Vegetarian Meal Ideas for Toddlers

toddler food

toddler foodThis is just my experience and whatever you feel is best for your babes is just wonderful.  I am absolutely not an authority and have no judgment whatsoever about what you feed your babes.  YOU ARE THE BOSS.

I am a first time mom with these two, and just like you, I’m figuring it out as I go.  I try to eat healthy, but I definitely eat crap too.  I’m trying to raise my kids to make good food choices and really let them try everything.  If I ate as well as these babes do, I’d be a supermodel.  But I don’t.  While they are under my (somewhat) control, I will do my best to give them the good stuff.  I try to buy organic and look at labels and try to make the best choices with our options and budget.

My husband is my partner in every sense of the word, and I have not gone grocery shopping since I was about 6 months pregnant with my boy/girl twins (born healthy at 38 weeks via last minute c-section).  He still goes shopping every Sunday with a list I send him and he sticks to it; which is great because I’m an impulse buyer and with money so tight, that would be awful.  He has had to figure out all kinds of weird things, like where are the mangoes and you want bags of dried black beans and really?  COCONUT MILK?  He is a trooper for sure.

I happen to be vegetarian, but my husband is not.  My babes have now had some chicken when we’ve been out at restaurants and I’m not opposed to it, but honestly we don’t have meat in our house very often and they have an extremely well-balanced diet without it.

I work outside the home and we have a nanny and my in-laws watching the kids 3-4 days a week while I work.  I work from home sometimes as well.  I prep and get food ready on the weekends, so most things are ready to go in the fridge for feedings during the week.

I’m going to go through a typical day, but just know that each day is varied, and depends on schedule – whether we are out and about or eating at a restaurant or at someone else’s house – you catch my drift.

6:00 am – Wake up and MILK

I’m still breastfeeding my boy and my girl is bottle fed.  I pumped for over a year for her as she wouldn’t ever latch, but my well is running dry, so she’s on almond milk now.  We only do bottles/breastfeeding in the morning and at night now for comfort, during the day they get milk from sippy cups.  We do almond milk and now are combining that with coconut milk and that seems to be going well.  Mostly they drink a ton of water.  Hydration is so important.  We fill their cups about 5 times a day.

Cheerios and/or fruit and grain bar.  Then they usually go back to sleep for a quick first nap.

At 14-months-old, we are still doing a brunch and a “linner”.  2 meals a day – about 9:30 or 10am and about 2 or 3pm.

toddler food9:30 am-ish – BREAKFAST

I feed them in courses – starting with the stuff I really want them to eat, the nutritious stuff that they might not eat if they were full.  Trickery in this way can be a good thing.  My boy decided early on that he didn’t want me giving him anything from a spoon, so they’ve had finger foods from about 7 months on.  Which, frankly, makes my life easier, and gives them a bit more independence as it means no pureeing and no standing in front of two of them feeding them for an hour.  They can do it themselves!

My babes didn’t dig bananas for the longest time, but they are so good for them AND they wouldn’t take oatmeal from me on a spoon so I needed a solution that would give them the good stuff but in finger food form.

toddler food cookies oat

Oat-banana “cookies”

Oat-Banana “Cookies”

350 degree oven

makes about 40 cookies, 20 per sheet.

  • 4 ripe bananas
  • Plain yogurt
  • Any fruit puree
  • Oats (quick or slow cook, doesn’t matter)
  • Tiny bit of vanilla
  • Liberal sprinkle of cinnamon
  • Raisins or dried fruit of whatever kind

I use a mixer as it makes life simpler.   Smash up bananas, add a few big spoonfuls of yogurt and fruit puree, vanilla and cinnamon. Add in a whole bunch of oats. Just make it a chunky consistency.  Drop by a couple inch spoonfuls onto baking sheets and bake for roughly 15 minutes. You don’t want to overcook or they aren’t soft enough for them to eat. You can add any other fruit or whatever you want to play around with too!  I usually give one big cookie to each babe, broken up into bite size pieces.  Or more if they are ravenous.

toddler food fruit salad

Fruit Salad

Then we move onto fruit salad.  Sometimes they even eat a little plain banana these days!  Perseverance wins.

Whatever we have, I combine and throw a bunch on their tray.  It’s funny to see what they like and what they push to the side and it varies from day to day.

 

 

toddler food eggs

Egg scramble w/ beans, veggies & cheese

Then onto EGGS!

I usually do two scrambled with cut up spinach, cottage cheese, tomato, cheddar cheese and black beans*.

 

 

 

 

toddler food black beans

Black beans from scratch

 

*I buy dried black beans and cook the whole bag, divide into portions, freezing some so they don’t go bad and start to get really smelly.

On days I’m really feeling lazy, I make a big messy omelet with 4 eggs and a lot of other ingredients and that way I have leftovers for a couple days and don’t have to do dishes as much.

Whole grain waffle or English muffin with jam.  They also love a good pancake or 3. Or 4.

Breakfast can take about an hour, as we go slow and let them finish each course, or as much as they are willing to eat.

Then it’s playing and napping and snacking.  Snacks can be Annie’s crackers, the Happy Tot super toddler bars, apple slices, red pepper slices, cheese and crackers, hummus on vegetables, raisins, cucumber, pear, cereal, Cuties, all eaten off the coffee table like a bar.

3:00 pm-ishLUNCH

They are eating just about everything we eat now, as evidenced in me ordering a Potbelly sandwich the other day with cheese, mushrooms, lettuce, tomato, and pickle.  They ate it right up!  I’m amazed that they like all this stuff and that they can chew and eat it after I give them manageable bites.

I always keep roasted sweet potatoes and carrots in the fridge to be zapped and then given first for lunch.

toddler food sweet potato

Roasted Carrots & Sweet Potatoes

Sweet potatoes and carrots 350 degree oven

  • 3 large sweet potatoes
  • One bag of regular carrots

I used to peel the potatoes, but now I just cut off the bad parts and cut into manageable chunks.  Same with carrots, I don’t even peel, I just cut off the ends and cut into bite size pieces.  Throw all in big bowl and douse with a coating of olive oil.  Mix well with hands.  Arrange in single layer across two foil lined baking sheets.  Sprinkle with a little cinnamon.  Bake for 45 minutes to an hour or until fork tender.  I keep in Tupperware in fridge for about a week or however long they last.

toddler food broccoli peas

Veggie sandwich & broccoli/peas side

Broccoli or peas, sometimes both.  Frozen.  Just put in container in microwave with a little water and cook for a few minutes or until tender.  These babes love this green stuff and that’s fantastic.

AvocadoTheir very first solid food they ever had is still their favorite. We go through a lot of avocado in this apartment. 

Sometimes I have wheat pasta and veggies with olive oil topped with parmesan cheese made and they have that.

toddler food pasta

Pasta w/ broccoli, peas & parmesan

Sometimes they have mac & cheese.  Sometimes they have peanut butter and jam or a hummus sandwich.  Leftovers are a great thing as nothing goes to waste anymore in our house now that these two are here!  Whatever we have on hand that they can eat, they eat.  Brown Rice with beans and vegetablesGrilled Cheese is another favorite. My husband makes turkey tacos and they enjoy the heck out of those – soft shell of course.  Spaghetti or any other pasta (ravioli, gnocchi, tortellini, you get the picture) with marinara sauce is a big hit too.

When we are out and about, they LOVE eating at restaurants as it’s exciting for them, hey, it’s exciting for me!  They love pizza and vegetables and chicken fingers and French fries and fruit cups. Really, they want whatever we are having and we are happy to let them try everything.

toddler food eating outThey haven’t had much sugar yet as I’m holding off as long as possible on that one.

Although, birthday cake.

 

birthday cake toddler food

Their 1st Birthday Cake – ELMO!

That’s about it.  I don’t have much advice except to say, let them try everything!  And try to keep a well balanced diet, which takes some planning and forethought, but is well worth it.  As long as I’m watching and they don’t choke, I’m continuously surprised at what they eat.

katy maherKaty Maher is a grateful drunk who doesn’t drink, a smoker who doesn’t smoke and a brand new mom of boy/girl twins from IVF (the devil science brought us babies made of hope, love and science) born January 7th, 2013. She works as a Big Shot in a full time job that she loves and is grateful for the good, the bad, and the ugly. If life were fair, she would be dead, and she would miss this life beyond her wildest dreams. It’s a great day to be alive! Visit Katy’s blog, I Want A Dumpster Baby, and follow her on Facebook and Twitter.

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