Coming up with healthy toddler meal ideas after a long day—whether you work, stay home, or do some mix or in between—is a challenge. It's often the time of the day when they need our attention most, yet they also need to eat. (Did someone say hangry?)
These quick toddler meal ideas are quick, easy, and nourishing so that you can get the food onto the table fast. Because yummy toddler meals are often best when kept simple and uncomplicated!
Planning toddler meal ideas—step-by-step
- Consider your child's eating abilities and preferences and adjust as needed. If they're not using a spoon with any accuracy, let them use their hands! If they prefer their meals deconstructed rather than mixed together, serve the food that way. It's okay to be flexible.
- Balance what you offer by including a protein (meat, dairy, nuts, or beans), a complex carb (like a whole grain or a whole grain bread product), fruit, veggies, and some healthy fat. This will help ensure your toddler is exposed to a variety of nutrients and textures.
- Vary the protein to make them vegetarian or vegan as needed. Sub in gluten-free or dairy-free substitutes if there's an intolerance in your house.
- Adjust the produce based on what's fresh at your store and what your kids like.
- Keep it simple! Serving toddler meals does not have to be complicated and little kids often enjoy foods that are very simple and straightforward.
1. Chicken and corn tacos
Rotisserie chicken + thawed frozen corn + tortilla + salsa
Warm all ingredients except the salsa in the microwave for 15-30 seconds. Serve with salsa for dipping. (Trade in cocktail shrimp or beans for a vegetarian option.)
2. Quick pasta and peas
Star or alphabet pasta + peas + butter + Parmesan
Cook pasta according to package, adding frozen peas to the pot during the last 1-2 minutes of cooking. Serve with butter and cheese. You can also do couscous, quinoa, or rice instead of the pasta.
3. Cucumber hummus wrap
Tortilla + hummus + thinly sliced cucumber
Spread hummus and cucumber on a tortilla and roll up or fold. Slice in half to serve. (Flour or multigrain tortillas tend to be softer than corn, which can be helpful for younger eaters.) You can also serve this deconstructed for younger eaters.
4. Quick pizzas
Whole-wheat pita bread (or tortillas or English muffins) + pizza sauce + shredded cheese
Cut pita into wedges and top with pizza sauce and cheese. Heat in the oven at 325 F or in a pan on the stovetop just until cheese is melted.
5. Cheesy veggie toast
Toast + shredded cheese + thawed frozen veggies
Top toast with shredded cheese, thawed frozen peas, broccoli florets, cauliflower florets, or corn, and microwave for 10 seconds to melt. You could also simply serve the veggies alongside cheesy toast too!
6. Quick yogurt parfait
Plain yogurt + leftover roasted squash or sweet potato + granola.
Layer all ingredients in a small mason jar or bowl. Serve immediately. This also works with the yogurt and squash or sweet potato blended together—or with applesauce! (Use a favorite nondairy yogurt if needed.)
7. Tomato and goat cheese shell pasta
Mini shell pasta + halved cherry tomatoes + herbed goat cheese + parmesan + butter
Toss just cooked pasta with halved cherry tomatoes, a dollop of herbed goat cheese, a pat of butter, and a sprinkle of Parmesan. Stir to combine.
8. Apple pancakes
Pancake mix + 1/2 cup grated (drained) apple + nut butter
Add the apple to your favorite pancake batter (add 1 teaspoon cinnamon if it doesn't have any) and cook as directed. Serve smeared with nut butter or a little honey. Toddlers (and big kids) love breakfast for dinner!
9. Fruit and yogurt dip
Low sugar vanilla yogurt (like from Siggis) + almond butter + sliced fruit and veg + graham crackers
Stir together nut butter and honey to make a dip. Serve with sliced apple or pear, squash or cucumbers, and graham crackers.
We love this sort of breakfast-for-dinner as a super quick toddler dinner!
10. Shortcut fried rice
Fully cooked rice + shredded carrots + scrambled eggs + soy sauce.
Soften shredded carrots in very hot water for about 5 minutes. Drain. Scramble an egg, stir in carrots, and serve over rice with a drizzle of soy sauce. (You can try cubed zucchini instead of the carrot and/or add some avocado on top.)
11. Sheet pan quesadillas
Tortillas + cheese + salsa + your favorite spices
Sprinkle cheese over tortillas on a sheet pan. Top with a little cumin and chili powder. Top with a second tortilla and warm in a 375 degree F oven for about 8-10 minutes. Serve with salsa and/or sour cream. You can try adding in some black or pinto beans, shredded chicken, diced shrimp, or diced bell pepper.
12. Deluxe cheese and crackers
Whole grain crackers or snap pea crisps + sliced cheese + assortment of sliced veggies and fruit + beans
Assemble a toddler-friendly snack plate that's a simple assortment of the food groups. You can serve it on a regular plate or in a fun silicone muffin tin!
13. Veggie grilled cheese
Whole grain bread + cheese + roasted mashed sweet potato
Spread the sweet potato on one side of the bread. Add cheese to the other. Prepare normally for a comforting and veggie-packed sandwich. You can also try omitting the sweet potato and add snipped spinach or kale instead. (Or even omitting the cheese and just using mashed sweet potato!)
14. Cheesy scrambled spinach eggs and toast
Eggs + spinach + shredded cheddar cheese + toast
Scramble eggs, add in the peas and cheese when the eggs are almost set. Serve with toast or crackers to round out the meal.
15. Mac and cheese with veggies
Boxed mac and cheese + broccoli or peas + side of fruit
Stir in a little frozen broccoli florets or peas to the pasta for the last minute or two of cooking of a favorite boxed mac and cheese. The kids are usually so excited about the mac and cheese that they'll go ahead and eat the veggies too!
Originally posted on Yummy Toddler Food.