This Easy Weeknight Recipe Will Please Even the Pickiest Toddler

Dinnertime has always been my favorite time of the day. It’s a time to sit down with your family after working hard, and a time for enjoying each others’ company over a home-cooked meal. Creating a delicious meal can be difficult during the week, however. This is especially so when you are the parent of a toddler. Any parent knows they are notoriously picky eaters. 

Picky eaters are my specialty. When I first met my wife in college, she would eat hardly anything aside from plain hamburgers, pizza (pepperoni only), and chicken tenders. Through seventeen years of dedication and hard work, she will now also eat pasta. With red sauce only, though.

When my son began to eat solid foods, I applied what I had learned over the last seventeen years to his diet. I resolved that I would not raise a picky eater, and instead would raise a child that enjoyed culinary adventure and diversity. But, the time during a weeknight is limited and it was important to create healthy recipes that were quick. This is one of those recipes. It may seem long by the number of steps, but I assure you it’s easy and the more you make it you may even be able to skip a few steps. Bon appetite.

  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Gently pat 2 chicken breasts (bone-in, skin-on) dry and rub with olive oil.
  3. Season chicken lightly with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper.
  4. Place chicken in a roasting pan.
  5. Bake chicken for 30 minutes.
  6. While the chicken bakes, place a small saucepan on the stove over medium heat.
  7. Melt 1 tablespoon butter in a saucepan.
  8. Add 1/2 cup carrot medallions (diced carrots work too) and cook until almost tender.
  9. Add 1/2 cup English peas and cook until tender.
  10. Season vegetables lightly with sea salt.
  11. Remove vegetables from heat. Set aside.
  12. Reduce oven to 350 degrees. Bake chicken for an additional 10 to 30 minutes,  until cooked through.
  13. Carefully remove the chicken from the oven. Let cool.
  14. Once cool, remove chicken meat from the bone and shred into appropriate-sized pieces.
  15. Plate chicken and vegetables and serve to Toddler.
  16. Listen to Toddler cry about the chicken and vegetables for 5 to 10 minutes.
  17. Gently attempt to coax Toddler into eating chicken and vegetables for an additional 5 to 10 minutes.
  18. Beg Toddler to eat chicken and vegetables for an additional 5 minutes.
  19. Threaten Toddler with time-out, early bedtime, no dessert, or any other of age-appropriate punishments if they do not eat chicken and vegetables.
  20. Ignore Toddler laughing at your threats.
  21. Excuse yourself to the nearest bathroom.
  22. Shut the door.
  23. Cry briefly at your failures as a parent for approximately 2 to 3 minutes. Dry eyes thoroughly once finished in order to avoid displaying weakness to Toddler.
  24. Return to the kitchen.
  25. Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
  26. Discard chicken and vegetables in the trash (or refrigerate overnight for a sad, bland lunch at work the next day).
  27. On an ungreased baking sheet, arrange five frozen chicken nuggets (Tyson brand works best, but any brand will do) and a small handful of frozen french fries or tater tots.
  28. Bake nuggets and fried potatoes for 20 minutes, or according to instructions on the packaging.
  29. Plate the nuggets and fried potatoes. Serve with a generous helping of ketchup.
  30. Once Toddler is finished with the ketchup, place another generous portion of ketchup on the plate.
  31. Explain to Toddler they cannot eat just ketchup and must eat the nuggets and fried potatoes. Repeat as often as necessary.
  32. Explain to Toddler they cannot have candy for dinner, and tell them to stop asking. Repeat as often as necessary.
  33. Praise Toddler for finally taking a single bite of a single chicken nugget.
  34. Tell the Toddler they are not “all done,” despite their claims.
  35. Praise Toddler for finally eating a fried potato.
  36. Repeat step 32 again.
  37. Repeat step 34.
  38. Give into Toddler and place candy on the plate.
  39. Repeat steps 21 to 23 if desired.

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