One Week of Toddler Lunches
So I recently did a total re-haul of B’s cabinet in our kitchen. I’ve dedicated a smaller upper cabinet, right next to our big tableware cabinet, to all of B’s cups, bowls, plates, and miscellaneous food containers. To be honest, it was a HOT mess. I got a set of IKEA plates, bowls, and cups when she was about one year-old, and those were trashed about 6 months in from dishwasher and regular use, buuuut we still were using them. We also had some gifted plates and bowl sets that were darling, but nothing stacked neatly together because they were all from different brands. It looked like my cabinets from college, to be honest, and it wasn’t pretty. Plus, if you’re a parent, you know how impossible it is to find lids that match cups when your toddler’s decided they need milk ASAP, etc. etc. A re-haul was absolutely overdue.
Re-Play Recycled generously sent us tableware sets in some great colors, and to show them off I’m sharing some of B’s favorite lunches! B’s in a stage where she loves cheese one day and can’t stand it the next, or says she wants PB&J until 5 minutes later when she absolutely cannot bear the idea of PB&J. It’s a whole thing. I try to stick to these few rules when grocery shopping and meal prepping for her:
A protein I know she’ll eat: This varies from chicken nuggets, leftover chicken from dinner, turkey hot dogs, cheese, peanut butter, low-sugar greek yogurt and or sliced turkey.
At least one veggie: B’s a huuuuge fan of tomatoes, and we have them growing like crazy right now so that’s awesome. She also digs the frozen mixed veggies, frozen peas, and avocado. This is my easiest area with her, thankfully, and protein is usually the most challenging to get her to eat! She’s a lot like me in that way - the salad bar is her dream lunch spot.
Fruit for something sweet: B will usually devour most fruit, and typically it’s also doubling as a snack throughout the day so I’ll just add more to her plate for lunch. We count everything from fresh berries to unsweetened applesauce as fruit.
A new food (optional depending on my bravery that day): This can also be a food she doesn’t love, but needs to keep trying. Did you know it takes 10 times for taste buds to really decide if they like a new flavor? I usually try to make this something we enjoy often so she can learn to like it too! And yes, it usually get picked over, but I’m always happy if there’s a bite tried at least. Examples include: Cucumbers, taco meat, and pasta. Yes taco meat… I’m not sure why, but ground beef is not B’s jam lately.
I know, I know. I promise the rest of these lunches are no where near as fancy as this one! I will say that the mermaid PB & honey sandwich was a huge hit. The rest of this lunch is blueberries, goldfish crackers, apple slices, cherry tomato slices, cucumbers, and beet hummus. B ate this up, and loved it. I will say if you’re having a hard time getting your toddler to eat (a mealtime drought, if you will) making a mermaid, or dinosaur, out of a sandwich might be the ticket back to Full Tummy Land.
Other thoughts: Sometimes I combine a food she likes (hummus!) and put a twist on it (beet hummus) to see how she likes it. It has a 50/50 shot of success, but it’s important to me that some of her meals incorporate a new food to try.
This is a huge favorite of B’s because it incorporates 3 of her top 5 right now: PB&J, mozzarella cheese, and avocado. We learned about her obsession with the fancy mozzarella after a pizza night when we started using the “good stuff.” It’s usually in my fridge (and ALDI has it for a really good price fyi) so I like to treat her with it sometimes. Also a treat? Avocado! I’ve started buying it more because she loves it and I love it, so it’s a win-win. Finally, I cut her PB&J up into little stars to see if she ate more of it. The bite size portions were more snack-like, and I think I tricked her into eating more than she usually does! It’s a pain to do, but it does work!
I occasionally switch out her peanut butter to a healthier crunchy version from ALDI that has chia seeds in it, and it’s an easy way to sneak in a little health food.
Got a little fancy with this one! I did keep it simple, except for the apple “donut.” This is grilled chicken (leftover from dinner), frozen green beans, tomatoes from our pots outside, and two apple slices with plain greek yogurt and sprinkles. The apple slice’s “frosting” was basically just licked off and ended up being a huge mess, to be honest. It was super cute for a photo though ha!
I’ll admit, the star cookie cutter has gotten a bit of a workout lately. I’ve found that cutting things into shapes makes them more appealing and “snack-like” to B, so they’re more likely to get eaten. This is cheddar cheese stars, applesauce with cinnamon, mini cucumbers, and turkey slices. Everything stays really simple on her plate, aside from the cinnamon, and absolutely no mixing allowed. I love that these plates from Re-Play Recycled keep her food separate - huge must-have for a picky toddler.
For this lunch I cut up watermelon, frozen veggie mix, grilled chicken (leftover), chickpeas, and hummus. B actually really likes chickpeas, and there’s good protein there so I like to throw those in on occasion. We just buy the canned chickpeas and refrigerate the extra! They’re delicious on my lunch salads as well, so I always have them in the pantry.
This may be one of B’s favorite combos right here. We’ve got avocado, yogurt, veggie chips (beet and carrot from BareSnacks), and a turkey hot dog. She is all about the hot dogs lately, which is fine by me because they’re relatively inexpensive and easy to make. B loves veggie chips from ALDI, but this was the first time I’d tried giving her beet and carrot chips. It was a “Ehhh don’t love, but might try again” response, so I consider that a win.
I saved the easiest for last! Sorry for all the avocado in this post - it’s B and I’s favorite and we buy them in bulk ;). ALDI has these adorable dino-shaped broccoli tater tots in their freezer section, and B loves them. Also easy? Microwaved chicken nugs. B goes back and forth on her preference for nuggets, but they’re (usually) an easy way to get protein in, and I always have them on hand!
Finally, I’m going to share few other awesome things about these Re-Play Recycled plates: They’re microwave-safe, dishwasher-safe, and BPA + BPS free. They come in bigger sizes, both divided and flat styles. Re-Play Recycled has everything from bowls to cups to snack containers, and I love how simple everything is. You know I never talk about any product unless I love it, so I’m confessing now that I ordered another set of plate, bowl and silverware in blush pink because I’m obsessed now. The overall quality is fantastic and sturdier than any other children’s tableware I’ve tried. Their products also come in neutral tones of black, white and grays, if that’s more your jam.