I must not tell lies.
I’m not a "super planner" with meal prep.
I’m the "run to the grocery store without a list" type of person.
When I do manage to actually meal prep and plan though; everyone eats healthier and I’m not stressing out about what to cook for dinner.
If you’re on the struggle bus every two seconds (solidarity) at mealtimes try meal prepping this week!
How Meal Prepping Can Save Your Life
Are you standing in front of your fridge right now thinking -what can I throw at my toddler for lunch?
Or that thing called dinner we’re supposed to serve?
AND ensuring it’s nutritious. Pffft.
This is bullsh*t. There I said it.
Toddler meals are hard, and stressful.It doesn’t need to be this hard though.
I promise - it doesn’t.
Taking some time out of your day to write a menu for the week and actually prepping snacks and meals, takes out a lot of the guesswork and less time staring into the fridge hoping something that wasn’t there the last time we checked is now magically stocked.
How to Meal Prep
If your toddler has a favorite recipe that freezes well - DOUBLE IT!
It's that easy.
I love double or even tripling some of our favorites like Dal because it keeps well and can be served pretty much whenever.
This is especially helpful if I don’t feel like doing anything that day - or am unable to do so.
Now that we have that out of the way - write up a menu with everyone in mind and your budget.
It doesn’t need to be fancy - at all. Start small.
Don’t try to plan out breakfast, lunch, and dinner your first or even your second or third week into meal prepping.
It can be incredibly overwhelming if this isn’t your thing or if it’s your first time.
Try not to be overly ambitious or you’re just setting yourself up to fail.
Once you have planned out what you’re going to serve - write a grocery list.
Take inventory of your pantry, cabinets, and fridge, and then write down everything you need to be successful for your menu.
Head to the grocery store or set up that fresh delivery!
Mise en Place - A place for everything and everything in its place.
Prep what you can.
Most vegetables, meat, and fruit can be sliced, diced, and stored until you’re ready to cook!
I’m a big fan of cutting up my chicken and marinating it BEFORE it goes in the freezer.
This saves me a lot of time because it will defrost faster and marinade while defrosting!
3 Quick and Easy Meal Prep Recipes
Need some quick and easy prep-able toddler meal recipes?
Spinach Pesto Pasta
What could be easier than pasta for your next toddler meal? I mean- who doesn't like pasta???
You can double the pesto part of the recipe and it will keep in your fridge, covered for about a week, or can be frozen in an ice cube tray for longer storage when transferred to a freezer bag!
Pesto can be used on pizza, chicken bakes, and countless other recipes.
- 1 pound pasta
- 4 cups lightly packed baby spinach
- 1/3 cup olive oil Juice of 1 lemon
- 1/2 cup grated Parmesan
- 1/2 cup roasted sunflower seeds or pine nuts
- 2 cups frozen peas
- Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and cook pasta according to package directions.
- Place the peas into the colander (still frozen) and drain the pasta over the peas. Return to the pot.
- Meanwhile, add the spinach, olive oil, lemon juice, Parmesan, and seeds to a blender.
- Blend very well until very smooth, stopping to scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed. Season to taste with salt if needed.
- Toss with the pasta and serve with additional Parmesan cheese and enjoy warm.
Instant Pot Lentils
Lentils? As a toddler meal? I promise, our entire family loves this recipe.
If you are wanting to meal prep via the doubling and freezing route - this super simple Dal (lentil) is easy, nutritious, and doesn’t have a ton of ingredients!
If you need a quick toddler meal, don't skip trying this one!
This recipe is doubled for freezing
Ingredients for the Dal:
- 1 cup yellow moong dal soaked for 15 minutes
- 1 cup red masoor dal red lentils, soaked for 15 minutes
- 5 cups water
- 2 teaspoons turmeric
- 2 tablespoon ghee or oil
- 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
- 1 teaspoon mustard seeds
- 1 green chili
- 1/4 teaspoon cayenne powder
- 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
- 1 teaspoon paprika
Directions for Dal:
- Soak the lentils in water for 15 minutes. Drain, rinse and set aside.
- Put the dal ingredients into the instant pot. Secure the lid, close the pressure valve and cook for 6 minutes at high pressure.
- Naturally, release pressure for 10 minutes, then open the valve to release any remaining pressure.
Directions for Tadka:
- Add ghee to a small pot or pan on the stove and once the ghee is hot, add the cumin and mustard seeds.
- When the cumin seeds turn brown, add the green chilies stir for a minute then add the spices.
- Stir this into the cooked dal immediately before serving.
Black Bean Soup
Okay, so you don’t instant pot. You should invest in one (that’s a conversation for another day).
This hearty soup is easy, freezable, and you can even prep the onions and squash beforehand.
Win, win, win.
- 6 cups black beans, drained and rinsed if using canned (or about 3 14.5 ounce cans)
- 2 cups diced sweet potato or butternut squash
- 1 cup onion, diced (about 1 medium)
- 1-quart vegetable or chicken stock
- 14.5 ounce can diced or crushed tomatoes
- 2 tablespoons ground cumin
- 1 tablespoon chili powder
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1–2 cups short-grain rice (brown or white), fully cooked
- Shredded cheese, sour cream, avocado, optional
- Add the beans, sweet potato, onion, tomatoes, stock, cumin, salt, and chili powder to the slow cooker.
- Cover and cook on LOW for 7-8 hours or HIGH for 4-5 hours.
- Puree soup with an immersion blender or a regular blender, working carefully in batches.
- Stir in the rice, using 1-2 cups depending on how thick you’d like the soup.
- Let sit, covered, for at least 5 minutes before serving to ensure the rice is warm.
- Season to taste with additional salt if needed.
- Serve with shredded cheese, sour cream, and/or avocado, as desired.
Conclusion - How to Meal Prep for Your Toddler’s Whole Week
Now that you have the tools to start working on your toddler meal prepping - and you’ve been doing it for a week or so now, don’t forget to start working up to meal planning and prepping every meal and snack!
This will make it easier for everyone in the household and you can even post a “Family Menu” so everyone can see beforehand which may save you a meltdown.
Toddler meal prepping saves a lot of time but can take up a lot of space in your freezer and fridge if you’re using bulky containers.
We like to use Planet Wise Leak-Proof bags in the freezer and fridge for nearly everything.
Cilantro, Peppers, and other herbs do well with some slight ventilation - Planet Wise Zipper Bags are perfect to store those. This other Planet Wise's reusable quart bags are a great solution for your food any storage needs.
Both of these solutions are reusable, washable, and take up next to no room!