It's 5:15pm and you have a hangry 13 month old and a dinner-clock that's TICKING. Any plans you had for preparing a hot meal for your family got derailed by the dryer repair guy coming today. You text your spouse to pick up takeout on the way home, but what are you going to feed this baby?
It's Saturday morning and your pantry is nearly bare. You're headed to the grocery store first thing after breakfast, but what will you offer your bed-headed 2 year old to eat in the meantime?
Whether the day just got away from you, you're running low on supplies or - like me - you just can't seem to get it together with meal planning, know that healthy meals for your baby and toddler CAN be simple. Here are 12 foods to keep on hand for kid alternatives to the drive-thru line plus ridiculously simple meal ideas for preparing them.
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12 BABY + TODDLER Foods To Keep On Hand:
If your kiddo doesn't like one brand, try another! We've found that our family likes Dr. Praeger's best.
You can, of course, substitute fresh fruit in many of these meal ideas that follow but the day or two before grocery day, we tend to run low on produce so I keep some frozen fruit in the freezer.
Cheerios are made with whole grains, have only 1 g of sugar and contain no artificial ingredients so I count them as "healthy" in the breakfast cereal department (and one of my most trusted resources for healthy eating, Lisa from 100 Days of Real Food lists them as one of the better choices of cereals).
Meat was omitted from this list only because it's not quite as "easy" as these other foods to prepare. But keeping some frozen rotisserie chicken, ground beef or other easy-to-chew meat on hand would increase the healthy options once your kiddo has the chewing skills for meat.
Ridiculously Simple, Healthy Meal Ideas
Nearly all of these foods can be offered (in some format) to babies at any stage of eating. The cheerios may need to be crumbled finely on yogurt for a baby eating solids or milk-soaked for a baby not yet ready for crunchy foods. This article outlines my Fast Track To Solids approach to progressing baby from purees to table foods in a baby-guided, developmental progression. And if you're curious about introducing allergens like peanut butter and eggs, here's an article for you.
Scrambled eggs + fruit smoothie (yogurt, frozen fruit, spinach + milk or milk alternative)
Cheerios + peanut butter smoothie (banana + peanut butter + spinach + yogurt + ice + milk or milk alternative)
Hard-boiled eggs + "refried" beans
Toast + "refried" beans
Toast + avocado
Veggie pattie + avocado
Scrambled eggs with chopped, sauteed spinach + "refried" beans
Yogurt parfait (yogurt with thawed fruit + crumbled Cheerios)
"Refried" beans with chopped, sauteed spinach mixed in + avocado (add shredded cheese if you're got some)
Veggie pattie + fruit yogurt (thawed frozen fruit + yogurt + avocado + dash of milk or milk alternative in food processor)
Peanut Butter Banana Bites (slice banana lengthwise and spread thin layer of PB between halves, create a PB Banana sandwich, then slice in to thin rounds and quarter those)
Peanut Butter Cheerio Bites (spread a small dollop of PB onto Cheerios - isn't that what the hole is for?!) + thawed fruit
Peanut Butter Toast + fruit
There are probably dozens more ways to combine these 10 foods to make easy, healthy meals but these should get you started!
**Obviously your family's food choices and/or food allergies in your child may take some of these options off the table. They are intended as suggestions only. Use the ones that work for you and skip the rest.
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