Toddlers are notoriously picky eaters.
And as much as you’ve tried to use the advice in books like French Kids Eat Everything, your kid probably does not eat everything, if she’s anything like mine.
I have four criteria that I run all of my toddler dinner ideas through. These are the litmus test to determine whether it’s a go:
- Is it healthy? Chicken fingers and fries or mac n’ cheese need not apply (at least, not every night!)
- Will everyone eat & enjoy it? I want to make recipes that my toddler will eat, and the rest of the family will enjoy, too.
- Is it easy to make, eat, and store? Bonus points for recipes that can be made ahead or prepared in under 30 minutes, foods that aren’t a total mess for my kid to eat, and that can be stored for leftovers.
All of the recipes below fit these criteria and will become your go-to’s.
- 9+ Toddler Dinner Ideas That Everyone Will Enjoy
- # 1: Hearty Black Bean Quesadillas
- #2: Cauliflower Mashed Fauxtatoes with Meatballs
- #3: Turkey Pot Pie
- #4: Chunky Chicken Noodle Soup
- #5: Cauliflower Shepard’s Pie
- #6: Meat & Vegetable Lasagna
- #7: Slow-Cooker Lentil Butternut Squash Stew
- #8: Sweet Potato Black Bean Enchiladas
- #9: Cauliflower Quinoa Casserole
- What's Your Top Toddler-Friendly Dinner Recipe?
9+ Toddler Dinner Ideas That Everyone Will Enjoy
The beauty about the recipes below is that they're versatile, which is a must-have when you're trying to feed a family.
You can add, subtract, and swap out ingredients for most of the recipes to make them gluten-free, dairy-free, or just add more veggies. #winning!
They're also weeknight recipes, so they're easy and quick to prepare. In 30 minutes or less you'll have fresh, delicious toddler-approved dinner on the table. I make most of these recipes with my toddler sitting in her lobster high chair attached to the kitchen counter… “helping” ?
# 1: Hearty Black Bean Quesadillas
I've been making this Black Bean Quesadilla recipe from Budget Bytes for years, and it never disappoints. Hearty, delicious and easy to customize, it’s ready in 20 minutes and you can batch cook them ahead and freeze for easy weeknight dinners or lunches.
You can add ground meat to it for more protein (though there’s plenty with cheese and black beans) and swap out the flour tortillas for a gluten-free option if you prefer.
Let your kiddo dip in guacamole for a dose of brain-boosting fats.
Protip: These quesadillas will typically need to be cut into 4 pieces. Choose the two end pieces for your toddler so they can keep it together like a taco.
#2: Cauliflower Mashed Fauxtatoes with Meatballs
Potatoes are one of the most toddler-accepted foods, because, well… they’re delicious. Especially fried and dipped in ketchup.
But beyond potassium and a few other minerals, the starchy root vegetable is not exactly a superfood. I try to limit the amount of starches and simple carbs my kid eats, so instead of your traditional “meat and potatoes” option, I like to swap with cauliflower.
Protip: I love to throw some hemp seeds into whatever meatball recipe I use to provide some of the texture you lose with bread crumbs – plus they’re insanely healthy and great for your toddler’s brain. Manitoba Harvest is my go-to brand but any hemp will do.
#3: Turkey Pot Pie
All of the recipes that I grew up with eating, like turkey pot pie, casserole, stew, and lasagna are making a come back. And luckily, they’re coming back healthier and easier to make!
Of course, you can still enjoy the old versions of the classics, but I’ve found the healthier versions to be just as good (with a few exceptions – this not being one of them!).
I’ve made this Turkey Pot Pie recipe a few times and it’s always a hit. Sometimes I swap the turkey out with chicken or grass-fed ground beef, depending on what I have leftover. The recipe is low-carb and uses almond flour instead of traditional white.
Protip: The recipe comes from a keto source, so it uses heavy cream. I don’t love using too much dairy, so I swap that heavy cream out with cashew milk (Silk brand is great). That also lowers the calorie count and helps you stay on track.
#4: Chunky Chicken Noodle Soup
My toddler is obsessed with this chicken noodle soup and will eat it all day long. She rarely eats her lunch entre I sent to daycare (so… wait, why do I still send one?!), unless it’s this.
I always add diced cabbage to the recipe to boost the veggie count, and sometimes dice some kale and add it as well. Poppy tends to try to avoid the kale, though.
#5: Cauliflower Shepard’s Pie
Again with the cauliflower in place of potatoes in a traditional comfort meal! When I nannied in college, the family would make shepherd's pie all the time and the kids loved it. So when trying to come up with toddler-friendly recipes, it came to mind immediately.
But I wanted a version that was healthier and less carb-loaded, so I found this Ground Turkey Cauliflower Shepherd’s Pie recipe from The Beachouse Kitchen.
It’s a winner! Huge bonus is that you can make it ahead and freeze for later.
#6: Meat & Vegetable Lasagna
When I was growing up, this lasagna recipe was a staple. It’s now become my favorite comfort food and a no-brainer go-to recipe whenever I want to make a meal stretch over several days, or am entertaining (it’s always a hit).
I use this exact recipe but add zucchini, red peppers, and diced spinach on top of the ricotta cheese step.
Protip: The recipe, like most lasagna recipes, is versatile. You can add veggies, subtract herbs, swap traditional lasagna noodles out for zucchini or gluten-free noodles, or just enjoy as-is.
#7: Slow-Cooker Lentil Butternut Squash Stew
Do preschoolers LOVE sweet potatoes, or is that just my kid?
I’m totally fine with it, because sweet potatoes are full of nutrients, and also delicious so I don’t feel like I have to eat toddler foods only. This recipe from Oh She Glows is a stew that’s made in the slow cooker (my best friend) and is both nutritious and super tasty.
Protip: Skip the chili powder so it’s not spicy for your kiddo and add in some red pepper flakes on your own meal if you want the kick.
#8: Sweet Potato Black Bean Enchiladas
If ya’ll are as down with sweet potatoes as we are, this enchilada recipe from Minimalist Baker won’t disappoint.
Full of nutrients from the black beans and sweet potatoes, plus kale (which you can skip if your kid is a greens detective), it checks all of the boxes.
Protip: Skip the jalapenos for your toddler and take ‘em all for yourself.
#9: Cauliflower Quinoa Casserole
For some reason, casseroles are the ultimate toddler food. Easy-to-make, hearty, and you can pack in plenty of vegetables, they’re versatile and delicious.
I’m a big fan of broccoli cheese and potato casserole but let’s be honest: that doesn’t exactly check off the “healthy” box.
So broadening your casserole horizons, check out this Cauliflower Mushroom Casserole. Yes, more cauliflower, but also mushrooms, quinoa, and fresh basil for a vitamin-packed, delicious, and easy-to-prepare casserole.
What's Your Top Toddler-Friendly Dinner Recipe?
We'd love to continue to add to this list! What's your favorite recipe?