Munchkin Meals: Taco Night!

1 Aug

We have taco night once or twice a month around here.  I love how easy it is to throw this meal together, yet how festive, fun, and filling it is! <–How’s that for alliteration?!  Best of all is that after laying out a variety of topppings, everyone can choose what they want, and I don’t feel like a short order cook.  We like traditional tacos, but it’s so easy to switch it up with different meats, toppings, and spices.  Is it a toddler approved meal? Yes! What kiddo doesn’t like scooping their own fun foods onto their plate? And heck, I’ve yet to meet a kid who doesn’t like tacos. Matty (now 22 months) is all. over. the. place in terms of eating.  Lately, he’s been really into breakfast–eating a huge breakfast, then wanting little else the rest of the day.  There’s still a few key things I can count on him eating, though–like tacos!

Of course, I add a few tweaks to make it healthier along the way.

Taco seasoning used to be a big fight around here.  Hubby swore he hated it, but he also complained that plain meat was too, well, plain.  He said the packaged seasoning is too salty, and he’s right (not to mention the MSG, preservatives, and in some cases artificial dyes).  So a few months ago, a friend pinned this recipe for DIY taco seasoning, so I gave it a shot.  It worked perfectly, though I did think it needed a bit more salt (weird for me to say since I don’t add salt to much)!

Healthier Taco Recipe

  • 3/4 lb. ground lean turkey
  • 1/4 lb. ground beef (**Just adding a bit of ground beef helps take away the turkey flavor, and gives it the appearance of typical ground beef.  This is important if you have a husband/kids who freak out about ground turkey for whatever reason ::cough cough, not pointing any fingers:: even though it’s healthier)
  • 1 c. finely chopped kale and/or spinach (this shrivels up nicely and you can pass it off as parsley 🙂 )
  • 1/2 c. finely shredded carrots (this isn’t as easy to pass off as “oh, it’s just seasoning…”
  • Brown meat over medium heat (add carrots during this step)
  • After draining, add greens and stir
  • Add 2 rounded tablespoons of seasoning and 1/2 cup water
  • Reduce heat, stir occasionally over a few minutes, then enjoy!

**I usually make 3-4 batches of this (since I use wonky portions of meat), then freeze it. It lasts for a few months (at least), and is easy to thaw in the fridge and heat back up in the skillet.

Serving Ideas

Don’t forget–a “topping bar” makes it even more toddler friendly!

  • Diced tomatoes
  • Shredded Cheese (even just having a variety of cheeses could be a fun way to switch things up)
  • Lettuce (if you’re trying to cut calories, using a large lettuce leaf as a shell works well)
  • Corn (I like oven roasting frozen corn for about 10 minutes with olive oil and seasoning, but usually it’s just the microwave variety…)
  • Sour Cream (Hubby nor I are big fans, but Matthew tried some at Grandma’s and seemed to be a fan)
  • Hard or Soft Tortillas
  • Chips instead of shells
  • Rice
  • Beans (we’re partial to black beans cooked with a bit of cumin)

Pssst. I’m looking for a healthier taco shell recipe.  Preferably something super-quick, or something that can be frozen.  Any tried and true ideas?

Munchkin Meals is a link-up hosted by Brittany at A Healthy Slice of Life.  Ever in need of a fun, healthy meal or snack for your kiddo? Click on over to find loads of ideas all put together by other Mamas.

5 Responses to “Munchkin Meals: Taco Night!”

  1. kim @ vegan mama August 1, 2013 at 2:17 pm #

    Love this! When I worked as an infant/toddler teacher, we served meals “family style” where the kids got to serve themselves. You’re post was a great reminder that toddlers really enjoy participating in their meals this way. What is the serving dish you have pictured?

    • kim @ vegan mama August 1, 2013 at 2:17 pm #

      I mean *your* post. Too little sleep last night!

    • Ashley Niehaus August 3, 2013 at 9:42 am #

      Thanks! Yes, I find Matty eats more when he participates in some way. The serving dish was a wedding gift from Bed Bath and Beyond 5 years ago, but I’ve seen similar things recently at TJ Maxx for cheap.

  2. Giselle@myhealthyhappyhome August 1, 2013 at 4:10 pm #

    We love tacos but I never think to make it a taco bar and let The Love Nugget choose his fillings. I’m going to have to add that for next weeks meal plan!

    • Ashley Niehaus August 3, 2013 at 9:43 am #

      I need to get in the habit of making more variety for our tacos. I’m not the biggest fan of ground meats, but I’m cooking for two picky guys…

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