Muffin Tin Meals: Here’s why they make toddler lunch ideas easier, healthier, and more enjoyable for moms and kids!
About a year ago I was lamenting the fact that my toddler would only eat one vegetable, and only if it was cooked in butter. I was also watching my baby start solids and refuse fruit. I’d read it takes up to 40 exposures for kids to start eating a new type of food. It felt very overwhelming to try to figure out ways to introduce a tiny portion of new food and help teach my kids to love more fruits and vegetables.
And then I heard of muffin tin meals, and one year later I felt like this a mom hack I couldn’t keep to myself!
What is a muffin tin meal?
It’s a variety of food items, each placed in a muffin tin, and served for a snack or meal.
What Supplies do you need?
Just a muffin tin and snacks! We love using metal tins since we already have them on hand. I know many parents love a silicone muffin pan as well. For toddlers, the mini 12-count pans are fantastic, for older kids, bigger size muffin tins work great too!
What are the benefits of toddler muffin tin meals?
The obvious benefit is the variety! If you’re like us, you often default to peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, or a limited amount of routine items. Muffin tin meals offer an easy way to expose toddlers or preschoolers to more varieties of food in a more approachable manner.
Exposure is also a benefit. This is one way to provide a few bites of a new food item. If they don’t eat it the first time, or first 40 times, I have an easy way to keep offering a small portion until they warm up to new food items.
I also have to add, they have made easy toddler lunch ideas happen on the daily for us! It’s fast to throw these together!
Healthy Toddler Lunch Ideas
In an effort to help my kids have a more well-rounded diet and find healthy toddler lunch ideas, we dove head-first into this idea! As we strived to solve the lack of willingness to eat a new vegetable or fruit, this was one idea I’d heard was a great wayt o allow kids to try new foods without pressure or stress. I’m pleased to say I’ve seen both my children become more open-minded as they’ve tried many new healthy items.
There’s no right or wrong way to do this, that’s the beauty of it! But here’s what we try to include in each muffin tin meal, with some ideas in each category.
This was our main reason for starting! I try to include one familiar veggie in bite-sized pieces, and one new veggie.
We include one-two fruit options in each muffin tin. Make sure to cut into small pieces, and don’t be afraid to try new things together!
*This gadget makes cutting up fruits and veggies super fast and easy!
– Hard-boiled eggs
– Protein balls
– Nuts/nut butter (make sure it’s not a choking hazard)
– Edamame Beans
– Black Beans
– grilled chicken or rotisserie chicken cut in cubes
– Snap Peas snacks
– String Cheese
– Cubed Cheese
– Cheese Slices
– cottage cheese
– Bread or rolls
– Pancake or waffle pieces
– Veggie Straws
– French fries
– Baked Oatmeal snacks
Treat (occasionally included)
– Graham crackers
– Graham cookies
– Heavenly hunks
– Cookie bites
– Chocolate chips
In our experience- yes! Kids are actually really great intuitive eaters. When we first started this, they dove into the treat spot first. Sometimes they still do. But we have days they don’t even touch it! Truly, the try what’s on their tray, eat what their body needs, and typically try and eat 80% of what’s presented.
I love it when my boys eat everything, but it’s okay if they don’t. We ask them to take a”thankful bite” of each item and then eat what they want.
One year into this, I love that we eat up what’s in our fridge and pantry quickly. I love that I’m seeing my children eat more variety and healthy items more regularly. They are loving feeling in control and feeling like they have choices. And best of all, our toddler lunch ideas are simplified, easy, and something that has made lunchtime fun for all of us!
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