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Easy, quick dinners for 3 yr olds...

(18 Posts)
Millionprammiles Tue 07-Jul-15 13:58:27

My 3 yr old is asking if she can have her dinner at nursery...on a Sunday. I think its her way of telling me she prefers the food there.

I only have to make dinner for her at weekends and I'm failing to even do that properly so need some help. Part of the issue is whilst dd will eat everything at nursery she objects to lots of things at home. I've failed to persuade her to eat:
any veg apart from carrots, peas, sweetcorn, cherry tomatoes, cucumber.

I've tried involving her in cooking - she happily made pizzas/fajitas then picked off/out all the veg and just ate the bread and cheese.

I've basically been feeding her salmon, pasta/pesto, sausages, carrots, peas, sweetcorn, cheese sandwiches, omelette (at a push and not with anything in it) as its the only things she'll reliably eat. (We don't cook meat at home (apart from ready made sausages)).

We seem to be out most of the day most weekends so aren't often home in time to do lots of cooking. Weekdays I'm out 12 hours a day with work so don't really fancy batch cooking at 9pm.

But I can tell dd is bored of the meals and so am I. So something must be done!

slightlyconfused85 Wed 08-Jul-15 16:42:37

Dd is a few months younger but really enjoys:
Spaghetti bolognese
fish pie with a sauce made of creme fraiche, English mustard, cheese and parsley
Bacon and cauliflower pasta in a light cheese sauce
Pork and parsnip casserole (she likes rice but would be fine with pots or bread)
Chicken casserole in a tomato sauce with sweet smoked paprika
Sausages and Cous cous with veg

slightlyconfused85 Wed 08-Jul-15 16:51:28

None of these take me more than c. 20 mins to prepare although cooking time can vary

EmGee Wed 08-Jul-15 17:52:26


Takes minutes to make (if you cheat and use frozen veg) and you can make loads of combinations. Add croutons, or pasta shapes, breadsticks etc to add interest.

Fish/chicken fingers (coated in ground cornflakes and fried in bit of butter) à la Anabel Karmel.

Would she eat a mild curry with naan bread? (Just korma paste, with some veg - frozen spinach good - and add creme fraiche.

StoneCuttersStreet Thu 09-Jul-15 12:31:29

Pasties - cooked veg and mince or chicken in pastry parcels.

Fritters - grated veg, egg, flour and cheese then fried.

Veg carbonara - cook pasta, drain and take off heat add some cooked veg (I do courgette, maybe if you grated she would eat? ) mix in an egg and Parmesan and black pepper.

My quickest lunch is socca pizza. Gran flour mixed with water and left to stand in the morning. Fry like a pancake top with cooked veg and cheese (I do roast cherry toms and mushrooms usually)

Veg muffins - grated veg and cheese (although requires some prep I make lots and do in freezer)

Grated Apple and cheese on toast in mega emergencies.

All of the above served with cherry toms and cucumber!

hedgehogsdontbite Thu 09-Jul-15 12:33:24

What is she having at nursery?

Cumberlover76 Thu 09-Jul-15 12:36:01

i make up a batch of veg bolognaise, fry onions and garlic, add tinned toms, courgette and carrots and blend till a smooth sauce. Then freeze in ice cube tray, once frozen put in freezer bags. You can then take out 3 or 4 cubes and defrost in micro, stir into come pasta and you're done. DD love spaghetti bolognaise with meat and doesn't seem to realise this is meat free and full of veg!

StoneCuttersStreet Thu 09-Jul-15 12:41:22

Would she eat roast veg do you think? I often do sweet potato, carrot, squash and potato in squares or wedges. This is a good on the go thing to have.

Millionprammiles Thu 09-Jul-15 13:53:15

Thanks all - probably should have flagged that we don't cook meat at home (dp is a veggie and I eat meat rarely).
slightly - that fish pie sauce sounds great. Dd is a fan of fish pie.
EmGee - will persevere with soups (we have a soup maker) though dd hasn't been keen. Maybe adding pasta/chunks of veg is the answer so its thicker.
Stone - its hit and miss. Reliably only potatoes and carrots. And yes we too add cherry toms and cucumber with everything!

hedgehog - dd eats fantastically well at nursery. The food is all cooked fresh on site and its a good range of veg, meat, fish and fruit etc. Sample meal this week at nursery - tofu, broccoli and other veg with noodles. Dd ate it all. At home - a tiny bit of broccoli in pasta and the whole lot is rejected.

I think part of the issue is as weekends are our quality time with dd I don't want mealtimes to be battlegrounds so I've ended up bribing her with yoghurt covered raisins or something to eat her dinner blush

hedgehogsdontbite Thu 09-Jul-15 13:56:05

Could you investigate how they're cooking it and serving it at nursery?

slightlyconfused85 Thu 09-Jul-15 13:58:22

I'll send you the recipe for the fish pie op it's a slightly simplified jamie Oliver one. If she likes fish what about a really mild red Thai curry with salmon?

slightlyconfused85 Thu 09-Jul-15 13:59:26

You could try the macaroni cheese with cauliflower and bacon but instead of bacon have spinach or peas? She won't even notice the cauliflower if it's chopped small!

TheOriginalWinkly Thu 09-Jul-15 14:02:45

Easier said than done but I would try not to worry about it. It's more likely the environment rather than the food that encourages her to eat in nursery, and as she's getting a good varied diet Mon - Fri I think you can relax a little, and serve up things that aren't hassle, maybe with an extra (new) veg on the side but with no comment on whether she eats it or not.

Millionprammiles Thu 09-Jul-15 14:06:24

slightly - recipe would be great. I generally find J Oliver easy enough even for me.

hedgehog - I think they're just better cooks! They probably use more seasoning, are a bit more adventurous than I am. And a lot more time and planning goes into cooking meals at nursery. The portions may be smaller too though the kids are always allowed seconds.

I think there's probably a bit of pushing boundaries going on too at home if I'm honest. Will persevere and try not to take it all too personally.

StoneCuttersStreet Thu 09-Jul-15 15:27:35

I agree that it sounds like she's getting a balanced and varied diet at nursery so you don't need to worry too much. I work FT too and I know the last thing you want is to have battles of stupid things!

FreeButtonBee Thu 09-Jul-15 15:42:56

A total winner with my DTs is tuna sweetcorn hash. I wouldn't eat it if you paid me! But they love it.

Mashed potatoes (about 2 large potatoes - I make in micro if I don't have any left overs to use)
tin of tuna
good handful of sweet corn
some grated cheese
a bit of pepper

Mix it all together and bung in an ovn proff dish for 20 mins until top is starting to brown. Serve. Watch in amazement.

Big fat udon rice noodles are also a recent hit and you can do stir fry veg of whatever sort she likes plus whatever meat she likes too. A dash of honey and a bit of soy and ketchup makes enough of a sauce for kids.

Highlove Thu 09-Jul-15 18:53:05

It's a bit limited but what you're serving her doesn't sound that bad. More than plenty of kids manage! Hard not to worry though. Mine's younger than yours so I'm certainly no expert, but I think my approach would be to take the stuff she likes and tweak it a bit, and gradually get her trying different stuff. So if pasta pesto is a winner, try pesto gnocchi. Or try a homemade pesto with different flavours - it's super quick to make. As others have said, try lots if variations on fish pie.

I'd probably combine some hidden veg (grate courgette in pesto, smush up overcooked cauli in fish pie, etc) with just sticking different veg cooked in different ways alongside it. She'll reject loads but eventually if it's not a battle ground she'll probably try something.

Oh and I definitely wouldn't do the bribery thing, especially if you think this is just her exercising a bit if control. She eats or she doesn't, no comment, no pushing.She won't starve herself and as others have said, she's got a great diet five days a week.

Millionprammiles Fri 10-Jul-15 09:58:10

Dd has adopted a forensic approach to meals recently. Getting harder to hide stuff in there!

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