I am lucky in that I work at home most days, so I often have the ability to start dinner during a quick break from my computer in the afternoon. But since I know that is not the norm for most busy parents—and it is definitely not how I handle dinner on days when I work away from home—here are a few of our favorite ideas for quick, easy, and assemble-only meals. Use these as inspiration when your little one needs a quick meal and of course, adjust the ingredients according to your kiddos eating abilities and preferences.
(Pink plate is by Re-play Recycled)
1. Chicken and Corn Tacos
Rotisserie chicken + thawed frozen corn + tortilla + salsa
Warm all ingredients except the salsa in the microwave for 20-30 seconds. Serve with salsa on top or for dipping.
2. Quick Pasta and Peas
Pastina (or couscous) + peas + butter + Parmesan
Cook pastina according to package, adding frozen peas to the pot during the last 1-2 minutes of cooking. Serve with butter and cheese.
3. Cucumber Hummus Wrap
Tortilla + hummus + thinly sliced cucumber
Spread hummus and cucumber on tortilla and roll up or fold. Slice in half to serve. (Flour or multigrain tortillas tend to be softer than corn, which can be helpful for younger eaters.)
4. Pita Pizzas
Whole-wheat pita bread + pizza sauce + shredded cheese
Cut pita into wedges and top with pizza sauce and cheese. Heat in the oven at 325 F just until cheese is melted.
5. Cheesy Pea Toast
Toast + shredded cheese + thawed peas
Cube toast, top with shredded cheese and microwave for 10 seconds to melt. Top each bite with a pea. (Frozen peas can be thawed quickly in a bowl of very hot water. Drain before using.)
6. Squash and Apple Yogurt Parfait
Plain yogurt + leftover roasted squash + grated apples + granola or crisp rice cereal
Layer all ingredients in a small mason jar or bowl. Serve immediately. (Lightly steam the apple until tender for younger eaters if necessary.)
7. Deluxe Cheese and Crackers
Whole grain crackers + sliced cheese + assortment of sliced veggies + thinly sliced salami
Assemble a toddler-friendly cheese plate (or make little cracker and cheese sandwiches) and serve with favorite raw or lightly steamed veggies and salami.
8. Zucchini Pancakes
Pancake mix + 1/2 cup grated (drained) zucchini + nut butter
Add the zucchini to your favorite pancake batter (add 1 teaspoon cinnamon if it doesn't have any) and cook as directed. Serve smeared with nut butter.
9. Veggie Grilled Cheese
Whole grain bread + butter + cheese + snipped spinach (or other quickly wilting green)
Sprinkle some of the greens on top of the cheese before cooking. Prepare normally.
10. Vanilla Almond Butter Yogurt Dip
Low sugar vanilla yogurt (like from Siggis) + almond butter + sliced fruit and veg + graham crackers
Stir together nut butter and honey to make a dip. Serve with sliced apple or pear, squash or cucumbers, and graham crackers.
11. Tomato and Goat Cheese Shell Pasta
Mini shell pasta + halved cherry tomatoes + herbed goat cheese + parmesan + butter
Toss just cooked pasta with halved cherry tomatoes, a dollop of herbed goat cheese, a pat of butter, and a sprinkle of Parmesan. Stir to combine.
12. Broccoli and Pea Soup
Frozen broccoli + frozen peas + potato + broth + Parmesan
Get the full (but quick) recipe here.
13. Cheesy Scrambled Eggs and Peas
Eggs + frozen peas + shredded cheddar cheese + toast
Scramble eggs, adding in the peas and cheese when the eggs are almost set. Serve with toast.
14. Black Bean Nachos
Black beans + baked tortilla chips (or soft tortillas) + plain greek yogurt + salsa
Warm beans. Serve over chips or tortillas with a creamy sauce of yogurt and salsa.
15. Wild Salmon (or Tuna) Salad with Apple
Canned wild salmon + mayonnaise + grated apple + crackers
Mix up the (drained) salmon, mayonnaise, and apple and serve with crackers or on cubes of bread or toast.
Bonus: Annie's Mac and Cheese (with broccoli or peas if you're feeling virtuous)!
What's your little one's favorite quick dinner?