Yummy Toddler Food: Dinnertime SOS

100 Sanity-Saving Meals Parents and Kids of All Ages Will Actually Want to Eat: A Cookbook

About the Book

NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • 100 quick and easy dinners that the whole family will enjoy and take 30 minutes or less to make, from the creator of the leading kid-friendly food site Yummy Toddler Food.

You rush home from work, tired but looking forward to sharing a meal with your family. You’re short on energy—but you need to pick a recipe, chop and prep ingredients, and tend to the kids. How are you supposed to juggle these responsibilities and make a meal that everyone at your table actually wants to eat?

Enter Dinnertime SOS, a collection of super-fast, accessible, and delicious family meals that appeal to both kids and parents. As the founder of Yummy Toddler Food and a nationally recognized expert on feeding families well, Amy Palanjian is here to help customize meals for even the pickiest of eaters, sharing recipes the whole family can enjoy together. This is your playbook to make the most of your limited time in the kitchen, embrace quality shortcuts, and ditch the guilt. 

With recipes that are all super-fast—we're talking twenty minutes max—or that can be prepped ahead of time and thrown into the oven, slow cooker or Instant Pot, you'll find everything you need to prepare healthy meals on a budget from a trusted source. Nourishing weeknight dinners include Broccoli Mac and Cheese, Flatbread Pizzas, Slow Cooker Chicken Sandwiches, Instant Pot Burrito Bowls, and the Ultimate Family Charcuterie Board.

This is the cookbook that parents with little kids have been waiting for. With strategies to cut down on cooking time, healthy shortcuts, and meal planning tips, Dinnertime SOS shares tried-and-true cooking advice and recipes to help parents win dinnertime.
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Yummy Toddler Food: Dinnertime SOS


It’s the end of the work day. I’ve finished my day job and am tired from my to-do list, but I’m really looking forward to sharing a meal with my family. Except I’m short on energy to cook, out of patience to chop ingredients, there’s a kid hanging on my leg, and I cannot, for the life of me, figure out how to do all the things at once—let alone make a meal that everyone at my table actually wants to eat.

I’m also hungry.

It’s enough to make anyone swear off cooking until the kids leave the house.

Feeding a family is hard, sure. But if we can all take a giant step back from the daily barrage of pressure to be perfect that comes from almost everywhere we turn, I think we can find some happiness—or at least a way forward that doesn’t immediately feel defeating.

This book is here to help. I’ve written down every single tip and trick that saves my sanity on a daily basis at dinnertime. These are the recipes that have made it possible for me to make dinner, day in and day out, over the past three years (you know, the years when parenting became even harder than it already was) with fast, reliable meals that my husband and I enjoy as much as our kids do. Okay, sometimes the kids don’t love everything, but they like most things and that’s a start.

Most recipes in this book take 20 to 30 minutes, if that (or can be thrown into the slow cooker or pressure cooker) because I know that is often the max amount of time we have to get the meal made before everything really falls apart. The ingredients for my recipes are readily available—I tested the majority of the book in a small town where Walmart was my primary store— and there’s a focus on minimal chopping and straightforward methods. I fully believe that easier is always the answer, and I ran every single one of these recipes by my family multiple times to ensure they meet that goal. And if you’re going to have an ingredient left over after you’ve made the recipe, I offer ideas on how to easily use it up. (It can be such a waste to have half cartons or cans of ingredients lingering in the fridge.)

I want to share what I’ve learned in the trenches of “life with kids” to lift some of that dinnertime burden from you. I’ll show you exactly how to switch and swap ingredients. I’ll demonstrate how to use the ingredients you might have on hand—like chicken in place of fish, couscous instead of rice, beans as a substitute for beef—or to use the ones your family prefers. I’ll give you easy ways to add or subtract veggies so you feel confident in tailoring the recipes to your family. I’ll provide ideas for how to add flavor while sticking to your food budget, simple tricks to make sure you can enjoy leftovers rather than throwing them away, and know how to feed those “picky” kids without having to make three separate meals to feed your family.

I’m here to remind you that being together is as much a part of dinnertime as anything you cook.

I can’t guarantee that you or your kids will love every single recipe in this book—sadly, I am not a wizard!—but I do hope that you learn a few tricks for simplifying what can be a major source of stress for so many families. And, yes, hopefully you’ll enjoy your own food along the way too.

These recipes can be served to kids and adults—no one should have to cook more than one meal for dinner each night. But the recipes are flexible, so you can adjust for intolerances and allergies and use the ingredients everyone in your family likes most (and that you happen to have in the pantry).

And I know firsthand how little energy we sometimes have to put into dinner at the end of the day, so I did my best to be realistic with prep work, the number of pots and pans that will wind up piled in the sink, and the tools you may require. There is never a need for a food processor, and I will never tell you that this is the easiest meal you’ve ever had and then start by having you chop three onions, I promise!

That means that my recipes may include some ingredients you don’t typically see in a cookbook, such as frozen veggies, precut produce, and store-bought sauces. There can be so much stigma on taking shortcuts, but the truth is that these foods are often just as nutritious frozen as fresh, are often similar (or lower) in price, and, in the case of sauces, are amazing for decreasing the number of other ingredients needed to make a flavorful dish. Some of the recipes are a little more involved—some veggies are impossible to cook without cutting—though I always try to include the option to use a shortcut substitution (like jarred minced garlic or garlic powder, for example). Some days you might have the steam to cook a pot of rice or make homemade chicken tenders from scratch, and other days you may want to buy those items at the store, ready to go. Both options are always welcome and I will never tell you that one is better than the other because I know that one or the other may be better for you in the moment.

I also made sure to include a number of recipes that are strictly assembly-only—as in, no actual cooking—or dump-it-all-in-and-cook techniques, whether we’re using a sheet pan, a multicooker, or a skillet.

By the way, I’m Amy. Hello!

For almost two decades, I’ve worked in print and digital media as a magazine editor, a recipe developer, and, more recently, as the creator of the website Yummytoddlerfood.com. I’ve made it my mission to:

• Help alleviate the giant pile of pressure that families feel about food these days
• Ditch the anxiety about serving “perfect” meals
• Help us remember that kids don’t eat the way that charts say they will
• Remind us that it’s okay if kids go through phases of likes and dislikes
• Know, way deep down, that no parent needs to cook meals from scratch every single day to be “successful” or “good enough”

It’s actually perfectly normal if the kids don’t like every single thing you offer them. And meals really are about so much more than the food we serve. I’m here to tell you that it’s always okay to do what works best for your family in any phase of life.

About the Author

Amy Palanjian
Amy Palanjian is the creator of YummyToddlerFood, the leading food website for families with little kids. Her expertise was honed over a decade of experience working in print and digital media as the lifestyle director of FamilyFun magazine, as a food editor with Better Homes & Gardens, and as deputy editor of ReadyMade magazine. Amy lives in Pennsylvania with her family. More by Amy Palanjian
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