Preschooler Feeding & Eating: Make Mealtime Fun

Give a Squeeze:
Fill squeeze bottles with anything pourable — BBQ sauce, fruit sauce, ketchup, or salad dressing — then draw pictures and write notes to the kids.

  • Express Yourself – With dipping sauce, squirt “I Love You” on the plate, next to chicken nuggets and vegetables.
  • Shake Up the Salad – Serve dressing in a squeeze bottle, and let the kids have fun squirting it onto a healthy mix of lettuce and vegetable slices.
  • Be a Star – Form the points of a star on a plate with asparagus tips, and fill the center with assorted veggies. Draw an outline around the star with ranch dressing.

Create a Critter:
Children love animals of all kinds — they’ll be charmed by these adorable creatures.

  • Turkey Turtles – Fold a round slice of turkey in half. Pipe green ketchup over the slice in a block pattern. Add a cherry-tomato head and asparagus-tip legs to complete the turtle transformation.
  • Cat and Mouse –  Make a cat’s-face sandwich with round bread, ham slices, and white cheese; add black-olive eyes and a red-pepper nose with chive whiskers. Transform a hard-boiled egg into a whimsical mouse by adding radish ears, olive eyes, a carrot nose, and a celery tail.

Be a Cut Up:
Cookie cutters are great for shaping sandwiches, cheese slices, and lunch meats.

  • Celestial Sandwich – With a sharp knife or a cookie cutter, make a crescent moon and several stars to turn a lunchtime sandwich such as PB&J into fun-shaped bites.
  • The Farmer in the Deli – Use farm-animal cookie cutters to cut out animal-shaped open-faced sandwiches, which look great with lettuce for grass and a French-dressing sun.

Teach a Lesson:
Learning can be fun when the lesson tastes good.

  • Time to Eat – Use a round 8″ flour tortilla to create a clock face with cheese-stick hands; cut veggie slices for numbers, and place trimmed cherry tomatoes at 12, 3, 6, and 9 o’clock.
  • Feeling Faces – Using slices of veggies, show four feelings that toddlers recognize: happy, angry, sad, and surprised.
  • Tic-Tac-Toe – Create a tic-tac-toe board with green squeeze ketchup, carrot sticks for X’s, and cherry tomatoes for O’s.
  • Pizza Puzzle – Heat up a pizza with tomato sauce, mushrooms, and mozzarella. Using a pizza wheel, make random-shaped slices, and slightly scramble the pieces to create a puzzle that your child can put back together.

Make a Scene:

  • Meat-Loaf – Forest Carve meat loaf into the shape of a house, and decorate with ketchup; place amid a forest of broccoli trees popping out of mashed potatoes.

More Fun Ideas:

  • Under the Sea – Create a seascape with baked fish sticks; make waves with ketchup or mayo, and add lettuce for seaweed.
  • Sail-Away Sandwich – Cut a grilled-cheese sandwich diagonally, and stand triangles on end to look like sails. Form apple slices at base into a boat shape, and attach to a carrot-stick dock.
  • Go Mini – Kids will eat up miniature versions of foods that perfectly fit their little hands.
  • Bite-Size Burgers – Using small rolls, serve mini Western cheeseburger patties with star-shaped cheese slices for sheriffs’ badges.
  • Pint-Size Pups – Turn cocktail franks into delicious minidoggies with a thin-pretzel-stick tail and legs.
  • Itsy-Bitsy Ham-and-Cheese Sandwich – Serve up a ham-and-cheese sandwich using soft party rye or whole-wheat slices of bread cut into minitriangles.