LP has always been a great eater. She still is - provided you are serving her something she likes to eat. There are items that she used to eat (e.g., chicken or fish prepared certain ways) that she now refuses. Not only doe she refuse but as soon as she sees it, she blows a raspberry to let me know that there is no way she is going to put the offending food anywhere near her dainty little lips.
Mealtime with a toddler is always a challenge. You are trying to balance their nutritional needs, with their likes and dislikes, all within the context of the amount of time you actually have available to prepare the meal. I try to have fresh fruit and vegetables on hand as side dishes, but these are the easy things to fake. Frozen fruit or veggies are easy stand-ins and a sweet potato can be thrown in the microwave and ready in no time flat. Protein, however, is much more difficult to fake.
Recently I have taken to making and individually freezing a tray of homemade meatballs on the weekends to make my life easier when I am in a pinch for a weeknight meal for LP. These items are meant to bridge the gap on those nights that we don't have appropriate leftovers or when LP refuses the intended dinner. More often then not they are becoming a nightly meal.
In addition to figuring out what to feed my precious little angel, how much is another challenge. The Hoos usually gets home some time after 7pm. I have no problem waiting to eat dinner until he gets home; LP on the other hand, needs to be fed earlier. Typically she eats around 6:30 and runs around the kitchen while I prepare the grown-up dinner; this works out just fine and hopefully she will pick up some of my standard recipes. Of course, she is not content to entertain herself while we actually eat the meal. She wants to sit at the table with us and check out what we are eating. Even if she has already turned away the elements of our dinner at her own mealtime. She usually finds something she wants to munch on while we attempt to quickly shovel food in our mouths. LP: 2 Meals; Mommy and Daddy: 3/4 meal.
It is not like she is really eating that much. Dinner number one may consist of a few chunks of melon (cut into bite-sized pieces), two meatballs and a half ear of corn. Dinner number two might be a couple of table spoons of rice (probably even less because it is hard to pick up rice with your fingers and get it to your mouth, so a lot of it ends up on her bib or on the seat of the highchair) and some more veggies. My concern is that she is picking up bad habits - i.e., anytime there is food, you should eat.
I certainly do not want to start giving my daughter a complex about her weight or eating habits in the short or long term. I want her to be healthy and happy and confident about who she is. I also know that even at this early age we are laying the foundation for who she will become. Being a mommy is hard.