Coming up with the best toddler dinner ideas can get a little challenging because we always have to keep in mind that they have to be healthy and nutritious.
It’s normal for children, especially once they hit the toddler age to be a little picky with food. This, however, can get a little challenging for the moms. Of course, we do not want to keep feeding them with the same kind of food, right?
More so, as much as possible, we, mommies, want to introduce new food recipes to our kids. Particularly the healthier and more nutritious one.
But how do we handle our toddler’s attitude towards food? How do we cope with our toddler’s appetite without having to compromise the nutrition he or she gets from eating meals?
Well, we’ve come up with a list of some of our go-to toddler dinner ideas for picky eaters as well as all toddlers in general.
But before going through our toddler dinner idea suggestions, you may want to check this video first by Dominique Moran as she shares some equally healthy and nutritious dinner ideas not just for toddlers, but babies too!
10-MINUTE BLACK BEAN TACOS
There will be times when your kid would want to eat food like sweet potato and black beans. During these times, you may want to consider cooking this recipe for him or her. From time to time, you may do your own version of the recipe or how you present it to your kid to ensure he or she wouldn’t find a way to miss eating what you cooked.
For your reference, here’s the recipe, which we got from The Kitchen:
For the tacos:
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 large onion, diced
1 1/2 teaspoons chili powder
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more as needed
1 (15-ounce) can black beans, drained and rinsed
1/4 cup water
8 corn tortillas
1 bag cabbage slaw or shredded cabbage
1 medium avocado, sliced
- Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add the onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 2 minutes. Stir in the chili powder, cumin, and 1/4 teaspoon salt. Add the beans and water.
- Cover the pan and reduce the heat to maintain a simmer. Cook for 5 minutes, then uncover and use the back of a fork to partially mash the beans, leaving about half whole. If there’s any remaining water in the pan, simmer the mixture uncovered until evaporated, about 30 seconds. Taste and adjust seasoning as needed.
- Meanwhile, heat the tortillas. Stack them on a microwave-safe plate and cover with a damp paper towel. Microwave in 30-second bursts until warm.
- Fill the tortillas with the black bean mixture and top with slaw or cabbage, avocado, and salsa. Serve with lime wedges.
Storage: Leftover taco filling can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.
ZUCCHINI PESTO PIZZA ROLLS
Although you can buy pizza via drive-thru or have it delivered at home, nothing beats creating your own — especially if it’s for your little boss. As moms, we owe our kids the most nutritious and healthiest food possible.
Here’s an amazing pizza recipe that your picky or not-so picky toddler will love. Oh, by the way, this recipe is also one of the best vegetarian toddler dinner ideas we’ve found so far. This one’s from The Kitchn as well:
1 pound pizza dough, thawed if frozen
1/2 cup basil pesto
1 medium zucchini, thinly sliced
2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
1 cup marinara sauce, warmed
- Arrange a rack in the middle of the oven and heat to 400°F. Meanwhile, let the dough sit out a room temperature while the oven is heating. Coat the wells of a standard 12-well muffin tin with cooking spray.
- Place the dough on a work surface and use your hands or a rolling pin to stretch it into an 11×16-inch rectangle. Spread the pesto evenly on the dough. Place the zucchini slices evenly over the pesto, then sprinkle evenly with the cheese.
- Starting at a long end, roll the dough up into a tight log. Place on a cutting board seam-side down. Cut crosswise into 1-inch-thick rounds.
- Place a round cut-side up into each muffin well. Bake until golden-brown, 20 to 22 minutes. Serve with the marinara sauce.
Storage: Leftover rolls can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 4 days. Reheat in the microwave for 20 to 30 seconds. The pizza rolls can also be frozen for up to 3 months in the freezer in a zip-top freezer bag. Reheat in the microwave for 30 to 60 seconds.
SALMON FISH FINGERS WITH CHUNKY CHIPS
Here’s one of the many yummy toddler dinner ideas that we love. This tasty meal for your little one is definitely nutritious. It is in fact, rich in omega-3, which is present in the salmon.
This delicious recipe is from BBC Good Food.
2 potatoes cut into wedges (see tip below)
2 tbsp. oil
1 large egg, beaten
100g breadcrumbs, made from day-old bread
½ tsp sweet smoked paprika
4 salmon fillets (go for the thick ones), each cut into 3 strips
drizzle of oil
favorite vegetables, to serve
- Heat oven to 200C/180C fan/gas 6. Put the potato wedges on the baking sheet. Drizzle over 1 tbsp. oil and toss the potatoes in it. Season lightly or leave it out altogether for young children. Cook in the oven for 20 minutes, turning them halfway through.
- Meanwhile, put the beaten egg into a shallow bowl. Tip the breadcrumbs onto a plate. Mix the sweet smoked paprika into the breadcrumbs along with a little seasoning if you like.
- Brush a non-stick baking sheet with the remaining oil. Dip the fish strips into the egg, then coat them with the breadcrumbs. Transfer to the baking sheet. Bake for 25 minutes until golden. The fish fingers are very delicate so lift them carefully off the tray with a spatula. Serve with their favorite vegetables and the chunky chips. You can open freeze the fish fingers on a baking tray, then once frozen transfer to a freezer bag. Cook from frozen at 200C/180C fan/gas 6 for 20 – 25 minutes until crisp and cooked all the way through.
MILD SPLIT PEA AND SPINACH DHAL
Introduce mild curry flavors your toddler through this yummy dhal. Since this recipe includes ingredients like spinach, cashews, as well as split peas, you’re assured your kid eats nothing but delicious and healthy food.
This toddler dinner idea comes from BBC Good Food.
175g yellow split peas
½ tbsp coconut oil
1 small onion, finely chopped
1 fat garlic clove, crushed
½ tsp yellow mustard seeds
¼ tsp turmeric
1 ½ tsp mild curry powder
50g unsalted cashew nuts, chopped
1 very low salt vegetable stock cube (we used Kallo)
100g frozen chopped spinach
Plain yogurt, pitta bread or rice, to serve
- Soak the yellow split peas in a bowl of water for 20 minutes. Rinse thoroughly in a few changes of water.
- Heat the oil in a large heavy-based saucepan. Cook the onion for 5-10 minutes, stirring from time to time until softened and starting to caramelize. Add the garlic and spices and cook for a further 1-2 minutes allowing the aromas to release.
- Pulse the cashews in a food processor into fine pieces – make sure you do this well so that there is no risk of choking. Add the split peas and cashews to the pan, then pour in enough water to cover it by a few cms. Crumble in the veg stock cube. Bring to the boil, then simmer for 1hr or until the split peas are tender, stirring from time to time. If they start to look a little dry, add in more water as needed during the cooking. Stir through the frozen chopped spinach and once the dhal is hot throughout, serve with a dollop of yogurt on top, pitta or brown rice.
SHEET PAN CHICKEN WITH SPRING VEGGIES
Chicken is one of the most favorite food of young children — including toddlers. There’s just something about chicken that makes it appealing to kids.
Anyway, this toddler dinner recipe features fresh spring vegetables, which makes it healthy and nutritious. Since it’s a sheet pan recipe, it doesn’t require so much time and effort preparing. Thus, if you are a working mom, this is one of the many toddler dinner ideas that you will definitely keep cooking especially during busy days.
Here’s the recipe from Super Healthy Kids:
1 1/2 pound chicken breast
1 pound asparagus
12 medium radish
1 cup chopped carrot
12 small new potatoes, red or white
1/3 cup olive oil
1 tablespoon lemon juice
2 clove garlic
1/2 teaspoon thyme, dried
1/2 teaspoon rosemary, dried
1/4 teaspoon sage, ground
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon black pepper, ground
- Preheat oven to 425* F. Line a large sheet pan with foil for easier clean-up (optional)
- Whisk together marinade ingredients in a small bowl (olive oil, lemon juice, garlic, herbs, salt, and pepper). Set aside half the marinade.
- Cut the two chicken breasts in half and toss them with half the marinade. Allow to marinate as veggies are chopped, or prep ahead and allow to marinate for up to a day for optimal flavor.
- Wash and chop veggies: discard the bottom inch of asparagus, then cut the rest into 1-inch pieces. Remove radishes from bunch. Peel and chop carrots into bite-sized pieces (or cut baby carrots in half). Cut any potatoes larger than bite-sized in half.
- When ready to bake, add veggies to the prepared sheet pan and toss in the reserved marinade. Add chicken. Try to space all items evenly on the sheet pan.
- Bake for 30 minutes, checking and stirring halfway.
You will never go wrong with this pasta salad recipe. Needless to say, it is gluten-free, and dairy-free, which makes it ideal for kids with food intolerances.
More so, you can make it a giant salad by adding more add-ins. You can also mix and match your favorites if you want to.
Here’s the pasta salad recipe from One Lovely Life:
8–12 oz. pasta (gluten-free or wheat-based), cooked and cooled
Pepperoni or salami (or a mixture)
Grape tomatoes, sliced
Cucumber, sliced or diced
Sun-dried tomatoes in olive oil, sliced
Olives (we love kalamata olives)
Fresh basil, minced
Your favorite salad dressing
Other Optional Add-Ins:
Mozzarella or parmesan cheese
Bell peppers or roasted bell peppers
Green onions or chives
Stir veggies and toppings into your cooked and cooled pasta. Stir in your favorite dressing. Taste and add salt and pepper, to taste. Chill until ready to serve, adding a little more dressing right before serving.
ONE POT MEAT SPAGHETTI
Here’s one of our favorite toddler dinner ideas. Nothing beats preparing pasta over dinner for your little one.
If you are on a budget, this recipe is perfect! In fact, it only costs $1.25 per serving! Although some may not consider it as healthy (because of meat) as the previous options we shared, this definitely is yummy and that you should try cooking it for your toddler and the rest of the family!
Here’s the recipe for this yummy treat from Real Mom Nutrition:
1 pound ground beef
1/2 cup onions, chopped
4 cups chicken broth or water
1 can tomato sauce, 15 ounces
1/2 teaspoon sugar
1.5 tsp. salt or to taste
3 tsp. Italian seasoning or pizza seasoning
16 ounces spaghetti noodles, broken
1 cup Parmesan cheese, shredded
- Brown meat and onions in a large stockpot over medium-high heat until fully cooked.
- Stir in chicken broth, tomato sauce, and spices; bring to a boil.
- Add spaghetti, cover pan, and simmer 10-15 minutes, stirring often to prevent sticking. Depending on the type of pasta, you may need to add more broth or water as needed for desired consistency.
- When spaghetti is tender, top with grated cheese.
- Refrigerate leftovers within 2-3 hours.
BAKED QUINOA CHICKEN NUGGETS
It’s probably safe to say that a lot of you kids love eating chicken nuggets. However, to be honest, chicken nuggets alone is not the most nutritious meal out there.
But guess what? You can turn your kid’s usual chicken nuggets into something more nutritious by adding quinoa. More so, instead of frying on the pan, bake it in the oven instead.
Here’s this healthy chicken nuggets recipe from Pure Wow:
¾ cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1¼ teaspoons salt
¾ teaspoon black pepper
2 cups cooked quinoa
2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken tenders, cut into bite-size pieces
Honey mustard, as needed for serving
Barbecue sauce, as needed for serving
- Preheat the oven to 400°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and grease with non-stick cooking spray.
- In a medium-size shallow bowl, whisk the flour with the garlic powder, salt, and black pepper to combine. In a second medium-size shallow bowl, whisk the eggs. Place the cooked quinoa in a third medium-size shallow bowl.
- Dredge a piece of chicken in the flour mixture until coated. Dip it into the egg, let the excess drip off and then dip it into the quinoa to coat fully. Transfer to the prepared baking sheet. Repeat with the remaining chicken pieces.
- Spray the chicken nuggets with non-stick cooking spray and then bake until they are golden brown and fully cooked 12 to 15 minutes. Flip halfway through cooking.
- Season with more salt and pepper, if desired. Serve the nuggets warm, with honey mustard and barbecue sauce on the side for dipping.
MINI EGG AND VEGETABLE MUFFINS
Does your toddler love to eat muffins? Make it more nutritious and healthy by adding veggies like carrot and peas.
Although this is not one of the most ideal toddler dinner ideas, we find this as one of the best options when your kid is not up for a heavy meal.
If you want to try this out, here’s the recipe from BBC Good Food:
Oil, for greasing
1 small carrot, cut into small dice
½ small courgette, cut into small dice
25g feta cheese
- Heat the oven to 200C/180 fan/gas 6. Grease 6 holes of a muffin tin. Put the carrot, courgette, and peas (about 190g veg) in a microwaveable dish with 2 tbsp. water. Cover with cling film and cook for 2 minutes or until tender. Drain the veg.
- Beat the eggs and stir in the veg and feta. Pour into the 6 holes. Bake for 15 minutes until the eggs are set. Leave for a minute or two, then use a knife to carefully remove the ‘muffins’.
FINAL THOUGHTS ON TODDLER DINNER IDEAS
To be honest, these are just seven of the many toddler dinner ideas you can make. It’s amazing knowing that moms nowadays do have a lot of options to make meals like dinner pleasing to young children particularly toddlers.
In fact, no matter how picky-eater you kid gets (which by the way is very normal among young kids), you will be able to find a meal idea that will make him or her eat.
Did you find anything interesting? We hope you did.