Whether you’ve got a picky eater on your hands or simply not enough time, it’s all too easy to fall into the routine of feeding your toddler the same meals over and over. However, as your little ones grow, their palates should too! When you consistently introduce ingredients and flavors into your toddler’s diet, new foods become more approachable. When you prioritize healthy ingredients like lean meats and proteins, whole grains, vegetables and fruits, your toddler will not only tolerate them—they may actually begin to enjoy them.
The good news is, serving a variety of meals doesn’t have to be hard! With a little planning, you’ll be able to offer an assortment of nutritious, toddler-approved meals. Here are a few tips to keep in mind while putting together your child’s meal plan.
Tips for making healthy toddler meals
When planning healthy toddler meals, a few simple nutritional guidelines can ensure a well-balanced plate. Look for recipes and meals that include whole grains, vegetables and lean proteins. USDA’s Choose MyPlate offers guidelines for how much of each food group your preschooler should have throughout the day. Avoid recipes and processed meals that include a lot of sodium and refined sugar. In fact, your toddler should not consume more than 1500 milligrams of sodium or 8 grams of added sugar each day.
Keep in mind the time it will take to prepare your toddler’s meals, especially if you have a busy schedule. Take advantage of the weekend (or whenever you find free time!) to prep your toddler’s meals in advance.
Remember that if cooking seems like a time-consuming chore, there are other options available—which is where kids meal delivery services come in handy. Nurture Life offers a wide range of nutritious, freshly made meals that are ready in 3 minutes or less.
Breakfast ideas for toddlers
If your mornings are busy (whose aren’t?), look for simple kid-friendly breakfasts that don’t take long to prepare. There are plenty of recipes available for pancakes and waffles that are healthier than the conventional kind. Look for recipes that don’t call for butter, oil, white flour or refined sugar. Instead, focus on recipes using fruit or whole grains such as oats, mashed bananas and whole wheat flour as the foundation for the batter.
Hungry for other breakfast ideas for toddlers? Try out some of these:
- Yogurt with cereal or muesli and sliced bananas
- Oatmeal with diced strawberries
- Cottage cheese with sliced peaches
- Veggie-loaded omelet or scrambled eggs with whole wheat toast and fruit
- Whole grain pancakes or waffles
Best lunches & dinners for toddlers
Just like breakfast, lunch and dinner don’t have to be complicated to be appealing to your toddler while still wholesome and nutritious. Try mix and matching some of these ingredients for well-rounded toddler lunches and dinners.
- Whole wheat pasta. For toddler lunch ideas, pasta is almost always a hit—easy to eat and even easier to prepare. Look for 100% whole wheat pasta in a shape your child will like, then get creative with adding in a variety of protein and vegetables. For instance, our veggie bolognese includes organic tomatoes, zucchini, carrots, bell peppers and onions.
- Veggie-loaded meatballs. Mix ground beef, turkey, chicken or legumes such as lentils with minced carrots, zucchini or bell peppers for a nutritional boost to kid-friendly meatballs.
- Shredded chicken. Shredded chicken is a great starting point for a variety of toddler meals—think quesadillas with whole wheat tortillas, chicken and veggies, crock pot chicken with tomatoes or shredded chicken in whole wheat pita sandwiches.
- Chicken Bites. For those feeding the pickiest of eaters, try our Chicken Bites with Mashed Yams & Green Beans. We bake antibiotic-free chicken and pair with sweet mashed yams and green beans. This meal can be reheated in a few minutes and introduces new veggies to your little one.
If your toddler is a bit more adventurous with flavors, experiment with different combinations of protein and vegetables. Try salmon with couscous and green beans, falafel with yogurt and diced tomatoes, or baked fish with quinoa.
Tips for feeding picky eaters
If your toddler is a picky eater, don’t fret—there are tips available to help make it easier on you both. When creating toddler meals for picky eaters, start with simple ingredients and recipes, knowing you can always add seasoning depending on how your child responds. If your toddler is already comfortable with seasonings and spices, continue to experiment with different ingredients and take advantage of the fact that your child is being adventurous at mealtime.
When it comes to picky eating, there is no “one size fits all” solution. Every child will respond differently to different approaches. Take cues from your toddler—if they prefer their foods divided up, be sure to separate each component. If they’re comfortable with combined foods, there’s no need to divide. If you’re not sure which your child prefers, start with a divided plate like this one and go from there.
Safe foods for toddlers
As toddlers continue to grow their mechanical eating skills, it’s especially important to keep mealtime safe. Encourage your child to take small bites and to chew slowly and thoroughly. Chop fruit into small pieces and always remove any pits or seeds before serving. Cut round foods—such as grapes and cherry tomatoes—into quarters. Also, make sure your child completes one full bite before starting another.
No matter what your toddler’s mealtime dilemma is, know that Nurture Life is here to help provide nutritious meals that are convenient for you—and delicious for them!