Do you need a quick meal for a hangry toddler after work?
I know I do. With two little ones, I have to have a plan for getting food on the table in the shortest time possible. My son, Charlie, has unfortunately inherited my ability to get hangry. So right when I get home, which is usually between 5:30-6:00 PM, I like to have an easy meal that will hopefully help me avoid tantrums. As the year has progressed I have figured out which meals did well and which did not. The dinners listed below are my great attempts to being both healthy and easy to prepare.
Here are the Tasty Kid-Approved Meals:
1. Steak and Potatoes
This is one of my favorite simple meals. It is basically like a pot roast that only takes about 15-20 minutes to cook. The key to this meal is that you want to do all the prep work the night before. You can add all kinds of veggies. My favorites to add are onions, potatoes, carrots, and sometimes celery. Make sure to slice the veggies and meat thin so that way it doesn’t take long to cook. Add some oil and herbs before covering and storing in the fridge until you are ready to cook. I recommend cooking the meal within 24 hours. Once you are ready to cook, add some water, cover and put it on the stove. Download a free copy of this recipe below.
2. Breakfast Dinner
I love breakfast dinners. They are generally easy to make and quite tasty. Plus there are a plethora of options to choose from. If you want to keep it on the healthy side, I would do an egg scramble and add all the flavors you want. I love the pepper and onion combo, but my son is more of onion, cheese, and meat combo. If you are smart, try to cut all the veggies really small so your kid won’t even realize they are eating something healthy.
Another great option is rolled french toast. I made this for my son the other day, and it turned out really well. Charlie loves food he can grab with his hand, so this was a great option. Warning though, if you give your little one syrup for dipping, things will get messy. But that isn’t a bad thing. An added twist to the roll-up french toast, add some cream cheese and jam of choice to make it a stuffed french toast.
3. Soup and Grilled Cheese
This one is a classic and I do this all year round. Choose a veggie-filled soup to make it a healthy option. Also, have fun with the cheese if your kid likes mozzarella or Swiss. Changing up the flavors is a great way to keep a meal from tasting the same if you end up making it once a week.
A different soup option is to start with a ramen packet and have fun adding in different elements. Charlie loves ramen noodles, so we like to add carrots, celery, the meat of choice, or onions. The possibilities are endless. Just remember to cut the veggies thin so that way you don’t have to cook them too long. Good prep work will definitely help with the timing of cooking dinner. Also to avoid the intense salt overload either use reduced-sodium (chicken, beef or vegetable) broth or only add half of the flavor packet.
4. Meat and Veggies
We make this a lot. It’s simple, but there are a lot of ways you can switch things up. When getting groceries, pick out your favorite marinades. Our favorite meat of choice is chicken, mostly because that is the easiest meat for Charlie to chew, but also because there are so many options (from chicken tenders to drumsticks). If you can’t tell yet, I love recipes that have a lot of possible variations. For the veggies, I love to use the combo of cauliflower, broccoli, and carrots. Prepare both the meat and veggies to your liking. We typically prefer to grill our meat and steam our veggies.
5. Beans and Weenies
This was one of my childhood meals that we always looked forward to, but never realized that it was for the end of the month when money was low. I have fond memories of this meal. Typically it is hot dogs and baked beans cooked together. Now if you are not a hot dog person, there are other options. You could choose bratwurst, sausage (chicken, turkey or beef), or kielbasa. Then select an easy veggies side dish and you have yourself a tasty meal.
6. Ham and Cheese Rolls
So the basic idea of this is you get a can of refrigerated crescent rolls, add ham and cheese, and then bake according to the directions. The brilliant part of this dinner is that almost any sandwich can be made with this recipe. If you want to change it to french dip, switch the meat with roast beef and cheese with Swiss. Or if you want you can do pesto and chicken. Once again the possibilities are endless. Now with the crescent rolls, you can choose either the one that has seems or no seams. If you choose the seamless crescent rolls, then add your meat and cheese, roll it like you are making cinnamon rolls, and then cut them into pinwheels.
If you decide to choose the crescent rolls with seams, you can either pinch all the seams together or separate them to make individual rolls.
How to get your toddler to eat a variety of veggies?
This can be a bit tricky, especially with how toddlers tend to change their minds constantly. One week my kid loves carrots and the next he will only eat broccoli. The best way that I have found to expose him to more veggies without the constant “I don’t like this”, is by cutting the veggies really small and mixing it in with the dishes.
Tips to Keep Your Dinner Preparations to a Minimum
So there are a few things you can do to help move the dinner-making process along.
- Cut your veggies and meat thin to cut down on cooking time.
- Do the prep work the night before.
- Freeze your meat in the thinnest form possible. This will help with defrosting in case you forget to take it out the day before.
- If you forget to take your meat the night before, place it in a bowl of water in the refrigerator and it will be defrosted by the time you get home from work.
- Plan your meals for the week before you go grocery shopping. Knowing what you are going to make during the week, will make preparing for those meals that much easier.
Whether you are a working mom or a stay-at-home mom, it helps to find ways to maximize your time. There are so many tasty and healthy meals that can be made in a relatively short amount of time. Save the more complex dishes for the weekend. Your time with your kids is valuable and I know I would rather play with them then deal with their hangry tantrums.
In the comments below, I would love to hear your thoughts on my Work Week Dinners. Did they work for you? Did you make a change or add a twist? Also, what is some quick and easy work week dinners that you make?
Happy Days –
Here is a great list of the essential items you need and those you can live without to build your maternity wardrobe.