Dinnertime is a great opportunity for the family to unwind together at the end of the day, and it’s only natural to want to please everybody. But when it comes down to it, the last thing you want is to be everyone’s personal chef. Now is a great time to get Baby into the habit of eating what the family is having for dinner because, at this age, she is probably still pretty open to trying new food. Offering different flavors will also help reduce her chances of becoming a picky eater later on.
Recipe for success
You can cut down on indecision when dinner time comes around by making a meal plan before you head out to do the grocery shopping. Recipes that will keep well as leftovers are key to saving time during the busy week. Meals that require little prep (and cleanup) time are also a bonus.
- Stir-fry: This is a dish you can switch up the ingredients to as often as you want, so it doesn’t start to feel repetitive. Alternate protein, vegetables, and sauces for this versatile meal to keep it feeling fresh. Chances are, Baby will take interest in the bright colors a stir-fry offers, making her more likely to try that first bite.
- Chili: Are you a “set it and forget it” type? If so, nothing beats a good chili in the slow-cooker. Toss in some tomatoes, black beans, sweet peppers, and corn so Baby will get some veggies with her dinner. Unless you know for sure that Baby has a taste for spicy foods, if you’re using a seasoning packet, you may want to opt for mild.
- Chicken dinner: A classic, comfort meal that’s sure to please. Serve this one with sweet potatoes and Baby’s favorite vegetable on the side. If you’re using a packaged gravy, choose one that’s labeled “low-sodium.”
- Burritos: For the more adventurous young eater, burritos are a great way to expand her palate. These can be fixed with meat, vegetables, or even just beans and cheese. Serve with diced tomatoes and avocado for some extra nutritional punch.
Whole-grain pasta with turkey meatballs: Despite (or maybe because of) the fact that it takes the better part of the evening to clean up, spaghetti tends to be a huge hit with toddlers. Making a healthy switch to whole-grain pasta, and turkey meatballs for a lean protein alternative, can cut down on any fears you might have that Baby isn’t getting all the nutrients she needs, especially if she is in a phase of picking at her food. At least that way, you’ll know that each of the tiny bites she takes are full of healthy, wholesome goodness. Oh, and wipes for her face and hands are the perfect accessory for this meal.
Keep snacks and meals on a regular schedule, well-spaced so Baby isn’t full before dinner.
Allow some time for her to explore the food before digging into what’s on her plate. It’s normal for toddlers to want to explore their food before taking a bite.
Offer water with dinner as opposed to juice to limit her sugar intake and avoid having her fill up on liquids.