21 Toddler Meal Ideas the Whole Family Can Enjoy (2024)

Picture of a toddler eating for an article about popular toddler meals the whole family can enjoy

Easy Meals for Toddlers AND Adults

Are you looking for realistic toddler meal ideas where everyone–not just your toddlers–can enjoy?

Look no further!

This was something I initially found really hard to accomplish as a newly sleep deprived parent who is naturally bad at cooking.

But if I can do it, so can you!

The newfound responsibility to provide meals for people other than myself every single day became stressful fast because I am no natural in the kitchen. I burn grilled cheeses pretty frequently.

To need to come up with meal ideas where the food was soft enough for early eaters, nutritious enough to include multiple food groups, and complex enough to satisfy adult hunger was a daunting task.

I created a Pinterest board called, “I can do it!” as a motivator and started pinning meals that checked off all my needs:

  • Easy
  • Quick
  • Little mess
  • Clean ingredients

Once I tried a recipe and had success with it, I moved it over to a new board titled, “Repeat Meals”. All of the recipes below are from my Pinterest board.

Popular Weeknight Favorites: 1 & 5 under Crockpot, 8 & 10 under One Dish Wonders, and 15 & 18 under Pastas

After LOTS of trial and error from someone who struggles in the kitchen, I FINALLY have a list of realistic, easy meals for toddlers AND adults where everyone asks for seconds!

21 Home Cooked Toddler Meal Ideas

Below are recipes that require minimal prep with minimal dishes. They are generally soft for early-eaters but tasty enough for all to enjoy!

Crockpot

Image of chili in toddler meal ideas article

Clean ingredients for delicious dump-and-gos that are truly easy meals for toddlers and adults.

1. Slow Cooker Mexican Chicken

Roll it up into a toddler-sized burrito or add it into a quesadilla. Pour it over rice or a salad for the adults. It is so versatile! I leave out the last two ingredients on the list (liquid smoke and hot sauce) to keep it mild for our little ones.

2. Crockpot Sausage and Peppers

Serve over noodles or turn it into a tasty sandwich. Our favorite sausage is the already cooked kind from Trader Joe’s and our go-to marinara is from Thrive Market.

3. Slow Cooker Beef Chile Verde

Great for quesadillas, burritos, rice bowls, or salads (for adults).

4. Slow Cooker Healthy Taco Casserole

This dish technically is not a true dump and go, as it involves cooking on the skillet prior to adding it to the crockpot. But if you have the time, it is a good one!

5. Slow Cooker Basil Chicken in Coconut Curry Sauce

Serving this with Havarti cheese on a King’s Hawaiian Sweet Roll is a toddler (and adult) delight! The sweetness of the roll balances well with the two jalapeños in the recipe. Our kids love this dish as it is, but if you are worried about heat, you can use just one jalapeño instead. I make this recipe using chicken breasts and skip all the steps in the beginning mentioned for bone-in skin-on chicken thighs…a lot easier that way!

6. Barbecue Chicken Sliders

Dump a pound or two of chicken breasts with a jar or two of Primal Kitchen’s Barbecue Sauce from Thrive Market. We use Primal Kitchen because the ingredients are cleaner with less added sugars. Serve on a King’s Hawaiian Sweet Roll…Yum!

7. Beef and Broccoli Teriyaki

Dump two pounds of thinly sliced beef into a crockpot with a jar of Primal Kitchen’s Teriyaki Sauce from Thrive Market. Primal Kitchen’s ingredients are cleaner with less added sugars, so we love it. Add in some broccoli and serve over rice.

One Dish Wonders

Picture of a frying pan for toddler meal ideas made in one dish

Because what busy mom doesn’t love only one dish to clean?! These are realistic toddler meals the whole family can enjoy!

8. Ground Turkey Sweet Potato Skillet

This will become a weeknight staple, as it is fast, easy to assemble, and crazy quick to clean. Exchange the ground turkey for ground beef, and it is equally tasty.

9. Everything Bagel Chicken With Roasted Veggies

This is a true one-sheet-pan wonder right here!

10. Sloppy Joes

A weeknight favorite with how fast and easy these are to make, not to mention they are a real crowd pleaser!

11. Turkey Meatloaf

This technically requires two dishes, the bowl to prep the meatloaf and then the pan to cook it in, but it’s still so simple! This pairs great with the Broccoli and Bow Tie Pasta listed below under Pastas.

12. Bacon Cheeseburger Casserole

Eat it in a hamburger bun or in a bowl drizzled in Primal Kitchen’s Ketchup (Ketchup so good and clean you won’t even taste the difference). This dish makes delicious leftovers for breakfast, as the burger casserole pairs well with scrambled eggs.

13. 4-Ingredient Dinner: Coconut, Chickpeas, Greens, Tomatoes

This dish is FILLING, crazy DELICIOUS, super EASY and FAST. The ways to serve are quite versatile, and everyone (including my 2 year old, 4 year old, and hubby) all like it too! I’ve never made a recipe from Caitlin Self over at Frugal Nutrition that I didn’t love!

14. Eight Minute Homemade Pizza

This is so fun to do as a family! Skip the hassle of pizza dough and lay English Muffins open-faced on a baking sheet. Spread marinara sauce on each. Sprinkle mozzarella cheese. Decorate pizzas with pre-cut veggies and meats. Bake in the oven for eight minutes at 425 °F. This can be done with bagels, too, but sourdough English Muffins are a healthier option that we love.

Quick Question: Do you have something coming up where your little ones KEEP asking WHEN? Check out my simple trick other moms are loving here.

Pastas

Image of noodles in an article on toddler meal ideas

Pastas are popular toddler meals for sure. Any noodle will be delicious for the below dishes, but our favorite kind (garbanzo bean noodles) come from Thrive Market, as they add more nutritional value and sit easier on our stomachs.

15. Broccoli and Bow Ties

Have this dish as a side, or make it a complete meal by adding in shredded chicken. We LOVE this pasta. Simple ingredients that pack a whole lot of flavor.

16. Butternut Squash Pasta Sauce

Another family favorite that sneaks in more veggies. Eat as a side dish or add in a meat for a complete meal.

17. Pesto Pasta Sauce

This is an easy way to sneak in more greens here. We make kale pesto and spinach pesto in addition to the traditional basil pesto.

18. One Pot Broccoli Mac and Cheese

This is a family favorite that is a healthier alternative with clean ingredients compared to the processed boxed mac and cheese at the grocery store.

19. Avocado Pasta

A delicious pasta sauce that is fast to assemble. Leave the tomatoes and corn off for the early eaters if needed.

Grill

Picture of burgers and hotdogs on a grill in an article on toddler meal ideas

…Mom’s night off…Have Dad grill!

20. Hotdogs

21. Cheeseburgers

Adding Veggies to Toddler Meal Ideas

A display of vegetables for toddler meal ideas

Adding vegetables as a side dish can be quite simple! Throw some frozen veggies in a bowl of water and microwave for 2 to 3 minutes until thawed. Drain the water, add some butter and seasonings. Easy and quick additions to toddler meal ideas!

Frozen veggies we keep on hand:

  • Rainbow cauliflower from Trader Joe’s
    • Our kids love the colorful “trees” and think seeing one food item as a rainbow is so fun.
  • Broccoli
    • Butter and sprinkle with grated cheese and/or additional seasonings
  • Carrots
    • Butter and honey are a favorite for these.
  • Peas
  • Veggie Medleys with green beans, carrots, broccoli, etc.

When you have more time, oven roasted veggies can be done in about 20 minutes:

  • Sweet potatoes
    • Olive oil and cinnamon are a tasty option
  • Bell peppers
    • The more colors you include the more fun it can be to eat the “rainbow”. We often don’t even roast these…We just cut them into thin strips and eat raw like carrots.
  • Squash

Not All Toddler Meal Ideas Are Homemade

Chicken nuggets and french fries at a table for toddler meal ideas that are not homemade

When time is in a pinch, these are easy go-to toddler meal ideas that will feed your little ones fast and still provide nutrition.

1. Chicken Nuggets

A cleaner option is this one we buy at Costco. It has ingredients you can pronounce and no added sugars.

2. Kirkland Organic Fruit and Vegetable Pouches

These are amazing “side dishes” because they have zero added sugars and sneak in veggies. We get them at Costco, and I even like to eat them!

3. Frozen Meatballs

We love this kind from Trader Joe’s and often throw them in a bowl of buttered noodles. Our kids love buttered noodles and get so excited to sprinkle on parmesan cheese themselves.

4. Clean Pizza Bites

That’s right. These are actually made with clean ingredients!

Tips For Successful Dinners

A toddler at the table smiling for toddler meal ideas article

Things to keep in mind when eating dinner:

1. The more involved a child can be in the cooking process, the more inclined he/she will be to try new food. This requires patience, I know! But any opportunity to pour, stir, scoop goes a long way.

2. As part of developing a healthy relationship with food, eating should not be stressful. Don’t force a child to eat something or try something. If there is enough variety on the plate, whatever they choose to eat is fine and nutritious enough.

3. Don’t make them finish their plate if they don’t want to. Babies stop drinking milk when they are full. Adults stop eating when they are full. Kids should be allowed to stop eating when they are full too. We want our children to listen to their bodies and not be taught to ignore those signals.

4. Let there be mess and let kids play (to an extent) with their food. Eating should be fun and enjoyable, not stressful. Kids (and adults) explore through experimentation and the five senses. After a few minutes of playing with their food, kids often then switch to actually eating it.

5. Repeat exposure. It can take as much as 17 times before a child will be willing to try a new food.

6. Monkey see, monkey do. Kids naturally want to do what their parents are doing. If they see you eating it, they will probably want to try it too. This is one of the many awesome benefits of eating meals together.

Curious About Thrive Market?

I buy so many of our groceries from Thrive Market, an online grocery store that makes living healthy a whole lot easier!

I don’t like cooking, but I want to eat clean and have access to already-made items (like sauces) that have ingredients I can pronounce (no chemicals).

Thrive Market allows me to do that at very affordable pricing.

If you’re interested in joining Thrive Market, get 40% off your first order here!

Some of my favorite items from Thrive Market are:

1. Snack Mates Sticks, Chicken & Maple

An easy, tasty way to add protein into your kids’ diet. My children LOVE these.

2. Brami, Italian Snacking Lupini Beans, Variety Pack

These are just for me because they are a choking hazard for my littles. But when I have healthy snack options on hand, I feel so much better throughout the day.

3. Biena, Rockin’ Ranch Chickpea Snacks

These are so delicious and fulfill my chip cravings I sometimes get. They are a win for my toddlers too.

4. Organic Chickpea Pasta

We have tried a handful of chickpea pastas, as regular grocery stores sell several brands of them. But this brand in particular is hands down our family favorite. The texture and flavor is by far the best.

5. Mamma Chia, Chia Squeeze, Green Magic

My kids do not like these, but I LOVE them. Moms need healthy snacks, too!

6. That’s It Fruit Bars

A tasty snack-on-the-go enjoyed by everyone in our household.

7. Primal Kitchen No Soy Teriyaki Sauce

8. Primal Kitchen Classic BBQ Sauce

9. Primal Kitchen Greek Vinaigrette with Avocado Oil

10. Primal Kitchen Ranch Dressing

Toddlers often love to dunk and dip. This is a fun one for dipping veggies.

11. Primal Kitchen Buffalo Sauce

12. Primal Kitchen Ketchup

13. Rao’s Homemade Marinara Sauce

Which toddler meal idea do you like the most? I’d love to hear from you! Share in the comments section below.

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