How are we doing, friends? We know this can be a really challenging time for everyone, and we wanted to help in our own small way. Click on the link below to download our free Family Meal Toolkit - Dinner Edition! In it you'll find:
Click on the link or image below to download the Toolkit now!
Our most popular recipe posts and stories on Instagram involve simple dinner ideas - including pouring sauce over chicken, setting the slow cooker (or Instant Pot) timer, and waiting for dinner to be made. Here are some of our favorite sauce ideas that you can experiment with to create a delicious, nourishing dinner (and maybe some leftovers for another meal)! Just pair it with 1-2 veggie sides and a starch like sweet potato, rice or pasta!
Pour at least 2 cups of sauce on the 1-2 lb. of chicken, enough to cover it thoroughly so it doesn’t dry out. You won’t eat all of the sauce; it’s there to retain moisture during the cooking process, which is super important for young eaters! Once the sauce is added, give the chicken a quick stir.
If using the crockpot, cook it on low for 4-5 hours. If using an Instant Pot, cook it on high for 9 minutes with manual release.
We like chicken thighs because they’re more tender and easier for kids to eat, plus they’re cheaper.
A few notes:
Tacos are an easy dinner that can be enjoyed by the whole family! We’ve put together some visuals for how to serve tacos to kids 6+ months to help them developmentally get to the stage where they can eat crunchy tacos! (Hard taco shells are technically a choking hazard for kids under 4!) These are simply ideas - if you’ve taken our online courses, you know that we encourage meeting your child at their current stage and challenging them to get to the next level safely.
In these images, you’ll notice that foods start soft and in larger pieces for new eaters to hold well and then actually get smaller as they develop more sophisticated grasps and techniques.
6+ months: Babies can have cheese - it’s just that if you’re serving shredded cheese with your own taco, it may be hard for them to pick it up!
10-12+ months: A 10-12 month old baby is just starting to learn how to bite and pull with front teeth (as these teeth come in), so it can be helpful to make serrated lines with a fork on a soft tortilla to give their mouths a place to bite.
15-18+ months: As they get a little older (on average 15-18+ months), toddlers can try eating very small tacos (basically mini burritos) to practice this bite and pull skill. Their little mouths probably aren’t ready for a full-sized soft taco, but it’s great to start getting them used to these types of foods so they can eventually eat sandwiches, pizza, etc. Note that the lettuce and bell pepper servings are small - around this age many toddlers become more particular, so it helps to keep less preferred foods in tiny portions so as to not overwhelm them. They can start to try crunchy lettuce at this time.
4+ years: As your child gets older (4+), it’s time to try a crunchy taco! Let them build it themselves from a topping bar - they’re more likely to try different foods if they serve it to themselves.
A few notes:
Do you struggle finding fast meal ideas and need help with filling, nourishing, tasty foods that your whole family can enjoy? Good news - we are in the same boat too! I think everyone struggles with the weeknight mealtime hustle. It’s hard to fit in everything, especially when you’re juggling busy after school schedules, work, cranky babies, or toddlers who decide they hate eating every other day.
We got you - being a parent is hard work. Do your best - which may mean takeout tonight - and give yourself grace to use easy convenience options! There are so many good ones out there!
This is one of my favorite simple chicken hacks using the beloved Trader Joe's Bruschetta Sauce - sub out marinara or even salsa if needed. It pairs nicely with Primal Kitchen avocado oil ranch (dairy-free), but use whatever ranch you’d like! We love this option for our dairy-free families who struggle to find meal ideas that lend creaminess similar to cheese!
Here's what you need:
Here’s the "recipe":
While you don't need anything special for Baby-led Weaning or toddler feeding, the right gear (and realistic expectations) make restaurant eating much easier. Check out our Amazon shop that includes a Restaurant Essentials section.
Here are some of our favorites for eating on the go:
Are you ready for Thanksgiving with your baby, toddler, or child?
Here are different ways you *can* serve Thanksgiving dinner to kids of various ages! These ideas are by no means prescriptive and are meant to inspire you!
A few things to note:
We hope your holiday is full of laughter, good food, and perfect imperfection.
A festive and delicious recipe full of nutrients.
Even if it's still hot where you live and enjoying fall foods hasn't quite hit yet, keep in mind that pumpkin is a crazy good source of beta carotene, which is a powerful antioxidant and supporter of eye health! Just one tablespoon of pureed pumpkin can exceed your child's needs for vitamin A (as beta carotene) for the day.
This simple, freezable recipe is adapted from Wellness Mama and is seriously tasty!
Here's what you need:
Brown beef in a large pot. When beef is almost completely cooked, add the onions and cook until soft.
Add the pureed pumpkin, diced tomatoes, tomato sauce, stock, beans and spices. Simmer for 10 minutes until heated through. Top with cheese, sour cream/yogurt or avocado slices. Feel amazingly festive and satisfied (even if you could still cook an egg on the sidewalk).
We are big fans of Trader Joe's Bruschetta sauce. It pairs so well with chicken in the oven, Instant Pot or slow cooker...and now you can also try it with pesto! This simple pour-and-cook meal pairs nicely with whole grain, gluten-free or bean/lentil-based pasta and some roasted veggies!
Full disclosure - the broccoli turns a little olive green (I literally had flashbacks to food science class and kicked myself for not remembering this!) so I would probably omit it next time in lieu of sliced olives, but feel free to try it if you don’t care about color!
Here’s how you make it:
An easy recipe for the whole family.
This One Pot Hamburger Helper by The Defined Dish was a massive success in my house. How massive? Well, my eldest inhaled 3 helpings of it. The best part? ONE POT, people. I made it in a dutch oven on the stove and loved only cleaning one big pot. (Well, let’s be honest, my husband does the dishes! He loved it too!)
This recipe makes a ton of food so you can have leftovers or freeze extras. We used organic beef bone both for more minerals and promote gut integrity. Use whole grain elbow pasta if possible (gluten-free if needed).
Here’s the recipe straight from The Defined Dish - modifications listed below:
Corn on the cob can have a nutrient-rich place in your family's diet.
What's the deal with corn?
We’ve seen people mention that “corn has no nutritional value.” When it comes to whole corn, this couldn’t be further from the truth, friends!
(By the way, the term “no nutritional value” doesn’t really apply to food when you think about it. Yes, many foods are more nutrient rich than others, but almost every food supplies something nutritionally, even if it’s just calories. This is especially true for veggies and fruits - they all have some sort of nutritional value.)
Did you know that corn has helped sustain civilizations for millennia? If it were void of nutrients it wouldn’t have helped grow populations like it has. Yes, corn byproducts are now overused in the processed food industry and in raising livestock, but whole corn kernels are a great source of fiber, zeaxanthin and lutein (both important phytochemicals), potassium, B vitamins, and magnesium. Sweet corn is also usually non-GMO for those worried about it.
Corn is technically a vegetable - yes, a starchy, higher-carbohydrate one - and kids are drawn to it because eating it on the cob is novel and fun. It’s also a “safe” flavor for many kids who are reluctant to eat new foods, so having corn on the plate may get them going and trying other options. Remember, eating begets eating! Once they’re on a roll they may be more open minded. (We go through all of this in our toddler course!) Babies can have corn on the cob too - they tend to really like it! Just serve it on the cob cooked very well so it's soft.
Side note: corn on the cob holders are fun novelty tools for older kiddos (who won’t pull them out of corn and poke themselves - you know your kiddo best with this)! We found Interlocking Corn Holders by Zyliss at Whole Foods today and were so pumped to use them for corn on the cob with dinner! Check out Walmart, Target or Amazon for great corn on the cob holders.
Megan and Judy, co-owners of Feeding Littles, bring you helpful info on food, nutrition, picky eating, and feeding young children. Megan McNamee MPH, RDN is a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist based in Scottsdale, Arizona. Judy Delaware, OTR/L is an Occupational Therapist specializing in feeding therapy with children 3 and under in Boulder, Colorado. Megan and Judy are both moms of two and love helping families develop a healthy appetite for all foods!