Monday, June 23, 2014

Toddler Meal Ideas

What do I feed my kiddos now that we've surpassed the stage of purees and bottles every three to four hours?  I hadn't a clue where to start.  As a dietitian, I meal plan on a weekly basis, and have been doing so for almost 10 years. When the girls started eating solid food on a regular basis it clicked for me - why couldn't I do the same for them?  

I quickly became super interested in these toddlers and their eating habits and started the WE EAT series on my personal blog over at 3 Ladies and Their Gent. I wrote this list of breakfast, lunch, and dinner meal ideas a few months back and still frequently visit back for reference when I'm meal planning for them every week. I hope you all can find it helpful!  

Feel free to contact me with any questions! 

At 12 months old my girls started eating regular meal times- three meals and three snacks a day.  Like every new parent, I was super concerned whether or not the girls ate enough at a meal or throughout the course of a day.
Daily servings for toddlers
  • Fruit 3-4 servings a day: fruit- 1/2 to 1 small fruit, 2 to 4 tbsp canned fruit
  • Vegetables- 3 servings a day: 2 to 3 tbsp cooked vegetables
  • Dairy- 4 to 5 servings a day: dairy- 1/2 cup milk (whole milk for 2 years or younger) per serving or 1/2 cup yogurt
  • Protein- 2 servings a day: 1 to 2 oz meat, 1 egg per serving, or 4 to 5 tbsp cooked legumes
  • Grain products- 3 to 4 servings a day: 1/2 to 1 slice of whole grain bread; 1/4 to 1/2 cups rice or pasta, preferably whole grain like brown rice, whole wheat pasta or quinoa pasta, or 1/2 cup to 1 cup dry low sugar cereal, 1/4 to 1/2 bagel, 1/2 to 1 whole wheat or corn tortilla
Children catch on fast and they know when to cry, whine or charm their way into a certain food selection. Parker is notorious for this.  If ever its a mealtime when they are trying something new and it isn't up to her expectations, (this is my life..) she gets pretty upset and refuses to eat.  Jolie is typically less picky and will try everything.  Once Parker sees her sister eating, she will often try several bites before deciding she's done.  I do my very best to offer well-balanced and nutritious meals and healthy snacks- and the occasional convenience mixed in here and there- letting the my girls eat or not eat the amount of the food offered. Children often need to be exposed to the same food many times (10-20 times) before it is accepted.  Reinforcing the importance of regular meal times and healthy food choices help to mold good eating habits formed early in life.
I have found that meal planning for the girls, just as I do for Jordan and I, has been incredibly helpful in forming my grocery list and planning and preparing meals ahead of time when I can.  It also provides a no-brainer explanation when it comes to feeding the girls when I am not home with them or we happen to be out and about.  
A typical meal plan for Parker and Jolie (has been about the same since 12 months) 
Breakfast (7:30-8am): mini waffles with peanut butter (4 mini waffles, 1 tablespoons peanut butter), 1/2 slices banana, 1/2 cup organic whole milk 
Snack (9:30am): 1/2 cup whole milk Greek yogurt or fruit pouch 
Lunch (12-12:30pm): 1.5 ounces diced deli turkey, whole milk mozzarella string cheese, sliced grapes or strawberries OR 2 tablespoons guacamole spread on whole wheat pita bread, mandarin oranges 
Snack (2:30pm): whole grain goldfish, fruit pouch, multi-grain Cheerios, graham bunnies (Annie's), veggie stix 
Optional Snack (5pm): apple slices, multi-grain Cheerios, veggie stix 
Dinner (6pm): turkey meatballs, cheesy broccoli OR scrambled eggs with cheese and turkey dogs OR baked chicken nuggets, baked sweet potato fries, steamed carrots with a little butter OR whole wheat pasta, red sauce, and chicken or turkey sausage OR whatever we are eating that night (casserole, etc.)
The things on this 'toddler menu' is usually on repeat in some sort of fashion every single week.  For the most part the girls eat the same breakfast on most mornings.  They love the mini waffles and peanut butter.  Would probably eat them every meal if I let them.
Toddler Breakfast Meal Ideas:
  • Mini waffles with peanut butter and sliced banana
  • Whole cooked oats mixed with whole milk yogurt and a little brown sugar, blueberries/strawberries.
  • Mini Banana Pancake Muffins (recipe here)
  • Whole cooked oats mixed with mashed banana, and a dash of cinnamon
  • 1/2 English muffin, 2 teaspoons peanut butter, sliced berries
  • Scrambled eggs with spinach and cream cheese (1 whole egg, 1 tablespoon cream cheese, 2 tablespoons chopped organic baby spinach), whole grain toast with strawberry jam
  • Cheesy Scrambled Eggs (1 whole egg, 1 tablespoons whole milk shredded cheddar), 1/2 cup organic whole milk yogurt.
  • Mini Omelet Cups (I make these in bulk and freeze them for later use)- 8 whole eggs, 1/2 cup whole milk, shredded cheese, veggies and meats of choice.  Bake @ 350 degree in a mini muffin tin for 25 minutes.  
  • 1/4 cup Cheerios (we do the multi grain), 1/4 cup diced melon (cantaloupe), 1/2 cup whole milk yogurt
  • Fruity cream-cheese pinwheels (Spread low-fat cream cheese on a small whole-grain tortilla. Top with sliced fruit. Roll up the tortilla, and then slice into “pinwheels.”)
Smoothies (makes 2 (8-ounce) smoothies)
  • Morning Glory Smoothie ( 6 organic baby carrots, 1/4 c 100% pear juice (such as Gerber brand), 1/2 c frozen pineapple, 2/3 c vanilla Greek yogurt, 1/4 c frozen mango)
  • Banana Split Smoothie (1 c frozen strawberries, 1/2 frozen banana, 1/2 c low fat chocolate milk, 2/3 cup vanilla Greek yogurt)
  • Berry Berry Green Smoothie (1 c loosely packed organic baby spinach, 1 c frozen mixed berries, 1/2 c vanilla Greek yogurt, 1/2 c whole milk)
  • Life's a Peach Smoothie (1/2 c frozen peaches, 1/2 c frozen strawberries, 2/3 c vanilla Greek yogurt, 4 fresh basil leaves)
  • Love A'cado Smoothie (1/4 ripe avocado, 1/2 cup organic baby spinach, 1/2 cup frozen mixed berries, 1/2 c frozen mangos) 
Toddler Lunch/Dinner Meal Ideas:
  • Alfredo Veggie Pasta (frozen mixed veggies (broccoli, carrots, cauliflower, green beans), whole wheat tube pasta & homemade Alfredo sauce- recipe here) with mandarin oranges (canned in juice)
  • Baked chicken nuggets (all white meat), 1/2 cup chopped broccoli with American cheese, strawberry slices
  • Guacamole (recipe here) on whole wheat pita bread, sliced green grapes
  • Baked fish sticks, 1/4 cup steamed butternut squash, 1/4 cup chopped broccoli
  • Grilled cheese (American 2% cheese slices, whole grain white bread), Veggie Stix, peaches (canned in 100% juice)
  • Creamy Tomato & Sausage Tortellini (recipe here), 1/2 c sliced pears (canned in light syrup)
  • PB&J on whole grain white bread, sliced apple sticks (no skin), 1 cutie orange
  • Beef Stew (recipe here), whole wheat egg noodles, cinnamon applesauce pouch
  • Turkey Dogs and Cheesy Cheddar Scramble, 1/2 c sliced peaches (canned in juice)
  • Deli turkey meat (Boar's Head), cheesy broccoli rice (Green Giant steamer bag), mango applesauce
  • Mexican Egg & Refried Bean Tostadas (3 whole eggs, splash of whole milk, diced tomatoes, onions, sweet peppers- spread fat free refried beans on a corn tostada, top with egg mixture and serve with cheese and plain Greek yogurt), sliced green grapes
  • Veggie Burger (brown rice), sweet potato hummus (blend together: baked sweet potato, skins removed, 2 tablespoons tahini paste, 1 teaspoon cumin, 1 teaspoon minced garlic, 1/4 tsp kosher salt), 1/2 c blackberries
  • Cheese Broccoli Quinoa (recipe here) with rotisserie chicken (white meat), 1/4 cup steamed carrots, apple sticks
  • Turkey Meatballs (recipe here), cheesy veggies (Green Giant steamer bag), fresh mango slices
  • 2 ounces deli turkey or ham (Boar's Head),  5 whole grain crackers, whole milk mozzarella string cheese
  • Turkey Sausage Alfredo Pasta (homemade Alfredo sauce- recipe here- lean turkey or chicken sausage, whole grain/wheat tube pasta),  steamed broccoli, sliced grapes
  • Mini Egg Frittatas with deli ham and hash browns (recipe here)
  • 2 oz Deli turkey, 1 oz sharp cheddar cheese cubes, 1/2 c mandarin oranges (canned in juice), 1/4 c steamed peas
  • 1/4 baked sweet potato, 1/4 c shredded rotisserie chicken, 1/4 c melon
  • Bean burger (recipe here), 1/4 c cubed avocado, 1/4 c blueberries, 1/4 c sliced strawberries
  • 1 sliced hard boiled egg, fresh veggie sticks (zucchini, squash, carrots), 1 half whole grain English Muffin
  • Curly whole wheat noodles with peas & zucchini in marinara sauce sprinkled with mozzarella cheese, 1/4 cup blueberries, 1 cutie orange 
  • Greek Cous Cous (grape tomatoes, chopped, skins removed cucumber, feta cheese, sea salt an olive oil), applesauce pouch
  • Veggie Quesadillas (white tortilla, cooked sweet peppers, onions, tomatoes, shredded monterey jack cheese- grilled or sautéed until cheese is melty), plain Greek yogurt for dipping, 1/2 c cantaloupe
  • BBQ Chicken Pizza (recipe here), 1/2 sliced strawberries
  • 2 oz Grilled chicken breast, 1/2 c baked sweet potato fries, 1/2 c steamed broccoli with American cheese
  • Mexican Turkey Bowl (1/2 c cooked ground turkey, 1/4 cup black beans (rinsed), 2 tablespoons diced fresh tomatoes, 2 tablespoons diced sweet bell peppers), 1/4 c sliced grapes, 1/4 c blueberries
  • Mini Meatloaf (recipe here)- make and freeze leftovers, mashed potatoes (boiled red potatoes-skins on-, buttermilk, salt, pepper), steamed broccoli
  • Turkey & Veggie Sloppy Joe (recipe here), 1/2 cup strawberry honey Greek yogurt
  • Broccoli, Chicken & Rice Bowl (1/4 cup brown rice, 1/4 cup chopped steamed broccoli, 2 ounces rotisserie chicken, 2 tablespoons parmesan cheese), applesauce pouch
  • Ham & Cheese Muffins (recipe here) 1/2 c mandarin oranges
  • Pizza Minis (whole wheat pita bread, marinara sauce and shredded cheese) with veggie toppings
  • Hummus Pinwheels (recipe here), sliced green grapes
  • Chicken, Bean, and Cheese Quesadillas (recipe here) with 1/4 cup steamed corn & sliced peaches
There is my toddler meal planning list to start. This list will grow and I will surely update (because I like to look back and while I'm meal planning myself!) I make my meal plan a week ahead of time so that developing my grocery list is super simple and quick.  I make my list from the meal plans (both the little birds and for the adults) and it allows me to manage my budget in such a way to keep it under control.  Going to the grocery store without a list is a terrible habit to allow myself to do.  I would spent $300 and come home with nothing.  We've all been there. 

Be productive, make a list, feel accomplished.

Stay tuned!  Snacks are next!


If you don't follow us on Instagram (Amber: masseya ; Meredith: meredith_haynes), you probably missed the fun that was this weekend with a few of our twin mom friends here in Dallas. (For a full recap of the weekend, check out Amber's blog, HERE).  

We had some tanks specially made for the Twin Mom, and due to the interest, we have decided to open these exclusive American Apparel tanks to our favorite people!  The Official #TWINMOM tank pre-orders begin TODAY!  

The American Apparel Tri-Blend Tank is unisex and runs large (twin moms pictured are wearing smalls and mediums). Order yours today for $28!  

Email and include your desired size and paypal email address.  (The tank will include text on the front only - there is no design on the back.)

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1 comment:

  1. This blog post and the 'we eat' section is definitely my favorite - I feel like I end up feeding my girls the same thing all the time. This will definitely be referenced a lot! I'm curious if you have some good suggestions for some dairy free options. I noticed that you add a lot of either cheese or milk to your recipe's and I'm trying to go dairy free for one of my girls (she might have a lactose intolerance, we're just trying to figure it out!). Anyway, any suggestions would be greatly appreciated - or even a suggestion of a good dairy free cheese? thanks!!