When Nola started approaching the sixth month mark (when pediatricians recommend introducing babies to solids) I thought I would make all of her food. I mean it made sense, I'm always in the kitchen anyway and I felt more comfortable making her food than buying products that had ingredients and preservatives in them that I didn't want in her body.
That lasted all of two months until I realized that taking the time to make her food, more often than not, wasn't worth the hassle. She'd end up throwing her meals on the kitchen floor or just flat out refusing to eat (which you can imagine was just awesome for me). I started trying out meal delivery services which I loved but ultimately they weren't cost effective enough for us to continue using them.
One day, a girlfriend of mine mentioned that her daughter loved this turkey bolognese sauce from Trader Joe's so the next time I went grocery shopping I picked up a box of it and brought it home to try on Nola. She dusted it. Sis was legit licking the inside of her bowl and asking me for more. It took all of 10 minutes to throw that meal together and it was a success. I was sold.
I hightailed it back to Trader Joe's the next day and bought just about everything I thought would interest my kid. Of course, some things were complete misses (looking at you fish sticks) but others have become staples in our home for meal times. Of course every kid is different and what works for mine might be a non-starter for yours but it's definitely worth your time (and money) to find out.
Here you'll find meals and snacks that work in our home and I'm hoping that they'll work in yours as well!
When I pull this out of the freezer, Nola legit starts stomping her tiny little feet in excitement. TJ's mac n'cheese is delicious, like better than I've had from my aunties delicious. There is a good amount of cheese, it's seasoned to perfection and appropriately shaped for Nola's little fingers to grab and eat independently. There is a fair amount of sodium in this package so she doesn't get it often but this is absolutely in our arsenal.
Vegan Bolognese Style Pasta Sauce
My kid isn't the biggest fan of meat but absolutely adores this sauce. To keep it on the healthy side, and sneak in vegetables, I often put this over zoodles and I never get any complaints. It takes a while for me to work my way through the jar and one usually lasts me about 4 to 6 weeks refrigerated. Nola likes this sauce topped with a big sprinkle of nutritional yeast powder or Parmesan cheese.
Sweet Potato Fries
These sweet potato fries are delicious, easy to heat in the oven or air fryer and cheap ($2.49/bag). I usually serve them alongside meatless chicken nuggets and a dime size amount of barbecue sauce. Whatever Nola doesn't eat, I always devour. You could season them with salt or even give them a dusting of cinnamon sugar. Either way grab a bag next time you're out.
Chickenless Crispy Tenders
Speaking of nuggets, these tenders are so good. It's funny to me that Nola won't eat meat usually but loves these. I like the fact that they're shaped in a way that makes self-feeding safe for curious toddlers and that they're made with whole grains so I feel good about what she's eating.
If you're noticing a trend here its that a majority of what Nola eats is pasta. I wish that weren't true but whatever, it is what it is right now. I usually have a pack or two of this pasta in the house. I split it between what I know I'll use pretty immediately and leave that in the fridge and put the rest in the freezer. I'll give this to Nola for dinner or pack it in her lunch and top it with either the vegan bolognese or even a good pesto.
Battered Fish Nuggets
We love fish in the Shepard house and these nuggets get a lot of play. I heat them up and serve them along side a spoonful of tartar sauce, some fresh fruit and a vegetable and let Nola go to town.
Chocolate Chip Hold the Cone
Okay, feel free to skip this if you aren't giving your child sugar but I love these little cones. They're perfect for small toddler hands and are just the right size sweet treat after Nola finishes dinner sometimes or just as a reward whenever we feel like giving it to her. Of course its melty ice cream and chocolate so it can get messy but, whatever...you can't control everything.
Oven-Baked Cheese Bites
I don't send Nola to school without a few of these in her lunchbox, she would never allow it. These baked cheese treats are so good. Sometimes I steal a few and put them in my salads or even in soups.
Freeze Dried Fruits
I have an entire bin of freeze dried mangos, strawberries, apples and bananas. The ingredients are simple...literally just the fruit and they make for an easy and healthy snack.
Every morning before we send Nolie to school we cuddle in bed and she eats her yogurt. I love these packs from Trader's because they're full fat (which pediatricians recommend for children under 2), creamy and so yummy. Shep usually puts the yogurts in reusable food pouches so it doesn't get all messy and we let Nola feed herself.