I’ve got two kiddos and in addition to being their full time mom, I work part time during the week. Which means, as much as I’d like to play chef all the time, a gourmet prepared meal is not always in the cards. So I have a few tricks I’ve learned in the last year to try to keep things healthy and easy while avoiding reaching for that boxed or canned meal. As the kiddos grow, I plan to continue to update this with new ideas that are successful in our home. 🙂
Peanut Butter and Banana Waffle Stacks
I always keep a box of frozen mini waffles in the freezer because my little preschooler loves them. You can usually find an organic brand of them and in variations of plain, blueberry, or apple. Earth’s Best is widely available and my local market sells their own organic version. These are great because they’ll heat up in the microwave in 10-15 seconds, then all you need to do is top them with a dollop of peanut butter and sliced banana. Add some strawberries or another favorite fruit of your kiddo’s and chow down. This can work as lunch or snack time in our home.
Peas and Corn
I always want to make sure my kiddos have a well balanced diet across the food groups, so I try to make sure I have fresh fruits or veggies at each meal or snack. The problem with veggies though are that raw vegetables are often too crisp and crunchy for my toddler to have any desire to eat them and also more importantly can be a choking hazard. Frozen veggies to the rescue! My local market has their own organic brand but I have also seen Cascadian Farms carried at my Target. A side serving of peas or corn (or mixed together) is the perfect compliment to a mini sandwich or some cubed cheese and mini pepperoni slices. And when it’s just a small handful, I can easily heat it up from frozen in the microwave in just a half a minute. Quick, simple, and a serving of veggies. Done.
Easy Cheesy Quesadillas
Being in Texas, I’m spoiled in that my market makes fresh tortillas every day in varieties like multigrain and whole wheat. I usually get whole wheat and can make these for the whole family or for the kiddos as a quick lunch. Simply take the tortilla and spread some cheese and fillings on one half. Fold and place in the toaster oven on light to medium for a couple minutes.
For the filling, I’ll use a combination of shredded cheese (whatever I have on hand such as cheddar, colby, or monterey jack mixes), sliced scallions, cilantro, lettuce, and tomatoes. I’ve also added corn for my little one before. Depending on your child’s age, you may want to adjust the chopped up size and amount of each filling you add. The trick is using the toaster oven to get these crispy and heated without the actually taking the time and effort to grill them on the stove. Lunch in a cinch!
How is spinach possibly kid friendly you ask? Here’s the trick. I picked up this habit when I was making my own baby food and realized spinach makes a great mix in for almost anything. Cook or steam the spinach until wilted but still vibrant green. Then purée it in a food processor and freeze in a cube tray. Once frozen, transfer to a freezer bag and they’ll keep for a month or so.
For baby food, good mix ins with the spinach are sweet potatoes or pears. As your baby gets older you can mix this into more complex meals. I’ll mix it into ground up pot roast, my simple lasagna, or I’ll even toss a cube in a serving of clam chowder. It’s a great add in to almost any kind of soup or the occasional spaghetti-o’s for my older one. And I also defrost and use a cube or two when make omelets for them (a good way to truly create some green eggs and ham). Let me know if any of you find other creative ways to add spinach to your meals!