I have always fancied my ability to cook up a meal for a special occaision but since my daughter started on solids, my reportoire of day-to-day cooking has expanded beyond ready meals and pasta. Here are my five favourite meals for toddlers, which fortunately my daughter doesn’t mind either! These are not the haute cuisine you get in some children’s cooks books – just basic but tasty meals.
Steamed cod, green beans and rice
I love my KitchenCraft 3 tier steamer. In fact it’s probably my favourite kitchen item and is a super efficient way to cook. You can boil rice or pasta in the pot at the bottom, steam cod loins or another fish in the middle tier and cook some greens (my favourite is sugar snap peas) in the top tier. Flavour the fish with some dill and/or a squeeze of lemon. This is simple but tasty food – when you’ve got your hands full dealing with a toddler or more, it’s a great way to cook!
Nigella Lawson’s chicken with lemon and orzo
When I first started cooking for my daughter, I got various cook books for toddlers before I realised I could just cook her ‘normal’ food with us all eating the same thing. One of my favourite dishes, especially over the winter, is Nigella Lawson’s chicken in a pot with lemon and orzo. The recipe is available here. It’s great one pot cooking and most of the preparation can be done before putting the pot in the oven for 1 hour and 15 minutes. My daughter enjoys watching me cut up the carrots and the leeks – although I am not sure how long that will last! This is a great meal for an autumn or winter’s day.
Steak, mashed potato and greens
Some people question whether toddlers can eat steak but I beg to difffer. My daughter loves it! Of course, you need quite a thin steak that is manageable for their little teeth. Most supermarkets sell frying steaks that hit the mark and are well priced. I am unapologetic about pairing steak with microwave mashed potato and some veg.
Chicken and vegetable noodle stirfry
This is another simple meal that can be knocked together in almost no time. Just get some pre-prepared stir fry vegetables from your favourite supermarket along with chicken fillets that you can easily cut up into toddler friendly bits. The chicken “mini-fillets” packs usually work well. I usually use Amoy straight to wok udon noodles and keep a small reserve of these and flavour with light soy sauce.
Fish fingers, chips and veg
Fish fingers are a classic for a reason and a life line for so many parents. A natural accompaniment is frozen chips and vegetables. As a millennial, I prefer traditional McCain microwave chips but the Fries to Go ones are not bad either, even if the compartments for the fries seem a bit of an excess. For veg, I like BirdsEye Steamfresh, which can be microwaved from frozen in a jiffy.
Omar Salem is the founder of Better Daddies