At some point – when Baz was starting to eat “big” kid food – I ran across the suggestion that I put toddler food in a muffin tin. I also saw ice cube trays, but those little holes are so little…and our ice cube trays are being used for ice. What I did have sitting around, was a 6 cup muffin tin (toaster-oven size) that would do the job just perfectly.
Four years and one sibling later, and the “muffin tin” or “hot muffin tin” is a frequent request for meal times. The upside of this is that I can control the portions (and waste less food) and that by putting something different in each cup, I can offer tastes of new foods next to old favorites. I’ve even poured soup into their little glasses and set that in a muffin cup.
Full disclosure: Baz does not like fruit. Any fruit. Anything resembling fruit. Walter only vaguely likes vegetables, but will eat his weight in berries if allowed. I have been putting exactly ONE halved grape in Baz’s muffin tin for months. It is still untouched.
Each cup holds about 2 tablespoons of food, a good amount for my 2.5 yr old, but I expect the 5 yr old to be hungry after he’s finished, even if that’s rarely the case. Sometimes I’ll use one section for a Sometimes Food – like a cookie or a couple of pieces of candy – and that spot will not get a refill. More often, I’ll fill all six cups with Anytime Foods and dessert only comes when the six cups are empty. Because, as we all know, if you’re not hungry enough to eat that ONE grape…then you’re not hungry enough to eat a cookie. (For the record, this has never worked. Baz will give up a cookie before he will deign to put a grape in his mouth. Sigh.)
Other options that frequently see time inside our muffin tins: nuts, dried fruits, fresh fruits, edamame, cut up veggies, cheese and crackers, torn up lunchmeat, the possibilities are endless. Despite what you see on Pinterest, there is no reason to get crazy with the food cutters. Consider this the Lazy Mom’s Bento and embrace the ease that affords you.
It’s not fool-proof, obviously, but it does allow me to rest easy knowing that they are being offered a wide array of food and have the opportunity to expand their tastes and enjoy new foods. Since refills on Anytime Foods are always available, I also know that when they tell me they’re finished eating, it means they have truly gotten their fill.
All photos belong to the author.