What to do when your toddler is ravenous (and grumpy) and you need to feed them right now? The snack dinner! I love this easy toddler dinner concept because it’s so easy, especially when you do it in a pre-portioned plate or container.
The Idea Behind the Snack Dinner
If your life is anything like mine, you’re busy. And while we do our best to cook most nights, sometimes it’s just too much—and we need a faster mealtime solution. Enter: The Snack Dinner. This is straight forward in that you simply serve a variety of healthy snacks to make a meal!
How to Make a Snack Dinner Step-by-Step
Here are the basics of making a snack dinner that includes a balanced mix of food groups. And that is both nutritious and fun!
1. Pick 1-2 foods from each food group.
- Fast produce options include cucumber, sliced bell pepper, fresh snap peas, frozen peas, cherry tomatoes, avocado, shredded carrots, berries, sliced pear, sliced peach, dried fruit, and more.
- Fast protein options include rotisserie chicken, leftover chicken, salami, cooked shrimp, hummus, cheese, cottage cheese, yogurt, or milk.
- Healthy carbohydrate options include whole grain crackers, low sugar cereal (like Cheerios or Kix), whole grain pita bread, or low-sodium crackers.
- Healthy fats would be diced avocado, chopped walnuts or cashews,
- Fun foods include Veggie Straws, cookies or other dessert.
TIP: Check out my Master List of Finger Foods for more easy ideas for what to include!
2. Arrange it on a plate.
I like to use a star silicone mold, a divided plate, or do two regular adult plates with enough for us to share. Anyway you do it works!
3. Serve the “fun” foods or dessert with the other foods.
Save yourself the work of having to get up to get them those foods after they’re done their meal!
TIP: In our house, the rule is you can have more of anything on the table as long as we’ve all had some and we’re sharing.
4. Let them enjoy!
Try not to push or comment on what specifically they’re eating—this is supposed to be a fun meal! And it really usually doesn’t help kids to be pressured to eat certain foods, so use this as a time to take a deep breath and relax.
TIP: This sort of snack based meal also works really well to pack in a lunch!
We often do this sort of easy dinner for kids on Friday or Saturday nights and it’s super fun. It’s also a really great way to use up leftovers that you might have in the fridge. Sometimes we even pair it up with movie night!