With three young kids who each have strong preferences about food, meal and snack time can sometimes stress me out! Trying to find something easy but healthy that all the kids will eat becomes a challenge; I want there to be at least a few foods each child likes, but I also don’t want to become a short-order cook, creating different meals to suit each kid’s current (ever-changing) tastes. It’s easy to latch on to the same (limited) rotation of things that I know they will eat, but boy does that get old – and boring!
Enter: muffin tin meals! They are just so easy, and they lend themselves really well to toddler and preschooler eating habits: little bits of this and that, all separated, nothing touching.
All you do is this: at mealtime, instead of a plate or bowls, grab a muffin tin. Fill each hole with a different thing – I do a carbohydrate or whole grain or two, a fruit and/or a veggie, some kind of protein, a dip or condiment, and maybe a treat or dessert. Add toothpicks or chopsticks for fun if you’d like. I find regular six cup tins work best for us, though they are becoming harder to find, I’ve found – most in stores now are 12! Mini-muffin tins can work as well, as can ice cube trays, at least for smaller items.
I often find this is a great way to empty out the fridge of leftovers – and for some reason the novelty of the presentation makes my kids a lot more likely to give things a try! Sometimes I will put a new food in one or two of the cups, and I can easily cater to each child’s dietary needs or preferences by substituting one thing for another, if needed.
Here is the Muffin Tin Meals Flikr group with many more pictures of all sorts of muffin tin meals. There are some folks out there who take this to the extreme – super fancy, time-consuming, themed meals for tots, and while they are impressive and sometimes fascinating, that is just not my style – we go pretty simple around our house! But, I find the concept is a really good one – my kids cannot wait to dive in when they see the muffin tins on the table!
Do you do muffin tin meals, or something similar? What type of container do you use, and what are you and your kids favorite things to put in them? I am always looking for new ideas!