Nutritious Toddler Meals

21 Mar

My girls are just under 20 months old now. They’ve always been good eaters but only really liked a handful of things. To be honest, they more or less eat the same thing every single day. I find it incredibly boring but they don’t seem to mind so I’m rolling with it. There are bigger fish to fry, yah know.

Also, they aren’t really that interested in food at the moment. Exploring the big world around them is so much more interesting which means that I have to box wisely when I do feed them something.

Since  I first fed them solids, I’ve always been very concerned about getting good nutritious stuff in them. I am by no means a guru in this department but I feel like I’ve got some tricks up my sleeve that I can share with you.

 Before we dive in I should just say a few qualifiers about my baby/toddler food philosophy:

1) Nutrition comes first, always.

2) Always make as many ingredients of your child’s food as possible instead of buying store bought options. It’s worth the extra few minutes of time and effort. (eg: make pizza bases, make your own baby puree – you get the picture)

3) Hide or add as much goodness as possible to each tiny meal.

4) Accomplish goal 1 & 2 in the simplest and most time efficient way possible. (If you’re expecting fancy toddler meals you’re going to be disappointed. I’m all about simple nutrition, especially those that take the least amount of time to fix.)

5) Make in bulk as much as you possibly can.

I think that pretty much sums it up.

So here we go. For months- and I mean for like 9 months- my girls literally ate these exact meals every. single. day.

Breakfast: Oatmeal (real, not instant) with a mashed or puree banana, a big tablespoon of natural peanut butter, 1/2 tsp of honey & a little milk to thin it out.

Lunch: Scrambled eggs with spinach or cauliflower puree mixed in, whole wheat screw pasta & a few slices of cucumber.

Dinner: Plain yogurt & a slice of rye bread with cream cheese.

Snack #1: Fruit slices or raisins & pretzels

Snack #2: Fruit smoothie or green smoothie & peanuts

So that’s what they’ve eaten for ages now. Below are some variations & other meal options that have been a big hit (some days) as well as some notes about food prep.

Variations- Oatmeal with…

  • mashed banana, honey, ground almonds & cinnamon
  • coconut flakes, milk & butter
  • apple puree, cinnamon & brown sugar or xylitol
  • fruit puree & ground pumpkin seeds
  • fruit puree with any ground nut or seed
  • 1/2 oatmeal, 1/2 pureed brown lentils with fruit puree and ground nuts or seeds (My girls looooooved this variation for months. You can’t even taste the lentils & you’re packin’ in the protein at the same time!)
  •  natural peanut butter, coconut milk, cream cheese & honey.

 Options– Breakfast

  •  Scrambled eggs (with spinach or cauliflower puree) & fruit chunks
  • Yogurt with cottage cheese, fruit puree & ground nuts or seeds
  •  Homemade banana bread with natural peanut butter on it
  • Biltong & fruit (biltong is basically what Americans call ‘jerky’ except biltong is made fresh and is a.m.a.z.i.n.g)
  • Power smoothie- oats, banana, natural PB, milk, whey protein

Options- Lunch/ Dinner

  • Macaroni & cheese with cauliflower & cheese sauce
  • Cheese cubes, honey glazed carrot sticks & pasta screws/spaghetti
  • Fish cakes
  • Mini meatballs & spaghetti
  • Finger vegetables (cucumber, peppers, carrots, celery-whatever) & dips (PB, Humus, Cream Cheese)

Options- Snacks

  • Whole wheat crackers with natural peanut butter
  • Apples or carrots dipped in natural PB
  • Biltong
  • Granola bars
  • Cinnamon baked apple slices

Food Prep Notes

  • Bulk oatmeal can be made in a pot on the stove,  frozen in portion sizes and then reheated when needed. It can also be cooked in the microwave with water for a few minutes each morning.
  • It’s a huge time saver if you can make everything in bulk one afternoon a week. Take an hour while the kids are asleep, grind a bunch of nuts and seeds (takes 2 minutes) and puree a bunch of fruit. Then you have that extra bit of goodness to pop into just about any meal. The fruit can be frozen in ice trays and popped out whenever needed.
  • Banana bread can also be frozen. When you do make it, after it’s cooled down set aside a few slices for today and tomorrow. Slice the rest up, put it into a zip lock bag and pop it into the freezer.
  • ALWAYS KEEP PUREED OR FRESH SPINACH HANDY! Seriously, this is one of the easiest ways to add a tons of goodness to a simple meal. It is also a big comfort to me to know that I’m getting my kids an extra vegetable that’s very nutritionally dense  that they wouldn’t otherwise eat. So right before you sit down to check your email, turn on a burner, fill a pot with water and put a steamer full of spinach on top of it. Set your timer for 15 minutes- go check your email- come back and puree. When you make scrambled eggs, use 1/2 cup of spinach puree for every 6 whole eggs and add a little milk. Simply beat the puree in with the eggs before transferring to the pan. Scramble like normal. Boom. Two minutes of effort and so much goodness for your littles!
  • Similarly with macaroni and cheese- make noodles like normal. Turn a burner on medium, melt a bunch of cheese, add a little milk, stir in 1/2 cup of cauliflower puree and presto! You have a nutritious sauce for your noodles.

Obviously, you can serve any of these meal any darn time of day you want.

Some of you may be thinking, that’s great but… ‘how do I get my child to eat in the first place’? Honestly, I’m not really the right person to be asking since my kids have always been decent eaters. All I can say though is that no child has ever died from being offered food & choosing not to eat it. If my girls don’t like what’s being served for that meal, they wait until the next one. Stay strong moms & push through!

If you have any other questions, please just give me a shout. Like I said, not a guru, just another Mom trying to grow my littles as best as possible. After all, that’s all that us Mother is trying to do.


6 Responses to “Nutritious Toddler Meals”

  1. Jo March 22, 2012 at 6:00 pm #

    Hi! My friend Claire Draper sent me your blog address – I am currently 15 weeks pregnant with boy/girl twins! I have enjoyed reading some of your archived posts, especially the tips for being pregnant with multiples. I have 2 boys already who are 3 and 5, and this pregnancy is way different! I think your girls are gorgeous, and I look forward to reading more about what its like to have 2 toddlers around!
    ~Jo Bach (Cape Town)

  2. ruthjopson March 24, 2012 at 11:11 am #

    Hi Jo! I’m so pleased that Claire passed my info on to you. We twins moms must stick together. You can find me as a friend of Claire’s on FB and message me anytime if you have questions. Don’t listen to what anyone says- twins are such a blessing! It’s tough work sometimes but you’re going to have a blast:)

  3. Natalie March 24, 2012 at 2:05 pm #

    Great tips Ruth! Thanks!

  4. Cara (Twinthusiast) March 28, 2012 at 4:12 pm #

    Great list, Ruth! I’ll have to serve up those eggs after reading my girls some Dr. Seuss!

  5. Cara (Twinthusiast) March 28, 2012 at 4:13 pm #

    Great list, Ruth. I’ll have to serve up those eggs after reading my girls some Dr. Seuss!

    • ruthjopson March 28, 2012 at 8:18 pm #

      I also love that this recipe goes perfectly with that book! It’s that extra little nudge if your child has an hesitation about them:)

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