A number of you have asked for toddler meal ideas, and I have to say — I’m in your boat. I’m constantly looking for new recipe inspiration for mealtimes. In general, we try to feed her what we’re eating, though that’s not always tenable, as we tend to cook and eat after we put her down for the night, and we don’t always have enough leftovers to stretch a couple of days — and sometimes we eat things we just don’t think we can serve to her, like our go-to homemade beef tacos (too spicy) or my favorite vegetable, broccoli rabe (to bitter). My main philosophy has been to expose her to as many flavors, textures, and tastes as I can, although I struggle to make sure she gets enough animal protein in her diet: it simply requires more forethought and preparation. I’m no expert in toddler nutrition, but I kept track of what I fed mini the other week, and I thought I’d share her meals below in case you find inspiration in them. (When running dry, my mom often has helpful suggestions, too — “peanut butter and banana? grilled cheese?” she offered the other day, and I also find this blogpost helpful.) Please comment with your additional ideas!
Monday Toddler Menu.
Breakfast: Pancakes and halved blueberries. We’ve tried a bunch of different pancake mixes and frankly none of them hold a candle to scratch batter, which we always have the ingredients for anyway, so I think I’m going to start making them myself from now on. If that won’t do, I think Stonewall Kitchen is the best sub — it’s heavily scented with vanilla. (Re: blueberries — I am still overly cautious about dicing up mini’s food into pieces that are pea-sized or smaller. I have no idea where my choking phobia stems from, but I can’t stop myself.)
Lunch: Avocado toast cut into squares; shredded cheese; half a banana.
Dinner: Rice pilaf; sauteed shrimp, onions, zucchini, and garlic; and grapes. I love stir-fries and simple sautees as a way to easily prepare protein and vegetables without a lot of fuss. Shrimp in particular cook super quickly, so you can have the sautee together in a couple of minutes. Rice pilaf takes 20-30 minutes to cook on stovetop, but it’s inactive cooking so it’s not overwhelming.
Tuesday Toddler Menu.
Breakfast: Leftover pancakes, half a full-fat Noosa coconut yogurt, and halved blueberries.
Lunch: Leftover pilaf and shrimp sautee; diced strawberries.
Dinner: Homemade pasta with chicken meatballs and tomato-pepper sauce (leftovers from our dinner last night); applesauce; steamed broccoli.
Wednesday Toddler Menu.
Breakfast: Scrambled egg with everything bagel seasoning on it and some shredded cheese on top (she likes it seasoned!); diced strawberries.
Lunch: Cheese quesadilla; steamed broccoli; half a banana.
Dinner: Dr. Prager’s Fish Sticks; frozen mixed vegetables boiled, buttered, and seasoned with salt and pepper; Fuji apple diced into a tiny size. For dessert: a frozen mango pop. She likes a bite or two, even though she makes a super sour face after each bite owing to its temperature.
Thursday Toddler Menu.
Breakfast: Whole grain toaster waffle with peanut butter; strawberries and blueberries diced up together.
Lunch: Macaroni and cheese; frozen mixed vegetables from last night; diced kiwi.
Dinner: Leftover steak; roasted asparagus cut into coins; oven fries cut into smaller bite-size pieces. All leftovers from our meal the previous night.
Friday Toddler Menu.
Breakfast: Liberte brand baja strawberry full-fat yogurt; diced pineapple; half a piece of rye toast.
Lunch: Peanut butter and jelly sandwich (I make an open-face sandwich and then cut into squares); string cheese; strawberries and blueberries.
Dinner: Leftover macaroni and cheese; leftover asparagus; diced kiwi.
Saturday Toddler Menu.
Breakfast: Half a cinnamon-raisin bagel (given to her whole, to gnaw on); diced pineapple; bites of bacon from dad.
Lunch: Sliced havarti and turkey deli meat; bites of a chicken empanada from the street fair; strawberries and blueberries.
Dinner: “Fried rice” — i.e., I sauteed frozen vegetables with onion and garlic and oil, threw in some leftover rice, and cracked an egg into it. Diced apple for dessert.
Sunday Toddler Menu.
Breakfast: Oatmeal; diced mango.
Lunch: Leftover “fried rice”; string cheese; diced pineapple.
Dinner: Chicken nuggets; sauteed zucchini; shredded cheese.
Toddler Mealtime Gear.
I love these bibs because I find the hard/molded plastic ones interfere with mini’s high chair tray and that she’s awkwardly trying to maneuver around them. You can also wipe the bibs clean fairly easily and throw them in the wash every other day or so to keep them tidy — and, BONUS: since they fold up flat, they take up no space in our limited cabinet space situation, and can be packed easily without adding bulk.
I’m still very impressed with mini’s high chair. It is super easy to clean, lightweight, and transportable — and I like the design!
I own three ezpz minimats, and they are a god-send. Before I bought these, mini’s food would be EVERYWHERE. She’d smear everything all over the tray, off the tray, in her hair, etc. Something about the shape and the compartments keep her focused on eating and prevent her (most of the time) from making a huge mess. (They have a larger size, but the mini size fits on her highchair tray.)
Occasionally, I’ll give her food out of these whimsically printed sectioned plates, though I find she’s more likely to invert the plate all over the place when using them. (So, so cute though!)
We use these Beaba toddler spoons and forks — most of the time, she’s more coordinated using her own fingers to eat, but every now and then I’ll two-time by spoon-feeding her things like couscous/rice with a spoon as well. And, she loves to feed herself yogurt with a spoon, which is a total cleaning nightmare, but she’s got to learn somehow!
I keep bulk dry snacks (like cheerios, goldfish, veggie straws, and crackers) in these lidded jars.
Everyone says that straw cups are better for oral development than sippy cups with spouts, but we must have tried five or six different brands of cups before something clicked when she started drinking out of the Munchkin 360 Trainer Cup, and at this point, I’d rather have a hydrated baby than an “orally developed” one. She also chugs water out of these Philips Avent ones, which are my preferred cups for on-the-go drinking outside the house, because they come with a protective cap. I think you just have to try a bunch until something connects and stick with what works.
I keep Noodle and Boo Ultimate Cleansing Cloths in a drawer right by where mini eats when I need to deep clean her little hands or face — they’re well saturated in cleanser, smell amazing, and have a nubby side that truly cleans in the nooks and crannies of her tiny hand.
On My Mealtime Gear Wishlist.
These sets are also gorgeous, but a bit spend-y.
I don’t know when I’ll give mini an actual cup to drink out of, but she sure loves drinking out of mine these days, and I’ve been thinking about getting some of these eco-friendly Bobo and Boo cups. I also like their simple snack bowls. I often use these small silver serving bowls similar to this to give her goldfish or diced fruit to eat as a snack because mine is unbreakable, so these would be a nice sub.
Mini loves “feeding” her dolls — she has a disappearing milk bottle she holds up to their mouths, and she also loves to use a spoon to “feed” them. I just added this set to my cart and I think she’ll flip. (I also really want to buy her this and this, but I’ll need to find an appropriate occasion — maybe our upcoming trips?)
We finally have an operating dishwasher (HURRAY — after over two months of manual dishwashing and bottle-washing hell!), and I think we need one of these to contain all mini’s bottle parts.
I would love to buy her one of these Oeuf chairs for her toddler table, once she’s old enough to sit in it!
P.P.S. Remember that time I had incredible mom guilt around overfeeding mini pouches? I’m past that mental block now, though I’ll admit it was equal parts owing to minimagpie’s evolution into a very good eater (she tries everything and likes most things) and equal parts owing to my rearranging of my schedule to accommodate more cooking time. I now try to finish up my day thirty minutes before the nanny leaves on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday so that I can cook. I’ve gotten into a good rhythm, using pouches as a back-up when needed.
P.P.P.S. How cute is this set?