This Plate has Changed my Life

Is it depressing that a dinner plate has changed my life?  Perhaps.  It might be true that I need to get out more.
But anyway, Babyman recently got this plate as a gift.  Now we are going to need several because every (and I mean every) lunch and dinner is served out of it, which translates into yet more washing of dishes during the day.  Yikes.

But actually, the dish has had a very positive impact on meal planning in our house.  Specifically, it has given rise to a very toddler-friendly phenomenon I like to call the Pick ‘n’ Mix Meal.  The beauty of the Pick ‘n’ Mix Meal is that it can often be cobbled together with items I already have on hand, which is particularly excellent on work days.

On days when I do have a bit more time, the plate has really helped me migrate from the realm of “baby food” (i.e. one bowl of mashed-up veg with brown rice and liquid) to “toddler meals”–which, let’s be honest, are really just grown-up meals with the food cut into tiny bites and served with colorful cutlery.

This particular plate has three sections.  I like three because it gives me enough space for a “stretch item” (ahem, vegetables) without being overwhelming; if you already have trouble with the question of what’s for dinner, having to fill four sections might feel like a bridge too far.

So I like to think of the sections as each covering a major nutritional base: carbs – protein – fruit/veg.  If I’m being sneaky mommy and hiding fruit/veg in my carb or protein dish, I can use the third section for a dip.

Pick ‘n’ Mix Pantry Meal Ideas
These are all items which most moms keep around anyway.  No/minimal cooking required

Whole wheat or corn tortillas, toasted for 30 seconds with cheese and cut into triangles
Black beans (low sodium)
Avocado slices

Some kind of meat (left over chicken, canned tuna in water, Gerber Turkey Sticks)
Whole wheat macaroni with tomato sauce or butter & cheese
Frozen peas or (if you are so fortunate) other cut-up vegetables your kids like

Zuccini cakes (see previous post)
Sour cream or plain yogurt (for dipping)

Omelet (if you can sneak in some spinach or broccoli, even better!)
Whole wheat toast with cream cheese/avocado spread (see previous post)
Ketchup for dipping

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