Easy, realistic toddler meal ideas for everyday, busy moms. The best toddler meals for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, plus snack ideas!
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Little J has always been an amazing eater. He likes almost everything we give him. I think one of the reasons he eats so well is that I give him a wide variety of foods. A few weeks ago I was searching on Pinterest for toddler meal ideas, and most of what came up were complicated recipes or clean eating things.
Let’s get real. I am fine serving my son frozen chicken nuggets. If he has some high fructose corn syrup, he’s going to be fine. And I think that most moms are probably with me! So I wanted to share some easy (and real) toddler meal ideas, straight from Little J’s menu, in the hopes that it gives other real moms helpful ideas for more things to feed their toddlers.
I try and give Little J a variety of food groups at each meal. The important ones are proteins, dairy, fruits, and veggies. It’s easy to get carbs and fat in the diet, but you have to consciously decide to give them the other ones. It’s really helpful to have the little plates with the dividers on them. That way you have to have more than just one thing!
So that being said, here are ideas for each meal and snacks!
Breakfast Toddler Meals
Breakfast is easily Little J’s best meal. He always eats a huge breakfast, which is nice because he starts his day off on a good note. He almost always asks for more of whatever I give him. I usually give him a few suggestions for breakfast and then he tells me what he wants. If your toddler can do this, then it’s a great way to give him some independence. For breakfast I usually give Little J milk, one fruit, and a main dish. Some days he gets two different things because he loves breakfast that much and will easily eat it all. Here are some of the things he loves:
- Waffles (usually Eggos) & syrup
- Pancakes & syrup
- Toast & butter/jelly/peanut butter
- Scrambled eggs
- Cereal & milk
- Bagel & cream cheese
- Muffins or toddler muffins
Lunch Toddler Meals
Lunch is sometimes a little harder, but he usually ends up eating all that I give him. For lunch he gets a veggie, a fruit, milk, and then his main dish. Here are some ideas:
- Chicken nuggets & BBQ sauce
- Corn dog & BBQ sauce
- Hot dogs (cut up small) & ketchup
- Grilled cheese
- Cheese or shredded chicken quesadilla
- PB&J sandwich
- Tortellini with butter & parmesan or with tomato sauce
- Macaroni & cheese
- Sandwich with deli meat & cheese
- Peanut butter on crackers
- Cheese & crackers
- Fish sticks
- Scrambled eggs
- Mini pizza rolls
Dinner Toddler Meals
For dinner, he almost always gets what we are having. Sometimes if it’s something like soup he has something else because he’s not quite good enough with a spoon. But usually, he gets whatever we are having, plus milk, a fruit, and a veggie. I’m not going to make a list of dinner ideas because we eat a lot of things!
Fruits and Veggies
One thing that I like to do is give Little J drained fruit cups from the store. It’s super easy to serve him those, and it takes ten seconds of preparation.
For veggies, I use either a steamed veggie, or I microwave a cup of frozen vegetables. Again, super easy and it takes a minute to heat them up. If you need some more ideas on how to get your toddler to eat more veggies, check out this post.
Here are some of his favorite fruits and veggies (also, I know he doesn’t like a ton of veggies yet, but we’re hopeful he’ll like broccoli and green beans one day!):
- Sweet potatoes
- Mixed veggies (frozen and warmed in the microwave)
- Green beans
Okay, so I know you must be thinking, those all sound great, but that’s impossible to do for every meal!
Yes, it is hard. And that’s okay. Not every meal is going to be perfect and have a fruit and a veggie. Sometimes your toddler is going to be the worst and decide he suddenly hates everything on his plate. And in those cases, we usually just leave his plate out (or put it in the fridge) and when he gets hungry, we offer it to him again. I don’t want Little J to become a picky eater, so if he doesn’t eat what is on his plate, he doesn’t get a different meal. And that usually works. Sometimes he’s just not hungry when we eat and he will eat later. But most of the time, he is a great eater.
One last thing. Let’s talk about snacks. Little J loves snacks. We usually give him a little of something in one of his bowls and he will eat it while he plays. That kid loves snacks. Here are some of what we give him:
- Pretzel chips
- Yogurt tubes
- Fruit snacks
- Fruit squeeze packets
- Graham crackers
- Crackers (Ritz or Club)
- Freeze-dried fruit
- Cheese sticks
- Veggie straws
- Animal crackers
- Granola bars
- Breadstick cheese dippers
- Nilla wafers
- Teddy grahams
If you are looking for some healthier snack options, you can check out this post about healthy snacks for toddlers.
Okay I think that about covers it! We also love using plates that separate each food because it kind of motivates me to fill each thing (usually with a main dish, fruit, and veggie). I hope that is helpful! Like I said, not every meal is going to be perfect, and that’s okay. Just keep trying new things, because even if your toddler hates chicken one day, he could love it a few days later. Toddlers are crazy like that. So good luck in your feeding adventure, and I hope some of these toddler meal ideas have inspired you!