Just Eat It

A Bazillion Ways Serve Your Toddler Toast & Call It Dinner

It's the laziest way to make sure calories enter your kid.

Written by Elizabeth Narins
A toddler eats dinner of toast and toppings.
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Ever since my first child started eating solids, he's been that kid who lives on string cheese one day and leaves it untouched in his lunchbox the next. Alas, the only food he's (almost) never faltered on is toast, the mainstay of approximately 90% of his meals nowadays. Now a toddler, he's made it clear that he could live quite happily on "cheesy toast" (literally, a slice of microwave-melted cheese on a piece of bread). But the thought of feeding my pride and joy this "meal" day in and day out has me trying to expand his horizons without deviating too far from the beloved loaf and its worthy relatives.

Without further ado, may these meal ideas tickle your kid's picky palate (or at least render crusts you'd like to eat). Bonus: Many of them work for lunches, so you can pack your heart out.

An Exhaustive List of Ingredient Ideas

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The Base

We use the term "toast" loosely in my kitchen. Any vessel for toppings will do.

  • Bagel
  • Challah
  • English muffin
  • Ezekiel toast
  • Swirly bread (marble rye)
  • Naan
  • Pita
  • Raisin bread
  • Rice cake
  • Tortilla
  • Waffle
  • Whole grain bread
  • Wrap

Toppings from A-Z

Refer back to this healthy-ish list to remind yourself you've got options, even when you're up against the world's pickiest eater.

  • Almond butter
  • Artichoke dip
  • Applesauce
  • Avocado
  • Babaganoush
  • Cheese slice
  • Cheese "sprinkles" (aka shredded cheese, but you're three)
  • Cream cheese
  • Egg (scrambled or batter)
  • Fruit
  • Goat cheese
  • Greek yogurt
  • Marinara sauce
  • Mashed bananas
  • Mozzarella
  • Nutella
  • Hummus
  • Jam
  • Peanut Butter
  • Pesto
  • Ricotta
  • Roasted red pepper dip
  • Sunflower seed butter
  • Tahini
  • Tuna salad
  • Tzatziki

Fan-Favorite Toast Meals

Here are some of the combos that have been coming out of my kitchen. While I can't say that they always go from plate to belly without protest, they create some semblance of nutritional balance. And when they don't? My pediatrician recently recommended a stress-free anecdote to a toddler's all-carb bender: Just add a multivitamin into their regular rotation!

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1. Raisin Ezekiel Toast With Cream Cheese

Affectionately referred to as "Jesus toast" in my house, this sprouted grain bread has more protein than alternatives and allegedly keeps blood sugar steadier than regular bread. (Read: a slight chance of fewer hanger-fueled toddler tantrums.) When spread with cream cheese, it's like a cinnamon raisin bagel, hold the bagel.

2. Rainbow Bagel Slices With Cream Cheese

I never said I was opposed to bagels — and my kid sure likes them. Many bagel shops offer colored upgrades to regular bagels. I slice mine horizontally into toast-width slabs lest my child be burdened with excess "crust" and to even out the ratio of bread to topping because, #balance. (Did I mention I'm not a nutritionist?)

3. Cheesy Pita

Because this variation is stuffed, not stacked, it feels like an acceptable dinner to follow a lunch of straight-up cheesy toast.

4. Cheesy Tortilla

It's not bread, but close enough to appeal to a toast-loving toddler — especially when folded and sliced into wedges and served with mild salsa.

5. Hummus on Toast

Extra points for roasted red pepper, which totally counts toward requisite veggies.

6. Heart-Shaped Toast Bites

My mini heart cookie cutter makes crusts disappear... and better remind my kid how much he's loved, considering cutting heart shapes takes more time than slapping two full pieces of bread together. Metal cookie cutters work better than plastic ones, JFYI. And don't go for intricate shapes — any cookie cutters/presses with detailing (exhibit A: firetruck failure) won't be recognizable.

7. Pick-Your-Own Shape Sandwich

After literally a lifetime of packing PB&Js for my kid, I mix things up with a "sun" or "cookie" shaped sandwich courtesy of a circle cookie cutter (or small glass, which works just as well). When a knife is my only weapon, I offer the choice between triangles or squares; switching shapes up on the fly makes me feel like I'm trying.

8. Toast "Fries"

Slice into strips, rebrand, and pray your kid doesn't ask for ketchup. (You can serve it with any of the spreads above in a small bowl on the side, then encourage dipping.)

9. Cheese Roll-ups

One kid's string cheese and slice of bread is another kid's "cheesy corndog."

10. French Toast

It's got eggs. It's got milk. And you bet it's got toast. It's as close as we come to a balanced meal cleverly veiled as a treat. (P.S. You don't need a formal recipe for this. Just scramble an egg, add a splash of milk, a little vanilla extract and/or some cinnamon, then soak and fry your bread — voila!)

11. Pizza Toast

A spoonful of tomato sauce between the toast (or pita or bagel) and cheese is as a good as a salad, in my book. Extra credit if your kid makes this themselves and is thus inspired to eat it.