For picky eating toddlers, mealtime can be a struggle. This simple toddler lunch solution is an fun and easy way to get your eating well. Mom win!
Bed time conversation with Little Man the other night (I’m pretty sure he was stalling):
LM: Mom, why didn’t we have soup for dinner?
Me: Well, it wasn’t on our menu tonight, but I was planning on making soup tomorrow. Would you like that?
LM: (Thinks for a minute, looking concerned) Don’t make green soup, okay?
Let me explain. Last week I tried out a new recipe for lentil sausage soup, and it happened to be green. I wasn’t sure how it would go over, but I like to expand our horizons every so often. I loved it. My husband loved it. The kids…well, they looked at me like I was trying to poison them. And apparently Little Man isn’t forgiving or forgetting any time soon.
Little man is actually a pretty good eater. He’s gone through phases where he’s been pickier, and he has a weird aversion to melon and corn, but otherwise he is willing to eat most things I put in front of him.
His little brother, however, if a different story. He’s what I call capricious. Sometimes, he eats like a champ. Other times, he squawks and refuses things he happily ate the day before. Grr.
There is one thing, though, that I always know both of them will happily eat. It’s our go-to lunch menu:
Tasting trays…baby bento boxes…nibble trays. Whatever you want to call them, they are simply awesome. And easy.
Here’s what you do: take an ice cube tray and fill it with a bunch of different finger foods. Watch as your child eats more that you’ve seen in weeks. Seriously. My kids pretty much empty their trays almost every time.
I love that it’s a great way to make sure we get all the food groups, use up leftovers in the fridge, and introduce the boys to new foods in small (less scary) portions. Here are the foods I put in one of our trays last week:
Oh, and lest you think that I am way over-ambitious, I don’t always put a different food in every compartment. Often I only do half as many different foods as you see above.
Click here to download a printable version of the chart below that I made for myself with ideas of foods that work well in a tasting tray, separated by food group (plus a bonus category for dips & spreads).
Can you think of any foods I forgot? I’m always looking for new ideas.
Love this idea! I am definitely trying this with my one year old!
I hope your little one enjoys it as much as mine do!
This is amazing! I’ve never thought of using an ice cube tray. Brilliant.
Hello, great idea. However, popcorn for a toddler is a big no from my understanding. I realize any food can be a choking hazard, it’s just not worth the risk.
My toddler does fine with popcorn. I just take a quick second to make sure he’s not getting the unpopped kernels.
It’s not just the uncooked kernels that are an issue. Popcorn has been highly not recommended for kids under three for years because it is by nature a dry, jagged edged food that gets easily caught on throat tissue and is a choking hazard. For what it’s worth from a former preschool teacher/ director turned mom and now Grammy!
this is from the American Academy of Pediatrics
“Popcorn is a choking hazard and the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that kids not have in until they’re at least four years old. By this age, children should be good enough at chewing and swallowing to safely eat popcorn.” Foods having large particles like popcorn can easily get stuck into the windpipe. According to the health department, the trachea of a child is very clean, and in such a small windpipe diameter, it is easy for the foods to get trapped or can enter the lungs which can be life threatening
If you get the trays with the snap on lids you can use them when your travelling or on the boat or the playground We use them for our grandkids all the time.
In the picture you have peanut butter bites. How do you make that?
They are just peanut butter sandwiches cut up into bite size pieces. Simple!
I love this idea. How long do you leave it out before you worry about some of the stuff going bad? My 2 year old is funny.ike yours, one day she eats great. The next day refuses to eat or won’t eat things that she has eaten before. Drives me nuts when she won’t eat. I get sick of wasting food.
I hear you! I HATE food waste, and that’s such a struggle with toddlers. Depending on what I put in the tray I’m fine leaving it out for an hour or so. After two hours, I definitely put away or throw away perishable things like cheese or meat. Sometimes, I’ll also just cover the leftovers and pull it out for a snack later.
Hi there, I’m excited to experiment this idea with my picky 14 month old. I was wondering at what age did you actually started this with your kids. The only problem I see happening with this tray is my baby will end up throwing it off his table. He enjoys putting his bowls and plates upside down.
I starting using this between 12-18 months with my various kids. However, if you’re worried about your son dumping out the ice cube tray, just make small piles of food directly on his high chair tray or on a place mat on the table. Good luck!
Hi, such a great idea but how do you store the tray for later? If your child doesn’t eat everything.