Welcome back! It’s time for round two of healthy, toddler approved meals. Yesterday was all about dinner. Today we’re going to talk lunch. I don’t know about you, but when I’m home with Zachary or packing lunch for work, we never eat the same thing. I prepare a bunch of stuff in advance for him and then scarf something down myself. Usually, I don’t eat until after he’s done. That way, I can use the time while he’s eating to do some quick dishes or other tasks in the kitchen. More often than not, it’s some kind of sandwich, salad or frozen pizza, none of which he can have. Sometimes, I only grab a handful of crackers or cookies. And then there are days where I don’t eat lunch at all. At least, that’s how it used to be.
In the spirit of trying to improve our eating habits again, and simplify how much we bought and prepared every week, lunch was as in need of an overhaul as dinner. Additionally, I had to find foods that were not only healthy and all-inclusive, but could also be made quickly and would be able to be packed up. (We always bring our own food for Zach so that we know he’s eating as well as possible. Although, he’s not completely restricted from trying things and sharing whatever they’re eating.) It also needed to be something I could pack for lunch to bring to work.
This one was hard. I mean, really hard. I had fallen into such a rut with preparing him almost the same thing every day because I knew he could get all of his nutrition and it would fill him up. Plus, I knew it was all foods he would enjoy. I had gotten into such a rut with my own foods, as well. I had no idea how difficult it would be to alter my own eating habits. I’ve done it many times in the past, sometimes with great success, but this was different for some reason.
We definitely had a few mishaps along the way with Zachary as well. Apparently, he does not like any type of Miracle Whip or salad dressing that’s anything like it. I tried to make him cold tuna salad and he hated it. At first I thought it might be the tuna so we tried to substitute the tuna with chicken. He loves chicken but we got the same gagging, tongue-clawing reaction. I don’t think I’ve ever seen someone not like Miracle Whip. (Note: We don’t actually use real Miracle Whip. It has a lot of unnecessary ingredients, including sugar and HFCS. We stick to the more all-natural brands if possible, or at least the store brands as they seem to have far less ingredients and a lot less sugars. I know it’s not the healthiest condiment still, so if anyone has a substitute please let me know!)
Below are my top 10 toddler approved meals: lunch! I hope your little guys and gals enjoy them just as much as we do!
My Top 10 Toddler Approved Meals-Lunch
Zachary absolutely loves these meals and so do we. Below is a list of our top 10 healthy, toddler approved meals that we have on a regular basis. Everything in each meal is relatively choke-resistant, can be spiced to your family’s preferences, all healthy ingredients, inclusive of all food groups, and can be fed to a young child who doesn’t yet have the capacity to chew lots of different textures and consistencies.
(Full disclosure: we don’t each necessarily eat everything with each meal. I can’t get Andy to eat a piece of fruit to save my life. But in most instances, we all eat the same meal. Including the dogs who get everything Zach drops on the floor.)
- Grilled Cheese w/fruit and veggie
- Tuna & crackers w/fruit and veggie: Tuna straight out of the can. I don’t do anything to it because he only likes it completely plain. Sometimes I’ll warm it up for him.
- Macaroni-and-Cheese w/fruit and corn
- PB&J w/ veggie and yogurt: I use plain, unsweetened Greek yogurt that I flavor with a flavor oil. We love lemon.
- Cheese & crackers w/black beans and fruit
- Yogurt w/granola oats, fruit and veggie
- PB & crackers, fruit and veggie
- Black beans, cheese, veggie and fruit: Sometimes we use cheddar cheese that I slice into smaller pieces for him. Otherwise, we use string cheese.
- PB & apples, veggie, and Cheerios
- Hard boiled egg, fruit, veggie
Note: we try to use minimal condiments and sweeteners unless they’re 100% natural and unprocessed. We also bake our own bread which we use sparingly, rarely add table sugar to anything, and utilize spices to jazz things up. If you have any questions on cooking times or methods, substitutions, or brands we use please let me know!
Check out the other posts in this series:
Do you have any particular go-to lunches in your family that cater to your unique family situation? What lunches have you found work well for your toddlers? What lunch-time rut have you found yourself in (ours was sandwiches for the adults!)
-To your Better Life-