Top Tools for Kid-Friendly Meals

Forget registering for pricey and clunky baby-food makers. You likely have tools on hand ideal for getting food on the table for the under-5 set.

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©Henry Feather 2009 all rights reserved

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Kitchen shears

Snip solid food into neat bite-size portions ideal for tiny fingers. Try this with steamed vegetables, quesadillas, pizzas and bagels.

Panini press

The ability to turn bread into a crisp, golden meal in less than five minutes with minimal cleanup is worth the machine alone, but the potential for other fun toddler-friendly meals is limitless. Experiment with tortillas, dinner rolls, croissants and pita bread. Depending on the machine, panini presses may also be used to cook pancake and waffle batter.

Steamer basket

This collapsible mesh insert can make soft, steamed bites of vegetables in minutes. Fit it into a saucepan with about half an inch of water, cover and bring it to a boil. You’ll have soft, steamed bites ready in minutes — the smaller the cut, the faster it cooks too. (Bonus: Steamed food retains the most nutrients.)

Mini food processor

Puree any food, cooked in any method, into the smooth consistency ideal for new palates. Toddlers being introduced to new flavors may prefer softer consistencies too: Try roasting or steaming, then pureeing with seasonings when re-introducing rejected foods.

Food masher

Mashed foods are helpful when experimenting with textures for young palates. Everything from grilled fish to steamed potatoes can be mashed into pieces suitable for children practicing with their own forks and spoons.

Hand-held slicer

Texture is important when experimenting with foods for a toddler. Thinly slicing foods like apples, cucumbers and carrots makes them easier to chew for young mouths and may reduce the intensity of a flavor or texture.