Weekly Dinner Menu: Preparing Meals for an 18-Month-Old

We’ve made it to the third weekly Sunday posting in a row! I didn’t know if I would be able to live up to my goal, but here we are. For this week’s blog, I wanted to document another week of dinners and emphasize what (if any) adjustments I make to accommodate my 18-month-old son. I’ve been serving him the same meal that my husband and I eat for quite a while now, and just a little intentionality when preparing and serving can save you from having to make two separate meals. For each day below, I’ve listed a “Toddler Tip” that has been helpful for us, but I know that each kid can be different.

I’d be lying if I said that my son is a super eater, as he’s fairly picky and still wants to throw food on the ground; however, I do believe that I’m giving him the opportunity to eat a varied, nutritious diet, and he’s been improving a lot recently. I’ll be interested to see how his eating behaviors change after he’s fully weaned.

Whether you are curious about what we eat in my home or are looking for some meal inspiration, I’m happy to have you here. 

Monday: Vegan Gluten-free Holiday Roast

I wanted to make a special, comforting dinner for Valentine’s Day, and I was really happy with how it turned out. I didn’t make any adjustments to the original recipe, and for the filling, I chose to use roasted sweet potatoes and onions. This was my second time making this roast, and I can confirm that it is 10x better with gravy. I like to use this recipe for gravy, but I could’ve done with a half batch. Because I have limited time, I used a mashed potato mix, but hey, you gotta pick your battles. My son actually did a really good job picking up and eating the roast after I broke it up into pieces, and he ate some of the sweet potato pieces as well. You would think that he would like mashed potatoes, but those were a hard pass for him.

Toddler tip: Keep introducing the same food over and over even if your toddler hasn’t shown interest in the past. I’ve served sweet potato countless times only to have him refuse it; however, this time, he went for it!

Tuesday: Spicy Spaghetti (Family Night at my parents)

Spicy Spaghetti is exactly what it sounds like, marinara sauce with Impossible Spicy Sausage on top of spaghetti. While the sauce is delicious, it’s too spicy for my son. My mom set aside some plain marinara sauce without the sausage for him to have. We gave him both buttered noodles and noodles with marinara, and he reached for the ones with marinara more. Oddly enough, my son loves raw spinach and lettuce, so he had some of that as well as garlic bread.

Toddler tip: Set aside a portion of food that you can season differently (like my mom did with the sauce) so that you can still enjoy flavor but also share a meal with your toddler. Break spaghetti noodles up a bit so that they aren’t too long.

Wednesday: Kung Pao Chickpeas

This recipe is a frequent flyer in our dinner rotation. It is incredibly easy to make, and everyone enjoys it (truly a win-win). I’ll always remember this recipe as the first meal that I cooked for my family postpartum, so it holds a special place in my heart. I usually make it on days when I know I’m not going to be home in the afternoon, because it takes 3 hours in the slow cooker on high. 

Here are the adjustments that I make:

  • 1 yellow onion in place of ½ red onion
  • I almost always use a green bell pepper solely because they are cheaper than the others.
  • I leave out the red pepper flakes for Ember’s sake but set them on the table in case my husband wants them.
  • I omit the sesame oil and sesame seeds, as my son broke out in welts after having sesame a few times. I am going to reintroduce sesame once he’s old enough to tell me how he’s feeling. That said, sesame oil adds a lot of flavor if you can use it.

I always serve it with rice, but this time I also sautéed up ½ of a tofu block that was leftover from Monday’s recipe. My son loved the simple tofu and did well with both the rice and beans. 

Toddler tip: Smash the beans a little bit to help with digestion, and try to clump together some rice to make it easier to grab. Add salt, pepper, and spice individually at the table instead of adding it while cooking.

Thursday: Southwestern Lentil and Brown Rice Bake

As long as you have 2 hours at home before dinner, it doesn’t get much easier than this recipe. You literally dump everything (except the cheese) into a casserole dish, bake it for 1.5 hours, add the cheese, and bake it for 20 more minutes. If I had to describe it, I would say it’s kind of Hamburger Helperish tasting. I served it with air fryer potatoes, and my husband scooped it up with some chips too. It was thick enough that my son was able to pick up clumps and eat it with his fingers, and I think it went over really well. He actually ate the leftovers the next day for lunch with some sourdough too. The only adjustments that I made were using half of the amount of cheese that the recipe called for and using Daiya vegan cheese instead of regular. I didn’t sprinkle any cheese on top of a portion of the casserole in case my son didn’t like it (he’s weird about any kind of cheese).

Toddler tip: If your toddler is picky about vegetables, serve them in a casserole. My son likes vegetables when they are soft and indistinguishable from the other ingredients in a dish.

Friday: “Chik’n” (Soy Curl) Noodle Soup

I started a new set of SureSmile aligners on Friday, and I wanted something that would be easy to chew. There’s not too many dinners more comforting than a bowl of Noodle Soup with mashed potatoes, and soy curls are the perfect replacement for chicken. Not to pat myself on the back too much, but my husband told me this was one of the best batches he’s ever had. This is all I do:

  1. Bring 6 cups of broth, 2 cups of additional water, a splash of Braggs Liquid Aminos, and 1 bay leaf to a boil.
  2. Add a 12 oz bag of frozen Reames egg noodles, but you could use whatever type of noodle that you like. Simmer for 20 minutes uncovered and stir occasionally.
  3. Stir in ½ tsp black pepper, ¼ tsp thyme, a dash of celery seed, and a dash of onion powder. Add ½ bag of dry soy curls.
  4. Simmer for 10 minutes.
  5. Discard the bay leaf and enjoy!

Since this recipe is simple, I had the chance to make homemade mashed potatoes, and my son actually ate some of them (unlike on Monday)!

Toddler tip: Strain out the liquid from soup so that it’s easier to eat and can be picked up with fingers.


Here’s the breakdown of the main ingredients that you would need for these vegetarian meals.

Monday

  • Protein: chickpeas, tofu
  • Produce: sweet potato, onion
  • Carb: potatoes

Tuesday

  • Protein: Impossible Spicy Sausage
  • Produce: salad greens and toppings (for an unpictured salad)
  • Carb: noodles

Wednesday

  • Protein: chickpeas and tofu
  • Produce: onion, green pepper
  • Carb: rice

Thursday

  • Protein: lentils
  • Produce: green pepper, tomatoes (canned), potatoes
  • Carb: brown rice

Friday

  • Protein: soy curls
  • Produce: potatoes
  • Carb: noodles

This was a typical week for us, and overall I think these meals are a healthy balance between nourishment and comfort. These dinner menu blogs are always so much fun for me to write, and I think it’s interesting to look back and see how the week unfolded. Let me know if you end up trying out any of these recipes and if you have any requests for future blogs.

Have a great week, and enjoy some tasty food!

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