As a new parent, the health of your little one is at the top of your priority list – but preparing healthy meals can be exhausting and lets face it, sometimes parents don’t have time to cook. Whether you’re running out of food ideas, have a picky eater, or just need something fast for “hangry” little ones, here’s what we’ve found makes for easy, fast and nutritious feedings:
Your baby may crave milk but when you need something a little more filling for their little bellies, we find yogurt is the best alternative. It gives them a chance to start learning how to feed themselves and appears very similar to the milk that they know and love. Add some fruit or Cheerios and make it a parfait for an added baby treat!
2. Apple Sauce
Some folks might cringe at the idea of apple sauce, but it’s a nutritious snack for children who burn lots of calories and energy each day monkeying around and simply growing! Apple sauce provides a source of Vitamin C and natural sugars that keep kids strong and healthy. If homemade, it’s a fun activity to do with little ones to show how food is made. Save on time and money by making in bulk since apple sauce can be frozen in ice cube trays and easily defrosted in the fridge overnight, in a few hours at room temperature, or quickly in the microwave.
In our experience, smoothies are always a top pick with our children. The sweet natural flavours and antioxidents provided in smoothies are a great way to recharge our kiddos after outdoor play — or if they simply won’t eat anything else. *Yummy Tip*: Add yogurt and use frozen fruit to make it especially creamy and refreshing!
4. Cheesestring/Sliced Cheese
Cheese is great anytime as ready-to-eat, finger food for kids. Whether cheesestring (a little more fun for the kids to play and eat) or simple sliced cheese, your children will enjoy this tasty treat. Avoid processed cheese slices as we found it doesn’t sit well for some children (it’s cheaper, but highly processed). Instead opt for sliced Havarti or Swiss Cheese.
5. Cold Cuts
Protein is essential for healthy growing kids and cold cuts provide that without any cooking or cleaning, and is easily served as finger food. Keep a package in the fridge and you’ll always be ready for when the kids are “hangry”!
6. Cherry Tomatoes
We grew cherry tomatoes in our backyard for the added convenience of feeding the kids while they play outside (whom just so happen to have fun watering the cherry tomato plants with their kiddie-sized watering cans). Very low maintenance, cherry tomato plants require only water, sun and space to grow and produce lots of fresh tomatoes from summer to fall, here in Ontario. Save on your grocery bill, teach your child how to garden, and have a healthy snack ready and waiting to be picked. Why not?
Our kids absolutely love berries – specifically blueberries, strawberries, and raspberries. They’re sized perfectly for small hands too! Some parents have concerns about these being a choking hazard and we recommend cutting the berries in half before serving or mashing them up with a fork or spoon. We also suggest that whole berries be given only to littles who have teeth to chew them.
There are many kinds of oatmeal available at the grocers, but we found our kiddos simply preferred baby oatmeal best. As they get older they slowly change preference to adult oatmeal flavours. Breakfast is quick when you just add water/milk/soy to a bowl of oatmeal mix. Filling for most, oatmeal provides a great source of fiber, which is essential and oftentimes lacking for one year olds. If you find your little is constipated, try serving them some oatmeal with fruits.
Fresh-made cooked pasta is best but if you haven’t got the time, a simple can of Chef Boyardee warmed in the microwave will do the trick. If you’re cautious about sodium levels, try low sodium chicken noodle soup instead (*Quick Tip*: If you cook your own chicken noodle soup, you can moderate the sodium content even more!) Other alternatives include delish asian noodles such as Udon or Wonton noodles, which are quick and easy to make and tasty with organic chicken broth — plus babies and toddlers love to play with stringy thingys!
While on-the-go, bananas provide the most nutritious and readily available snack for kids and adult alike. Bananas are high in potassium and fiber. Carry these easy to eat fruits with you when you’re out – and best of all, there’s not much clean up involved! Simply throw away the peel when you’re done.
With these quick and healthy foods ready at home or on-the-go, you’ll always be prepared with nutritious snacks and meals for your child or children. If you have a diaper bag with an insulated pocket or compartments like the ones we carry at LukiBug.com you can easily carry refrigerated food like cheese and yogurt without worrying about them expiring.
What foods do your kids enjoy the most? Share with us in the comments below! We’d love to hear from you!