Since moving to Texas, we’ve lived something closer to the traditional American family lifestyle than we ever have.
Gabriel often works away from home during the day, and I’m home with the kids.
I suddenly find myself making lunches specifically for my children. Well, when you use only gluten-free recipes, lunch is a little more complicated than slapping some peanut butter on bread. Of course we still made things like toddler cookies to snack on, but I admit that I succumbed to the temptation quell those constant proclamations of starvation with cheap hotdogs for a little while.
I guess, for some reason, without the main dude at home to eat with us, I lost my motivation to spend time over the stove.
But then, my better sense kicked in, and I realized that healthy meals for toddlers needed to be prioritized.
I’m not talking about anything groundbreaking. No kale, or hidden super food.
Just honest-to-goodness, easy-to-make wholesome meals.
Meals that fill the kids tanks, and cover most of the nutritional bases. (any food groups that are left out of these recipes can be made up with a batch of healthy no-bake cookies. 😉 j/k… sort of.)
You may notice that these toddler meals are not necessarily finger foods. Younger toddlers may need more help eating, but we’ve found that toddlers who are introduced mainly to real food, which is soft and squsihy and a little harder to pick up, rather than cheerios and dried yogurt bites, willing and able to learn to use a fork and spoon. 🙂
Healthy Meals For toddlers
This is on that both of my kids and I LOVE, although my almost one-and-a-half-year-old usually disassembles hers, eats the filling before the tortilla, and doesn’t use salsa.
These are great because you can load them up with chopped bits of vegetables for micronutrients, and cheese + beans for protein and fats.
- Corn tortillas (I usually make my own for superior taste, but for quesadillas, I’ve found prepackaged ones to be quite good!)
- Shredded cheese
- Refried beans
- Cooked, shredded chicken, cooked, crumbled ground beef, or other cooked meat (optional)
- Salsa (also optional)
Heat an ungreased skillet over medium to high heat.
Spread beans on one tortilla, Place on skillet, top with cheese (and meat if using), place a second tortilla on top.
Fry until golden brown on first side, flip, and repeat on second side.
Cut into wedges, cool, and serve with salsa.
I know this one seems pretty traditional, but with gluten-free pasta, we have the advantage of serving whole grain rather than empty refined carbs! Be sure to use macaroni, penne, or spiral pasta rather than spaghetti to maximize ease of eating, and minimize messes.
- Brown rice pasta (or your preferred pasta)
- Spaghetti sauce
- Ground beef
- Shredded mozzarella cheese
Cook pasta according to directions.
Brown and crumble ground beef.
Drain pasta, and place back into pan.
Stir in spaghetti sauce and ground beef.
Serve in bowls, and top with cheese.
Boiled Eggs With Ranch
This is one of my kid’s favorite lunches! It’s a heavy hitter on the protein and fat, which means that, combined with a carb like oatmeal, brown rice, or sweet potato, it’s super filling!
- Ranch Dressing
Bring a pan of water to a boil.
Add room temperature eggs.
Bring back to a boil and continue boiling for 9 minutes.
Remove pan from heat, and place in the sink.
Run cold water into the pan until water in the pan is no longer warm.
Continue to let eggs cool in cold water (you may have to replace the water a few times) for at least five minutes.
Crack eggs on the rim of a bowl, and peel.
Cut eggs into “spears”.
Serve with ranch dressing.
Some kids dip French fries in ketchup, others dip eggs in ranch, what can you say?
Loaded Baked Potatoes
This may be a bit more involved, but we love them! Using a microwave to “bake” the potatoes can cut the meal prep time tremendously in a pinch.
- Small to medium potatoes
- Sour cream
- Sausage, ham, bacon, broccoli, cauliflower, spinach, etc.
- Salt and pepper
Bake potatoes until done.
Split in half and scoop out flesh.
Place flesh into a bowl and mash, adding butter, sour cream (or yogurt), salt and pepper as desired.
Stir in cooked meat and/or vegetables.
Re-stuff potatoes skins.
Top with shredded cheese, and place back into oven until cheese is melted.
Cool, and cut into bite-sized pieces before serving to small children.