3 Easy Dinners for the Whole Family

Now that Vance (8 months) is venturing out into table foods, I have to think about how I can translate one meal into something that a toddler will try, a baby will be able to gum, and that will pair nicely with a beer once the littles are asleep.  

Below are 3 meals that I always have on repeat because they are so versatile. The ingredients can easily be amended based on dietary restrictions or the toddler protest of the week.  Most of these ideas have a decent amount of ingredients, but whenever possible (and still remotely healthy) I will buy canned or frozen items to cut prep time down. 

Usually the kids versions are much faster to prep since toddlers seem to go from content to I'M STARVING AND I'M GOING TO DIE in 3 seconds.  

Tacos 

Ingredients: 

Protein - Chicken, fish, ground turkey whatever is on sale or what your toddler is into (let's be honest, they run the show)

Taco Seasoning - Since this is a weekly item, we buy the huge one at Costco.  Saves a few bucks.  Or make your own.  Here is a simple recipe using spices that you likely already have. 

Shell

Tomatoes

Black Beans

Corn 

Avocado or guacamole

Greek Yogurt (in place of sour cream - I swear it tastes identical)

Shredded lettuce 

Onions 

Shredded cheese

Tostitos or Blue Chips

Mexican Rice - I love the Magnolia Cookbook recipe 

I assume we all know how to make tacos, so I'm not going to belittle you by explaining that. You do you - just don't add cilantro, that's gross. 

How to for Toddler:  Deconstruct everything.  Right now, nothing on my toddler's plate can touch another item except for greek yogurt.  His plate usually has tortilla shells, protein, corn, chopped avocado, and blue chips with greek yogurt.  

How to for Baby: Get that paring knife out! We do the black beans for the protein, cheese for the fun, and avocado so that we make a huge mess. Chop everything into teeny pieces.  

Variations for the rest of the week: Nachos! Chips become the base and throw everything on top! 

Helpful tools: Taco stand  - Make those tacos Instagrammable!

Flatbreads

 That donut was from an adventure in "offering dessert with the meal to deglamorize it".  It went so-so.

That donut was from an adventure in "offering dessert with the meal to deglamorize it".  It went so-so.

My husband and I usually opt for this Chipotle Chicken variety with a few adaptations, and we keep it simple for the kiddos.  Again, mixing and touching ingredients is not flying in our house. 

Ingredients:

Naan 

Chicken 

Olive Oil

Mild cheddar cheese

Red Peppers

Mayo

Taco Seasoning

Greek Yogurt 

Avocado

Bacon - cooked until super crunchy (is there any other way)

Marinara Sauce (kids version only)

How to for Adults: Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Season chicken with salt and pepper, and cook in olive oil until thoroughly cooked.  Top Naan with shredded cheese, diced red peppers, and bacon pieces.  Pop that in the oven for 5-8 minutes just to melt the cheese and warm everything.  While that cooks, combine equal amounts of greek yogurt and rmayo with a few tablespoons of taco seasoning (to taste) for a simple chipotle-esque dressing.  Throw that concoction in a ziploc bag.  Seal with no air inside and snip a corner.  Drizzle the dressing on the warm flatbread, add the chopped avocado, and enjoy! 

How to for Toddler: Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Spoon marinara sauce on to Naan.  Sprinkle cheese on top.  (If your toddler enjoys any particular veggies, add those now.) Pop in the oven until warm and the cheese melts.  Serve with some of the chicken from the adult version or some fruits and veggies. 

How to for Baby: Shred the chicken to baby size and serve with pieces of avocado and some greek yogurt for protein. 

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Breakfast

Remember how we all thought breakfast for dinner was such a treat as a kid? The reason parents opt for this is because it is easy and usually doesn't result in tears.  Childhood memories ruined! 

Ingredients: 

Bisquick - yeah I'm THAT mom (if you're egg free, have some applesauce on hand to replace the eggs)

Sausage or Bacon (whatever is on sale) I like the kind that you microwave, its easy and tastes the same. 

Berries - always a winner in our house

Mrs. Buttersworth - any other syrup is wrong 

Eggs (we're an almost exclusively egg free house due to allergies, but I think this would be a great addition to other households!) 

How to for Adults and Toddler: Double whammy here! Prep pancakes or waffles according to the directions on the box.  Ditto with the sausage and bacon.  I am not opposed to using the griddle for the bacon then cooking the pancakes on that same griddle.  Honestly, I don't really even remember how to do anything to eggs other than scramble so this one is user's choice! 

How to for Baby: Scramble eggs.  If your babe is a good enough eater chop up some pancake or waffles and serve with diced berries.  (Both eggs and berries are top allergens so make sure that you slowly test to ensure your child is not allergic.) 

And if all that fails, its ice cream for dinner, and we'll try again tomorrow!