Sometimes when we are parenting, we retreat into our own little bubble. When we don’t share what our day-to day activities with our children involve, we do not get new ideas from other parents. Our ideas become stale, and we start to feel alone in this important job.
One area where every parent is different is mealtime. Here I’ve decided to focus specifically on lunch, and on meals that both my toddler and I can enjoy. (I like to only cook once for everyone—no special meals)! Lunchtime with a toddler needs to come together quickly. We are usually playing outside for a good deal of the morning (or at one of our various activities), so, as a rule of thumb, I like to say that toddler lunches should take ten minutes or less to create. I also place a lot of value on nutrition—meals that will keep my little one going throughout the day and expand her love of healthy foods.
Don’t you wonder what other parents do for quick toddler meals? Here are my top ten toddler lunches (that take ten minutes or less). For full disclosure purposes, I’ve included one boxed item and one fast food option (we do this about twice/month).
1. Avocado, Tomatoes, Red Onion and Cucumber
One of my daughter’s all-time favorite lunches is also very basic and filled with whole foods. I simply cut up the ingredients above into little squares (make the red onion a bit smaller). I mix in a tad of olive oil and sprinkle a little bit of pepper or garlic. As it turns out, this lunch is also a great one for adults, too!
2. Stir fry With Pineapples and Walnuts
We throw a cup or two of frozen vegetables into a pan and let it cook for a few minutes. Once the vegetables have warmed, we add in pineapple (canned or fresh depending on what is available) and some chopped walnuts for extra protein. I drizzle low-sodium soy sauce on top, and there you have it—a delicious lunch that my toddler and I both enjoy!
3. Egg Omelet with Cheese and Bell Peppers
I make a two-egg omelet folded with shredded cheese and cut up bell peppers (use a variety of colors for extra nutrients). This is a very quick lunch that my toddler enjoys about once each week.
4. Hummus with Carrots, Tomatoes, and Pitas
You can adjust this one based on which vegetables your toddler likes best. Sometimes we add peppers, celery or cucumbers as well. You can use homemade hummus (which is actually quite easy to put together), but for our ten minute or less meal, just use a delicious premade brand.
5. Cottage cheese with strawberries, avocados and black pepper
This is a variation on my first suggestion, and another family favorite.
6. Cheese Platter
We use cheese cubes (whatever type we have that week) whole wheat crackers, berries, raisins, cucumbers, walnuts or really anything we have on hand.
7. Annie’s Organic Brand Macaroni and Cheese
Mix some peas in there, and it’s a lunch!
8. Chick-fil-a Fast Food Lunch
We limit this to once or twice each month. Luckily, Chick-fil-a has a baked chicken kids meal option. We pair this with the fruit cup and milk for a quick meal in a real pinch.
Last night’s dinner makes a great next day lunch for you and your toddler. Spaghetti and meatballs, a quinoa bake, or some chili- leftovers are the best kinds of lunches!
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