Healthy Dinner Ideas For Toddlers | Guide to the Kitchen – Coral

Medically reviewed by Jamie Johnson, Registered Dietitian Nutritionist (RDN)

In this post, you will find:

You are watching: Healthy Dinner Ideas For Toddlers

  1. Tips for Making Easy Toddler Recipes
  2. Helpful Feeding Tools
  3. Toddler Daily Nutrition Guidelines
  4. Sample Toddler Meal Plan
  5. How to Build a Toddler Meal
  6. Toddler Breakfast
  7. Toddler Lunch
  8. Toddler Snacks
  9. Toddler Dinners
  10. Toddler Desserts

Tips for Making Easy Toddler Recipes

  • Freezer-Friendly: a great way to make feeding your toddler super easy is always to have a stash of toddler-approved meals in the freezer. If there are any leftovers, I will place them in the freezer for a later meal. This works great for muffins, waffles, meatballs, chicken nuggets, etc. Basically, anything you can find in the grocery store’s frozen section can be frozen with your own homemade recipes. You can also make a double batch of your kiddo’s favorite recipes so you can have a backup plan when life gets crazy (or toddler gets demanding;).
  • Make Once – Serve Again: if you are making a bigger or more time-consuming meal (anything over 30 minutes for dinner), it’s a great idea to save the leftovers and use those in another toddler meal. You can serve the same meal or use parts of the meal in another meal altogether – chicken can be added into cheese quesadillas, pasta can be served with a different sauce, soup can be served with different sides like grilled cheese or turkey sandwich or used as a sauce for pasta or rice.
  • Quick Toddler Meals: a key way to not lose your mind is to always have a list (and the ingredients) for a quick meal for toddlers. Print out or make a list of these easy breakfast, lunch, and dinner ideas and keep them on hand for when life is super crazy and your toddler needed to eat 10 minutes ago.

Helpful Toddler Feeding Tools

  • purple toddler plate with sections.
  • toddler utensils with teal and green handles.
  • toddler lunch box with mermaid on it.
  • glass jars with colorful linings for toddler drinks and smoothies.
  • teal and white booster seat for toddler and kids
  • black and white reusable food pouches.
  • plates
  • open cups
  • utensils
  • smoothie cups
  • booster seat
  • suction plate
  • lunch box
  • reusable pouches

TODDLER DAILY NUTRITION GUIDELINES

According to the 2020-2025 Dietary Guidelines for Americans, nutrients of concern for underconsumption in a child’s second year are vitamin D, calcium, fiber, and potassium, so make sure your toddler gets a variety of foods with these nutrients daily.

Below are recommended daily intakes for toddlers of different ages. Still, it’s important to look at what your child eats throughout the whole week instead of focusing on each day since toddlers’ eating habits can be erratic and unpredictable. As long as you keep offering a variety of foods from all of the food groups, your child’s nutrition should balance out each week.

Daily Recommended Intake for Toddlers 12-23 months

  • 700-1,000 calories a day split between 3 meals and 2 snacks
  • Half of the daily calories should be from healthy fats
  • 2/3 – 1 cup of vegetables daily
  • ½ – 1 cup of fruit daily
  • 1 ¾ – 3 ounces of grains daily
  • 1 2/3 – 2 cups of dairy daily
  • 2 ounces of protein daily

Daily Recommended Intake for Toddlers 2-4 years

  • 1,000-1,400 calories a day for girls and 1,000-1,600 calories for boys split between 3 meals and 1-2 snacks
  • Healthy fats should be reduced to about 30% of total daily calories
  • 1-2 cups of vegetables daily
  • 1- 1 ½ cups of fruit daily
  • 3 – 5 ounces of grains daily
  • 2 – 2 ½ cups of dairy daily
  • 2 – 5 ounces of protein daily
smoothie cups 6

HOW TO BUILD A TODDLER MEAL

A good method for building a well-balanced meal for 1-3-year-old toddlers is to include foods from a variety of food groups each day. You don’t have to have all food groups represented at every meal but make sure you offer a protein at all meals and snacks to help keep little bellies full.

A typical toddler plate should be made up of:

  • half fruits and veggies
  • a quarter of grains
  • a quarter protein
  • serving of dairy

When serving dairy products, give whole milk products until age 2. Focus on whole fruits instead of fruit juice and aim to make half of grains whole grains for more fiber and other nutrients.

Offer foods multiple times, even if your toddler acts like he does not like it, because it can take up to 15 times of being presented with a food for a child to develop a taste for it. Try offering foods cooked in a variety of ways so your toddler can explore different tastes and textures. Even better, serve your child what you are eating (in age-appropriate sizes, of course) and eat meals together so you can model healthy eating behaviors for them.

Toddler Breakfast

  • avocado toast for toddler
  • bowl of blueberry oatmeal for toddler.
  • kids hand holding a colorful smoothie cup filled with hidden-veggie smoothie
  • 3 bowls of cottage cheese with chunks of fruit on top
  • sheet pan pancakes with blueberries
  • oat cups with 4 different mix ins for toddler.
  • avocado toast baby toddler s 13
  • Stack of green pancakes for toddler and kids

Toddler Snacks

  • apple with spiced yogurt dip.
  • on the go granola bars for toddler
  • hummus for toddler - fun sun dried tomato humus
  • homemade cheese crackers

Great for On-The-Go Snacking

Healthy Spiced Apple Dip for Toddlers + Kids

Carrot Hummus with Toasted Paprika Pita Chips

Healthy On-The-Go Granola Bars for Toddlers + Kids

Whole Grain Cheese Crackers

14 On-The-Go Healthy Snacks for Kids + Toddlers

Applesauce Mini Muffins

Funfetti Energy Balls

Chewy Mint Chocolate Granola Bars

  • strawberry applesauce for toddler
  • fruit salad is perfect for a toddler snack
  • hidden veggie citrus popsicles
  • mint lime slushy for toddler

Loaded with Fruits or Veggies (or both:)

Hidden-Veggie Carrot & Orange Popsicles

Peach Summer Fruit Salad with Mint + Honey Dressing

Strawberry Applesauce

Healthy Caramel Apple Nachos

Read more: 30 Baseball and Softball Team Snack Ideas | Guide to the Kitchen – Coral

Mint + Lime Slushy

3 No-Cook Toddler Squeeze Pouch Recipes

Warm Peach Chunks with Nutmeg (for Baby & Toddler)

Peanut Butter Banana Baby + Toddler Melts

Blackberry + Cucumber + Melon Toddler Finger Salad

8 5-Minute Applesauce Combos for Toddlers + Kids

Rainbow Frozen Yogurt Bark

Monster Frozen Yogurt Bark

Toddler Dinners

  • pumpkin pasta for toddlers dinner meal
  • amazing chicken nuggets for toddler
  • chicken curry with rice for toddler
  • black bean and strawberry tostadas for toddler

Made in 30-Minutes or less

Easy Cheesy Garlic Broccoli Pasta (family favorite!)

Mild Curry Chicken & Veggies for Toddler + Kids

Easy Instant Pot Mac and Cheese (5 Fun Variations!)

Easy Pizza Pinwheels (with hidden veggies)

Family-Favorite Pumpkin Pasta

Family-Favorite Sheet Pan Shrimp Tacos

Chicken Parmesan Meatballs (family-favorite)

Hidden Veggie Pasta Sauce (Great for Picky Eaters!)

Healthy Chicken Nuggets with Green Bean “Fries”

Crispy Seasoned Fish with Pineapple & Avocado Chunks for Toddler + Kids

Crispy Salmon Bites for Baby + Toddler

Kid-Approved Summer Veggie Pizza

Mini Chicken + Carrot Meatballs for Baby

Fiesta Bowl for Toddlers

Carrot Pasta for Baby + Toddler

See more: 15 Breakfast Sides (Easy Recipes) | Coral's Blog – Food Blog – Cooking Guide

Crispy Chicken Strips

Black Bean Tostadas with Strawberry Salsa

  • hidden veggie sauce for toddler
  • butternut squash pasta for toddler
  • chicken chili verde for toddler and family meal
  • sweet potato boats for toddler lunch

Make Once – Serve for Mulitple Meals

Kid-Friendly Pumpkin Risotto

Easy Salsa Chicken Tacos (family favorite!)

Instant Pot BBQ Chicken (toddler, kid + adult approved)

Mexican Sweet Potato Boats for Baby + Toddler

Veggie-Loaded Tomato Sauce for Toddlers + Kids (Great for Picky Eaters!)

Chicken Chili Verde

Butternut Squash ‘Mac and Cheese’ for Toddler

Toddler Tofu Sticks + Peanut Dipping Sauce

Pulled Pork Sandwiches with Apple Slaw

Toddler Desserts

  • easy chocolate fondue
  • funfetti popsicles for toddler
  • easy oatmeal blueberry cookies for toddler
  • chocolate stir spoons for toddler dessert

Easy Chocolate Fondue for Toddlers + Kids (Dairy-Free)

Monster Frozen Yogurt Bark

Peanut Butter Banana Yogurt Bark (toddler + kid fav!)

Healthy Yogurt Parfait Popsicles for Toddler + Kids

Rainbow Popsicles for Toddler + Kids

Blueberry Oatmeal Cookies

Toddler’s Favorite Banana Pudding – Gluten and Corn Starch Free

Kids Chocolate Stirring Spoons (Allergy-Friendly)

Strawberry Lemonade Slushies for Toddlers + Kids

Green Tropical Smoothie Popsicles

Hidden-Veggie Carrot & Orange Popsicles (Baby + Toddler)

Healthy Funfetti Popsicles for Kids + Toddlers

Refer: Healthy swaps: breakfast | Coral's Blog – Food Blog – Cooking Guide

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