Hey, mom holding the box of mac & cheese with the neon yellow powder in it. Yes, you. I’m not judging. Really. Whether it’s time or money, I understand that you have to bust out the packaged goods from time to time. And maybe all your child will eat is mac & cheese and chicken nuggets. At least you’re feeding him/her. However, if you’re looking to break out of a toddler food rut and get your toddler on the road to healthy eating, I do have a few ideas in mind.

Anil and I are foodies, so we eat a wide variety of foods. We’re also health nuts, but treat ourselves to “naughty” food enough to the point where we don’t lose our minds or binge eat junk food. With that in mind, we’ve been feeding Dilan a wide variety of foods as well since he was about 5 months old. Different cuisines, textures, and tastes. It’s hard to say whether or not he’s just an easy going eater, or, if our efforts to introduce lots of variety paid off. Like most toddlers, he still has his days where all he eats for dinner is cantaloupe and black olives. Happened just this week. But in general, he at least tries to take a bite out of most things we put in front of him. Our meal policy is that he has to try everything. If he doesn’t like it, we don’t force him to eat it, but it will make an appearance again on the menu some other time. You can’t try enough with toddlers.

The biggest reason for not feeding your child healthy foods is often time. I can completely sympathize with that since I have under 20 minutes to cook dinner on a weeknight, with no one around to entertain Dilan while I cook. This often means my actual cooking time gets down to about 5 minutes. It’s beyond difficult, and that’s with only ONE child and an adequate food budget. However, somehow we still make it work. It’s usually thanks to lots of planning ahead on weekends and cutting and marinating ahead as well. Short cuts are a must for us too (hello, Trader Joes!). So without further ado, here are some of our best healthy toddler meals. Some cooked from scratch, some haphazardly thrown together, and some with a million short cuts…but none with preservatives or junk. Enjoy and please let me know what your favorite healthy toddler meal ideas are!