Here are my general rules when it comes to their meals:
1. Breakfast is always served with fruit (and sometimes veggies too).
2. Lunch and dinner are always served with a fruit and vegetable and a main course (usually a protein).
3. Sloan only gets "kid food" when we eat out at restaurants (I don't make mac n' cheese when we're home). I also always bring a little tupperware container with some fruits and veggies for Phayre.
4. The girls eat whatever we're eating for dinner. If it's something I know Sloan isn't going to eat a ton of, I give her something extra to fill her up. For example, if we're having steak with asparagus for dinner, I'll add a side of avocado because I know that's one of her favorite foods and it's still good for her.
5. When we're home, snacks usually have to come out of the fridge and be something fresh. When we're out they can have packaged snacks (like crackers, mum mums, organic fruit snacks, etc.). But I will add, I am not above giving Phayre a tray full of puffs so that I can just unload the dishwasher!
6. The girls both drink water with all of their meals.
A few tips that have worked for us and a very picky eater:
1. Smoothies. I pack tons of fruits and veggies into smoothies and mask them with vanilla yogurt (which makes it super creamy).
2. Hide veggies in absolutely everything. If Sloan asks for a quesadilla I cut up kale, zucchini, or chicken into really small pieces and melt it in the cheese (I do the same thing with grilled cheese sandwiches). If she asks for noodles I add some peas and corn.
3. Put things on their plate even when you know they don't like it/won't eat it. Sometimes after seeing something a hundred times, Sloan will actually try it! Sloan HATES berries, like hates them. But I still put a few berries on her plate almost everyday. Someday she will like berries, I'm determined!!
4. Dip. Sloan would probably eat bark if I let her dip it into ranch dressing. So I buy they healthier greek yogurt ranch dressing and let her dip her grapes in it whenever she wants.
5. Use a divided plate. Totally just a kid thing, Sloan flips if her food is touching.
Here are a few examples of the girls' meals:
Omelet with kale or zucchini and vegetarian sausage with a side of fruit
Toast with yogurt and fruit
Pancakes or waffles with bacon and fruit
Oatmeal with fruit
Bear toast (see photo below!)
I always do a "main dish" with a fruit and a veggie. Here are some main dish ideas:
Quesadilla or grilled cheese (sneak in some kale, spinach, zucchini, and/or meat)
Sandwich (usually Sloan asks for a ham and cheese, and every once in a while she gets a PB&J)
Cream cheese roll ups (I spread cream cheese on a tortilla and roll it up with lunch meat and cucumber)
Pasta with veggies and cheese
Shredded meat (we usually make some shredded chicken or pulled pork every week. Sometimes I add it into things, but the girls will also eat it plain)
The same rules apply for Sloan's preschool lunches and we love this Goodbyn container (it has a handle so she doesn't have to take a lunch bag).
Like I said, the girls usually eat what we're eating and sometimes I add in some extras that I know they'll like.
Cut up fruit
Cucumber or carrots (dipped in ranch for Sloan or hummus for Phayre)
As far as baby led weaning, Phayre is pretty much feeding herself little bites of whatever we're eating. So far she isn't too picky and eats pretty much whatever I throw on her tray. I do offer her more than one fruit and veggie at a meal usually.
Bottom right is a container I took to dinner with us. Avocado, kiwi and blueberries to go with her meal and a mum mum just in case I needed to keep her entertained at the end of the meal!
Typical lunch for P: Roasted sweet potatoes, tomato, kiwi, and pear.
I hope that you gained some good ideas for your baby or toddlers meals. If you have a picky eater, hang in there! They do seem to get better with age... but you have to keep serving them healthy options!