The Care and Feeding of a Toddler and Her Grandparents

There’s a child in the house…

Raffi songs play on the stereo, and bright-colored foam blocks litter the floor. Pretend cups of tea are served and sipped. There’s a rubber ducky in my bathtub….

Nowhere is it more evident than in the kitchen.

Plastic bowls and tiny cutlery aside, meal planning has changed a lot. We’re still sussing-out what Angel Face will and won’t eat…

There have been some surprises.

On the ‘won’t’ list:

Bananas. Baked goods – including fresh-baked banana muffins. Bread. Cheese ravioli. Graham crackers.

On the ‘will’ side:

Fresh tomatoes – eats them like candy. Steak. Ham. Chicken. Cheddar cheese. Applesauce. Macaroni. Green beans – sometimes. Potatoes – more on that later. Eggs – again, sometimes. Greek yogurt. Freeze-dried strawberries – who knew those even existed?

So, now the trick is to combine the Stuff She’ll Eat (and the Stuff We Want Her To Try) in ways that make up meals that Grandmom and Grandad Like To Eat.

I’m not cooking two meals. Got enough of that the first time around.

(There’s a whole, long list of “I’m Not’s”. We’ll talk about them along with the potatoes. Later.)

Lunches are also part of the planning. No bread means no sandwiches, so no easy-out PB and J’s or grilled cheese. It’s not hard to have some leftover meat or pasta in the fridge, but that can get old. And fast…

Allow me to introduce my new best friend:

The Jumbo Muffin Tin.

Not for making sweet treats that have a whole day’s calories, but for portion-sized, lunch-friendly foods that can delight both toddlers and Grands.

For example, that scrumptious Leek Bread Pudding a couple of photos back…(Click for the recipe)

As a side dish at dinner, or a main at lunch, this one’s a winner. It’s not limited to leeks; most cooked veggies can be tossed in (it’s great with leftover roasted squash). Right now, I’m making the custard a little egg-heavy, to be sure she’s getting plenty of protein, but you could drop an egg, and add more milk, as long as the total liquid volume is three cups…

The candy-colored fork is optional.

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28 thoughts on “The Care and Feeding of a Toddler and Her Grandparents

  1. That is a fantastic idea. You must be having fun with working out exciting ways to tease the toddler palate. I sometimes used treats after they ate something they did not like. My idea of a treat was ONE jellybean that would sit beside the tiny tiny slice of grilled cheese or the bean. So they got the reward immediately. When i was nannying I would often have to introduce a new food, but I only ever introduced it in tiny amounts in a wee cup or a minute saucer. Just so I got the chance to say – well done! You ate a sliver of carrot. Aren’t you clever! c

    • two nights ago, I did something I never thought was possible – I bribed her to eat her sweet potatoes.
      With GREEN BEANS.
      Her favorites are yogurt-covered raisins – a snack I’d give her anyway. She likes to try the things that Grandad is eating, too…

  2. I do admire you . It must be tough not just having your life turned upside down but having to incorporate food likes and dislikes. I think you are doing the right thing not cooking two different meals…and I love the idea of the muffin tin portions!

    • I did all that with my own kids.
      It’s easier this time, since there’s only ONE of her, not THREE.
      And, I’m married to a guy with a *much* broader palate.
      I think meatloaf is next for the muffin tin…

  3. I can only imagine what it’s like to parent again…at that young age! But I do know, like you mentioned, how I would not do some of the things I did the first time around!! Your blessed to have this little one in your life and the same for her to have you both. Adjust and enjoy!

  4. The muffin pan is such an amazing product, because you can do sooo much with it.. without having to work overtime with a lot of pans. And those baby dolls in the bed reminded me of when I was a child and did that lol. Great post

    • Amen, Kay! I used it last summer to make some little pies for a dinner party, and really haven’t stopped! I’ve evn considered how convienient it would be for a single person – freeze the leftovers for ready, quick meals.

  5. The “likes” and “don’t like” lists are amazing. I don’t know how you have a 2 year old without PB&J….. or grilled cheese for that matter. All of you are amazing!! I’m proud of you.

  6. I never did the parenting thing, let alone twice, but having married at the ripe old age of 35 I did learn that adults (say, 35 and 45 yrs old, respectively) have just as many dining quirks, some of them pretty nearly carved in stone, as any toddlers. Now, it’s fair to say that there are many who could quote you chapter and verse on the *other* ways in which we two are indistinguishable from toddlers, but that’s not the topic here. It’s definitely a trick to discover who will eat what and how one can encourage the better habits among those things and how to get all of the Whos in Who-ville to eat the same meal. More power to you!

    • Yes….I seem to remember some mention of your Sweetie having a few ‘quirks’ where food is concerned.
      Trust me, my first husband was worse – a real eternal two-year-old in the diet department.
      “Ew! You put MUSHROOMS in the sauce!”
      “Yes. If you’ll notice, they are WHOLE mushrooms, and garaunteed to wind up on MY plate, not yours. I’m sure you can aviod getting them into your mouth.”
      (Kid’s Chorus) “Mushrooms! Ew!”
      My brood didn’t develop a palate until much later…

  7. That pic of her bed speaks volumes. Visiting Li’l Ones don’t travel with all of their dolls. I hope, in time, she gets a little more curious and tries some of the things on her “Not” list. I mean, a life without cheese ravioli is bad enough but no bread? The horror!

    • I only wish those were ALL her dolls…that’s the one thing her parents seem to have been able to provide on a regular basis…
      I hope the bread thing will resolve itself after we get her teeth fixed…I’m fairly sure that’s a dental issue. Cheese ravioli? We’ll just keep trying!

  8. Hold your ground grandma. OK, I’m teasing. But I can imagine cooking two meals did get old and besides you’re a great cook, even a toddler should appreciate that! Did you just throw a plastic bowl at the screen? Those pictures are very sweet.

    • I wasn’t such a great cook when I was raising my brood…and their father was a less-than-adventurous eater, so I had fewer choices.
      I still don’t know how I wound up married to a guy who would only eat steak well-done!

  9. It sounds like you are doing a remarkable job – caring and loving, thoughtful. And then comes the inspirational – the muffin tin is pure genius. My household is veggie/non-veggie, so a muffin tin for me with some meaty/fishy treats every now and then might work. And to round off, fabulous photos!

  10. The good news is that she likes a lot of foods that are good for her. I know she will come around to more things as she gets a little older. What a great job you are doing…and I love the fork.

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