This week, Kristen Carli of @kristen.carli, MS, RD, shares her favorite toddler-approved foods to prepare in advance for her little one.
As a busy working parent, there is nothing more stressful than coming home from work and scrambling to get dinner on the table for a screaming toddler. Since my toddler happens to go to bed super early, way before my husband and I are ready to eat dinner, I often don’t have a meal already cooked.
The best solution I have found for this predicament is to batch cook toddler-friendly dishes over the weekend to keep in the fridge for quick access during the week. The following are a few ideas that are incredibly easy to prepare, toddler-approved, and hold up well several days in the fridge.
Wash & Slice Fresh Fruit
Probably the easiest of them all is this tip: washing and slicing fresh fruit. If you have kids, you’ve probably already noticed how much fruit they can eat. I sincerely struggle to keep enough fruit on hand for my toddler. Bananas, blueberries, raspberries, strawberries, plums, watermelon, you name it; he will eat handfuls and handfuls of fruit each day.
By keeping a stash of fruit already washed and sliced in the fridge, you can quickly throw together a fruit plate while you reheat the other components of the meal. Trust me, while this hack seems so minimal, it will save you from many toddler tantrums.
Muffins & Pancakes
I love making baked goods over the weekend! Not only is this fun for me, it’s nice to have prepared muffins or pancakes at-the-ready for toddler meal time. In our house, I prepare Kodiak Cakes protein pancakes on a weekly basis. I usually will bake these on a sheet pan and cook them in the oven. Once they are done, I slice them into squares and store them in an airtight container in the fridge. For breakfast, I pull out a few pancakes, break them up into pieces, and serve them to my toddler while I enjoy my coffee.
Roasted or Steamed Veggies
I’ve found that the best way to encourage my child to eat vegetables is to roast or steam them. This is mainly because most raw veggies can be a choking hazard due to their texture. However, roasting and steaming veggies can also help to enhance their flavor.
I like to roast up a batch of my toddler’s favorite veggies every weekend and store them in an airtight container in the fridge. Alternatively, I’ve found that my kiddo really loves steamed asparagus or peas dressed simply with olive oil, salt, and pepper. Having either of these prepped and on-hand ensures that I can successfully serve veggies at meal times.
Pasta & Store-bought Sauce
Lastly, one of my frequently prepared meals I serve my kiddo is simple pasta and store-bought sauce. Whether it is served with marinara sauce, pesto, or something more elaborate, my child loves pasta. I love to boil a pound of chickpea pasta or whole wheat pasta noodles each weekend, toss it with the sauce, and store it in the fridge. Then, when it comes to meal time, I can quickly reheat the noodles, before serving them.