Sharing my top tips for making meal prepping and mealtime easier for little ones.
As a mama of two girls (Jordyn is currently almost 11 months old and Emma is 3 years old) I am always seeking ways to make my life as easy as possible when it comes to meal prep and meal time for my little ones and the entire family. No one wants to spend hours in the kitchen every day when that time could be spent being present with your family, getting work done, or having quality time to yourself doing something you love (for me that’s making it to a workout class).
Over the past 3 years I’ve really found my way in simplifying meal and snack time – making it an easy, seamless and less stressful event. I’m proud to say that my kids eat healthy 99% of the time with mostly homemade meals that they love.
I want meal time to be easy (and healthy) for everyone, so figured I’d share my top tips with you guys!
My advice for making mealtime less stressful:
Pick one day of the week to prep some food/meals: Sunday is when I put some time into meal prep and it totally pays off throughout the week. Sure I spend a bit of time in the kitchen on Sunday, but the remainder of the week I have healthy meals made in under 5 minutes thanks to that prep time. Choose any day of the week that works best for you with your schedule to prepare some meals, roast some vegetables, etc. Just to name a few of my favorite meals to prep that are easy to reheat: baked oatmeal, overnight oats, frittata, pancakes and muffins. For lunch/dinner I make a different protein each week which ranges from chicken meatballs, chicken burgers, sautéed ground turkey that way I can serve it with quinoa, brown rice, greens, pasta, sweet potato ‘fries’, veggies, potatoes etc. throughout the week. I love making a big patch of chili as well to quickly reheat. I also make a batch of my vegan kale pesto that I love to serve with pasta or spread over toast.
Make big batches of foods/meals and utilize leftovers: This goes hand-in-hand with your meal prep day. Anything you make try to make a huge portion of, that way you can refrigerate or freezer it to quickly reheat for the week ahead. If you’re not into having a meal prep day that’s totally cool. I simply recommend making a big batch of a meal whenever you happen to be making it, and then at least the next day or two is easier because you have leftovers. I mentioned above when discussing meal prep that I make baked oatmeal, frittatas, etc – I always make huge batches of these things – sometimes just the baked oatmeal alone can serve breakfast for the entire family for 4 or 5 days!
Roast all the veggies you can: During my meal prep day I roast tons of vegetables – sweet potatoes, zucchini, butternut squash, potatoes, bell peppers, broccoli, cauliflower… the list goes on. I store these veggies in the fridge to use in so many different ways throughout the week. When I have veggies that are already cooked and ready to go I know myself and my kids are more likely to eat them. I throw veggies into smoothies, into pasta, even oatmeal (mashed sweet potato in oatmeal is so good by the way). My goal is to always try to incorporate at least one vegetable in every meal.
Speaking of vegetables…: A healthy and easy snack for kids are vegetables dipped in hummus. Emma finds it SO fun to dip and it gets her eating veggies. I buy pre-cut (makes my life SO much easier) celery and carrot sticks. We also love cucumber with hummus. Jordyn is still to young to chew most of these vegetables since they aren’t cooked, but she does love cucumber!
Smoothies – an easy breakfast solution: One of my biggest meal tips for getting my baby and toddler to eat vegetables is to make a giant smoothie that serves the entire family. This takes me under 5 minutes to make and all of us are happy. I fill my blender with almond milk (about 3 – 4 cups serves my whole family), a healthy fat (almond butter, peanut butter, coconut butter or avocado), fiber (flax or chia seeds), cinnamon, berries or banana, and always a big handful of spinach since you can’t even taste it! I sip the smoothie out of a glass mason jar and I use this mason jar lid and these straws.
Cut fruit the night before: I try to avoid giving my kids packaged snacks as much as possible. Instead of reaching for packaged snacks I always try to give them fresh fruit. I know I’m less likely to give them fruit fruit if I’m in a time crunch and that’s when I reach for those easy packaged snacks. After the kids go to bed I spend just a few minutes cutting up some fruit (berries, watermelon, cantaloupe, pineapple, oranges – anything that will not spoil once it’s cut) and store it in a glass or stainless steel container in the fridge. This way if I’m running out of the house and know they’ll need a snack on the go I can throw the container of cut up fruit into my bag. This is also great to have on hand when we’re home and they need just a little something to hold them over until their next meal.
On packaged food: As mention above, I *try* to avoid packaged snacks, however I’m human and there are times that I don’t have fresh fruit in the house or I simply forgot to cut some up beforehand and just don’t have the time. In these situations I’m realistic and of course packaged food comes into play. I just try to keep this at a minimum. I opt for freeze-dried fruit where the ONLY ingredient is fruit (dried mango, dried strawberries, etc.). Aside from dried fruit I do buy some packaged snacks and for those I make sure it’s a brand I trust with clean and minimal ingredients – always organic and non-GMO if possible.
I hope you enjoyed those tips. I also want to share some of my favorite products that I use for meal time with my little ones that I absolutely LOVE and recommend. Before I get into that I feel the need to make note of one important thing:
As a parent and wellness enthusiast I’ve made the decision to move towards natural, non-toxic and plastic-free products as much as possible – especially when it comes to meal time! EarthHero is a trusted resource for finding truly safe and sustainable products.
Some of my favorite products that I use daily for Emma and Jordyn are this stainless steel kids camping plate, silicone happy mat (makes meal time less of a mess), baby learning bowl, 3-in-1 stainless steel lunch box and kids bamboo utensil set. I linked to the mason jar lid and straw that I use for our smoothies above, but wanted to mention it again!
I know all of these items are for meal time, but my kids actually like using all of these items to play with as well. No need to buy them toys when they prefer to play with this stuff anyway! Jordyn loves the noise everything makes when banged around on the floor since she’s a baby, while Emma brings all of these items into her playroom and pretends to make me meals using these products. She also feeds her dolls with fake food on the plates and bowls.
I’m SOO excited to share that I was able to get you guys a special discount code so you can check out Earth Hero – I know you’re going to love it just like I do! The code is leahsplate for 15% off. They’re have a special sale going on this week in honor of Earth Day, so check it out!
Let me know what your favorite meal planning/prep and mealtime tips are! I’d love to hear them!
This post was made in partnership with Earth Hero, a brand I love and highly recommend.