu bar. I also use the Yummly app to collect recipes.

  38. check out she has young kids and great ideas. even hosts a "Toddler meals" link up

  39. Have you tried some simple freezer meal prepping for the crock pot? I tried a few of them a couple of times-- the ones I figured my toddlers would eat and they are a life saver! I prepped all the ingredients in freezer bags on Sundays, just leave to unfreeze the night before and pop it in the crock pot in the morning!

  40. My toddler loves when I make turkey meatloaf cupcakes!

  41. Pinning this for future reference! Lots of great suggestions!!

  42. I would recommend the crock pot too, or casseroles that can be served a few nights. I've seen things online about freezer cooking for crock pot make a bunch, freeze them, then just pick one in the morning and put it in...the whole family could eat.

  43. I would recommend the crock pot too, or casseroles that can be served a few nights. I've seen things online about freezer cooking for crock pot make a bunch, freeze them, then just pick one in the morning and put it in...the whole family could eat.

  44. I did not read all the comments but as a Mom of 3 much older kids and a marriage and parenting counselor, here is my advice...Serve her exactly what you and your husband eat. With my oldest (who is now 18)-- I did what you do...made "toddler/highchair/finger foods" Then one day, I realized that if I want him to be a good eater, I should not offer him baby food. When he was about 18 months old, I stopped. He had what we had and that is how we have done it. All 3 of my kids eat pretty much everything and they do not complain. Certainly I would not serve them spicy foods as little ones. But if we have roasted chicken, mashed potatoes and green did they. If we had chili, so did they. Sometimes, they don't like it but I always had one healthy side dish in addition they did like and eventually they liked it all. Congrats on your new little one. He is darling.

  45. Caroline is the cutest little chef. Toddlers really are the pickiest/strangest little eaters! My daughter will love something one day and hate it the next. I wrote about our current favorite toddler meals yesterday so maybe this will give you some new ideas

  46. Sounds like a great menu my friend, you are doing an awesome job!! Little Caroline is adorable x
    We feed Ellie the following:
    Toast, egg, yoghurt, oats and fruit for breakfast
    Cold meats (ham, salami or sausage), salad vegetables (tomato, cucumber, carrots, celery), cheese, savoury biscuits and fruits for lunch
    Cooked meats (chicken drumsticks, mince bolognaise, lamb chops or cubes), cooked vegetables (steamed corn, carrots, green beans, broccoli, squash, potatot or sweet potato) and rice, pasta or quinoa for dinner
    She has biltong, popcorn, dried fruit, yoghurt or biscuits as a snack.
    Have a look on Pinterest friend - there are tons of meal plans that I have helped us.

  47. My favorite two things to make are english muffin pizzas in the toaster & quesadillas. For the pizzas I blend the sauce with a can of mixed vegetables and he can't even taste the veggies are in there. And the quesadilla is also a great place to hide veggies. We typically add in black beans & sauteed spinach along with chicken and cheese. Adorable family!

  48. I'm sure by now you've gotten more than enough suggestions from commenters but adding some of my two cents! we do all the same foods you listed but some other faves are frozen green beans, spinach littles (in freezer aisle), frozen ravioli (freezer stuff is soooo nice to always have on hand!), crackers or pitas with hummus or with cream cheese and jam, we always keep some cooked whole wheat pasta in the fridge so we can throw in a handful with chicken and green beans and a little cheese and call it a baby casserole of sorts, Frozen turkey or chicken meatballs, chicken Or turkey sausages, and lots of eggs and avocados. you're a better woman than me with the spaghetti- I can't bring myself to clean up tomato sauce covered toddler/highchair very often, especially during work week! Ha!


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