Parents of picky eaters know the struggle of protein so well. Thanks to its unique texture, meat is a common issue for kids, especially toddlers who are still pretty new to this eating thing. If you’ve tried everything from dinosaur-shaped chicken nuggets to every sauce under the sun in order to coax your little one to eat meat, you may be starting to wonder if they’re getting enough protein.
First of all, you’re not alone in the struggle to find protein sources for kids that they’ll actually eat. Second, you probably don’t need to stress if your child doesn’t really care for meat. While protein for toddlers is important for their growing bodies, they don’t need as much as many parents think. Just a few small servings per day is enough! Even better, there are plenty of high protein foods for kids that aren’t meat. Let’s talk about some!
Dairy is packed with protein for picky eaters
We love dairy for strong bones, but did you know that it’s also packed with protein? With 8 grams per cup, a glass of milk alone will help your toddler meet their protein needs – even if they don’t touch the protein on their plate.
Other dairy products make great options as protein for toddlers, too. If your little one has a sweet tooth, serve them a yummy parfait with Greek yogurt, fresh fruit, and granola for breakfast. Or let them sip on a smoothie made with yogurt.
Cheese is another easy protein for toddler meals. The Cheesy Quesadilla may seem simple, but it’s loaded with protein and picky eaters love it! String cheese and cottage cheese also add an easy serving of protein for lunch or snack time.
If you prefer to use dairy alternatives, soymilk is a high protein source for kids, with 7 grams of protein per cup. Other non-dairy products are usually low in protein, so be sure to read the nutrition labels.
Eggs are an easy, high protein source for kids
If your kids are iffy about meat, they might be more willing to eat eggs. Eggs are an amazing option when it comes to protein for picky eaters because they are rich in healthy fats, vitamins, and minerals. Plus, one large egg packs 4 grams of protein! There are tons of ways to prepare this protein food for kids. If your picky eater doesn’t care for eggs one way, try preparing them another way! Some of our favorite kid-friendly ways to serve eggs include:
- Hard-boiled - portable and dippable!
- Scrambled with a little cheese
- As an omelet - let your little one pick the filling
- On an English muffin sandwich
- As part of a creamy egg salad
Beans are a great meat alternative
Beans are little nutritional superstars because they provide tons of fiber and protein for toddlers. We know that beans aren’t exactly known as a kids’ favorite on their own. However, there are lots of ways to serve beans so your kids will gobble them up.
Actually, we love beans so much that we feature this high-protein food for kids in several of our meals! Here are some of our favorites that have already been kid-approved:
- Chili Mac - This hearty vegetarian chili is super flavorful.
- Vegetarian Bean Burrito - Two types of beans fill this cheesy, delicious burrito.
- Bowl of Yays - Featuring lentils in the yummy sauce to pack protein for picky eaters.
Whole grains provide valuable protein for toddlers
This may surprise you, but many whole grain foods are actually good protein sources for kids! This is good news for parents of picky eaters who favor breads and pastas. To get the most protein out of these foods for your toddler, be sure that whole grains are listed first on the nutrition label. It’s also a good idea to choose grains that are low in sugar and salt.
Some pastas and cereals are even fortified with protein! They actually taste pretty good too, making them a great option as protein for super picky eaters.
When in doubt, add nut butter
Here’s a great tip for busy moms: nut butter is a great protein source for kids that doesn’t require cooking! There’s a lot to love about nut butter, but what we love the most is:
- It packs around 8 grams of protein per serving
- It tastes delicious
- Even picky eaters like it
Next time your picky eater asks for waffles or toast at breakfast, spread some nut butter to add a little protein. Even if your kids aren’t big breakfast eaters, one slice of whole wheat toast with a tablespoon of nut butter will provide around 5 grams of protein.
It’s easy to sneak in extra protein for toddlers at snack time with nut butte, too. Serve it on some whole grain crackers, swirled into plain or vanilla yogurt, or with apple slices or celery.
Try not to get stressed out over your picky eater’s protein needs. It’s common for kids to dislike meat, and there are plenty of meat-free, high-protein foods for kids!
Yumble offers tons of high-protein meal options to ease the stress of picky eating. Our goal is to deliver fresh and healthy prepared meals to your doorstep. Simply choose the plan that fits your family’s needs, select some meals and we’ll take care of the rest! Get started today.