When it comes to kids and toddlers sometimes even achieving a full belly can be a task, because at that age, who wants to stop having fun, sit down, and eat? Not them, that’s for sure. The solution? Make meals fun! Here are some recipes and fun ideas for meal time for kids and toddlers of all ages.
Hot Dog Octopus Macaroni:
Sometimes all it takes to make a simple meal fun for kids and toddlers is a little creative cutting. This simple twist on the quick and easy kid favorite, macaroni and cheese and hot dogs appeals especially to fans of Disney movies such as Nemo. You can even couple meal time with learning fun by having an under sea adventure and teach your kids about the ocean and marine life. Granted you may need more than the macaroni but that’s an entirely different article.
What you’ll need:
A box of your choice macaroni and cheese (I recommend Annie’s)
You can just make macaroni from scratch if that’s your preference (a.k.a you have time somehow while raising a toddler) a recipe can be found here.
A matching number of full hotdogs for the number of kids you are feeding.
How to do it:
This recipe requires very little instruction. You make the macaroni as instructed, while getting a second pot of boiling water ready. In the mean time take each hot dog and slit the ends eight ways about half way down the hot dog. Once the water has come to a boil add the hot dogs, the eight “legs” will curl producing a hot dog octopus. Place your macaroni in bowls and float the fun little meat critter on top and serve.
I like to serve this with blue juice and gold fish crackers for the full under sea fun effect.
This one can get messy, and isn’t the best recipe for younger toddlers as it involves food coloring which can stain if they happen to get it everywhere but where they were supposed to. However with slightly older kids this recipe helps teach primary colors as well as brings kids into the kitchen so they feel more involved in meal time.
What you’ll need: (to serve 8)
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
3 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon white sugar
1 1/4 cups milk
3 tablespoons butter, melted
1 box food coloring
How to do it:
Place the flour, baking powder, salt and sugar in a large bowl and sift. Make a well in the center and add in the milk, egg and melted butter, and then mix until smooth.
Separate the batter into several small bowls. Now the fun begins. You can teach your young kid all about primary colors by having them first dye three bowls of batter red, blue and green, and then show them how these three colors are primary because by mixing them you can make plenty of secondary colors such as yellow, purple and orange.
Heat a lightly oiled griddle or frying pan over medium high heat. Pour or scoop the batter onto the griddle, using approximately 1/4 cup for each pancake. Brown on both sides and serve hot.
In the end you may have rainbow pancakes, and you may have brown I-poured-all-the-colors-into-one-bowl pancakes, but either way kids are more likely to eat what they made themselves. You can even couple this recipe with Green eggs and ham from Dr. Seuss to use up some of that left over food coloring.
(Recipe an alteration of Good Old Fashion Pancakes from Allrecipes.com submitted by Dakota Kelly)
A Few ideas to run with:
World Culture’s Meal month:
You don’t want to throw to much new foods at your toddler or kid, but try spending all week covering a certain country or culture (ex/ German and Chinese) and then close the week by making all days meals from the region. Do a different theme each week.
Mystery Fruit/Veggie Bag:
Blind fold players. Fill a bag with varies chopped fruits and veggies then let kids guess what piece they’ve pulled after tasting. The kid that gets the most correct wins!
Hide a prize into your meal making sure your toddler or kid knows its there. Race to see who can find it first without picking through with hands. Be sure to use something that is too big to be swallowed. This works well with cakes as well as sloppy food such as sloppy joes or mashed potatoes.
No matter how you go about it making meal time fun for toddlers and kids is the easiest way to get them to sit down and just eat. If you make it interactive as well you may inadvertently teach your child all variety of things from fractions to colors. So get cooking and have fun!