Toddler Meals (Send Help and Wine ... For Me)

SMIDGE OF THIS
I'm struggling with toddler meals, and it's not just what's ON her plate, it's just the whole thing. Let me start from the beginning...

Camille has always been a great eater. She'll try just about anything and she eats a wide variety of fruits and veggies. Proteins are a little more hit-or-miss (excluding peanut butter). I love feeding her all types of food in major hopes that she won't end up being a "chicken fingers only" kid. But sometimes I'll slow-cook some delicious organic chicken breasts all day long only to have her refuse them.

only parents will be able to truly understand this, but it is so true ;):

But now, at nearly 3 years old, she's getting a lot more particular about what she eats, and mealtimes are taking foreverrrrrr. Many nights she will just dawdle and dawdle and next thing you know, I'm setting the timer on my phone for two minutes and telling her that when it rings, dinnertime is over. We also end up missing the window some nights for bathtime which she truly loves. So that can be a struggle. But she goes to bed right around 7 and I'd rather have her miss a bath than go to bed late.

And some nights I yell, scream, lose my temper. It's horrible. I've always been so patient, but the Groundhog Day dinnertime battle is apparently a hot button for me.

Currently it's really only dinner that is so tough on us. Lunches are easier -- PBJs, sliced fruit, heck she will even chow down on some frozen peas. But for dinnertime, I always feel like we're racing against the clock, like we are forcing her to eat, like my meals are sub-par. As much as I love to tell myself that adding peas and ham to Easy Mac is acceptable, I'm leaning on things like that far too often. As a stay-at-home mom, I should be taking more time to prepare healthier meals. I don't know, black bean and tumeric roasted pork empanadas or something. (imagine the eye roll and shoulder shrug emojis now)

Oh, and eating together as a family. It's something we will do for sure when the girls start going to bed later. But for now, we aim to have the girls in bed by 7 which then gives me time to come downstairs and finish preparing the dinner for us adults. And, to be frank, it's one of the more relaxing parts of the day we experience as a couple right now, and to try to have dinner for everyone done by 5:45 and then eat together with toddler tantrums and a baby flinging bananas is just too stressful for us to take on at this point. Just even typing that out is giving me a sweat-stache.

Here's where I'd love your input: what does your toddler eat for dinner? How do you get creative in the kitchen? When you go grocery shopping, what are the healthy staples you pick up? How do you encourage your toddler to focus on their eating to keep dinnertimes from lasting 60 minutes?

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