Since I work full time, Pickle goes to daycare, or as we call it at home, "school." I pack his snacks and lunches for school every day and it's really tough sometimes to ensure that he's getting what he needs nutrition-wise while not consuming all of my free time cooking specific meals for him. This is a great article to quantify how much food a toddler needs. It's not as much as you think.
In one of my blogs, I shared with you my pancake recipe. Well, I have to say that "cakes" in general are a great way to pack in a meal's nutritional requirements of protein, dairy, vegetable/fruit and grains:
Fish cakes (salmon, tuna, cod, tilapia, shrimp)
Bean cakes (lentils and chickpeas, too)
Grain cakes (bulgur, quinoa, whole-wheat couscous, wheatberries, brown rice)
Veggie cakes (roasted mushrooms, eggplants, squash, potato, zucchini, carrot, turnip, parsnip, the possibilities are endless!)
Here's a link to a family favorite from Everyday Food: veggie burgers. These are very versatile and can easily accommodate what you have in your pantry and fridge. Switch the pinto beans with black beans; quinoa for bulgur; unsweetened almond butter for tahini; the list goes on and on for substitutions.
Inspired by some crab cakes I recently made for Chris's birthday, I am working on a fish cake recipe that I'll post soon.
So here are some recent lunches/snacks Rhys has taken to school with him:
3-4 RP's Pasta Spinach and Ricotta Ravioli — diced into bite-size pieces
One hard-boiled egg, diced
P.M. snack: diced bananas dusted in pulverized whole-wheat graham crackers
Whole-wheat cinnamon-banana pancakes, cubed
Shredded cheddar cheese from Cedar Grove Dairy
P.M. snack: blueberry applesauce and Cascadian Farm Organic Os (contains no sugar)
Ricotta Frittata with spinach and red peppers, cubed
P.M. snack: whole-wheat graham crackers with cream cheese (broken into small pieces) and diced melon
Other lunch-time helpers I love:
Box graters: great for grating more than cheese, especially those things that fall into the “choking hazard” category — apples, pears, carrots, zucchini, sweet potato.
Electric Scale: helps you “eyeball” accurate portions
Steamer-basket insert: steaming preserves a lot of the vitamins in vegetables