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As a parent with a toddler, I know it can feel like an uphill battle to make sure your little one gets enough nutrition and eats regularly. It’s also increasingly more difficult to save money on food these days – grocery stores seem to get pricier by the minute! But did you know that there is an easy way for parents of toddlers to both reduce food waste AND save money on their weekly grocery bill? That’s right; getting your tot to eat more food, including leftovers can be simple — if you know what steps to take. In this e-book, we’re going to dive into helpful tips that will have you reduce throwing away food at every mealtime!
Are you tired of throwing away perfectly good food because your toddler refuses to eat them? As a parent, I know the struggle all too well. I found myself spending a fortune on processed foods and snacks because it was the only thing my toddler would eat, while my home-cooked meals went to waste. She was struggling to put on weight and it got to a point where I was going to the pediatrician every 6 months for weight checks to make sure she was gaining weight. But as a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist (RDN) with over a decade of experience in child nutrition, I knew there had to be a solution. Through trial and error, I discovered strategies that not only got my toddler eating real food (including leftovers) but also saved me money and reduced food waste. With my e-book, you can unlock the secrets to transforming your picky eater into a leftover-loving champion. So, say goodbye to the frustration and hello to a more nutritious and budget-friendly mealtime.
Parents, we all know the struggle when it comes to picky eating toddlers. Every meal is a battle, filled with negotiations and bribes just to get a few bites in. That’s why my e-book is a must-have for any parent who has faced the challenge of feeding their little one. This book offers a unique solution that is backed by science and will transform your mealtime experience. No more wasted food and tears, just happy and full toddlers. Trust me, this ONE simple trick will make all the difference. Say goodbye to the stress and hello to a peaceful dinner table. You won’t even believe how easy it is!
However, it’s important to consider that not all children have the same medical conditions, and some may require a more specialized approach to their diet. As a responsible parent, it’s essential to consult with your pediatrician before attempting any drastic changes to your child’s eating habits. While my e-book may work for some, it’s not a one-size-fits-all solution, and parents of children with special medical conditions should approach the topic with caution. After all, our toddlers’ health should always be our top priority.
Myths About Toddler Eating
Let’s bust some myths first, shall we? You may be thinking…
Myth #1: My toddler is too picky and will NOT try new foods.
As parents, we all know the struggle of dealing with a toddler who seems to have a limited palate. It’s easy to fall into the myth that our child is just too picky and will never expand their food choices. But the truth is that picky eating is actually quite common in young children and can be overcome with patience and persistence. Rather than giving up and letting our kids subsist on mac and cheese alone, we can take proactive steps to encourage them to try new foods. And who knows, they might just surprise us with something they actually enjoy. So let’s not give up on our picky eaters just yet.
Myth #2: My toddler will only eat “kid” foods.
Nope! Say goodbye to chicken nuggets and hello to a range of delicious, nutritious meals. Parents of toddlers know all too well the struggles of picky eating. It’s a common myth that some children are just too stubborn to try new foods, no matter what. But let’s tackle this myth head-on. As it turns out, picky eating is often a result of a developmental stage. Toddlers are learning about the world around them and asserting their independence. They may refuse a food simply because it’s new or different. However, this doesn’t mean they won’t ever try it. So, let’s dispel the myth that picky eaters are a lost cause. With some guidance and creativity, even the pickiest of eaters can learn to love new and adventurous foods. Join me and let’s tackle this challenge together!
Myth #3: There is NO way my child will eat leftover food.
Wrong! We’ll teach you how to turn last night’s dinner into a tasty new dish your picky eater will love. As someone who has dealt with picky eating in toddlers, let me tell you – this couldn’t be further from the truth. Leftovers are a godsend for busy parents. Not only can you save time and money by making large batches of food, but you can also introduce your toddler to new flavors and textures in a more subtle way. Don’t believe the myth – give those leftovers a chance! Your toddler just might surprise you.
The One Simple Trick
Are you ready to learn the ONE simple trick to getting your toddler to eat more food and waste less today?!
GET THEM INVOLVED!
Getting toddlers involved in meal time preparation can be a game-changer. It encourages them to try new foods, instills healthy eating habits, and empowers them to choose healthy options, leading to less food wastage and big savings for parents.
Here are 5 steps for getting your toddler safely involved in mealtime preparation:
Step 1. Start with simple tasks: Toddlers love to help out and be useful. Start with simple tasks that your toddler can handle like stirring the bowl, adding ingredients to a bowl, or placing ingredients in a measuring cup. This way, they feel useful and enjoy being part of the process without feeling overwhelmed. (See below for my list of 20 ways to get a toddler involved in meal time TODAY!)
Step 2. Create a safe and kid-friendly kitchen: Safety comes first when involving toddlers in the kitchen. Ensure that the kitchen is a safe place for your little one to explore and be involved. Set up a kid’s activity space in the kitchen that has a low table and chair where your toddler can work alongside you. Keep all sharp objects and kitchen appliances out of reach and only allow activities that are age-appropriate and safe.
Step 3. Involve your toddler in the grocery shopping process: Take your toddler shopping with you and make it a fun excursion. Choose the fruits and vegetables together, and let your toddler touch and smell the produce, encouraging them to make healthy choices. Talk to them about the ingredients you need for the meal and involve them in selecting and picking them out. This makes them feel responsible for and invested in the meal preparation process.
Step 4. Encourage creativity and play: Mealtime preparation can be both fun and educational for toddlers. Encourage creativity and imaginative play by allowing your toddler to use cookie cutters to make fun shapes out of vegetables or even create a rainbow fruit skewer. This also helps your child to be engaged and curious during the cooking process.
Step 5. Celebrate their achievements: Celebrate your toddler’s achievements in the kitchen with praise and positive reinforcement. This increases their confidence and self-esteem and lets them know that they are contributing to the family meal. Celebrate even little milestones, like when they help you whisk eggs for the first time or balance a spoonful of dough on the baking sheet. This encourages them to develop a love for cooking and embrace healthy eating habits.
Involving toddlers in the mealtime preparation process can be a fun and rewarding experience. It not only helps build healthy eating habits but also strengthens family bonds. With these tips, parents can create a safe and kid-friendly kitchen, encourage creativity and play, and boost their child’s confidence and self-esteem. Don’t forget to celebrate your child’s achievements, no matter how small, and have fun along the way. Get your little chef involved today, and watch them thrive!
THE GO TO LIST:
Here is a list of 20 ways you can get your toddler involved in meal prep:
Choose one or more to try today!
1. Allow your toddler to help measure ingredients, stir, and mix
2. Invite your toddler to set the table with placemats and decorations.
3. Get out of the kitchen! Have a picnic outdoors or have a cooking-themed party at home
4. Let them participate in grocery shopping – introduce different fruits and vegetables while you’re shopping for groceries
5. Let them help you pick the veggies for dinner.
6. Get them involved in washing fruits and vegetables.
7. Encourage them to mix ingredients and get creative with their plating skills.
8. Create a scavenger hunt of kitchen tools so that they can learn about the tools used for cooking and baking.
9. Have them join you in making place cards for everyone who will be dining at the meal.
10. Get creative with placemats – introduce thematic shapes, colors, and textures to engage your toddler’s curiosity.
11. Give them their own plate of food or snacks to prepare for the meal .
12. Make mealtimes fun – reading stories around the table or playing a game that encourages conversation can keep your toddler interested in eating.
13. Make a dish that is highlighted in one of their favorite stories!
14. Offer the chance to “taste test” new foods – begin with introducing different colors and flavors on their plate.
15. Use cookie cutters to make fun shapes out of vegetables or even create a rainbow fruit skewer.
16. Ask for their opinion about dinner – ask your toddler what they think you should have for dinner, even if you don’t end up taking it, they will appreciate being asked.
17. Take trips to farms and farmers markets – connecting where food comes from can make meals more interesting and provide an opportunity for learning together.
18. Get creative with food presentation – a pizza with funny faces or animals cut from fruits and veggies is sure to get them excited about eating.
19. Utilize children’s safe cooking knives for simple chopping tasks. (My daughter loves these!!)
20. Let kids put the finishing touches on the food, such as adding parmesan cheese to the spaghetti or sprinkling sesame seeds on the stir fry.
Tackling those leftovers:
Are you tired of throwing away perfectly good leftovers because your toddler refuses to eat them? With these tips, you can unlock the secrets to transforming your picky eater into a leftover-loving champion. So, say goodbye to the frustration and hello to a more nutritious and budget-friendly mealtime:
Step 1: Assess your leftovers: Take inventory of the leftovers you have in your fridge and identify the components that can be repurposed for toddler-friendly meals. Look for cooked proteins, vegetables, grains, and fruits that can be incorporated into new dishes. Ensure that the leftover food of choice is fresh and safe for consumption (general rule of thumb, less than 3 days old).
Step 2: Plan your toddler’s meals: Consider your toddler’s nutritional needs and preferences when planning their meals. Think about how you can incorporate the leftover food into balanced and nutritious options. For example, leftover chicken can be used in a stir-fry or added to a pasta dish.
Step 3: Choose versatile ingredients: Opt for ingredients that can be easily transformed into different forms. For instance, leftover vegetables can be pureed and added to sauces, soups, or muffin batters, or diced and used as toppings or fillings.
Step 4: Get creative with flavors and textures: Experiment with seasonings, spices, and herbs to enhance the flavors of the leftovers. Combine different textures, such as adding crunchy vegetables to soft purees or mixing soft proteins with grains for varied textures.
Step 5: Repurpose leftovers into new dishes: Use the leftovers as building blocks for new meals. For example, leftover cooked vegetables can be incorporated into omelets, added to quesadillas, or mixed into pasta salads. Get creative and try different combinations to create appealing and nutritious meals for your toddler.
Step 6: Now Involve your toddler!: Sound familiar? Engage your toddler in the process of repurposing leftovers. Let them help mix ingredients, shape patties or balls, or assemble mini sandwiches. This not only encourages their involvement but also introduces them to different flavors and textures.
What to expect
As a parent, introducing your toddler to the kitchen can be a daunting experience. What can you expect when they first start? For starters, expect a mess. And not just any mess, but a flour-covered, sauce-stained, vegetable-strewn kind of mess. But that’s okay! Because in the process, you’ll be teaching your little one important lessons like cleanliness, nutrition, and reducing waste. Plus, the vivid sensory experience of the kitchen will ignite their creativity and cultivate a love of food that will last a lifetime. So roll up those sleeves, grab a few extra towels, and let the culinary adventures begin!
The many benefits allowing your toddler to be your helping hand:
Involving your little one in meal preparation can have a number of benefits, including reducing waste and helping them develop a love of cooking and eating healthy food. Of course, there will be ups and downs along the way, but with a little bit of patience and some creative thinking, you and your toddler can build a happy and healthy relationship in the kitchen. Who knows, you may even have a future MasterChef on your hands! I’m telling you, when I started introducing my toddler to the kitchen, she really started to thrive and tried new foods on DAY ONE! THIS REALLY WORKS!
Creating a life-long bonding experience for you and your child:
Mealtime can be a daunting task for parents of toddlers who are often picky eaters. However, involving your little one in the process can create a strong bonding experience for both the parent and child. Start by including your toddler in grocery shopping trips and meal planning, allowing them to choose a favorite vegetable or fruit. During meal prep, have them help with simple tasks such as mixing ingredients or setting the table. Once it’s time to eat, make mealtime a fun experience by engaging in conversation and turning off electronics to focus on each other. By cultivating a positive mealtime environment, you can establish a lifelong habit of including your toddler and create lasting memories together.
Now, I know what you’re thinking…meal times are one of the most stressful parts of the day. Adding toddlers to the mix and we’ve got a firework of fun challenges. From throwing food to taking items off the counter, toddlers are always ready to lend a hand in the kitchen! However, their “helping” can often mean creating more work for us instead of easing it. So I broke down some of the challenges you may face while involving your toddler in meal-time preparation:
1. Attention Span: The longer the list of tasks, the harder it is to keep a child’s attention. Toddlers are always in play mode, and expecting them to focus on a task that involves waiting, listening and following instructions can be difficult. You may need to take breaks between tasks, and use colors or pictures to represent each step to keep them engaged.
2. Safety: Ah yes, the notorious safety hazard. Toddlers are impulsive and love to explore new things. They don’t know danger the same way adults do, which leads to fear and anxiety for us parents. Ensure the kitchen is child-proofed. Store the knives out of reach, and unplug appliances when you’re done using them. It’s vital to keep a watchful eye on them as they move around the kitchen.
3. Eating while preparing: A hungry toddler can be quite difficult to handle. They get restless and cranky, and this only multiplies when training them to help out with meal preparation. While you’re cooking, create a space for them at the counter so they can nibble on small, safe food items like carrot sticks or rice cakes. If it’s not meal time yet, try and engage them with a snack.
4. Messy Times: Let’s be honest—toddlers and mess go hand in hand. It’s essential to prepare for these messy times while encouraging them to help prepare some of the meals. It’s okay to have a little spill here and there. Put down a mat or a sheet of old paper on the counter where they will be working, and then slowly teach them to pick up after themselves. Embrace the chaos and make it a learning experience.
5. Expectations versus Ability: The primary objective of getting toddlers to help in meal preparation is to foster healthy habits and an interest in cooking. However, it’s crucial not to have unrealistic expectations in terms of what a toddler can do. A two-year-old can’t peel potatoes. Instead, assign tasks such as stirring, pouring, and breaking eggs to them, and let them learn.
It’s a joy to involve toddlers in meal-time preparation. It creates a bond between parent and child and fosters an interest in healthy eating. However, it’s critical to anticipate the challenges and adjust expectations to avoid frustration and anxious moments. Patience, a sense of humor, and an awareness of safety are key ingredients in making meal prep a fun experience for both parent and child.
The goal is to reduce the power struggle!
As a parent, you want to involve your child in mealtime from the very beginning. After all, creating healthy eating habits at a young age is important. However, there are a few common mistakes parents make when introducing toddlers to family dining. Firstly, don’t force your child to eat anything they don’t like. This will only result in power struggles and may even turn them off to certain foods for good. Instead, provide a variety of healthy options and allow them to choose what they want to try. Secondly, don’t let meals become a battleground. Food should be associated with positive experiences, not negative ones. Finally, avoid using bribery to get your child to eat. This only teaches them that they will be rewarded for eating something they don’t like, rather than making healthy choices for their own benefit. By avoiding these common mistakes, you can help your little one develop healthy eating habits while enjoying mealtime together as a family.
Q: What if I don’t have the time (or energy) to have my toddler help out in the kitchen for meals?
A: It’s completely understandable that life can get busy and exhausting. However, involving your toddler in meal preparation can actually save you time and energy in the long run. Not only will your child feel empowered and engaged, but they will also learn valuable skills that will benefit them in the future. Start small and allocate a few minutes each day to include them in age-appropriate tasks, such as stirring or pouring. This will not only help you create a healthy routine, but also provide valuable quality time with your child.
Question 2. How young is too young to start involving my toddler in meal time prep?
While every child is different, most toddlers can begin to help with meal prep around the age of two. It’s important to start with simple tasks, such as stirring, pouring, and sprinkling toppings, and to supervise them closely at all times. As your child grows and gains more confidence in the kitchen, you can gradually introduce new tasks and more complex recipes.
Question 3: What are some meal ideas that my toddler can help me with?
For breakfast, try making fruit kebabs or DIY yogurt parfaits with their favorite toppings. For lunch or dinner, create a make-your-own pizza bar or let them help assemble a colorful veggie wrap. Or how about a build-your-own taco bar, with options for grilled chicken, seasoned ground beef, and plenty of colorful veggies to choose from? Not only will your toddler have fun, but they’ll also feel empowered and proud of their contributions to the meal. Remember, mealtime is not just about food, but also about bonding and creating memories with your little one. So, let’s get cooking!
Question 4: What can I do with my toddler if they lose interest or get bored during meal prep?
It’s natural for toddlers to lose interest or get antsy during meal prep, but there are a few strategies you can use to keep them engaged. Try breaking up the prep into smaller tasks, with breaks for play or story time in between. You can also offer small rewards (such as a sticker or a special dessert) for completing tasks or trying new foods. And don’t forget to have fun yourself – your enthusiasm and positive attitude can be contagious!
Thanks for Reading!
At My Food Budget Journey, we understand that food is an essential part of life. We believe in empowering families to take control of their food budget and create a system that works for them. Our mission is to provide resources and guidance so families can save money on groceries without sacrificing quality or nutrition. With the knowledge, tools and support offered by our Registered Dietitian Coach, Emily Woody, our customers are empowered to make smart decisions about their grocery budget while gaining the confidence they need to feel secure when it comes to finances. Our vision is simple: bring affordable nutrition into every family’s home–no matter what their income level may be!
If you have any questions email us at email@example.com
Written by: Emily Woody, RDN, IBCLC, MPH – CEO and Founder of My Food Budget Journey