Many of the people who follow me on social media or read this blog really enjoy getting ideas for easy meal options for the family. In fact, I’ve previously written a series on “7 days of” where I have shared 7+ ideas for each meal occasion, including breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks. In this blog I wanted to share some inspiration for what to feed your little ones when they come home from nursery or school as I’ve been asked about it a lot recently.
Even when kids have eaten at nursery or had a “tea” before they’ve left, many parents find that they still come home wanting more food. Sometimes dinners at nursery can be eaten earlier than at home, or portion sizes may be smaller than what little ones are used to. Obviously preparing a whole meal isn’t always ideal (nor necessary), so I wanted to share some quick and easy ideas of what to offer!
Many parents are often confused about how much food to offer their little ones. I’ve got a free factsheet all about portion sizes for young children, which covers responsive feeding as well a guide for portion sizes.
However, when it comes to meals after nursery, it really can be as simple as serving a meal they would usually have, but making the portion size a little smaller. For example, half a bowl of pasta, ½ a slice of toast & topping or a bowl of soup with half a scone. Always follow their lead and adjust the portions as necessary for your little ones – they are all likely to be so different.
For example, with my two I find that Raffy used to still want a full meal when he came home but Ada has almost no appetite even an hour and a half after having her “tea”.
See below for my 7 days of light meals to offer after nursery or school, with alternative ideas for each day, just in case!
Pizza wraps – these can be a super quick and easy option that usually goes down well with little ones! Simply grab a wrap or a slice of pitta, spread some tomato paste with a little seasoning (oregano & garlic powder work well) and then add whichever toppings you like! Check my pitta pizza recipe for an easy method for these!
Crackers, cheese and veggies – A super simple and quick meal that can be prepared in minutes, and requires no cooking at all! If you have some little wooden skewers, you could also make the crackers, cheese and veggies into mini kebabs for a little added fun as well (I do a similar thing with my salad kebabs in How to Feed Your Toddler! Serving alongside a dip, such as hummus, would be great as well!
Veggie Muffins – these are a great option if you have them on hand in the freezer. Try these veggie breakfast muffins for an easy recipe to make ahead of time! I also have a spinach and cheddar muffin recipe in my book, How To Wean Your Baby that I always love to have ready!
Banana bread – I absolutely love a banana bread, as do my kids! Many of them can often be quite high in added sugars, but my low added sugar banana bread recipe is a good alternative option. Another good one to have ready in the freezer to just whip out quickly on those days when you don’t have any time. Serve with some yoghurt and fruit for a simple, balanced, light meal option.
Sandwiches – these are always a popular option for a quick meal, and can easily be made into a balanced meal. Some of my favourite sandwich combinations are:
- Nut butter and fruit
- Avocado and egg (boiled or scrambled)
- Hummus and red pepper
- Cream cheese and cucumber
- Chicken and tomato
- Tuna and sweetcorn (you could also opt for tinned salmon or mackerel)
You can vary up the type of bread offered – e.g. use wraps, pitta, bagels – whatever you have on hand! Read more about bread for babies in my blog.
Pinwheels with varying toppings – these can be super simple – all you need is some pastry, tomato paste and whichever toppings you like! If you don’t have pastry, using a wrap works just as well (and can be even quicker!) Some examples of toppings you could use are:
- Tuna and sweetcorn
- Chicken and mushroom
- Cherry tomato and pesto
- Apple and cinnamon
Serve them along with some yoghurt and fruit and these should go down a treat with little ones!
English muffin with scrambled egg and avocado – eggs can be a super simple and quick meal to whip up when you’re short on time. Avocado is an ideal quick and nutritious topping to prepare for little ones, but other veg options could be cherry tomatoes, cucumber, pepper sticks or beetroot!
Rice cakes with avocado and tuna – my super easy tuna and avocado toast topper can easily be served with a rice cake for a quick and light option. Rice cakes alone are not always an ideal option as they don’t offer a lot in the way of nutrition, but this topping is a great way to pack in extra nutrients. Other topping options could be cream cheese, nut butter or mashed tinned mackerel or salmon with a little yoghurt.
Grazing platter – this is a really common type of meal in our house, particularly post nursery! It’s the easiest way to throw something together and use up things in the fridge / cupboards. Here are some ideas for what to offer:
- Breadsticks with fruit and cheese
- Oatcakes with cream cheese spread and veg sticks
- Toast with avocado, cherry tomatoes and grated cheese
- Leftovers – heating up any small portions of leftover meals can be an ideal way to use up leftovers and prepare a quick and easy, light meal. You can also add some extra veg or fruit to bulk it out as well!
Potato tots: These potato and salmon tots are a great, simple option and can be easily adapted to use whatever ingredients you have! They’re an ideal finger food for babies, but also a great option for older children. They also are great options to freeze in bulk! If using salmon, they’re also a good source of omega-3 from the oily fish! Serve alongside a yoghurt dip and some fruit / veg sticks.
Cereal or porridge – these definitely don’t have to only be offered at breakfast! They’re a really quick and convenient option, and also easy to pack in extras for a nutritious and balanced meal. Check out my top porridge picks for babies and children.
Falafels with hummus and red pepper – I have a super simple recipe for sweet potato falafels. These are another ideal food to have on hand in the freezer for quick and simple meal. Serve with some hummus or yoghurt and tahini dip, and some red pepper to add some balance! You could also add some pitta triangles if you need to bulk it out a little.
Cold pasta with fruit or veg sticks and dip – I always find that I cook far too much pasta, either when cooking for myself or the kids. But having leftover cooked pasta can actually make for a quick and easy snack! Serve with a dip, (e.g. yoghurt, pesto or avocado / cream cheese) and some fruit or veg, and it’s a balanced option ready in minutes!
Yoghurt with nut butter & fruit – A really simple and popular option for most kids! This is a particularly light option for when they just need a small snack, but adding some nut or seed butter packs in some extra nutrients and helps to make it overall a little more filling. You could sprinkle over some oats, or offer with some breadsticks or toast if you wanted to bulk it out a little!
So there are my 7 days of light meals that are ideal for offering after nursery or school!
And for plenty more simple, family-friendly recipes, my new book How To Feed Your Toddler is available to buy now!