Easy Toddler Dinners for Busy Moms!

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These easy toddler dinners are sure to be a hit in your home! I aim for meals that are healthy, but still appealing to little ones. Don’t get stuck in a toddler dinner rut!

My daughter was a terrific eater from about 6 months to 18 months old, then things got a little rocky. I had to get creative with her meals, while still making dinner that my husband and I would enjoy. These are all approved by my picky toddler (at some point), so hopefully your little ones will enjoy them too.

Note: my daughter does not eat everything shown on these plates! Sometimes she only eats the fruit or other preferred food. My goal is to offer her a wide variety of food options. I make sure at least one item on the plate is something that I know she enjoys, that way she isn’t starving if she doesn’t like what is being served.

At the same time, I am making sure not to just cater to her tastes. She would love to eat macaroni and cheese every night, but I can’t expect her to like other foods if she isn’t offered them. Keep offering new food items and new food preparations, even if your kids don’t eat them the first or even twentieth time!

Organic vs Non-Organic

I prioritize organic food for my daughter whenever possible. I follow the EWG’s Dirty Dozen list for choosing organic produce. They test and report the top produce items each year based on pesticide residue.

I also prioritize non-gmo, organic grains, dairy, and meat as much as possible. Sometimes this means not purchasing something due to the cost or only offering her it on occasion. Items that she may eat more often (mac and cheese, cereal, bread, etc.) I prioritize spending more on those to buy higher quality.

Grocery budgets can get out of hand quickly, especially with kiddos! I recommend taking the time to decide on your food priorities for your family (they don’t have to be the same as mine!) and start tracking your grocery spending.

I’ve found that if I cut back on prepackaged snacks and dining out, I have more money to spend on quality meats and produce. I do however have to sacrifice more time in the kitchen prepping fresh meals and produce, but I am able to make that work for us right now so I do. Don’t beat yourself up if you can’t always cook fresh, healthy meals. Just do your best to get those kids fed and to meet the goals you set for your family.

Pantry Staples

Here are some items that I keep stocked on hand to throw together last minute meals! Sometimes we don’t have time to cook a meal from scratch, so these are my go-tos for easy toddler dinners.

Annie’s Organic Mac & Cheese – Costco carries the variety pack at a reasonable price!
This Gluten Free pasta from Trader Joe’s is our absolute favorite. It holds up well when mixed with sauce and stored in the fridge for leftovers!
I LOVE Polenta in a tube! It’s so easy to make and versatile! My favorite is paired with marinara, chicken sausage, & peppers on top. You can also make mini polenta pizza or polenta fries!

Marinara Sauce is a must in our pantry. It’s one of the easiest sauces to incorporate into a meal!
Find a dressing your kid loves and hold on tight! Make salads and pair with new veggies to entice them.
Rice is a necessity in our house. My husband is Filipino and could literally eat rice with every meal. It’s so versatile!

Easy Toddler Dinners

Below are my list of our favorite easy toddler dinners. I have them sorted by the following categories:

  • Basic Go-To’s
  • Family Favorites
  • Asian
  • Italian
  • Mexican
Homemade Chicken Noodle Soup with Bone Broth
Chicken Nuggets with Tzatziki for dipping!
Grilled Cheese & Tomato Soup – A classic!
Mac and Cheese with Hot Dogs
Frozen Pizza with a side salad & beets!
Trader Joe’s Veggie Patty topped with marinara & cheese pizza style! Served with zucchini & beets.

Basic Go-Tos

When you think of quick and easy toddler dinners, here are some of the classics! I don’t expect toddlers to have refined palates, but many of these can be jazzed up a bit with some extra veggies or protein!

Soups are a great backup meal on hand, however they can get messy! My daughter loves having soup and dipping her hands in to eat it. I encourage you to embrace the mess! When I tried to keep my dining room clean, I found myself frustrated at every meal. Now I just roll with the mess, let her enjoy her meal, and worry about cleanup at the end.

Try adding some rice or pasta to soups for a more complete meal that is easier for little hands to eat. I also recommend finding soups and sauces that are lower in sodium and added sugars. We love some of the soup at Trader Joe’s found in cartons, such as Organic Tomato & Roasted Red Pepper Soup or the Organic Butternut Squash Soup.

  • Chicken Noodle Soup (Homemade or Store-Bought)
  • Chicken Nuggets (We opt for Trader Joe’s Chicken Drummellas or Earth’s Best)
  • Grilled Cheese & Tomato Soup (Dave’s Killer Bread is our favorite!)
  • Macaroni & Cheese (add meat & veggies for a complete meal!)
    • Hot dogs & carrots
    • Tuna & peas
    • Ground taco meat & riced sweet potato
  • Pizza (Frozen or homemade)
  • Veggie nuggets, Patties, & Tots
    • Dr. Praeger’s and Trader Joe’s brands are great!

Family Favorites (Homestyle)

These easy toddler dinners are based off good ol’ fashioned homestyle meals! Some of them are made from scratch, others are packaged from Costco or Trader Joe’s!

Madras Lentils from Costco (Vegetarian & tastes like chili!) with rice, roasted butternut squash, pita & hummus.
Meatloaf (our favorite cat picks!), honey carrots & rice.
Costco Pot Roast, rice, frozen veggies.
Easy Cheesy Spinach Pasta Version 1
Veggie Soup with ditalini pasta, ranch dressing, tomatoes, celery, blackberries.
Trader Joe’s Greek Chicken & Rice Pilaf, salad, pita bread & hummus, steamed carrot sticks
Pineapple chicken, rice, peas, & salad
Easy Cheesy Pasta Version 2
Chicken Sausage salad with ranch dressing, avocado, tomatoes, and raisins.
  • Chili
  • French Dips with Roast Beef
  • Meatloaf or Meatloaf Muffins
  • Pot Roast
  • Tuna Casserole
  • Easy Spinach Pasta
  • Flatbread with Hummus & Chicken
  • Greek Style Chicken
  • Pineapple Chicken

Asian

For a few of these meals, I keep freezer versions on hand to simplify my life. Keep an eye on the sodium in some of these meals. I always use low sodium soy sauce or coconut aminos when making most of these dishes. Also, the portions of the sodium-rich foods are usually smaller compared to the rest of the items on her plate.

Potstickers and chow mein are great to keep in the freezer for easy toddler dinners. For most other recipes, I just cut back on any ingredients that may make them too spicy.

Potstickers, steamed rice & broccoli, cucumber with vinegar.
Chicken Lettuce Cups, brown rice, miso soup with tofu.
Tofu stir fry with steamed rice & cauliflower rice.
  • Chicken Lettuce Cups
  • Chow Mein
  • Miso Soup with Tofu
  • Potstickers
  • Stir Fry
  • Pancit

Italian

This is probably one of my favorite meal categories for a few reasons:

  1. My daughter is almost guaranteed to eat these meals! (Hello, pasta lovers!)
  2. They are super simple to make.
  3. You can mix and match to make them fully customizable to your taste preferences!

Frozen or store-bought raviolis are awesome for little hands to pick up and eat. I also like mixing up the variety of pasta noodles. Marinara is especially great for adding in extra veggies, like my favorite Veggie-Packed Marinara (the easiest meal ever!)

Spaghetti with marinara & veggies.
Eggplant Parm with spaghetti & marinara. Served with garlic bread & side salad.
Shells with chicken sausage & marinara. Side of pear slices.
Polenta with chicken sausage, marinara, zucchini, & bell peppers.
Mini Pizza Muffins with pizza sauce for dipping, steamed carrot sticks, & strawberries.
Gnocchi with zucchini, butter, and parmesan cheese.
Ravioli with marinara, side salad, & zucchini fries.
Pumpkin ravioli with pumpkin soup & peas.
Spinach tortellini with veggies, butter, & mozzarella.
Gnocchi with alfredo sauce & peas. Served with salad & croissant.
Chicken sausage, mushrooms, & marinara over rice. Served with side salad and pineapple.
  • Chicken or Eggplant Parm (Trader Joe’s has great frozen eggplant cutlets already breaded!)
  • Lasagne
  • Meatballs
  • Polenta (I love polenta in a tube! Just slice and fry up in a skillet)
  • Ravioli
  • Spaghetti

Mexican

I love mexican food because there are so many ways to change up the recipes! Burritos, enchiladas, tacos, and quesadillas can all be mixed up with different ingredients.

Try different proteins or veggies as the main item: Black bean enchiladas, veggie tacos, breakfast burritos, sweet potato quesadillas, and more!

Bean & Cheese Burrito with roasted sweet potatoes, bell pepper strips, & kiwi
Panko Crusted Tilapia Taco with shredded cabbage & salsa ranch dressing. Served with spanish rice & refried beans.
Quesadilla with guacamole, bell pepper strips, & roasted sweet potatoes.
Salsa CrockPot Chicken with black beans, corn & sweet potato ribbons. Topped with sour cream and served with a quesadilla.
  • Bean and Cheese Burrito
  • Enchiladas
  • Tacos (Check out the Panko Crusted Tilapia from Trader Joe’s!)
  • Quesadilla

I hope you enjoy this list of super easy toddler dinners! Click below for my free printable that you can post on your fridge for inspiration. Comment below some of your favorite toddler meals!

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