I am sitting in the car stumped, limited time to grocery shop, twin toddlers and no meal plan. Help!
Food52 had a great series of columns featuring foods for Merrill's first child https://food52.com/blog...
As mother of a two year old, my answer really is "they eat what we eat," but on the days we are doing something spicy or I am completely out of time, I fall back on the simple principle of "protein, veggie, fruit." I keep sausages in the freezer, a few kinds of cheese and some eggs in the fridge. That can turn into a scramble or omelette really quick or just pick one, cook if necessary, and cut into chunks. Protien done.
I always have a bag of frozen peas and carrots and a bag of frozen corn I can heat up and toss on the plate. You could also find frozen or precut sweet potato cubes. I've never met a toddler who won't eat a sweet potato. Veggie done.
Fruit is the easiest if you ask me. Grab some precut melon, an apple, grapes, berries, banana, anything really. Cut and they're on the plate. Fruit done. Toddler dinner done with little to no cooking. keep the supplies in hand and you'll never go wrong.
I've noticed that if you put cheese on just about anything, my toddler will eat it. Same with pizza, so in always keep a frozen crust around. That can be time consuming though, and English muffins with really well in a pinch. With pizza, you can let them choose which veggie they want and they can help you make their little English muffin pizzas, which always gets my kid excited about dinner. Quesadillas and omelettes/scrambles work the same way. Add enough cheese and you're golden. And the salad bar is my best friend. A little pricy, but the convenience of getting a tiny amount of pre-prepped veggies and fruits is totally worth it in a pinch.
There was also a column called Dinner vs. Child that might be helpful https://food52.com/blog...
The response from smozark has lots of practical advice.
For additional practical advice, try one of these blogs about cooking for and feeding toddlers...see which speaks to you, or has recipes your kids like. But/and these moms and kids are facing the same daily demands that you are.
Last, for just good cooking advice and writing, there are chefs and cookbook authors who write - among other things - about cooking for their children.
Generally, don't go for restaurant chefs, but yes Alice Waters about some foods her daughter liked when young (Fanny at Chez Panisse), but maybe not as young as yours are now.
Or, Laurie Colwin in her books (collected food journalism) like Home Cooking.
Also, basic household manuals cover the waterfront, including the kid waterfront. Two classics in this are the American Joy of Cooking & Italian Talisman (Ada Boni).
Have a good and productive time....
I'm the mother of two former toddlers (now 17 and 21). By and large they did eat what we ate. I agree about the cheese, though. I often made them orzo with grated cheddar on top as a lunch. I always provided a fresh salad with dinner, and fresh vegetables. If I felt like it, I'd occasionally make chicken cutlet strips, rolled in seasoned flour and sauteed. If we were eating something spicy, I'd hold a portion aside and cook it for them without the spice. I ALWAYS made brown rice on the side, never white. Recently I bought a package of Uncle Ben's white rice for after my daughters dental surgery, and made it a few times. She insisted I go back to brown rice! (I sautee it first, with garlic to make a pilaf, then add boiling water, so it's not gloppy). They really prefer brown rice these days, they both eat healthily, and are fairly adventurous with their food choices.
My former toddler, now 15, always ate what we ate and still does. If you assume that kids won't eat certain things and don't give it to them they will never eat it for sure. Our rule was and is that we try every once. I also was wisely advised to refuse the kids menu full of horrors. Instead I ordered my toddler healthy items from the regular menu. Otherwise you will have a teenager who eats chicken fingers and fries eating habits are formed by age 6.
grab a hot chicken, a couple of bread rolls, packet gravy, frozen peas, a couple of carrots, and some cheese. cook the peas. cut the carrots into sticks. add hot water to the gravy. pull the chicken apart. a few slices of cheese. put it on a plate and let them have at it.
Most anything they can eat with their fingers always worked. Fresh vegetables were a favorite, as were fruit cut to fit their little hands.
My daughter who now has a daughter of her own, always ate what we ate with few exceptions. If it was something off the charts spicy, I usually made a portion that wasn't so spicy. She loved halibut fish sticks (as in homemade baked halibut sticks..no breading) and was appalled to see what her friends called fish sticks when she had dinner at their houses. Chicken tenders were also a favorite. We won't talk about the raw oysters and caviar she and her friend Alex found sitting on ice and devoured at 4 years old.
Now is the time to establish good eating habits. Toddlers are just learning to establish their independence and food can become their favorite battlefield. We refused to engage and kept mealtimes peaceful and positive. As my daughter's pediatrician thought me, they really won't starve themselves.
To this day, my daughter thanks me for always cooking real, varied and somewhat adventurous food and not falling into the fast food after the soccer match trap.
I agree (in part). My son ate anything and everything (steamed mussels and clams at 2!) and when he turned three, power struggles started, and he now refuses to eat certain things, although at 4 he's getting better. I have experimented enough that now I know what meals I make that he loves. Kale, white bean, sausage soup, farfalle pasta with squash, zucchini, broccoli, and goat cheese, hamburgers, any type of fish, etc. If we had to eat the same things over and over again I'd go crazy, so what I do is make sure there's at least something on his plate he's familiar with (broccoli, chicken legs, fish, etc) and add other elements accordingly. But again, we all get served the same food. I hope this helps. Dinner struggles are no fun, and I wish you the best!
In addition to the great advice here, my 2 cents is they'll eat whatever they'll eat that day. It doesn't matter if they loved that thing in the past, yesterday could be the last time they eat it in the next 5 years. And you'll never know whether they will like whatever "difficult" or "adult" food until you serve it to them. I have 3 former toddlers (now 9, 6, and 4 years old) who still eat what we eat (i.e.: what I feel like cooking, whether it's pot roast, chicken basil stir fry or lentil soup-- and I do cook 7 days a week). True, sometimes they don't like what I'm serving, but they're not going to starve -- if they don't like what's for dinner, I tell them that there's plain yogurt in the fridge. If I serve something new, there's always something familiar I'm serving with it, so if the new thing isn't to their taste, they have their familiar fallback to eat.
I always try to keep on hand: a bag of frozen peas (or small cut vegetables), cold cooked rice, eggs, small-shaped pasta, cherry/grape tomatoes, grated cheese. Then I can quickly bang out fried rice or pastina. The Wednesday Chef has recipes for her son Hugo (I got the pastina recipe from her blog). There's also chicken dinos in the freezer that heats up in less than a minute. I also keep organic chicken/vegetable dumplings/potstickers. But whenever possible, my munchkin eats what we eat.