Have you ever wondered if it is actually possible to feed your toddler healthy foods instead of the traditional, processed "toddler" foods? Let me tell you, it is! And it is much easier than one might think. We fell into the food industry's trap with #1. As #1 got older, we got wiser. Although #2 had some of the same packaged toddler foods, we were better at giving age appropriate real foods. And we were practically pros with #3 & #4!
I will add here that it does take a little prep time on your part. So here are some helpful tips that I've picked up to help you feed your toddler and kids healthier foods.
1. Prep foods all in the same day. I do 5-7 days worth of food at once. It will take a few hours of your day, but it will save you time (and giving in to processed foods) during the week.
2. Divide food into the appropriate sized portions. Use whatever containers you have on hand. I reuse jars, I use BPA-free Tupperware, I even use Ziplocs (gasp!).
3. Refrigerate a few days worth and freeze the rest. I hate the thought of food going bad before I've had a chance to use it. There have been times that I was so sure we would use all the food up before it went bad- only to have our schedules change, last minute dinners with friends or trips to grandma's house. And to my utter dismay, it went bad!
4. Have a variety of foods available. We taught our kids to "eat a rainbow" everyday. Now they point out if we have missed some vital nutrients! What does "eat a rainbow" mean? Try to eat at least one fruit or vegetable from each color of the rainbow.
5. Don't have time to prep ahead? Just simplify whatever you are having for dinner. Having tacos for dinner? Black beans, shredded cheese, tomato chunks, and avocado pieces make a great toddler meal that they can feed themselves.
TODDLER FRIENDLY FOODS (just a sample):
Breakfast- bananas, scrambled eggs, soft toast with apple butter or pumpkin butter, oatmeal, pancake pieces, cooked apples or peaches, yogurt.
Lunch or Dinner- black beans, peas, green beans, oranges (peeled so it's just the pulp), cooked carrots, steamed bell peppers, avocado, baked or mashed potato, baked or mashed sweet potato, squash pieces, steamed zucchini, steamed eggplant, homemade refried beans, stewed tomatoes.
Quick Snacks- soft fruits, any of the prepped veggies, cheese pieces.
We often think there are only a few foods that we can feed our little ones. But they are developing taste buds and now is the perfect time to introduce them to a variety of fruits and vegetables. Protein can come from different sources- not just meat! It really is possible to have well-fed toddlers without ever purchasing Cheerios, puff snacks or packaged meals. YOU CAN DO IT!