20 Make Ahead Dinner Ideas for Toddlers

20 Make Ahead Dinner Ideas for Toddlers

Intro

It will come as no surprise to any parent that toddlers can be some of the pickiest eaters out there! As such, you are certainly not alone in seeking inspiration for meals to make your toddler that they will actually eat. And finding meals that are actually good for them is a whole other challenge in itself. But we are here for you with this article!

Delicious and Nutritious?

In this article, we have focused on meals to feed your picky toddler that also actually contain some nutritional value! And as a bonus, many of these are probably meals that you will enjoy as well! Sometimes with toddlers, you have to take what you can get, and we are sure that many of these items will lead to some dinnertime victories.

Quesadillas (Cheese and Veggie)

Let’s start it off with an easy one. All you need for quesadillas are technically a tortilla and some shredded cheese. However, the beauty of these is that you can really add whatever you want. Depending on your toddler’s tastes, try getting as many veggies in there as you can get away with!

Meatballs                 

Meatballs are another easy dish to make, and they taste great. You can make meatballs with ground beef, turkey, chicken, or pork. They go great on top of pastas, rice, or on their own.

Mac and Cheese

Mac and cheese is always a safe bet, and it doesn’t have to be the boxed variety. Mac and cheese is relatively easy to make on its own, and you can use the fancy, non-processed cheeses! Try tossing some peas into it for some extra nutritional value.

Chicken Noodle Soup

Chicken noodle soup is easy to make, and its flavour profile is mild enough to be enjoyed by any picky eater. Not to mention you can load it up with veggies as well.

Chili

Chili

Chili is a great option because you can make enough to last a few meals. Make a big pot on Sunday and you can have enough to last you all week.

Risotto

Risotto is a safe bet for toddlers everywhere. Risotto is a delicious option and the recipe doesn’t take that long to make either. And of course, it’s a great meal for adults as well!

Omelettes

Now we’re pushing into breakfast-for-dinner category, but it’s no big deal! After all, if your toddler will eat it, then breakfast recipes are usually a good meal! Omelettes are a healthy breakfast choice that you can pack full of different protein and veggie options as well.

Cheeseburgers

What kid doesn’t like burgers? A real crowd pleaser which gets kind of a bad rep as “junk” food. A home-made burger can be a pretty well-rounded meal, and the patty can be made with either beef, chicken, or a vegetarian option like tofu. Be sure to load it up with as many veggies (tomato, lettuce, pickle, onion) as your toddler will eat. Put some sweet potato on the side as a healthy snack.

Sandwiches

Sandwiches are always a solid bet, and your toddler almost certainly has their share of favourites. From a classic ham and swiss, to a tuna salad, there are so many options with sandwiches. Make them on multigrain bread for those added grains.

Chicken and Veggies

A basic meal of chicken and veggies is a solid weekday staple. Some grilled chicken breasts and steamed broccoli is a healthy meal, and without any strong flavours it’s often a favourite for toddlers as well. Toss the veggies and shredded chicken into some cold pasta noodles for an easy pasta salad.

Fish Sticks

Fish sticks are a great choice that kids love. You can make your own or buy them frozen, although home-made tends to be the healthier choice. Serve them with some mini potatoes and a side of veggies and you have a well-rounded, full meal.

Tortilla Pizzas

Tortilla pizzas are so easy to make. Some tortillas, tomato sauce, cheese, and any toppings you want. And of course your kids will like them, it’s pizza!

Pesto Pasta

Pesto pasta is an easy meal, and pesto is a healthy alternative to a cream-based pasta sauce. Try making your own pesto, it’s easier than you think. This can be cooked up for dinner, eaten cold for lunches, or however you prefer.

Chicken Fingers

Chicken fingers are basically a classic choice for kids of all ages, but what adult doesn’t like them, too? Make your own or buy them frozen, just be sure that they include quality chicken.

Pork Chops and Carrots

Pork Chops and Carrots

Pork chops are another simple protein option that can be cooked in well under an hour. Throw some steamed carrots on the side and you’ve got a full meal.

Fruit and Yogurt

Fruit and yogurt is a simple combination but sometimes with toddlers you have to keep it simple. This is easy, sweet, and tasty.

Scrambled Eggs and Toast

Just some basic eggs and toast, and we continue down our path of breakfast for dinner. Scrambled eggs are so easy and it’s hard to find a toddler that won’t eat eggs. They are a great source of protein, and you can have them on toast or even in a sandwich.

Breakfast Sandwiches

While we’re on the subject of eggs and bread, why not go all out and have breakfast sandwiches for dinner? Some fried eggs, tomatoes, spinach, bacon, and cheese is all you need! These are delicious sandwiches on their own right.

Hot Dogs and Mixed Veggies

It doesn’t get much more kid-friendly than hot dogs. While not the most traditionally healthy food, sometime you just want something your picky toddler will eat. And hot dogs aren’t so bad, they’re at least a decent source of protein. But try to at least serve with some veggies for some nutritional value.

Cereal!

And we’ve saved the simplest for last. Yep, cereal. Sometimes when your toddler won’t eat anything else, cereal does the trick. Sometimes you have to just pick your battles, and cereal is certainly easy enough to prepare.

Conclusion

Thanks for checking out our meal ideas for toddlers! As you can see, preparing meals for toddlers is truly an “anything goes” sort of situation. Toddlers can be picky eaters, but you will find that if you offer them healthy foods that are cooked the right way, you can help expand their horizons so that they become less and less picky as they grow!

Best Snack Containers for Toddlers

Parents on the go understand how important it is to have snacks ready at all times for toddlers. A hungry toddler can cause quite a commotion, and being able to fill up their belly on the go is an essential trick for every parent’s skillset. To have snacks handy on the go parents need the best snack containers for toddlers.

Check out some of our favorite toddler snack containers below!

4-Piece Snack Containers Seleware Portable and Stackable – This is such a great snack container for slipping into your bag. Toddlers can be super picky eaters and what they love for a snack today may be completely different tomorrow. The Seleware 4-Piece snack containers gives you options. These containers are stackable and twist together for easy carrying.

You can have four different snacks handy and ready to go for your toddler when you use this snack container. The top container also looks like a Panda bear. Color options include green, blue, orange, and brown.

Pros:

  • Twist lock system
  • Four separate containers each a different size—5, 6, 9, and 11 ounces
  • Made of BPA and Phthalate free materials
  • Stain and odor resistant
  • Microwave safe up to three minutes
  • Freezer safe
  • Dishwasher safe
  • Temperature resistance from -40 degree Celsius to 109 degrees Celsius
  • Silicone ring inside the lids to ensure leakproof and airtight
  • Weighs only 12 ounces

Cons:

  • Plastic will melt in the microwave if you use high power for more than three minutes

We love this super easy to use snack container for traveling and having options ready on the go. This isn’t a snack container that toddlers can use themselves, but it is the perfect snack containers for picky toddlers. Parents can even use this snack container for healthy snacks at work like almonds, grapes, cheese cubes, and sunflower seeds.

Munchkin 2 Piece Snack Catcher- Toddlers are messy. There’s no real way to get around it, but the munchkin snack catcher is a great way to keep little messes under control.

Each container holds up to nine ounces, and the lid is designed so that your child’s hand can reach in and grab a snack but turn it upside down or shake the container without any food falling out. The lid is twist on, and there is a handle on each side to make carrying the container around easier on tiny hands. We also love that this container fits in most standard cup holders in cars and strollers.

Pros:

  • Spill-proof
  • Twist-on lid
  • Holds up to nine ounces
  • BPA free
  • Top-rack dishwasher safe
  • Perfect for toddlers 12 months and up
  • Two-pack offered in green/blue or orange/pink combination
  • Flexible lid flaps provide easy access to tiny hands

Cons

  • Lids are not interchangeable between Munchkin products
  • Some toddlers may be able to twist off the cap

Munchkin snack containers are an excellent option for toddlers who get hungry in the car or like to graze and snack. Your little one can carry this snack container around, and you don’t have to worry about spilling snacks all over the floor. Your toddler will love the independence of carrying around their own snack and feeding themselves.

Bentgo Box- The Bentgo Box is one of our favorite lunchboxes for toddlers and it’s a great way to give your toddler lots of different options of snacks to choose from. The Bentgo Box has drop-proof, rubber-coated edges for durability.

Your toddler’s food will stay fresh and mess-free when you use the Bentgo Lunch box because of the separate compartments. One of the best things about this lunch box, however, is the removable trays that allow you to pop the food into the microwave easily to reheat if you desire. The trays are also dishwasher safe and clean up easily by hand as well.

Pros:

  • Bestselling lunch box for toddler
  • Compartments for easy food portioning
  • Reduces plastic waste for baggies
  • Removable trays
  • Slim design
  • Durable
  • Dishwasher and microwave safe
  • Comes in three fun colors—purple, blue and green
  • Leakproof
  • BPA-free materials
  • 2-year warranty and customer support through Bentgo

Cons:

  • The Bentgo Box doesn’t keep food hot or cold. You’ll need to pack the Bento Box in an additional thermal lunch box if you need to keep food at a specific temperature

The Bentgo Box is an excellent choice for parents who want to offer lots of different choices for toddlers to eat; it lets toddler “graze”. The Bentgo Box is not insulated; however, so if your child’s snacks needs to be kept cold, this option may not be the best for you.

Skip Hop Toddler Snack Cup- Skip hop is at it again offering super cute containers. The Skip Hop Toddler Snack Cup support independent eating without making big messes. The handle has grooves for tiny hands that make holding the cup super-easy and the snap top lid ensures that snacks stay fresh.

The inside opening features flexible flaps for toddler’s hands to comfortable fit through to retrieve a snack without snacks spilling out. The cup comes in seven different adorable animals’ patterns including unicorn, llama, narwhal, and bumblebee.

Pros:

  • BPA, phthalate, and PVC free
  • Snap-on lid, so food is sure to stay fresh
  • Flexible interior opening for tiny hands to fit comfortably
  • No-spill
  • Easy-grip handle
  • Seven animal designs to choose from
  • Top screws off for easy clean
  • Clear body so parents can see when empty
  • Holds up to 24 ounces

Cons:

  • Not dishwasher safe

The Skip Hop toddler cup offers an adorable design that allows toddlers to feed themselves without making a mess. The snap-on top keeps food fresh and comes off for easy cleaning. We wish this snack cup for toddlers was dishwasher safe, but they are easy to clean out quickly in the sink.

Toddler snack containers are a great asset when it comes to baby-led weaning and toddler feeding. You will get a ton of use out of any of these toddler snack containers, and your little one will love their new independence.

For more toddler lunch supplies, check out these posts:

Best Lunch Boxes for Toddlers – super cute and FUNCTIONAL

Sending your toddler to school or daycare for the first time is exciting, and your parenting skills are probably going into overdrive. You’ll be doing everything you can to make sure that your little one will have the best first day ever, including a brand-new, super cute, but also extremely functional lunch box for toddlers.

If you’re packing your toddler’s lunches for daycare or preschool, check out some of my favorite toddler lunch boxes that you and your child will both love!

Bentgo Kids Lunch Box

We love the Bentgo Box for picnics, taking snacks to siblings’ extracurricular activities or anytime we’re on the go! Compartment lunch boxes cut down on plastic waste while also having a smaller sized lunch box for little eaters. The Bentgo Kids Lunch Box is far superior to your average compartment lunch box because each compartment is sized for perfect portions for children.

The Bentgo lunch box is designed specifically for kids 3-7 years old and even has drop-proof, rubber-coated edges for durability. Your toddler’s food will stay fresh and mess-free even on bumpy bus rides when you use the Bentgo Lunch box. One of the best things about this lunch box, however, is the removable trays that allow you to pop the food into the microwave easily to reheat if you desire. The trays are also dishwasher safe and clean up easily by hand as well.

Pros:

  • Easy-open latches
  • Compartments for easy food portioning
  • Reduces plastic waste for baggies
  • Removable trays
  • Slim design
  • Durable
  • Dishwasher and microwave safe
  • Comes in three fun colors—purple, blue and green
  • Leakproof
  • BPA-free materials
  • 2-year warranty and customer support through Bentgo

Cons:

  • The Bentgo Box doesn’t keep food hot or cold. You’ll need to pack the Bento Box in an additional thermal lunch box if you need to keep food at a specific temperature

The Bentgo Kids Lunch Box is an excellent choice for parents who are focusing on portions and meeting all five food groups during their lunch meals. The Bentgo Box is not thermal however so if your child’s lunch needs to be kept cold, this option may not be the best for you.

Skip Hop Zoo Insulated Lunch Box

Kids love animals, and parents love the Skip Hop Zoo Insulated Lunch Box. You can choose from a cute red fox, adorable puppy, or a precious raccoon among all sorts of other creatures. These lunch boxes have friendly faces, and that are bright and colorful, and matching zipper-pulls too for ease of use.

These insulated lunch boxes are sized perfectly for kids or moms carrying snacks for toddlers on the go. The bag is soft sided and has a roomy compartment that can hold sandwiches, drinks, and snacks, and even has a mesh interior pocket for an icepack, utensils, or lunch money.

Pros:

  • Cute fun designs that are gender-neutral
  • Wipe clean interior
  • Insulated to keep food and drinks cold
  • Top handle that can clip onto a backpack and is adjustable
  • BPA and Phthalate free
  • Mesh interior pocket
  • Large roomy compartment
  • Interior name tag
  • More than 20 animal options to choose from
  • Matching bags, cups, and other accessories

Cons:

  • Only one compartment so food can get smooshed if not packed in hard sized containers

We love the Skip Hop Zoo insulated lunch boxes because they’re very well made, super cute, and come in lots of gender-neutral designs that will make you want to collect them all! These lunch boxes are also part of a much larger line of zoo animal accessories for kids, including backpacks that your children will love. The Bentgo Box mentioned above also fits easily into this lunch box if you want to use both together to minimize food being smashed.

PackIt Freezable Lunch Bag

The PackIt lunch boxes are made from patented technology that includes freezing gel built into the walls of the bag to ensure that your toddler’s food stays fresh and safe to eat. You’ll never need a separate icepack to keep this lunch box cool which leaves plenty of space for sandwiches, snacks, and even a thermos.

The PackIt lunch box folds down flat so you can stick it into the freezer the night before and the zip-top closure locks in the cold so that your child’s food tastes great and stays cool. There’s also an adjustable buckle handle that clips onto bookbags, strollers, or totes. You’ll never have to worry about toxins either since the PackIt brand only uses nontoxic poly canvas and a food-safe lining that’s also water-resistant.

Pros:

  • Made from 100% nontoxic materials
  • Freezable gel permanently built into the bag for ultimate cooling
  • Food safe interior
  • Foldable design to lay flat in the freezer
  • Zip-top closure
  • Wipe clean interior
  • Dozens of color and design options
  • Buckle handle
  • Roomy interior
  • Zip pocket on the front for lunch money, utensils

Cons:

  • Only one interior compartment so if you don’t back the lunch box well you risk smashing the food inside
  • Not useful for keeping food hot

PackIt is a great brand and the original inventor of the freezable lunch box. These bags are designed in California, and PackIt makes more than just toddler lunch boxes. There are freezable traveler lunch boxes, soft-sided coolers, and even totes with the patented freezing technology. We love that Packit offers an enormous variety of colors and style options for their toddler lunch boxes.

Amersun Kids Lunch Bag

If you’ve been looking for a soft-sided lunch box with more than one compartment that is padded and durable enough to withstand your toddler, the Amersun Kids Lunch Bag is the perfect choice. The is a mesh compartment on the inside of the lip, a zipper compartment on the outside, a large interior compartment, as well as a mesh drink holder on the side. The handle is firm, adjustable, rip-proof and can buckle onto book bags or strollers with ease.

Pros:

  • Multiple compartments
  • Not too big or bulky, but has outside pockets for an extra snack or a drink
  • Water-resistant and dirt-proof oxford fabric material
  • Easy to clean interior and exterior
  • Stays warm or cool
  • Dual zipper with wide open-top design
  • Strong, nylon handles
  • Weighs only 8.8 ounces

Cons

  • Not Leak Proof

The Amersun Kids Lunch Bag is perfect for traveling with toddlers who need lots of snacks or sending your little one off to school with for the first time. You’ll never have to worry about the durability of this lunch box for toddlers, but be careful, because this lunch box is not leakproof. Any spills that may happen inside the lunch box are not guaranteed to stay inside.

No matter what your needs are for your toddler’s lunch box, one of these are sure to be the perfect fit. You can also use a few of them for yourself if needed. They are also all affordable, practical, functional, and cute!

More Lunch Packing Supplies for Toddlers:

Best Bento Box for Toddlers

Bento Boxes are reusable Japanese-style lunch boxes that are perfect for toddlers because they keep food separated without having to use wasteful plastic bags or containers. Bento boxes are the most environmentally friendly lunchboxes and great for families that love packing fresh foods and homemade meals for their toddlers.

Check out our recommendations for the best Bento style lunch boxes for toddlers.

Bentgo Kids Brights Box

The Bentgo Kids lunchboxes are leak-proof with five compartments and perfect for kids age three to seven. The Bentgo Kids lunchbox is BPA free and made from food-safe materials. What makes this lunchbox perfect for toddlers is the durable, drop-proof construction with rubber-coated edges.

Pros:

  • Leak-proof technology
  • Durable construction
  • 2-year warranty
  • Kid-friendly latches
  • One main compartment, and four sides designed for child-size portions
  • Bentgo supports the Feed the Children charity
  • Many colors to choose from

Cons

  • The Bentgo Box does not keep food cold. This box needs to go inside a lunch box with an ice pack
  • Some people have trouble with the latches snapping off

The Bentgo Box is designed with a toddler’s appetite in mind and is an excellent choice for parents of children who are picky eaters and don’t want their food to touch. The tray insert is dishwasher friendly and is made from easy to clean materials that are BPA free and non-toxic.

Fun Life Bento Lunch Box

This five compartment Bento lunch box is perfect for kids, toddlers, or adults. Each portion compartment is individually removable and made from FDA food safe and BPA free materials. This box encourages food variety in little ones, and they can even help choose which foods to put in the containers if you want to make mealtime more self-directed by your child. We also love the leakproof design with four clips on each side for extra security and a tight-fitting lid.

Pros:

  • 5 Removable compartments
  • Microwave safe
  • Dishwasher safe
  • Refrigerator safe
  • Leakproof design
  • Durable construction
  • Includes insulated lunch box bag
  • Rubberized edges

Cons:

  • Insulated bag keeps food at temperature for 2-4 hours. You’ll need an icepack to ensure food stays cool longer than that
  • Only microwaveable safe for up to three minutes
  • The lid is not microwaveable
  • Food can stain the compartments

This bento box is great for toddlers because the cups are removable pick means you can tailor the lunch that goes into the box for your child’s appetite. You can even choose just to use two cups which would make a three-portion meal design. You’ll have to be careful with microwaving this bento box, however. While the product info says it is microwave safe, the lid is not, and there are limitations for how long you can heat the plate for.

Ultimate Bento Box

We love this Bento Box because the containers are moveable and include a built-in removable icepack, so you don’t ever have to worry about your bento box staying cold. The lunch box is also 100 percent leakproof, microwave and dishwasher safe. You’ll have several color options with each option including a two-color design. The box is divided into three compartments with two lids. The middle compartment is divided for two portions of just over 8 ounces each, and two removable compartments are in the bottom.

Pros:

  • Leakproof with four easy-open latches
  • Four removable compartments
  • Three tiers
  • Built-in removable icepack
  • Microwave safe
  • Dishwasher safe
  • Food grade safe materials, BPA free
  • Satisfaction guarantee

Cons:

  • Can be difficult for toddlers to assemble if they are eating lunch alone
  • No handle

The Ultimate Bento Box is great for anyone in the family to use and is made from durable, food-safe materials that parents can trust. The leak-proof design is perfect for busy kids on the go, but we wish this bento box had a handle, especially since the built-in icepack means you don’t necessarily need an additional lunch bag to transport the Ultimate Bento Box in.

OmieBox Bento Box with Thermos

If you want your child to have a mix of hot and cold foods at lunch, the OmieBox is an excellent choice because the three compartments allow for two different temperature zones. There is also a thermos insert that allows hot food to be packed inside easy. This box uses BPA free plastic, food-grade materials, and stainless steel to ensure that your food stays insulated, no matter the temperature. When you don’t use the thermos insert, space becomes a fourth compartment big enough for a sandwich.

Pros:

  • Hot and cold foods together in one bento box
  • Three to four compartments
  • Removable thermos inserts
  • Easy to clean
  • Removable rubber seals
  • Replacement seals available
  • Handle

Cons:

  • Insulated compartments keep food cool and fresh but not cold

We love this bento box because you ensure your toddler has something warm to eat at lunch even when it’s lunch from home. This lunchbox for toddlers also has a handle and can space to fit an icepack if you want to keep food cooler than the insulated compartments allow. The seals on the OmieBox do wear out with use, but rather than replace the entire lunchbox, and parents can order additional removable seals as replacements.

Eco-Friendly Bento Box

If the reason you choose the bento-style lunchbox is to save plastic, this bento box by Eco-Life Home Design is a great choice for your toddler. The box is leakproof, freezer and microwave safe and includes four compartments for foods and one tiny compartment for a sauce. The box consists of a reusable set of utensils, and everything is made from wheat fiber and BPA free plastic. The box is designed to break down in a compost facility and is also super easy to clean.

Pros:

  • 70% Wheat Fiber makes this a very eco-friendly design
  • Created to break down in compost
  • Includes fork and spoon
  • Four compartments and sauce compartment
  • Removable clasps for easy cleaning
  • Leakproof
  • One year manufacturer warranty

Cons:

  • No insulation
  • No handle
  • Bland design

This bento box is FDA approved and perfect for the environmentally conscious family. We also love that this company partners with One Tree Planted to plant a tree for each of their bento boxes sold. Your toddler might not like that there aren’t bright colors or characters on their bento box.

Bento boxes are a great way to promote a healthy variety of foods and great portion control. There are many different styles of bento boxes that could work for your toddler, but we are sure that one that you read about above will be the perfect fit for your child.

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