Sometimes I feel like I'm running out of ideas for good finger food meals for her that aren't going to be TOO messy and that she will enjoy. I try to generally have a protein, carb, vegetable and fruit with lunches and dinners, and at least protein, carb, dairy, and fruit at breakfast. She loves cheese cubes and fruit, so a few pieces often make their way onto her tray while I'm prepping her lunches or dinners.
Lindsey loves grapes - we quarter them for her and she has never had any choking issues with them. She eats most fruit, but doesn't seem to like strawberries. I haven't tried oranges yet, and have only given her a few very small pieces of apple. Sometimes I steam a few pieces of apple and let her have those.
When it comes to vegetables, carrots, peas, green beans, and corn usually go over fine with her, though I need to make a point to incorporate other veggies too and get her used to squash, zucchini, broccoli, cauliflower, etc. too. We're going to work on that more.
Lindsey likes certain proteins sometimes (cooked chicken, cooked ground turkey, pot roast) and then other times she chews it and spits it back out. It's hit or miss with her for sure. She does however LOVE lunch meat every time. I don't give it to her more than about once per week or so, and we buy the awesome simple truth organic lunch meats from Kroger. I try to just keep a variety of foods on her plate, and make sure to give her the "important" things first when she's really hungry (she's much more likely to just eat what's in front of her when food is first presented, and gets much pickier as she gets fuller). I often start her with a few pieces of fruit and a couple pieces of cheese while I am cooking for her. I almost always have to cook her dinner separate from everyone else. She usually eats around 6pm and everyone else's dinner is usually just not ready by then. On weeknights I don't get home 'til about 5:15 and that is just not enough time for me to have dinner on the table by 6pm. So Lindsey usually gets her own little pasta dish, sandwich, quesadilla, meat cubes and bread, veggies, fruit, etc. and then when I'm getting her to bed, the "adult dinner" is finishing and we eat once Lindsey is down.
Some goals of mine to help make dinner time easier is to keep a bag of diced marinated chicken in the freezer than I can quickly pull out and cook up, and make sure we have a variety of fresh fruits and veggies around (which we're pretty good at), so I can make sure she gets something new to try in addition to what I know she likes. We always have blueberries and grapes around, because she loves both, but it's good to rotate in other things as well like melons, strawberries, plums, peaches, etc. (We always have bananas, apples, and oranges too and Lindsey LOVES bananas but I try to only give those to her every other day or so, opting for other fruits first most of the time).
I just discovered the toddler muffins (linked below) which are awesome. Lindsey loves the way they taste, and they're a fantastic way to use up leftover baby food purees, and add in just about any combination of shredded veggies / fruit that will go together. Original recipe calls for pureed squash and grated carrots, put you could use applesauce, pureed sweet potatoes, etc. and grated apple, zucchini, etc. and mix and match!
Here are a few ideas:
- Cheesy Scrambled eggs (seasoned with a little black pepper), diced grapes and blueberries, pieces of buttered toast
- Pieces of pancake, banana slices, yogurt
- Small diced pieces of hard boiled egg, cheerios, grated apple, or sliced grapes
- Toddler muffin, and sliced peaches
- Scrambled eggs, slices of sausage links, diced watermelon
- Pieces of waffle, dices of ham, and banana pieces
- Oatmeal with fruit and / or yogurt mixed in (maybe a dash of cinnamon too!)
- Cream of wheat with fruit and / or yogurt mixed in (maybe a dash of cinnamon too!)
- Grilled chicken pieces, cheese cubes, pieces of French bread, blueberries and grapes
- Turkey burger (lightly seasoned with pepper and garlic powder, etc.), pinto beans, avocado slices, cheese cubes
- Pieces of quesadilla (filled with some cooked shredded chicken, a little cheese, a little mild salsa and some refried beans or mashed pinto / black beans), blueberries and/or grapes, avocado slices
- Egg noodles (cut into thirds), with spaghetti sauce and cooked ground turkey or beef, steamed mixed veggies, blueberries
- Grilled chicken pieces, crackers, yogurt, banana pieces, and cucumber pieces
- Baked chicken nuggets (I remove the breading from Lindsey's since she doesn't seem to like it), macaroni and cheese, watermelon, diced green beans
- Small pieces of pot roast, diced cooked carrots, potatoes, and mushrooms, watermelon or blueberries
- Small pieces of a sandwich with a little mayo, cheese, and thin slices of turkey breast, cucumber pieces and diced grapes
- Grilled cheese sandwich (add a slice of tomato if desired), pieces of cooked carrots and broccoli
- Diced pork chops (grilled, baked, etc.), diced roasted vegetables (carrots, peppers, zucchini) and potatoes, pieces of French bread
- Pasta Salad: cooked rotini pasta (diced to appropriate size - in 2 or 3 pieces), tossed with diced cooked carrots and broccoli, small pieces of celery and cucumber and drizzled with a little bit of Italian dressing, or lemon juice / vinaigrette of your choice. Add a few diced olives and some cooked shredded or cubed chicken as well if you'd like.
- Macaroni Cheese and Meat, steamed diced carrots, and fresh blueberries
- Chicken Casserole (dice pasta, meat, and veggies into bite sized pieces if needed), diced grapes and strawberries
- Side dish idea for any protein: Cheesy Vegetables and Rice (one of Lindsey's favorites)!
Make sure to check my Baby / Toddler Food Recipe Index as well for more ideas!