Want fast and fresh food you can feel good about serving your toddler? From instant meals to make-ahead recipes for the whole week, try these quick and easy ideas.
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1. Baked Mini-Omelettes
With all that protein in such a simple and economical package, it's hard to go wrong with eggs for breakfast, lunch or dinner. Especially when you can make a big batch to serve all week long.
To make: Whisk 8 eggs and 1/2 cup of milk together. Pour into a greased muffin tin then add toppings. (Here we used Swiss cheese, cubed ham and chopped tomatoes.) Cook for 12 minutes at 350 degrees F. This recipe yields a dozen mini-omelettes.
Other variations worth trying: Salami with mozzarella cheese and spinach, or turkey with cheddar and finely chopped mushrooms.
2. Cream Cheese Rollups
What toddler wouldn't want to bite into one of these fun little rolls? They're the perfect size for tiny hands, plus the cream cheese offers just enough variation on your typical PB&J to count as a new food adventure.
To make: Use a rolling pin to flatten a piece of regular sandwich bread, slather on a little cream cheese and top with a layer of your toddler's favorite jam. Roll the whole thing up and cut with a serrated knife.
3. Tiny Turkey Meatloaves
Surprise! These bite-sized meatloaves are packed with veggies! That's what makes them so moist, and such a powerhouse food to have on hand.
To make: Using a food processor, combine 1 pound of ground turkey with 1 egg, 1/2 cup of whole oats, 1/2 chopped onion, 1/2 chopped red bell pepper and 1/2 cup of grated carrots. Add 2 tablespoons of ketchup plus a dash of salt and pepper, grinding until everything is incorporated. Fill each cup of a well-greased mini muffin pan to the top and bake at 350 degrees F for 22 to 25 minutes. Makes 24 tiny meatloaves.
When recipes like meatloaf and meatballs call for breadcrumbs, substitute whole oats for added nutrition.
4. 90-Second "Grilled" Cheese Sandwiches
This is your new go-to meal in a hurry.
To make: Slice open any whole-wheat dinner roll, add a slice or two of cheese and broil for 1 minute. Close the top of your roll and broil for another 30 seconds. Voila! A melted cheese sandwich in seconds.
5. Apricot-Almond Protein Balls
With only a few ingredients, you'll have a versatile little dish to fill out any breakfast, lunch or dinner for a full week straight.
To make: Combine 1 cup dried apricots, 1 cup almonds and 1/2 cup whole oats in a food processor. Pulse until the nuts are ground and your mixture starts coming together. Roll into balls and store in an air-tight container for up to 7 days.
This is a great way to introduce toddlers to nuts!
6. Cheesy Cauliflower Bites
These vegetarian patties can be baked or fried, but the ingredients are the same either way.
To make: Mix together 2 cups of frozen cauliflower (thawed, drained and chopped) plus 1 cup of cheddar cheese, two eggs, two slices of finely diced sandwich bread and a teaspoon of basil. Combine everything in a bowl and either form into patties to fry in a pan (5 minutes on each side, medium heat) or fill a well-greased muffin pan and bake for 12 minutes at 400 degrees F.
7. Chia Seed Pudding with Fresh Berries
This overnight pudding makes the perfect breakfast, snack or dinner on-the-go for busy family evenings. Just bring a spoon and food is served!
To make: Combine 1/2 cup chia seeds with 2 cups of milk (coconut, almond or regular milk all work perfectly). For extra flavor, consider 1/4 cup maple syrup and a splash of vanilla. Mix well, cover and refrigerate overnight. Stir thoroughly before serving to work out any lumps and add fresh fruit.
If your toddler doesn't go for this pudding the first time, pour your leftovers (including the fruit) into popsicle molds and serve again the next day, new and improved!
8. Pesto Pasta with Beans
This is another vegetarian meal that keeps for days — and don't underestimate how much kids love the tangy taste of pesto.
To make: Prepare 1 cup of pasta according to the package instructions. Drain, then stir 1/4 cup pesto into the warm pasta. Add 1/2 cup of rinsed and drained white beans and serve.
For an extra kick of flavor, add shaved Parmesan cheese or fresh lemon juice.
For more food ideas your toddler will love, serve up these snacks to keep rumbling bellies at bay. We've got 9 great ideas.
Make these casseroles in advance and the witching hour will become easier to manage. Trust us!