If you’re feeding a free-from toddler, no matter how many restrictions there are, meals can feel hard. It’s even more compounded if your child has entered a selective/picky eating phase. Today I’m sharing some toddler meal ideas, as well as a few tips for you.
Feeding a Free-From Kid Five Times a Day
Most toddlers are on a feeding schedule that includes five meals per day (three mains + two snacks). That’s a lot to think about when you can’t rely on packaged/convenience foods.
My first big tip: Keep Meals Simple. You can serve very basic foods to your toddler and they’ll be happy. Pasta tossed in a little oil alongside ground meat and a dip makes kiddos happy. There’s no need to overthink things.
Next tip: Meal Plan. It can be a loose/casual meal plan. The goal is to rotate through a range of foods to make sure your nutrition bases are covered.
Tip number three: Batch cook foods your toddler loves that are also freezer friendly. Muffins are an excellent starting point for this. Cooking EVERY meal day in and day out isn’t sustainable. You’ll need to become your own source of convenience foods.
Use an Easy Meal Formula
As you can see in the photo, I’m a sucker for cute toddler plates. You can use regular plates and be just fine. A divided plate makes the formula method a little easier in my opinion.
Protein + Starch/Carb + Produce. Done. How simple was that?
You’ll also want to include healthy fats. Some fall under produce, such as avocado, and sometimes it will be with something else you’ve served (such as noodles tossed in oil).
If the formula idea works for you, run with it. You can rotate through seasonal produce to keep meals interesting. When meal planning, make a chart with 3 or 4 columns. Label them for Protein, starch/carb, produce, and fat. Then, fill them in with foods your toddler enjoys, or they’re learning to enjoy.
Deconstruct What You’re Already Eating
In many homes with a free-from toddler, it’s not uncommon for the whole family to become free-from. Many parents worry about crumbs on the floor/table that their toddler can eat and prefer to keep the home free from allergens.
This means whatever you’re already eating is probably safe (allergen wise) for your toddler. Deconstruct it and serve it on a divided plate for them. This means less work for you, too 🙂
An example. You’re making egg free fried rice. As you cook each component of the dish, set a little aside for your toddler. Grown ups (and big kids) get the mixed together fried rice and your toddler has a deconstructed plate to enjoy.
Top 9 Allergy Free, Gluten Free Toddler Meal Ideas (as Photoed)
Let’s take a look at the photo and how these meal ideas can be varied as well.
Taco Spaghetti = Noddles + Ground Seasoned Meat + Avocado Sauce. Notice the formula in use there? Any pasta dish can be served deconstructed like this.
Pancakes & Produce = GF Top 9 Free Pancakes + Blueberries + Lunchbox Peppers. Whilst this isn’t a perfect representation of the formula, that’s OK. Not every meal has to have all three components. Produce can be fresh or frozen. The free-from pancake recipes on RAISE are all freezer friendly, meaning you can batch cook and make your life easier.
Rice & Veggies = Seasoned Rice + Broccoli + Pepper Strips. Again, we’re not representing all three categories and that’s OK. Remember, toddlers are in little bodies and their protein requirements aren’t that of a grown man.
Muffin & Fruit = Batch Cooked Muffins + Produce on Hand. Not every meal needs to be made from scratch or purchased from the farmer’s market yesterday. Lean into your freezer.
Waffles & Fruit = Batch Cooked Waffles + Seasonal Sliced Fruit. Have fun with colour. This particular waffle is green (spinach). When you feed your child a range of colours, you’re giving them a range of nutrients that will strengthen their biome.
Rice & Produce = Seasoned Rice + Quartered Cherry Tomatoes + Match Stick Papaya. OXO makes a grape slicer that you can also use on cherry tomatoes. These are choking hazards for small children and slicing makes meals safer for them. To make your life easier, you could cook up a big batch of rice, divide into 3 or 4 portions, then season each one differently. Now you have four options to pull from throughout the week.
Need More Free-From Toddler Meals and Resources?
Check out these additional resources we have on our RAISE Membership website, all aimed at helping your free-from toddler thrive.