Toddler Dinners: The Balancing Act

I_m_an_adult._What_of_itToday’s Toddler Dinners post comes by request. Teresa taught me the basics of photography a few years ago and I have just adored her ever since. You may have seen her viral post a earlier this year…so yeah..she is amazeballs. Anyways, Teresa is due with a baby girl and sent me a message the other night.

“I am requesting a post! With your toddler dinners (I am obsessed!) … they always seem effortlessly (ha!) balanced. Do you have a mental checklist you’re running (2 fruit, 1 meat/protein, 1 carb) or are you just like…”voila! It happens but I don’t plan it.””

Well the short answer is yes. I shoot for 1 carb, 1 protein, 1 fruit and 1 veggie. Breakfast is usually the slack meal because I can’t come up with veggies every breakfast. I focus on protein and some fat for breakfast for energy. To some, this sounds like a big hurdle but I can assure you it just takes a little thinking. I am no culinary genius. Sometimes protein is cheese cubes and fruit is apple sauce (watch that combo). I just like to have a base line. Don’t think I am thinking about this hours a day or anything. This is designed to be throw together in 10 minutes. It’s why I just keep staples around. So today I thought I would share things I just keep on hand for when you are running in last minute and need fast lunch.

Grains

  • Whole grain pretzel sticks
  • Cheddar bunnies or goldfish
  • Pasta
  • Microwavable rice
  • Frozen waffles
  • Whole garin cereals
  • Cereal bars

Protein

  • Chicken nuggets and fish sticks
  • Cheese
  • Yogurt
  • Black beans
  • All natural hotdogs (Ollie loves the chicken ones from Trader Joes)
  • Peanut butter
  • Eggs
  • Avocados

Fruit

  • Frozen options: pineapple tidbits, blueberries, mangoes, frozen grapes (cut up)
  • Dried options: raisins, tart cherries, crasins, fruit leather
  • Shelf stable: Apple sauce, pouch mixtures (can have veggies in there too)
  • Apples, pears, bananas, oranges, grapes, seasonal fruits

Veggies

  • Pepper slices
  • Baby carrots (steamed for Ollie)
  • Celery sticks (Landon loves celery…don’t ask me why)
  • Steamed broccoli (just a few florets in a glass bowl warmed up)
  • Raw spinach salads
  • Cucumbers

 

One thing I will say is that by living this way for years now, we just have fresh food in the house more often. We joined Papa Spuds earlier in the year and just love it. i always have fresh produce in the house and it makes it so much easier. When we are out of fresh fruit, I feel strange. Making balanced meals has made me balance ours more too.

So how do you balance? Do you want to do better at it?

One Comment

  1. I do the same things – I have a list of “staples” from grain/protein/fruit/Veg that a) I know the kids will eat and b) are easy to have on hand.

    Grain:
    Bread
    Pasta
    Rice
    Noodles
    Crackers
    English muffin

    Vege:
    Carrots (sticks or grated)
    Frozen corn kernels
    Frozen baby peas
    Birdseye frozen “steamfresh” packs
    Home made vege sauce (frozen into individual portions)

    Fruit:
    Anything! My kids eat most fruits – lately, we’ve been getting into the blueberries and watermelon

    Protein:
    Home made and frozen Chicken chunks
    Frankfurts
    Cabanossi
    Shaved ham
    Mince
    Home made meatballs
    Yogurt
    Cheese

    I get organised every other weekend – go to the farmers markets and buy a bunch of fresh fruit, vege and meat, come home and use ALL my pots/pans/oven/slow cooker at once. I prepare things like meatballs, then freeze them in ziplock baggies, indiviual portions from one big batch of vegetarian pasta sauce, crumb chicken chunks, put crackers into individual baggies, make herb and garlic breads to freeze, etc. That way, through the week, when the evenings are crazy, I get home and can (for example) dump some meatballs onto a tray and pop them in the oven, put a packet of sauce in the microwave to defrost and boil some water for pasta. By the time the pasta is boiled, the meatballs are baked, the sauce is warm and a healthy homecooked meal is on the table in the time it takes pasta to cook.

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