Feeding toddlers can be messy and time consuming. Let these simple shortcuts make your life easier and save you time!
As the weeks tick down, I’m spending a lot of time thinking about what life will look like with two kiddos and my conclusion is, I have no idea. But I do know that anything that makes life easier and saves time on those daily must-dos (like eating, bathing, clothing, etc), I’m all about!
Luckily Hailey’s (2 1/2) meals already come together pretty quickly- usually in less than 5 minutes. Having a hungry toddler around while trying to cook a meal is tantamount to trying to swim across a lake with a screaming 30 pound weight tied to your ankle. It ain’t happening. So, here are my favorite tips for making a healthy toddler meal come together more quickly…
1. Cook one extra the night before. Whether it’s bean burgers, enchiladas, sweet potatoes, spaghetti sauce, whatever, once it’s ready, tuck a little of it away in a container to use the next day for your child. Hailey’s dinners often are a reflection of what David and I ate the night before. When 6:00 rolls around, I’m always grateful to have a main dish ready to go for her, and simply fill in the gaps with simple sides.
Pictured below: leftover turkey burger, edamame, baked sweet potato sticks.
2. Freeze batches of homemade breakfasts. I’m usually an egg person, but whenever I make something like pancakes, French toast or waffles, I make a lot to ensure I have leftovers to freeze. To reheat, I pop them in the toaster and feel good knowing they were made at home with ingredients I trust and that breakfast is ready in 2 minutes.
Pictured below: reheated homemade French toast with maple syrup and banana.
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3. Boil eggs for quick protein. I love that boiling a bunch of eggs before the week begins gives me a quick protein option for any meal that needs it. We eat them for breakfast, mash them into a simple egg salad on bread for lunch or create makeshift deviled eggs to go with dinner (Hailey loves deviled eggs- have your kids tried them?).
Pictured below: Boiled egg with salt and pepper, red pepper strips, cheddar cheese, grape tomatoes with salt and pepper.
4. Mash instead of Bake. We love sweet potatoes. My favorite way to eat them is baked in stick form, but that can take 40 minutes, a luxury I don’t always have. Instead, I’ll save a baked potato from the previous night (or you can nuke one quickly in the microwave) and mash it with a little butter (I prefer Kerrygold) and real maple syrup (you only need a tiny drizzle). I guarantee it will be the first thing to disappear on your toddler’s plate.
Pictured below: Roasted chicken, steamed broccoli and mashed sweet potato with butter and maple syrup.
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5. Use all easy-to-grab foods with a fun dipping sauce. We use cherry tomatoes a lot. A lot. They are so simple and the organic version isn’t too pricey for the use I get out of them. However, sometimes I feel a little bad when Hailey crawls up in her chair and sees the same foods repeated again and again. I solve this by offering a different dipping sauce to liven things up. Our favorites are ketchup (duh), tzakiki, hummus, salad dressing, guacamole, marinara and sometimes a cheese sauce (if I find time to make it).
Pictured below: Leftover chicken, grape tomatoes, chickpeas, green beans and tzakiki sauce.
6. Use straight up leftovers. This one doesn’t take much explaining, does it? Eat and repeat!
Pictured below: Leftover spinach and ricotta stuffed shells and steamed broccoli.
7. Don’t forget about frozen vegetables. I won’t say Hailey eats all organic, but she largely eats organic food. Buying frozen options makes this more doable. I find some frozen veggies get mushy when I try to cook them up fast, so instead I stick to my favorites: frozen edamame, frozen corn, frozen butternut squash (for mashing) and frozen peas. These all reheat in about 30 seconds in the microwave for a healthy, quick side dish.
For more kid friendly recipes and tips for feeding kids healthy foods, visit Munchkin Meals!
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Do you have any favorite tips to share for making meals in a hurry?