Shrimp Penne Pasta with a Creamy Tomato Herb Sauce

Jump to Recipe

Seafood and shrimp are probably not the first things you think of when planning a meal that toddlers and kids will like. But pasta is. And this shrimp penne pasta recipe blends the two so perfectly that it is solely responsible for my kids’ love for shrimp.  shrimp penne pasta skillet

Related Post: 20 Quick and Toddler Friendly Instant Pot Dinners

When I make shrimp in another recipe, my boys turn their noses up at it (because it’s new). I quickly remind them, “Remember shrimp is in that pasta dish you love with the creamy tomatoes?!” They exclaim, “oh yeah!” and give it a try. Winning.

This shrimp penne pasta recipe is not only easy, but it has all the comfort and deliciousness you need for a well loved family meal.  It’s been on rotation in my house for years and I finally decided it needed to be shared with you all. Because I know how tough it can be to find recipes. Especially one that your kids will like, and you will love as well. 

Don’t let the ease of it fool you, it packs lots of robust flavor in a short amount of cooking time. The sauce alone is mouthwatering! Most importantly, this shrimp penne pasta can be easily thrown together on a weeknight after work. 

Shrimp Penne Pasta

Delicious shrimp cooked in a creamy tomato sauce with aromatic herbs makes this recipe a popular dinner meal for the whole family.
Prep Time10 mins
Cook Time20 mins
Course: Main Course
Keyword: creamy shrimp pasta, shrimp dinner, shrimp pasta, shrimp penne
Servings: 8 6-8 servings

Ingredients

  • 1 lb Shrimp (raw, peeled)
  • 1 lb Penne Pasta
  • 1/4 cup Olive Oil
  • 3 cloves Garlic (minced)
  • 1 can Petite Diced Tomatoes (15 ounces)
  • 1 cube Chicken Bouillon (can be replaced with vegetable or omitted completely)
  • 3 tsp Basil
  • 3 tsp Oregano
  • 2 tsp Sea Salt
  • 2 tsp Pepper
  • 3/4 cup Heavy Whipping Cream
  • 1/2 cup White Cooking Wine
  • 2 tbsp Lemon Juice
  • 1/4 cup Parmesan Cheese (plus extra for sprinkling on top)
  • 1/4 tsp crushed red pepper flakes (optional)

Instructions

  • Bring a large pot of salted water to boil over high heat. Add the pasta and cook per package instructions. About 8-10 minutes for al dente.
  • In a large skillet, heat the oil over medium heat. Add the garlic, shrimp, 1 teaspoon of salt and 1 teaspoon of pepper. Cook stirring frequently until the shrimp turn pink. About 2 minutes per side. Using a slotted spoon or tongs- remove shrimp and set aside.
  • Add the can of tomatoes, chicken bouillon cube, basil, oregano and red pepper flakes (if using). I do not use the red pepper flakes anymore because I have young kids that don't like spicy, but it adds a nice kick. Cook for 2 minutes, stirring constantly. Make sure the bouillon cube completely dissolves.
  • Add the white wine, heavy cream, and lemon juice. Bring the mixture to a boil and then reduce to medium-low. Simmer for 8-10 minutes until the sauce thickens.
  • Add 1/4 cup of the parmesan cheese, the cooked shrimp, cooked pasta and remaining salt and pepper (if needed). Toss together until all ingredients are coated. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
  • Serve and sprinkle with parmesan cheese on top.

Weekly Meal Planning Printable Guide

Cooking is one of the household chores I enjoy most.  Coupled with my love of making printables, these meal planning printable guide was born. I’ve seen the rewards of meal planning, but I’m not always consistent with it. Having the right tools like this meal planning printable kit and ensuring it’s one of my habits has been essential in becoming more successful. One of the most important rewards for meal planning (for my household) is saving money at the grocery store. When you have  a shopping list directly tied to a meal plan, it keeps you focused at the store. meal planning printables

People talk about it all the time, but why should we meal plan? There are so many reasons! Which is why it’s something most of us will benefit from, regardless of your goals. It helps save money, helps your family eat healthier meals and takes away the daily stress of figuring out what and how to feed your family. 

The stress part alone is worth it to me, but we are also on a budget and finally I don’t want my kids to get used to eating out all the time.  You don’t have to make traditional “healthy” meals like salads every night.  The majority of stuff you cook at home will have better ingredients (and therefore overall healthier) than what you buy in a restaurant.  

What is Important to your Family?

Step number 1 is to consult your family.  Usually, I pick three different proteins and base our meals around those.  We like to have some variety, while still rotating through some of our favorite meals. Think through as a family what your main preferences are.  Are you planning around dietary needs, budget guidelines or easy and fast meals? 

meal plan template favorite family mealsNext, write down your family’s favorite meals.  You may have some already and add more as you try out new recipes.  These are golden.  And you’d be surprised how you can forget if your family loved a meal.  The hustle and bustle of life is real.  Last year, I stumbled on a recipe again that I had completely forgotten about.  It was one that was loved by everyone so clearly had to go into our regular rotation.  I added it to our favorite meal list, so it won’t be forgotten again.

Every week will be different. Maybe sometimes you’ll want to try something new, or your family is craving something specific. Then there are those other phases of life where you just go to the recipes you know how to make and your family loves.  For me, that is most of December leading up to Christmas.  There is so much going on that I want to think as little as possible about what I’m cooking. 

Start with What You Have 

freezer pantry inventoryHaving a freezer and pantry inventory help so much! Because those items will last you longer than a week, so it’s easier to forget if you still have a certain spice or canned tomatoes for a recipe.  Write those out first, and then each week you can take an inventory of what else you have. 

 One of the easiest ways to save money, is to take inventory of what you have in the refrigerator that can go bad. If I have veggies, I’ll plan to put them in omelets, or salads, taco bowls or fried rice.  With fruit, you could make a fruit salad, yogurt parfait, or freeze for smoothies.  Whatever I decide, I plan for those items early in the week so they get eaten and not end up in the trash can.  i.e Throwing away money. No bueno. 

Look at Weekly Sales Online

Most grocery stores have their weekly circular online, listing their sales for that week.  I go to the meat section first, since they are usually the most expensive part of the meal. Based on which are on sale, I look at the recipes I have and pick what I will cook for the week (you can also plan for two weeks, month or whatever works best for you).  We also do at least one night a week meatless. It’s usually whole wheat spaghetti with a veggie sauce because it’s easy.

If you’ve never shopped at Aldi and are on a budget, you must start! Easily one of the best ways to save money on groceries.  There are not many name brand products, but you learn their brands and they are just as good if not better sometimes. While their stuff is already priced low, there are also weekly ads for additional discounts. 

Write it Down in your Meal Planning Printable! 

meal planning printables kit

Pick a day for planning and grocery shopping- they can be different or the same.  For you to stick with meal planning, there has to be time carved out for it on a regular basis. Use your meal planning printables to write down all your meals and shopping list for the week. You can laminate and hang it up in your kitchen, or print it weekly. 

That’s it! Starting to meal plan can be tough.  The steps are simple, but starting anything can be challenging. We have to work on making it a habit first.  Which takes practice.

Another fun way to approach meal planning is having themed days. It also gives you a framework. Especially if you don’t have a list of favorite meals yet, it narrows down all of the different recipes out there. For example,

  • Monday: Meatless
  • Tuesday: Tacos
  • Wednesday: Instant Pot
  • Thursday: Seafood
  • Friday: Pizza

Other ideas can be Asian, BBQ, American, Chicken etc.  You can choose your favorites and it will give your planning a framework to work with.   

meal plan template versionsOur meal planning kit has everything you need to get started on your meal planning.  Including a one pager meal plan sheet and a more detailed form with a separate shopping list.  I have the basic one hanging up and fill it in as I think of recipes.  Then I use the more detailed sheets when I sit down to fully plan the week out. 

Hope you find these useful! Let me know in the comments if you have other advice or questions!

20 Quick and Toddler Friendly Instant Pot Dinners

I didn’t jump on the Instant Pot band wagon right away.  I figured I already had a crockpot and a rice cooker, why did I need something else? After this thought process for a while, I saw one at a price I couldn’t resist.  Guys, the hype is legit- there’s so much you can do with it.  It’s been fun to try new recipes and I’m consistently shocked how quickly I can make dinner. And it still tastes good! With a new baby, a toddler and a preschooler- finding quick toddler friendly dinners for the Instant Pot became my mission.

Related Post: Skip the Terrible with this Easy Two Year Old Schedule

We all know toddlers aren’t the easiest bunch to please.  There are highs and lows with dinner time for sure, but I’ve had a lot of success with the following recipes.  My son Ellis is still two though, so while he may love something the first time- he may shun it the next day as a leftover.  I don’t let this get me down, that’s just how life with a toddler is.  

Dinner Routines with a Toddler

Related Post: How to Set up Your Kitchen for Cooking with Toddlers 

Our rule at dinner is that they have to try everything twice.  I’m not going to force them to eat it all, but I’m also not making them a separate dinner.  So they know there is no asking for something else AND it’s the last time they eat for the day.  We go directly to bath and brush teeth from dinner.  

As we’ve been consistent, they know their boundaries. Just like anything they try new- you are not allowed to look at a new dish and say you don’t like it.  It may become your new favorite- which has happened! 

All that to say- there is no magic bullet or recipe for getting toddlers to eat at every meal.  It comes with lots of repetition and clear boundaries. And even then, it’s not anywhere perfect. But it’s a system that works for us. 

Having an Instant Pot (Amazon aff link) has been a game changer for me in finding toddler friendly dinners.  Relieved a little bit of the stress, especially when I’ve forgotten to defrost chicken.  You can still cook it frozen! These 20 have been the most successful with my young children, so I knew that I had to pass them on to other moms as well. Enjoy! 🙂

Toddler Friendly Dinners for your Instant Pot

The best Indian Butter Chicken for your Instant Pot. So quick and a family favorite. Indian Butter Chicken

A healthier and tastier alternative to Hamburger helper- both my toddlers eat seconds every time. Instant Pot Creamy Shells and Beef

Instant pot chicken thighs your whole family will love.Easy Instant Pot Chicken Thighs

Instant Pot chicken breast is a total lifesaver when you've forgotten to defrost your chicken.Instant Pot Chicken (directions for cooking frozen chicken breasts!)

Instant Pot bbq pulled pork is a hit with toddlers and adults alike.BBQ Pulled Pork

Instant Pot lasagna soup is a fun alternative to the traditional dish- and tasty!Healthy Instant Pot Lasagna Soup

Yummy oatmeal bites make a perfect breakfast for picky toddlers.Instant Pot Oatmeal Bites

Quick orange chicken recipe for the instant pot.Easy Instant Pot Orange Chicken

Pressure cooker carnitas for a quick and tasty family dinner.Instant Pot Pork Carnitas

Winter comfort meal the whole family will love with this instant pot loaded baked potato soup.Pressure Cooker Loaded Baked Potato Soup

Instead of take out, make this perfect mongolian beef recipe in your instant pot.Instant Pot Mongolian Beef

Parmesan chicken and rice is a quick comfort meal everyone will love.Instant Pot Garlic Parmesan Chicken and Rice

Instant Pot steak tacos are perfection.Quick & Easy Carne Asada Street Tacos

Chicken burrito bowls are always a hit- everyone in the family can customize theirs with differen toppings.Instant Pot Chicken Taco Bowls

Instant Pot mashed potatoes is perfect for toddler friendly dinners.Instant Pot Mashed Potatoes with Fried Onions and Bacon

Instant Pot spaghetti and meatballs is truly an even faster version of the all time favorite classic.Instant Pot Spaghetti Recipe for a Quick Dinner

Instant pot macaroni and cheese your kids will love.The Best Instant Pot Mac and Cheese

Instant Pot beef stew with potatoesInstant Pot Beef Stew with Potatoes

Instant Pot cinnamon apples are great for babies to adults!Instant Pot Cinnamon Apples

Instant Pot lemon butter salmon is the perfect way to get fish into your weekly dinners.Instant Pot Lemon Butter Garlic Salmon with Homestyle Vegetables

toddler friendly instant pot dinners, toddler approved dinners, toddler meals

5 Steps to Take the Stress out of Lunch! (Weekly Make Ahead Lunches)

“This post is sponsored by Everywhere Agency on behalf of Sistema®; however, all opinions are my own.”

With the start of a new year, getting back to planning ahead is one of our big goals. I’m all about doing a meal prep for the week or even the month on Sunday. Mornings are so hectic and there is also a lot in our nighttime activities, so why not get school lunches out of the way as well? It’s really simple. All you need is a little time and organization to have your whole family’s lunches done for the week. When you are done, there is an extra sense of relief that is amazing!

Right now I am 8 months pregnant and with the craziness of the holidays- we got a little off track. Which then led me to feel more frazzled. My meal planning fell off and it greatly contributed to my stress. The mornings were lots of rushing and running around- okay, we always run around a bit but there was extra running. My family wasn’t eating as healthy and we were spending more money on food— that we didn’t really have to spend (reminder from my budget master husband). That is all I needed to remember why meal planning worked so well.

Related: 12 On the Go Toddler Lunch Ideas for Daycare or School

Those phases of life happen to all of us, for various reasons. I don’t even have to say this is great for “busy moms”. Seriously, we are ALL busy moms. Anybody can use a system to make their lives a bit easier.

Pack a week's worth of lunch in one afternoon! Make your mornings easier, simpler and more enjoyable by following these 5 easy steps to make ahead lunch.

I’m pretty excited about how this meal prep went. So I’ll break it down into steps and also end with an amazing printable of  ideas for what to feed your kids on the go- especially when filling Bento boxes. 

Step 1: Gather Materials

Pull out all the containers or bags you use to store lunches. We recently found this line of Sistema containers at Meijer and they are perfect for make ahead lunches. The price is so good that I was able to buy various types and quantity of containers. Then pack them all up for the week without worrying about having enough or washing mid week.

The Sistema containers check all my boxes in what I require also! They can go in the microwave, dishwasher, fridge or freezer. And they are BPA and Phthalate free. With all the different varieties, they make a perfect system for lunch meal planning.

*Sistema will be running a 20% off food storage promo at Meijer from 2/24-3/2/19 and 3/24-3/30/19. So mark your calendars!

You know best what your family likes. That will help dictate what to have on hand. I got 3 Sistema Bento boxes because my boys are obsessed with them. If they have various food items, it’s almost like they think they are just snacking instead of eating a meal. Who knows, but it works! We rounded out with a few sandwich containers, snack catchers, a soup mug and a salad mix.

Step 2: Plan a Loose Menu

Start by making a list of 5-10 lunches that you can rotate weekly or bi-weekly. You don’t have to have animal shaped sandwiches or seasonally themed displays. Kids like simplicity so stick with the basics, especially at first. I have various items from each category that I know myself and the boys like. For example, about 3-4 fruits, 3 vegetables, some snacks, grains and dairy. This helps me make sure I’m making well rounded meals. Rotating through similar items makes it easier to shop for also. 

Make sure to check out the printable at the end of the post that has a full list of ideas to include in lunches, separated by category.  It can be hung up in your pantry or kitchen for an easy resource or inspiration.

Step 3: Involve the Kids

Pack a week's worth of lunch in one afternoon! Make your mornings easier, simpler and more enjoyable by following these 5 easy steps to make ahead lunch.

This will look differently based on how old your kids are. I have definitely noticed that my boys are more interested in their food and lunches if they have had a voice in what gets included or helped cook some of the items.

My 4 & 1/2 year old Miles helps to mix ingredients for recipes and pick out the items to put in his lunch. I steer him with questions like, “Which fruit do you want? Which vegetable?” so he can’t just make a lunch of strawberries and goldfish. My 2 & 1/2 year old Ellis helps mix ingredients (with assistance 🙂 ) and can help pick a couple items. He tends to lose attention quickly so I don’t have him help as long as Miles. Also, he ate all of the blueberries from one of the lunches when I wasn’t looking. So yeah, he needs a bit more monitoring.

As Miles gets older, I’ll have him take over chopping some of the fruit and vegetables, assembling his sandwich and eventually in charge of his lunch in general. Ellis will follow right behind.

Pack a week's worth of lunch in one afternoon! Make your mornings easier, simpler and more enjoyable by following these 5 easy steps to make ahead lunch.

Those are ways I integrate them based on age and personality. Like most things, you decide what the best ways are for your kids to help. And it may not look the same for all of them!

Step 4: Get Organized & Prep all the Food

Pack a week's worth of lunch in one afternoon! Make your mornings easier, simpler and more enjoyable by following these 5 easy steps to make ahead lunch

After you have all your containers organized, take out the food items you’ll incorporate in the week’s lunches. This week we added muffins that we made that day and a veggie soup because it has been soo cold. You can definitely just do cold items and not cook, but these were our special adds this time.

This step is where the majority of the work happens. Chop up all your fruit and veggies. Assemble sandwiches, pinwheels, bagels, and anything else you are including that week.

Pack a week's worth of lunch in one afternoon! Make your mornings easier, simpler and more enjoyable by following these 5 easy steps to make ahead lunch.
Making muffins 🙂

These banana zucchini muffins are super delicious. Followed this recipe but left out the sugar and added a little extra banana and applesauce. They are still sweet and a great compliment to a sandwich or salad.

Step 5: Assemble Containers

This is the easiest part! You have all your stuff prepped and just need to assemble your different lunches. Here are some of ours for the week:

Pack a week's worth of lunch in one afternoon! Make your mornings easier, simpler and more enjoyable by following these 5 easy steps to make ahead lunch.

Miles assembled a couple and helped put some toppings on his yogurt.

Pack a week's worth of lunch in one afternoon! Make your mornings easier, simpler and more enjoyable by following these 5 easy steps to make ahead lunch.

Can’t have a lunch prep without a homemade lunchable. A variety of this is always rotated in our house. I’ll change up the types of crackers, cheese or any of the items to keep it interesting. In the Sistema Multi Split to Go

Pack a week's worth of lunch in one afternoon! Make your mornings easier, simpler and more enjoyable by following these 5 easy steps to make ahead lunch.

This Sistema salad container is everything! I love that I can separate certain items- especially croutons or other things that could get soggy. There is a place for dressing and cute silverware so it really encompasses everything I need.

** This was for me when we go straight to gymnastics or soccer at lunch time pick up.  No, my boys don’t care for green olives but this pregnant mama does. 😉

Pack a week's worth of lunch in one afternoon! Make your mornings easier, simpler and more enjoyable by following these 5 easy steps to make ahead lunch.

Some of our sandwiches for the week. These sandwich containers are a perfect size for just packing a sandwich or something small, so I got a few of them.

We’ll pair them with fruit, some snacks and one of the muffins we made. Since my boys are young, they often share a sandwich.

Pack a week's worth of lunch in one afternoon! Make your mornings easier, simpler and more enjoyable by following these 5 easy steps to make ahead lunch.

Sistema large Bento box with half a sandwich, muffin, clementine, trail mix, apples and peanut butter. My boys would sometimes share a box like this.

*You can sprinkle lemon or pineapple juice on cut apples so they don’t brown.

Pack a week's worth of lunch in one afternoon! Make your mornings easier, simpler and more enjoyable by following these 5 easy steps to make ahead lunch.

Square Bento box with a turkey cheese pinwheel, tomatoes, apples, grapes and yogurt with honey (in green container) and granola.

Pack a week's worth of lunch in one afternoon! Make your mornings easier, simpler and more enjoyable by following these 5 easy steps to make ahead lunch.

Square Bento box with bagel, carrots, granola bar, goldfish and strawberries (underneath granola bar).

Pack a week's worth of lunch in one afternoon! Make your mornings easier, simpler and more enjoyable by following these 5 easy steps to make ahead lunch.

Voila! All set!

Pack a week's worth of lunch in one afternoon! Make your mornings easier, simpler and more enjoyable by following these 5 easy steps to make ahead lunch.
Having lunch before gymnastics.

I also have cuties, muffins, and other sides sitting next to the containers or pantry for easy access in the morning.  Enjoy this prep- your mornings will thank you. 

Download this reference sheet of over 60 easy lunch ideas! Just fill out the form below to access the free resource library.easy lunch ideas for school or daycare, toddler lunches, preschool lunch, bento box lunch, meal planning lunches, make ahead lunch

Cooking with Toddlers: Yummy Oatmeal Breakfast Muffins

My 3 year old Miles had a potluck breakfast at his school and he suggested we bring some oatmeal muffins. They were part of my breakfast meal prep and are still a favorite way to start the day around here. Since the recipe is super simple, it was a perfect activity for us to do together. We are always looking for an easy recipe for cooking with toddlers and this one fits the bill.Wholesome oatmeal with delicious toppings makes the perfect breakfast on the go. They can be made ahead, are freezer friendly and most importantly- make an easy recipe for cooking with toddlers.

The fact that it could be something we enjoy doing together just added to an already long list of why we love these oatmeal muffins so much. They save us time in the mornings, are nutritious and still provide variety by mixing in different toppings. I was inspired by this recipe, but I have since made my own variety.

When I did the breakfast meal prep, I was making 60 muffins  and I wanted to move quickly. So I did it myself during nap. My new goal is to find as many recipes for cooking with toddlers since it’s such a great learning and entertaining activity for them.

If you are just getting started with cooking activities for toddlers, check out how to set up your kitchen and some of the essential tools to have on hand. Also, how do you pick the perfect toddler learning tower for your family?

The hardest part for toddlers in this recipe is cracking the egg. We had to dig out a couple shells. The more practice, the better they will be.  Also, carefully scooping into the cupcake liners.  The right size cup or spoon helps this activity.  Other than that, it’s mostly measuring, pouring and stirring.

We made two batches, hence the two bowls and two muffin pans. Apple Cinnamon and Cranberry Orange.

Wholesome oatmeal with delicious toppings makes the perfect breakfast on the go. They can be made ahead, are freezer friendly and most importantly- make an easy recipe for cooking with toddlers.

Wholesome oatmeal with delicious toppings makes the perfect breakfast on the go. They can be made ahead, are freezer friendly and most importantly- make an easy recipe for cooking with toddlers.

Wholesome oatmeal with delicious toppings makes the perfect breakfast on the go. They can be made ahead, are freezer friendly and most importantly- make an easy recipe for cooking with toddlers.

Wholesome oatmeal with delicious toppings makes the perfect breakfast on the go. They can be made ahead, are freezer friendly and most importantly- make an easy recipe for cooking with toddlers.

Wholesome oatmeal with delicious toppings makes the perfect breakfast on the go. They can be made ahead, are freezer friendly and most importantly- make an easy recipe for cooking with toddlers.

Breakfast meal prep for an easy and healthy month of morning. Make ahead breakfast 3 types of oatmeal muffins and 2 kinds of egg muffins in this meal plan. They are kid friendly and delicious! Stress free weekday mornings are in your future. Breakfast on the go or at home.

Breakfast meal prep for an easy and healthy month of morning. Make ahead breakfast 3 types of oatmeal muffins and 2 kinds of egg muffins in this meal plan. They are kid friendly and delicious! Stress free weekday mornings are in your future. Breakfast on the go or at home.
Print Recipe
5 from 1 vote

Oatmeal Breakfast Muffins

Wholesome oats topped with healthy and delicious fruit make these the perfect breakfast muffins for busy mornings on the go. 
Prep Time15 mins
Cook Time25 mins
Total Time40 mins
Course: Breakfast
Servings: 12

Ingredients

  • 3 cups Old Fashioned Oats
  • 1 Egg
  • 1 1/2 tsp Ground Cinnamon
  • 1 tsp Baking Powder
  • 1/2 tsp Salt
  • 2 tsp Vanilla Extract
  • 2 cups Milk We use 2%. You can substitute with any kind you use.
  • 2 tbsp Brown Sugar Or coconut sugar, stevia etc.) *These are not very sweet, which is what we preferred. But if you like your muffins on a sweeter side, you can double this sugar amount.
  • 1/3 cup Pure Maple Syrup Or honey, agave syrup or brown rice syrup

Topping Option 1

  • 1 cup Diced Green Apple
  • 1 tsp Ground Cinnamon

Topping Option 2

  • 1 cup Dried Cranberries
  • 2 tsp Orange Zest
  • 2 tsp Orange Juice

Topping Option 3

  • 2 Bananas, mashed
  • 1/2 cup Blueberries, fresh or frozen

Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
  • Add all ingredients to a bowl, including the toppings option you want to make.  To make multiple batches with different toppings, add as many bowls as appropriate. 
  • Put a cupcake liner in each of your muffin cups or use cooking spray. 
  • Use a 1/2 measuring cup or cupcake scoop to fill each cup. 
    *You can fill to the top. These will not rise like regular muffins.
  • Cook for 25-30 minutes. They are done when the oatmeal tops are getting golden crisp.

Apple Cinnamon Oatmeal Breakfast Muffins. Wholesome oatmeal with delicious toppings makes the perfect breakfast on the go. They can be made ahead, are freezer friendly and most importantly- make an easy recipe for cooking with toddlers.

 

How to Set Up your Kitchen for Cooking with Toddlers

This isn’t just about cooking.  Nor is it about only cooking elaborate meals with your toddler. Essentially, it’s about establishing a space where your child can be independent, confident and learn real life skills.  You can do as little or as much as you want, as there are some easy changes you can make to your kitchen for it to be toddler friendly. With the right kids cooking utensils, you’ll have a little chef in no time. Simple, easy changes to set up your kitchen for cooking with toddlers. From the right kids kitchen utensils, to layout suggestions so your child can become an independent and confident kitchen helper.

We did a few toddler cooking classes when Miles was two (now 3 and 1/2) and he helped a little bit in the kitchen.  Now he gets his own drinks, preps some of his snacks and helps with even more cooking activities. The majority of his progress happened after he started at a Montessori school this past Fall.

He’s been doing a lot of work at school on practical life skills; infusing those skills at home has been life changing.  We attended different workshops at the school on how to incorporate Montessori at home and learned a lot, which helped take our kitchen to the next level.

As my second son Ellis is nearing two, I am setting out to create an even better area for them to be independent in the kitchen. This post is not about making your home or child follow a completely Montessori philosophy.  But sharing the amazing benefits and tricks we have learned on how to create an environment with the right kitchen tools, where your kids learn how to be self sufficient.

Maybe my excitement is the lazy mom in me speaking. It’s divine when Miles goes and gets his own milk without me helping him. But that’s okay. 🙂 Because he is also learning, growing and becoming an amazing little human. So it’s a win win.

Just imagine- you are engrossed in an activity- maybe it’s playing a game with one of your kids, doing laundry, or prepping dinner etc. A Netflix marathon also counts. Your toddler says they are thirsty. Instead of having to stop what you are doing to grab a glass and the water, your daughter grabs her glass and pitcher from the fridge to prepare her own drink.   Now multiply that a few times a day and add snacks. Ah-mazing.  You also start to remember that being a parent isn’t just about being a servant.

“The first aim of the prepared environment is, as far as it is possible, to render the growing child independent of the adult.”
Maria Montessori, The Secret of Childhood

Our toddlers are completely capable of doing so much. And they show such amazing pride at being able to dominate a task. But they must be given an environment and materials that help them be successful. Child sized furniture, or ability to access difficult areas, as well as access to child sized tableware and food items.

I’m creating a full independent kitchen area for my boys when we move into our new house. I’ll be sure to share that project when completed!  Even without much space in our condo, we’ve adjusted a few areas that are just for the boys’ stuff.  For now, I’ll share the tools we have found most helpful and some ideas for setting up your kitchen in a way that is toddler friendly.

Basic Kitchen Tools

This post contains affiliate links, meaning I will make a small commission at no additional cost to you!

Simple, easy changes to set up your kitchen for cooking with toddlers. From the right kids kitchen utensils, to layout suggestions so your child can become an independent and confident kitchen helper. The first thing you want to do is practice pouring and drinking out of a glass. Pouring is second nature to us- but it is a skill that has to be taught.  They can pour too fast and spill or pour too much and overflow.

We can’t expect our toddlers to go in the fridge and pull out a gallon of milk or Brita container of water.  That is where these pitchers come in.  They are the perfect size- we have one for milk and one for water. Placed at a lower shelf in the fridge so it’s accessible.

Child sized glasses. I know you are probably nervous about buying glass.  As was I.  This is why they are better: they don’t tip over as easily as plastic!  You will actually have less accidents with glass.  I got these on Amazon and they’ve been perfect.  You can start with an even smaller cup if your child is 18 months- 2 years.

Simple, easy changes to set up your kitchen for cooking with toddlers. From the right kids cooking utensils, to layout suggestions so your child can become an independent and confident kitchen helper. Accessible shelves or drawer and low hooks for towels.  Just like the pitchers in the fridge, you want your child to be able to get their glasses by themselves. Assign them a drawer, cabinet or get child sized shelves to put in a corner of your kitchen. This is a super cute set up.

It involves a little time and patience at the beginning- especially with the spills that are a  necessary part of learning. Teach them how to pour, how to clean up, where everything is, and go over the process a few times with them.

Easy Food Prep

Before getting out a cookbook, kids can start preparing their snacks or very simple foods.  In the same place you keep their cups, add other tableware and cooking tools.  Consider adding their snacks as well- fruit, goldfish etc.

We currently have their snacks up high, so Miles gets his stool to pull them down. This is something that we are changing for sure.  He is almost 4, but our almost 2 year old cannot accomplish this task yet.  For him to learn the skills, he has to have them at an accessible height.

Simple, easy changes to set up your kitchen for cooking with toddlers. From the right kids cooking utensils, to layout suggestions so your child can become an independent and confident kitchen helper.Small plates and bowls that are the perfect size for their little hands and containers to store snacks and cereal.  By incorporating all of this, your child can independently get their bowl or plate for snack or prepare themselves a bowl of cereal.

Take it a step further by including a cutting board and chopper. Of course, you must first teach this several times and supervise more closely than the previous activities. They can chop an apple, cut a bagel into pieces or cut the tops off their strawberries.

Recipe Cooking

Simple, easy changes to set up your kitchen for cooking with toddlers. From the right kids cooking utensils, to layout suggestions so your child can become an independent and confident kitchen helper.This is where the fun happens. Instead of setting them up with a toy or activity while you cook, you can spend the time together! Great for bonding, developing social skills, following directions, learning math through measurements and the importance of details.

How many pretend kitchens are out there?! They love playing pretend, especially in little kitchens. Allowing them to use real kitchen tools and make real food helps them demonstrate that they are capable little humans.

Miles helped me make oatmeal muffins to take to his school and the pride was just bursting off of him.  Before even saying hello to his teacher, he exclaims “I cooked these muffins!” (Full recipe and tips)

The best ways for them to help are pouring ingredients, assist with measuring, stirring and basic cutting. Lastly, this is a great book to get you started with lots of age appropriate recipes!

Easy & Healthy Breakfast Meal Prep for a Month On the Go

Fast, healthy, make ahead breakfast? Yes, please! This breakfast meal prep is going to make life sooo much easier. Breakfast meal prep for an easy and healthy month of morning. Make ahead breakfast 3 types of oatmeal muffins and 2 kinds of egg muffins in this meal plan. They are kid friendly and delicious! Stress free weekday mornings are in your future. Breakfast on the go or at home.

Mornings are a little crazy around here.  As I’m sure it is for many families heading out the door for school or daycare drop off or work. Or all of the above.

Of course my 3 year old Miles has no concept of time or urgency. He stops getting dressed to look at his shadow on the wall and wave at it. Yes that happens, usually pretty cute and funny- except for when he should be getting dressed. Lol. Or decides right before we leave the house that he needs to bring a lego man with him in the car.

So if we are running late, making him go faster is pretty much impossible and drives me crazy more than it does anything to his speed. We’ll usually cut corners with breakfast and do cheerios with banana.  But that gets old and doesn’t have all the nutrients we’d get if we cooked something.

Breakfast meal prep for an easy and healthy month of morning. Make ahead breakfast 3 types of oatmeal muffins and 2 kinds of egg muffins in this meal plan. They are kid friendly and delicious! Stress free weekday mornings are in your future. Breakfast on the go or at home.Our two favorites around here are eggs and oatmeal. They are filling and healthy- perfect breakfast options! Even if it takes 15-20 minutes to make- those minutes are precious on a busy morning.

Today is Monday and I gave one of my sons a bacon and bell pepper egg muffin and the other a blueberry banana oatmeal muffin. This took me 2 minutes! Mind blown. Why didn’t I do this earlier?! And the meal prep was so easy! If you’ve read any of my baby food and finger food meal prep– you know this is my favorite way to plan.

Sorry, I’m really excited over here.  Let’s get to cooking.Breakfast meal prep for an easy and healthy month of morning. Make ahead breakfast 3 types of oatmeal muffins and 2 kinds of egg muffins in this meal plan. They are kid friendly and delicious! Stress free weekday mornings are in your future. Breakfast on the go or at home.

What’s on the menu?

60 muffins (!) Took me 2-3 hours total (while also taking pictures). Perfect nap time project, or if you have older kids- they can help.

Should last for a month if you are using for weekday breakfasts- all depends on the amount of people in your family. We all love these- and my husband eats at least two at a time so we’ll see how long they last for us!.

You can do less if you want, I’ll put in notes for modifications. But it was pretty simple to do a lot because you already have all the ingredients and tools out.

A dozen of each of the following (original recipes in links below):

  • Blueberry Banana Oatmeal Muffins
  • Orange Cranberry Oatmeal Muffins
  • Apple Cinnamon Oatmeal Muffins
  • Bacon Bell Pepper Egg Muffins
  • Bacon Spinach Egg Muffins

This post contains affiliate links, meaning I will make a small commission at no additional cost to you!

What You Need

  • Regular Muffin Pan– at least two (I used 3)
  • Measuring Cups
  • Measuring Spoons
  • Mixing bowls– 2-5
  • Cupcake liners 36-60 ( I used 36)
  • Cutting board and knife
  • Plastic wrap
  • Gallon freezer Ziploc bags

Groceries

Subscribe below for a printable grocery list. I’ll also break it down for each dish in the steps.

Download Your Free Breakfast Meal Prep Shopping List

Use this shopping list to make your meal planning even easier!

Subscribe (free!) to my newsletter with 8000+ moms and get tips for mom life, projects, and meal preps PLUS get instant access to my resource library with ALL of my other free files and printables (including this shopping list)! Once subscribed, I will send you a newsletter with all the details.

Powered by ConvertKit

  • 9 cups old fashioned oats
  • 23 Eggs
  • 5 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 3 teaspoons baking powder
  • 2 1/2  teaspoons salt
  • 1 teaspoon of pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon of garlic powder
  • 7 cups milk (whatever kind you use)
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar (or coconut sugar, stevia etc.)
  • 4 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 cup pure maple syrup (or honey, agave syrup or brown rice syrup)
  • 1 cup small diced apple
  • 1 cup dried cranberries
  • 2 teaspoons orange zest
  • 2 teaspoons orange juice
  • 2 large bananas, mashed
  • 1/2 cup of blueberries
  • Cooking Spray
  • 2 cups of crumbled cooked bacon
  • 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese (plus about 1/4 cup for sprinkling on top)
  • 1/2 cup of peppers (combination of 2-3- red, yellow, green or orange)
  • 1/4 cup onion
  • 1/2 cup cooked spinach

Step 1:

Breakfast meal prep for an easy and healthy month of morning. Make ahead breakfast 3 types of oatmeal muffins and 2 kinds of egg muffins in this meal plan. They are kid friendly and delicious! Stress free weekday mornings are in your future. Breakfast on the go or at home.Get out everything you will need- kitchen tools and all ingredients.  Group together the ingredients for the oatmeal muffins and then the egg muffins.

Preheat your oven to 375. Everything will cook at this temperature.

Step 2:

The oatmeal muffins were inspired by this recipe, she has other amazing flavors you can try! I did change a few things- per usual. My meal plan uses my changes: added an egg and used a little less oatmeal, milk and sugar.

We are making 3 dozen oatmeal muffins. Get three bowls out for each different kind. (Change amount for however many dozen you are making)

This is the base for each oatmeal muffin pan. In your grocery list,  these ingredients were multiplied by 3. So if you only want to do two for example, you can take this list and multiply by 2.

Breakfast meal prep for an easy and healthy month of morning. Make ahead breakfast 3 types of oatmeal muffins and 2 kinds of egg muffins in this meal plan. They are kid friendly and delicious! Stress free weekday mornings are in your future. Breakfast on the go or at home.Measure these ingredients in all 3 bowls:

  • 3 cups old fashioned oats
  • 1 Egg
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups milk (whatever kind you use)
  • 1/8 cup or 2 tablespoons of brown sugar (or coconut sugar, stevia etc.) *These are not very sweet at all, you can double this sugar amount like the original recipe. They still shouldn’t be too sweet. 
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1/3 cup pure maple syrup (or honey, agave syrup or brown rice syrup)

Step 2a:

Add these toppings to your bowls and then mix all together.

Bowl 1: Apple Cinnamon

  • 1 cup small diced apple
  • 1 extra teaspoon of cinnamon

Breakfast meal prep for an easy and healthy month of morning. Make ahead breakfast 3 types of oatmeal muffins and 2 kinds of egg muffins in this meal plan. They are kid friendly and delicious! Stress free weekday mornings are in your future. Breakfast on the go or at home.Bowl 2: Orange Cranberry

  • 1 cup dried cranberries
  • 2 teaspoons orange zest
  • 2 teaspoons orange juice

Breakfast meal prep for an easy and healthy month of morning. Make ahead breakfast 3 types of oatmeal muffins and 2 kinds of egg muffins in this meal plan. They are kid friendly and delicious! Stress free weekday mornings are in your future. Breakfast on the go or at home.Bowl 3: Blueberry Banana

  • 2 large bananas, mashed
  • 1/2 cup of blueberries

Step 3:

Breakfast meal prep for an easy and healthy month of morning. Make ahead breakfast 3 types of oatmeal muffins and 2 kinds of egg muffins in this meal plan. They are kid friendly and delicious! Stress free weekday mornings are in your future. Breakfast on the go or at home.Put a cupcake liner in each of your muffin cups or spray with cooking spray. Use a 1/2 measuring cup to fill.

Step 4:

Breakfast meal prep for an easy and healthy month of morning. Make ahead breakfast 3 types of oatmeal muffins and 2 kinds of egg muffins in this meal plan. They are kid friendly and delicious! Stress free weekday mornings are in your future. Breakfast on the go or at home.Cook for 25-30 minutes.  I put two muffins pans right next to each other on the top rack and they cooked perfectly. Check to see if the tops are getting golden crisp- that is when they are done.

*I have 3 muffins pans so I poured the 3rd kind in the pan and put it to the side until the first two were done. 

While those are cooking, start prepping your egg muffins.

I washed two of the bowls from the oatmeal muffins to use again.

Step 5: 

Breakfast meal prep for an easy and healthy month of morning. Make ahead breakfast 3 types of oatmeal muffins and 2 kinds of egg muffins in this meal plan. They are kid friendly and delicious! Stress free weekday mornings are in your future. Breakfast on the go or at home.
Happy customer 🙂

I’ve made egg muffins so much that I use my own recipe. It’s the next 3-4 steps if you just want to cook egg muffins.

Put the following ingredients in each of your two bowls:

  • 1 cup of crumbled cooked bacon (you can omit or substitute for turkey, ham, etc.)
  • 10 eggs
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon of garlic powder
  • 1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese

Step 6:

Add the following vegetable mix ins to each bowl.

You can modify your vegetables with whatever you like- onions, mushrooms, broccoli, etc.

Bowl 1: Bacon Bell Pepper Egg Muffins

  • 1/2 cup of peppers (combination of 2-3- red, yellow, green or orange)
  • 1/4 cup of onion

Bowl 2: Bacon Spinach Egg Muffins

  • 1/2 cup cooked spinach

Step 7:

In the middle of my egg muffin prep, my first round of two dozen oatmeal muffins were done so I put the third in.  Then I had to wait a little bit to put in the egg muffins.

Breakfast meal prep for an easy and healthy month of morning. Make ahead breakfast 3 types of oatmeal muffins and 2 kinds of egg muffins in this meal plan. They are kid friendly and delicious! Stress free weekday mornings are in your future. Breakfast on the go or at home.Wash the first two muffin pans- if you used liners, they won’t be that bad. Spray your pans with cooking spray (or use liners). With a 1/2 cup scoop- fill up the pans.

*Top each cup with a little cheese. You won’t regret it!

If you’re still waiting for your last batch of oatmeal muffins to cook, it’s a good time to start cleaning up. Boo! 🙂

Or if you rather delay that as much as possible….your first batch should be done and cooled for at least 10 minutes. Begin storing them for the freezer. More on that in step 9.

Step 8:

Breakfast meal prep for an easy and healthy month of morning. Make ahead breakfast 3 types of oatmeal muffins and 2 kinds of egg muffins in this meal plan. They are kid friendly and delicious! Stress free weekday mornings are in your future. Breakfast on the go or at home.Cook egg muffins at the same time on top shelf. 20-25 minutes.

Step 9:

Breakfast meal prep for an easy and healthy month of morning. Make ahead breakfast 3 types of oatmeal muffins and 2 kinds of egg muffins in this meal plan. They are kid friendly and delicious! Stress free weekday mornings are in your future. Breakfast on the go or at home.After each one is done cooling (10+ minutes), start putting them away.  I wrap each one in plastic wrap and then put in a gallon freezer bag.  Label each bag and put them in the freezer! You can also store some in the fridge to eat that week.

They last for a week in the fridge and up to 3 months in the freezer. From frozen, warm up for 2 minutes in the microwave.

Bonus Tip: For my two sons, I can cut an egg muffin and an oatmeal muffin in half. Then give each of them half of each. This way they have protein, veggies, fruit and fiber all in one!

 

And that’s it! You might feel a little tired now but wait for that first school/daycare/work morning. Especially the Mondays- it’s amazing!