Quick, Easy, and Healthy Meal and Snack Ideas for your Toddler
What your toddler eats is an integral part of their growth and development. As parents, it’s easy to find yourself recycling the same meals for a child who develops a liking for certain foods. But is this good for their health?
If you’re feeding your child highly processed meals or junk food, you should consider replacing them with whole foods and healthy snacks to provide ideal nutrition and energy. To help you with this, we’ve prepared a list of nutritional meal and snack ideas, both homemade and bought, that you can prepare quickly to feed your hungry child.
To get started, dive into the following expert-recommended recipes or food groups and choose what you think your toddler will like the best.
How to Prepare Healthy Meals and Snacks for your Child
Parents who want to create a healthy and nutritious diet for their budding young ones should follow the tips below:
Any healthy meals you prepare for your child should contain a variety of milk and dairy products, whole grains, fruits, legumes, vegetables, and healthy fats (seeds and nuts). This is where all the mineral nutrition lies.
Try to steer clear of processed food, especially if you habitually get store-bought snacks for your kid. These contain an excessive amount of salt, sugar, and deli meats that are not healthy.
When preparing a healthy toddler’s meal, mix foods from different nutritional categories to improve the taste and maximise the body's nutritional intake.
Differentiate between light snacks and heavier snacks during snack time. Light snacks keep your toddler full for a short time without spoiling their lunch or dinner, while heavier snacks keep them full for longer periods.
Meal Ideas For Your Toddler and Preschooler
Macaroni Cheese + Fresh Vegetables
Low fat cheese sauce (if you’re not able to make your own)
Children generally like macaroni cheese and it’s quick and easy to make if you’re in a rush at any time. When you have finished cooking your macaroni cheese, add some freshly cooked broccoli and peas to the pasta and mix them well before serving.
Chicken Tacos mixed with Corn
Tomatoes and cucumber
Fry off your chicken pieces in low-fat cooking spray, cook your sweetcorn and mix together with the chicken. Depending on how old your child is you can either load the tortilla with the mixture yourself or let them do it. Children love getting involved so this will make them feel involved and engaged with their dinner. Out the salsa in a bow and they can use this as a dip. Chop the tomato and cucumber and serve on the side or some children like them to be added to the tortilla. You can replace the chicken with different bean types or Quorn as a vegetarian option.
Whole grain tortilla
Tomatoes and cucumber or fresh vegetables
Spread a thin layer of black beans and grated cheese onto a whole-grain tortilla and grill until the cheese is melted. Cut into wedges and serve with salsa, diced avocado, tomatoes, cucumber, or fresh vegetables.
Veggie Grilled Cheese
Mashed sweet potatoes
Whole grain bread
Spread the hot mashed sweet potato onto one side of the bread slices and add the vegetables, add the grated cheese and top with a fresh slice of wholegrain bread for a delicious vegetable-packed sandwich.
Quick Fried Rice
Chicken or Quorn
Scramble an egg in a pan, add ¼ cup of fully cooked rice (wholemeal is better) and ¼ cup of boiled peas and sprinkle a little soy sauce (reduced-sodium). Stir well as the food cooks. Serve with cooked chicken or Quorn and you can add some other freshly cooked vegetables to the side for a delicious and nutritious meal for your little one.
Omelette with Vegetables
Beat two eggs, and add some grated cheese and chopped vegetables (peppers, mushrooms, and tomatoes). Cook in a non-stick frying pan until set and serve with some nice fresh salad on the side.
Baked Sweet Potato with Tuna and Sweetcorn
Bake a sweet potato in the oven until soft in the middle and slightly crunchy on the outside. Flake some tuna and mix with the sweetcorn and a little mayonnaise. Serve with the sweet potato.
Whisk an egg with some milk, pour into a greased muffin tin, and add your chopped vegetables and some grated cheese. Bake in the oven until firm and cooked through.
Vegetables (carrots, potatoes, peas, onion, broccoli)
Low-salt vegetable stock
Cook the chopped vegetables in some low-salt vegetable stock until soft. Blend the mixture until smooth and serve with wholemeal bread.
Chicken and Vegetable Skewers
Tomatoes & cucumber
Thread small pieces of chicken and vegetables onto skewers. Grill or bake in the oven until cooked through. Service with fresh salad and a jacket potato.
Bean and Cheese Quesadillas
Fresh salad or vegetables
Spread the refried beans onto a tortilla, sprinkle with grated cheese, fold in half, and cook in a non-stick frying pan until crispy.
Salmon and Sweet Potato Mash
Grill the salmon fillet and serve with mashed sweet potato and some steamed broccoli and green beans.
Note: Some ingredients may need to be adjusted based on your toddler's age and dietary requirements.
Healthy Toddler Snacks
Cereals and Bread
Bread and cereals are rich in fibre, micro, and macronutrients that add nutrition to your toddler's diet. Some examples of snack recipes you could use include:
Whole grains dry cereals
Whole grain toast
Crispies prepared from rice
Whole grain tortilla or bread
Smooth peanut butter
Bread and high-fibre cereal make for a healthy morning snack, so serve this to your child to prepare them for the day ahead.
Dried fruits have a high content of minerals, essential fats, and proteins. They are also a rich source of energy that support your child to keep up their activity and development. Naturally, your toddler will easily take to the sweet-tasting fruits, so this promises to be a favourite of theirs and is always good to have in your cupboard. Try some of the following dried fruit snacks:
Apple and banana chips
Chopped prunes and dates
Dried pears, apples, and peaches
Dried apricot and raisins
These are really easy and healthy snacks for your child. Dried fruit packs have a high natural sugar content-fructose that they need for energy and are better than chocolate, crisps or cereal bars.
Like fruits, fresh vegetables are also rich in vitamins, antioxidants, and minerals and their high fibre content helps to keep your hungry toddler full before the next meal. Vegetables are best chopped into small pieces and lightly boiled. For younger children who may have trouble ingesting, you can mash them to make it easier for them. Consider the following healthy vegetable snacks:
Chopped and boiled green beans
Cucumber cut in sticks
Steamed broccoli and cauliflower
Try serving soft-cooked vegetables before dinner if they’re hungry as they serve as a delicious appetiser before the main meal in the evening.
Fresh fruit contains a high amount of minerals, vitamins, and antioxidants that your child needs. The best way to serve them is clean and fresh, as they will generally degenerate over time. The nutritional content in fruits also dips when stored for extended periods. Check out these soft fruit snack recipes you could experiment with that have no added sugar:
Peeled and halved kiwi
Sliced grapes, berries, cherries
Peeled and cubed mangoes
Sliced pears, apples, peaches
Mix the fruits above in a bowl and serve them to your toddler as a delicious mid-morning or afternoon snack, or as a dessert to take advantage of the rich and filling value as they wait for their main meal.
Dairy products are rich in calcium, which supports bone development and strength. These healthy dairy snack ideas include milk and derivatives such as yoghurt, ice cream, milkshakes, cottage cheese, etc. Some dairy snack ideas for toddlers are as follows:
Sliced cheese and crackers
Fresh milk (no sugar)
Banana cottage cheese
You can give your child these toddler snack ideas (dairy snacks) as a complement to a meal or as a snack in between meals if they are hungry or as an addition to wholegrain bread. These filling snacks can also accompany cereals.
Serving the right meals to your toddler as early as possible supports healthy growth and development and gets them used to eating healthy food. Try and steer clear of processed and high sugar content foods as once you start them with these it is difficult to reverse and get them into eating healthy food and snacks.
About The Flowers Day Nursery
The Flowers Day Nursery is based in a convenient location near Swansea City centre. We have our own parking that makes dropping off and picking up safe and easy for you and your child. We offer wrap-around care from 07.30 - 18.30 for the ages of 3 months to 8 years, with before and after school drop off and pick service when they attend a local school. Your government funded 10 Foundation Phase hours can be extended to suit your needs and you only pay for the additional hours directly.
We have an on-site kitchen with a 5-Star Environmental Health Award. We prepare the children’s nutritious and varied meals and snacks on-site every day to support the healthy eating habits you have at home.
Contact us today on 01792 46 44 45 to find out more about our caring and professional childcare making your lives easier knowing they are safe and learning in a safe and qualified setting.