If your toddlers are anything like mine then you probably refer to this stage as some sort of trial&error period in parenting to prepare us for what it will be like raising teenagers. The mood swings, the refusal to go to bed but then barely being able to wake them from their slumber once they finally fall asleep and of course the changes in their eating habits! Some meals my toddlers take on the form of a vacuum cleaner and almost inhale their food before I can even blink. Other days, well let’s just say it’s a fight.
My kids like to eat and by eat I mean snack. Chips. Cookies. Crackers. Cheese. Candy. Why do all of these foods start with a “C”?!?! As much as they love all of these oh so nutritional foods (Can you sense my sarcasm?), they also are obsessed with fruit. They can eat a whole container of strawberries in one sitting which is great but not for my wallet. Haha. Fruit can be very expensive and when they eat like that, I don’t have enough left to last for the rest of the week. So I have started a “toddler meal prep” if you will. I chuckle as I write that. It helps me ration out all of their favorite foods and snacks into reasonable portion sizes for the good stuff (fruit and veggies) and the not so good stuff (all of the “C” words). I love that it gives them a little bit of freedom when they get to pick out their own snack. I show them the tub of salty and sugary goodness and they get to make their own selection. This method has also ended some of our weekly meltdowns because mommy doesn’t have to be the bad guy when I allow them to have chips and I open the bag and they have to hold the entire bag -moms of toddlers you know what I’m talking about with all their unreasonable particular-ness and somewhat possessive behaviors. This way I can say “yes” to an unhealthy snack every now and then and there isn’t an infinite abyss of chips sitting in a foiled bag on my counter top or in the pantry-that they can now open-and whine and cry until I get it off of the shelf for them. This preparation almost makes it out of sight out of mind and they don’t even think twice about these little baggies. It tricks their brains into thinking they are getting a much better deal. And when we need to go somewhere? No problem. I can just grab a couple of baggies of pretzels or a small container of fruit, throw it in the diaper bag and we are ready to go! I don’t just prep snacks though, I will roast their favorite veggies in the oven and separate them into containers throughout the week to make it easier on me when lunch time creeps up out of no where. I also do some wild rice or homemade mac n cheese-healthier than boxed mac and still delicious!
I also love love love homemade snacks. Turning broccoli and cheese into something my kids think is a tator tot (I will include the recipe down below) is just well, awesome. Plus I feel like I am on an episode of Chopped. I am combining all these random ingredients and transforming it to look like a completely different food. I can hear one of the judges calling my food “whimsical” right now. Enough with the fantasies though! Homemade snacks are delicious, fun and healthy and I would highly suggest trying them out for yourself!
Suggestions to try (Pinterest is your friend!):
Homemade chicken nuggets
Zucchini and corn fritters
Homemade granola bars
DIY toddler-friendly trail mix
2 cups uncooked (or frozen) broccoli
1 large egg
1/4 cup diced onion (optional)
1/3 cup cheddar cheese
1/3 cup panko breadcrumbs
1/3 cup Italian breadcrumbs
2 tablespoons parsley
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Lightly grease baking sheet.
Blanche broccoli in boiling water for just one minute then quickly shock it broccoli in cold water. Make sure you drain well.
Finely chop broccoli then combine it with all of your ingredients in a bowl. Mix thoroughly.
Scoop about 1.5 tablespoons of mixture and in your hands, make a firm ball. Then form it into the tator-tot shape. Place your tot on your baking sheet -standing up or laying down is fine.
Bake until golden brown and crispy-about 18-24 minutes. If you decide to lay them down make sure you flip them halfway through the baking time.
Serve it with your favorite dipping sauce!
Thanks for reading! Share all of your toddler-friendly recipes or hacks and tricks for getting your picky toddlers to eat 🙂