Today I have a guest post from the lovely Emma from Easy Toddler Food. Emma’s blog is full of great meal ideas for toddlers and I love her healthy and practical approach to food. Thanks so much for sharing your fantastic tips with us Emma!
I’ve lost count of the amount of times I’ve gazed into my pantry or fridge with a feeling of dread as that all too familiar cry rings out from below, “Mum, I’m hungryyyyy!’ Hence why I decided that I was going to make toddler food EASY. I wanted to be more organised but also needed something that I could serve then and there with as little prep or cooking time as possible.
I won’t pretend to be amazing at breakfasts or deny that we subscribe to the weetbix, porridge, toast formula. Luckily I’ve a few tricks up my sleeve to make the same old stuff seem like new stuff every day!
In Summer we gravitate toward Weetbix or Cheerios with yogurt and fruit. Colder mornings and throughout winter – we love porridge!
Do your kids go blah at the consistency of porridge? I once lied to my son and told him it was a cake-mix for breakfast. I have never had to convince him again.
My biggest tip with porridge is to make it using almond milk instead of cow’s milk – buy this at the shops right near the long-life milk. It has a lovely natural sweetness and you won’t need to add any sugar or honey to the dish once cooked. We serve our porridge with a sprinkle of cinnamon and some fruit – pictured above – with strawberries & blueberries.
Keep the variety of fruit and yogurt interesting. You can add a sprinkle of milo too (or actual sprinkles as was the case in my house one desperate morning).
I also suggest that you offer the kids some of what you’re having if it differs from them (unless its chocolate of course!) Even the fussiest eaters may surprise you in the morning when they ‘break the fast’.
My eldest toddler has recently started 3 year old Kindy and this has opened up a whole new world of easy toddler lunches to me. The kids share fruit & crackers for morning and afternoon tea, with lunch in between. All the lunches are kept refrigerated until then so I always pop in a yogurt for him.
This is standard, except the carrots – they’re a bit fancier than usual as these ones were left behind by the Easter Bunny!
1 x Squeezie Yogurt
1 x Kiwi Fruit, peeled and diced
2 x Flash carrots
1 x Cheese biscuit
3 x Cherry Tomatoes
1 x Wholemeal Pita Pocket with Vegemite & Grated Cheese
Small pack Australian Sultanas
And water is the only drink allowed. No different from most days at home actually.
Here is an easy lunch that was very popular with my boys.
It may look a little fancy but trust me, its very deceptive!
Vegemite and ‘Flat’ cheese on Wholemeal (In our house, ‘flat’ cheese is what we call processed cheese, or Kraft cheese singles)
Lebanese Cucumber Sticks
Halved Grape Cherry Tomatoes
Half Hard Boiled Egg
1 x Pig-in-mud (pre-made!) with my EASY 3 ingredient shortbread recipe.
I posted this one a while ago but I have replicated the dish many times since. It is so easy, what makes it look so appealing to toddlers is the fantastic colours. You can create this too!
Nutella on Wholemeal
Half Mandarin (lazily peeled – separating it is great fine motor practice for your child)
Half Kiwi Fruit (peeled and sliced)
Half Royal Gala Apple (thinly sliced)
3 x buttered Saladas
The simplicity of this dinner lies in the cooking time required. To boil the kettle is nothing, sausages cook the same time as pasta and a salad can be thrown together in between. I almost guarantee it will take 15 minutes MAX.
Cute pasta called Tubetti (always look for unique pasta shapes in stores which carry specific Italian imported ingredients.)
1 x Chipolata (source these direct from the butcher if you can)
Finger salad of Lebanese Cucumber, Carrot Sticks, Cherry Tomatoes and 1 Mushroom
Cubed Cheese and Blueberries on the side.
I loved the cute side – a bit like the toddler version of the Fruit & Cheese Platter in a restaurant.
Five Tips to Make Toddler Food EASY for you:
- Have a well-stocked fruit bowl with lots of variety. You don’t have to break the budget to do so. $5 for a pack of blueberries is less than a Happy Meal and the nutritional value is tenfold. (more like one millionfold).
- Use fresh bread and alternate between white, wholemeal, wholegrain, rye, Turkish bread, baguettes, dinner rolls, wraps, pita pockets and more. Buy bread from the bakery instead of the supermarket. If the bread is different, it doesn’t matter if the filling is always the same.
- Have a good variety of biscuits in your pantry. They are the easiest thing to hand out to grazing toddlers but make sure they aren’t all sweet. We tend to favour the following: Arrowroots, Gingernuts, SAO, Salada, Cruskits, Plain Rice Crackers, Seaweed Rice Crackers, Cheds, and Shapes.
- Lots of different veggies – again with the variety. You may need to offer a vegetable more than 5 times before your child even tries it – PERSIST! Also make it easy for them to eat – i.e. keep it finger food sized and keep each veggie separate – this really helps ease their frustration when trying to differentiate them.
- Low GI. Now I’m not suggesting you put your child on a diet, but be aware of snacks and foods with a low GI which will keep them fuller for longer – you’ll benefit by having less whining to listen to! Yogurt is fantastic as a low GI food, but you can also do peanut butter in celery sticks, homemade hommus & crackers (try beetroot hommus as a sweeter version that kids love), nuts if your child eats them, and the aforementioned fruit.
Thanks so much for sharing your great toddler meal ideas with us Emma.