Mealtime has always been a bit of a struggle for me. Is she getting enough? Too much? I thought solid foods sounded like a dream. I was wrong. All new set of stress. Can she eat that? Is that piece too big? Is she full? Why is she throwing that at me?
I am working on my issues with the above. But one thing both my husband and I knew we wanted was a happy, healthy eater. I see kids all the time filling up on snack foods and skipping dinner, refusing vegetables and fruits, etc. We decided early on that we were going to give her the best possible start and be guided from there. If she hates tomatoes in a year, I will not make her eat them. If broccoli isn’t her thing (which would be insane because she cannot get enough now!) then we will replace it with squash or cauliflower. There are so many options out there, it boggles my mind when I hear phrases like “”my kid hates vegetables.” Um, all of them? Are you sure? (Though I am sure there is that kid out there, and I think my brother is one of them!)
We believe in our household in eating healthy and as fresh as possible. This has been dubbed “Clean Eating” but growing up with grass-fed beef, a vegetable garden, an apple orchard, etc. this was just called eating. I try to stay as organic as I can (I have the “Dirty Dozen” list on my phone so I can be prepared in the grocery store). But even more then organic I worry about unnatural, and unnecessary ingredients. Peanut butter for example, I had a hard time finding one that didn’t have added sugar. And that is including the organic brands. (My personal motto: Just because it is organic, doesn’t make it healthy.”) I look for food dyes, preservatives, etc. We try to stay away from too much precooked, prepackaged foods that contain a ton of sodium. Now don’t get me wrong. Come to my house and you will see candy and ice cream and high fructose corn syrup. We eat it, in moderation. But when it comes to our babe (and ourselves!) we try and be as conscience as possible.
Being a working mom I have to be creative. I honestly do not have the time (nor the desire or the freezer space) to make a ton of different beautiful meals in small portions and freeze it all. I turned to the internet to give me some ideas and I was surprised at the lack of ideas I was seeing. They either seemed pretty unhealthy, pretty standard or too complicated to whip up in the evenings. I have been trying to come up with some fun new ideas and let our lil babe explore some new items, textures and combinations and she comes more and more a toddler. Here are some daily menus around here.
Frozen waffle or pancake (both whole grain from Whole Foods) with a thin layer of jam or peanut butter
Plain Greek Yogurt: We tend to mix in our own fruit to avoid added sugar (and she loves the slightly bitter taste)
One of the above (or more) is always served with some sort of fresh fruit, oatmeal or applesauce.
Sandwiches (slightly toasted because we are good like that): Peanut Butter and Jelly (classic), Peanut Butter and Banana, or a thin layer or cream cheese and some sort of mashable fruit.
Grilled Cheese with Veggies: This is so easy it’s ridiculous. For an added benefit, I heat a little frozen chopped spinach and add it with the cheese. You could also do finely chopped or pureed broccoli, or really any other veggie of choice. Sometimes we even go crazy and add some mashed up avocado. If your child is a bit older, my personal favorite is bell peppers and tomato slices. (When does this become a panini…?)
Lunch is usually served with a fruit or veggie. And usually a handful of Annie’s Cheddar Bunnies is a must! (For me too!)
Raviolis: I buy these from the refrigerated section and throw in the freezer. We really like the organic, all natural one that comes in a few different varieties. Then I can grab a couple, toss em in boiling water and done! We haven’t tried the canned version because this is just pretty darn easy and much less sodium (or preservatives depending on what you are buying).
Fish: Even though it is sofreakingoodforyou, it’s not something my husband and I tend to make for ourselves a lot. Now with the addition of the kid, we have tried to cook some up more often. My dad is quite the fisherman so we always have plenty of home caught fish in the freezer. Again, so easy to throw in a pan, in the oven or on a BBQ.
Easy Casseroles: Our favorite is one from my childhood, vamped a bit. Noodles (cooked) a little cream of something (chicken, broccoli, etc.) soup, milk and broccoli (or any other veggie) mixed together, then sprinkled with bread crumbs and cheese and thrown into the oven for a bit. Add chicken to make it more of a meal. Easy. Done. So many different things you could do with this beyond easy base recipe.
Dinner is also served with a vegetable, usually whatever we are having. This kid LOVES her broccoli and cauliflower! We also love sweet potatoes, different varieties of squash, eggplant, frozen veggie blends (easy to throw into a steamer!).
Snacks/ Meal Additions
Puffs. She loves them. Annie’s Cheddar Bunnies. Fruit leathers (One day I will make these myself!) More fruit, applesauce, etc.
:: A Few Links we Plan to Try :: (Follow me on Pinterest!)
We hear the advice so many times “she just eats what we eat” but that’s not always realistic. Sometimes you need to those easy, healthy go to recipes! We hope we gave you a bit of inspiration to making meal time a bit more manageable with a toddler.
*I in no way claim to be a nutritionist, nor a chef. The above are simply ideas from my family to yours*