As parents, I think most of us can agree that meal time with kids is not easy. One of the hardest parts can be figuring out what to feed them and trying to give them a variety of foods day to day.
My daughter is 18 months old and she is definitely a picky eater. She is wary of trying most new foods and she does not like to sit down for very long at meal times. Meal time is basically us trying to get as much food down her as we can in the few minutes that she will sit there. If she tries something she doesn’t like, it’s pretty much over at that point. This means I am always trying to think of new things to feed her that taste good and are at least mostly healthy.
Obviously none of us have time to make amazing meals 3+ times a day for our kids, so I wanted to give quick, easy, and healthy ideas to feed toddlers. Remember, this is just a sample to help get your ideas going!
- Toast with butter and jam with fruit
- Plain yogurt with fruit
- Scrambled eggs with cheese
- Pancakes or fruit pancakes (pour pancake batter on to the griddle then add fruit like strawberries, bananas to the side that is up. The fruit gets cooked into it when you flip it. TRY IT!)
- Green smoothies (yes, even kids love green smoothies)
- Turkey sausage with fruit on the side
- Cereal with whole milk (make sure to watch the sugar! Many advertised “healthy” cereals are loaded with sugar, it’s not just the ones that are obvious “sugar cereals”.) Kix are awesome and so are plain Cheerios. My daughter loves Honey Bunches of Oats with Almonds, which is higher sugar than Kix or Cheerios, but still fairly low compared to most cereals.
- Deli meat and cheese roll ups
- Quesadilla on whole wheat tortilla
- Homemade Mac and Cheese (it is just as easy and fast as Kraft, minus all of the mystery ingredients! After noodles are cooked, add a little butter, whole milk and cheese. That’s it!)
- Cottage cheese with fruit
- Grilled cheese on whole wheat toast
- PB&J on whole wheat bread
- Peanut butter and banana
- Pizza bread (whole wheat kaiser roll, pizza sauce, and cheese heated up)
- Veggie biscuits (roll up frozen cut up veggies into biscuit dough, roll in Parmesan cheese and bake)
- Spaghetti with ground turkey or lean ground beef and marinara sauce
- Chicken salad sandwich made with plain greek yogurt instead of mayo
- Ground turkey or lean ground beef taco (I give her everything separate, not put all together as a taco)
- Shredded/grilled chicken
- Chicken, veggie and rice bowl
- Sweet potato or mashed potato
*Kate pretty much eats whatever we are having for dinner-try to have them eat what you are eating! The options here really are endless
Snacks or side dishes:
- Veggies with hummus to dip
- Sliced fruit (strawberries, grapes cut in quarters, blueberries cut in half, apple slices,, banana etc)
- Dried unsweetened fruit
- Green smoothies
- String cheese
- Fruit leathers (100% fruit)
- Yogurt and fruit
- Shredded or cubed cheese
- Tortilla dipped in hummus
- Crackers and cheese
- Cut up avocado
- Cut up tomato
- Honey wheat pretzel twists
Like I said before, the options really are endless and it is best to create healthy meals for the whole family so that your children are eating the same foods as you are! If they are seeing you eat unhealthy meals, that is what they will want also.
Here is a quick sample of what a day for Kate looks like. She doesn’t eat a ton at each sitting, so she eats a lot of times throughout the day:
Breakfast: Toast with homemade jam
Snack: Cut up fruit and yogurt
Before nap time lunch (or breakfast #2 haha): Oatmeal made with whole milk
After nap time lunch: Homemade Mac and cheese
Snack: Green smoothie (she loves these and has one everyday)
Dinner: She eats whatever we are eating. Usually consists of at least a protein and a vegetable
Before bedtime snack: Cereal with whole milk (again, watch the sugar on cereals)
She also snacks on normal toddler snacks like goldfish crackers and pretzels through the day, but I try to limit those. If she is wanting a bunch of snacks I know it is time for her to eat some food. I also do not ever do juice with her. It is just a bunch of unneeded sugar. I also try not to do anything like fruit snacks for the same reason (not that she cannot ever have those things, but I do not keep them in my house).
Remember, it can take up to TEN times before a child will like a new food. If there is something they didn’t like the first time, don’t give up on it!