03/13/2015 03:23 pm ET | Updated May 13, 2015

Toddler Approved Family Meal Ideas

I am a member of an online mommy group and a frequent topic is talking about what we feed our kids. It is easy for parents to get in a rut of serving the same dishes because, well, toddlers are hard to cook for. If your kiddo is anything like M, once she likes something then it becomes an obsession. And if you are anything like me, you hate being a short order cook and so what M wants eats is usually what Hubby and me end up eating. We went through a three week period picking her up from daycare and all she would say is "Chicken Patty" or "Chicken Little." Needless to say, Tyson stock increased that month because of our family dependency on chicken patties and now Hubby will never look at another one again.

This picture was taken during our three week Chicken Patty obsession.

If you are getting stuck in the "Chicken Patty rut," then perhaps you will find my list helpful. Please comment with other dishes your kiddos enjoy! I try to keep dishes simple and leftover friendly, so my feelings are not hurt when she turns her head to them.


Top "Go To" Dishes at the K Household:

-Meatballs (Frozen or fresh). You can even whip up some fresh and store them in the freezer. Serve over marinara and with some Parmesan cheese. This is usually a crowd pleaser even with my Hubby and gets some protein in her. Great to make into sandwiches too! Serve with a veggie or a little pasta.

-Chili or Soups. I was hesitant at first...toddler and soup? Uh, no thanks- this sounds like mess city. But M really loves lots of the chili and chicken based soups I put in front of her. I usually even get a "Yummy!" out of her. I lean towards heartier kinds with beans, veggies, and chunks of meat - less broth. (Think "Chicken Fajita Soup" and not "Chicken Noodle"). It serves as more of a meal and can be served with a grilled cheese or Panini-type sandwich on the side too.

-Fish sticks or fillets. You might be thinking, gross. Especially if you expect the adults of the family to eat the same thing. However, I encourage you to give it a try. We love the Target Market Battered Fish Fillets. M dips in ketchup and my Hubby whips us up a yummy Chik-Fil-A inspired type sauce (think Thousand Island Dressing). Serve with a side salad and fruit.

-Quiche (Breakfast for Dinner). I don't know about your kiddos, but M loves eggs. Quiche is an easy way to sneak in veggies too. I just grab whatever meat and veggie we have in the refrigerator and add egg and cheese. Our favorites are bacon or ham and spinach or broccoli. You could also do pancakes, scrambled eggs, or any other favorites your family has.

-Wraps. I try to have whole wheat tortilla wraps always on hand at the house. They can be filled with turkey, cream cheese and lettuce for M and then Hubby and I can make ours a little more bulky with additional fillings or sauces.

-Casserole. I'm from Minnesota, so I love a good casserole and have passed this love to M. Tater Tot Casserole and Chow Mein Casserole are a couple of our favorites, but you can find a whole slew of them here to try on your family.

-Beef Stroganoff. M loves this stuff. Sometimes I make it from scratch or sometimes I am lazy, working mom and use Hamburger Helper mixer to make this. A family favorite!

Baby A loves anything pureed... for now!

-Tacos, Fajitas, Burritos. You get the idea, have a Mexican night. Again, your whole wheat tortillas will come in handy! I always have Pinto Beans in my cupboard and just add some veggies with chicken or beef, top with cheese and viola. This is as close to short order cook as I get.

-Pizza. Duh, this had to be on the list. Instead of just popping in a pizza (although we do that too), you can make English Muffin mini pizzas or use NaaN bread and make pizzas. Making them from "scratch" (I always buy my dough pre-made), is fun especially if you have kids a little older.

-Stir fry. I usually do a frozen stir fry veggie mix, with a Polish sausage in a teriyaki sauce on top of a bed of rice. Hubby and I like it, but she is hit or miss still with this. I guess I don't "hide" the veggies well enough. Other simple stir fry ideas you have?

So that is my "non-chicken patty" list of M and Hubby approved foods. What are some of your family favorites?