One Pot Wonders For Babies & Toddlers

The following is a guest post from Christen who writes at Nurture Baby.

In the spirit of Simple Bites’ celebration of the one-pot meal, we would like to share some “One Pot Wonder” dishes dedicated exclusively to babies and toddlers.

Many moms question what to feed their little ones past the purée stage. The conventional store-bought baby food looks so unappealing, but the thought of making homemade food seems a bit daunting.

At NurtureBaby, we’ve come up with some easy “One Pot Wonders” that take the guesswork out of feeding your little one a balanced, tasty meal and I am happy to share them with you today. Rest assured, these dishes will tantalize your little one’s taste buds and you will feel great about serving a fresh, healthy, and delicious dish.

Bébé Bolognese

This first “One Pot Wonder” dish was inspired by my days as a college student in Paris. Living in a hostel, food preparation was limited. We traveled 30 minutes on a rush hour subway to the best “free” cafeteria in the area, Cité Universitaire. It was there I discovered pasta bolognese. Yes, let’s state the obvious – it was an Italian dish from a French school cafeteria that I might feel a bit differently about today. In my memory, however, it was a warm, hearty, oh-so delicious dish that provided the comfort of home while living thousands of miles away.

Ten years later, with a nine month old daughter in tow, I yearned to provide fresh, healthy foods convenient for a working mom to prepare. The goal was a hearty and nutritious meal – one that encompassed most of the major food groups. It was then I remembered the delicious bolognese dish from my days in Paris and decided to adapt the recipe for my little one’s palate.

Baby Bolognese

5 from 2 votes
Print Pin Rate
Course: Main Dishes
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 25 minutes
Total Time: 45 minutes
Servings: 4 people
Calories: 445kcal
Author: Christen Babb


  • 1 Tablespoon olive oil extra virgin
  • 1/2 medium onion
  • 1 medium carrot
  • 1 medium stalk celery
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1/2 pound organic lean ground beef or ground turkey
  • 1 small can organic no-salt tomato paste
  • 4 cups chicken stock or beef stock - homemade or organic, no-sodium store bought
  • 2 cups whole grain small pasta preferably stelini pasta, or pasta stars
  • 2 leaves fresh basil optional
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese optional


  • Bring a large stock pot of water to a boil.
  • Meanwhile, chop onion, celery and carrot into small cubes, about 1/4 inch in size and set aside.
  • In a separate pot, heat olive oil on medium-high heat. Add ground beef and cook until browned. Remove from pot and drain on plate covered with a paper towel. Turn down heat to medium.
  • Add onions, celery, carrots and garlic and sauté for 5 minutes, or until onions are transparent. Add ground beef back to the pot along with tomato paste and stock and simmer for 10-15 minutes.
  • When water comes to a boil in large stock pot, add and cook stelini pasta (or other small pasta such as orzo or acini de pepe) according to package instructions. Once tender, drain pasta in colander.
  • Add cooked pasta to sauce mixture and mix thoroughly. Mix in parmesan cheese and chopped fresh basil, if desired.


Freezing Tip:
You can make a batch of this Bébé Bolognese and freeze in silicone cupcake tins. Once frozen, pop out of silicone and store in freezer bags. These perfect portions of homemade goodness will last about 3 months and can come quite in handy. Just reheat and serve. And feel free to lick the bowl... I promise it tastes better than the shelf-stable meals found in your corner grocery store.


Calories: 445kcal | Carbohydrates: 58g | Protein: 30g | Fat: 12g | Saturated Fat: 4g | Cholesterol: 48mg | Sodium: 835mg | Potassium: 1082mg | Fiber: 3g | Sugar: 11g | Vitamin A: 3310IU | Vitamin C: 12.2mg | Calcium: 129mg | Iron: 5mg


If you saw my post in Simple Kids about 5 Techniques to Inspire Healthy Food Choices in Your Child’s Diet, you know I’m typically not a big fan of the deceptive technique, such as sneaking spinach puree into my kid’s precious brownies.

However, this recipe does sneak in a Super Food (pumpkin!) into the nutritionally inept, yet proverbial kid’s favorite – macaroni and cheese. This recipe works because the pumpkin adds a subtle sweet taste while masking beautifully in the cheese sauce.

Super Mac & Cheese

5 from 2 votes
Print Pin Rate
Course: Main Dishes
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 20 minutes
Servings: 4 people
Calories: 442kcal
Author: Christen Babb


  • 1 box whole wheat macaroni pasta 8 oz. box
  • 2 Tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 2 Tablespoons All-Purpose Flour
  • 1 1/2 cups milk warmed
  • 1/2 cup canned pumpkin
  • 1 cup mild cheddar cheese grated
  • 1 Pinch freshly grated nutmeg optional


  • Cook the pasta in large pot of boiling water according to package instructions, about 8-9 minutes. Drain and set aside in large bowl.
  • Begin making the cheese sauce by melting butter over medium-low heat in a saucepan. Once completely melted, add the flour little by little and mix with a whisk to prevent lumps. Cook flour and butter mixture for about 3 minutes, but do not let brown. Remove from heat and slowly add milk; mix with whisk until well combined. Return to medium-low heat and cook for about 5 minutes until the sauce is thick and coats the back of a spoon. Add nutmeg and pumpkin. Remove from heat and add grated cheese; stir until cheese is completely melted and sauce is smooth.
  • In a large bowl, pour cheese sauce over cooked pasta. Mix sauce and pasta until well combined. The mixture may appear a bit soupy but the pasta will absorb more of the cheese sauce as it sits. Once cooled, chop slightly in food processor for small babies or keep whole for toddlers.


*Can substitute pumpkin with puréed sweet potato or butternut squash.
More Tips:
  • You can also add green peas or finely chopped broccoli for an added punch of flavour and vitamins.
  • Just like the Bébé Bolognese, this recipe makes a large amount that you can freeze in perfect portions. Just dole into silicone cupcake tins and freeze. It contains vegetables, whole grains, and dairy so you can feel good about serving your little one this healthy alternative to the dreaded blue-box variety.


Calories: 442kcal | Carbohydrates: 53g | Protein: 19g | Fat: 19g | Saturated Fat: 12g | Cholesterol: 54mg | Sodium: 222mg | Potassium: 333mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 6g | Vitamin A: 5372IU | Vitamin C: 1mg | Calcium: 338mg | Iron: 3mg


How about you? What healthy, “one-pot wonders” have become instant hits in your family’s home?

About Christen

Christen Babb is founder of NurtureBaby, a website dedicated to inform, inspire, and encourage busy parents to make wholesome homemade baby food.

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  1. Pumpkin in mac’n’cheese and bolognese for little ones? I’m going to try both of these, for sure! I think my trio of little eaters will be charmed by these and I love the idea of only one pot to clean up 🙂

    I love that you can freeze these, too. Thanks for a great post! (I’m printing off the recipes right after this)
    .-= Kara’s last blog: 5 Tips for Creating Family Routines and Establishing Rhythm in Your Home =-.

  2. Jennie L says

    Christen- I have loved the Nurture Baby blog and website. This is the first baby I have made baby food for instead of buying it from the store. I have loved it!
    I am still feeding my little one pretty simple recipes, but my personal favorite for him is bananas, blueberries and strawberries all blended together. My older have me make extra for them! I will definitely be printing these recipes to try soon. Thank you!

  3. Oh, I love the idea of the baby bolognese for my kiddies even though they are older. I think they would welcome this in their lunchbox thermos and the small pastas would be a nice change from the usual penne or spaghetti. Thanks for the great ideas!
    .-= Jan (Family Bites)’s last blog: Spiced Carrot Cake Whoopie Pies =-.

  4. While we fed our kids what we were eating from the age of about 11 months on, the concept of the 1 pot meal is always good. We are big fans of chili, loaded with meat (for Hubby) and beans (for the girls) and chicken tagine with chickpeas, raisins, carrots, and sweet potatoes.
    .-= Cheryl Arkison’s last blog: Atrophy =-.

  5. I do not have any children, but being a nanny I have to know what kids like to eat. Some of my biggest hits with the little ones is beef stew. I pour it on top of egg noodles and the little ones just gobble it up 🙂 These meals you posted look great too. I should try that mac and cheese with the little one I’m watching now. She hates vegetables.
    .-= Nutmeg Nanny’s last blog: Graham Flour Banana Bread And A Small Rant… =-.

  6. I’ve really benefited from Nurture Baby, Christen! A current favorite is the turkey dish (but I can’t remember the name off the top of my head). Every time I heat it up for my daughter I really want to eat some–it smells like Thanksgiving!
    .-= Meghan’s last blog: Not ready to say goodbye to winter quite yet, but I am dreaming… =-.

  7. I love this post! This is exactly our current dilemma – what to feed our youngest munchkin. I love these types of recipes that don’t require separate food prep for the rest of the family. Can’t wait to check out your blog, Christen!

  8. Love this post! Thank you for some great ideas to feed my picky 12 month old! He loves pasta, so these are perfect for him. I’m definitely checking out your site for more great ideas.
    .-= Ina’s last blog: scrapping therapy =-.

  9. Thank you so much for this! We try to feel our toddler what we are eating, but because he has a sensitivity to dairy (or intolerance or maybe even allergy) we sometimes have to feed him a different dinner. Your pasta bolognese (sans cheese of course) will be a great dish to stash in the freezer for those nights. I’m also looking forward to exploring the Nurturebaby site for more ideas for this kind of dish.
    .-= Wendy’s last blog: The Week in Bentos: March 1-5, 2010 =-.

    • Christen says

      I have been reading a good bit about food sensitivities (intolerances & allergies) – especially to dairy and milk products, and it is quite fascinating how the body reacts to certain foods. Good for you for trying to find the best foods that work for your son’s system. Your toddler is blessed to have such a good momma – I know it can be challenging sometimes!

      I am working on an “allergy-free” section on NurtureBaby as I have heard from many moms requesting dairy/gluten-free recipes. Right now, it’s pretty bare bones, but a work in progress. So, thank you for your feedback…would love to hear any recipe ideas you might have in your repertoire!

      • I just checked out NutureBaby and the recipes sound delicious. I have an 18 month old with an egg allergy. Are you planning on including any eggless recipes in your allergy free section? I am always on the lookout for either new eggless recipes or eggless versions of popular dishes. I love your nutrition chart, by the way – I think I’m going to print one off for my fridge!

        • Thank you, Anna! You make a great point about the egg allergies. I will keep that in mind when adding new recipes to the “allergy-free” section. Most of the recipes do not contain eggs, but I never thought to label them as such. Thank you for the tip!

          My three year old loves the nutrition chart and takes great pride in checking off the colors she eats during the day. I hope that it works out for your family, too!

  10. LOVING the pumpkin mac n cheese! I think it sounds so delicious. YUM.
    .-= [email protected]’s last blog: forgive the slight delay =-.

  11. Love these ideas! We will be foster parents soon and this will be so great for kiddos who are picky eaters or not used to eating vegetables. Thanks so very much.

  12. We made the mac’n’cheese tonight and it was a hit! I’m not sure they even noticed the pumpkin – just gave it that special something “extra” 🙂

    What little we have leftover my dh is taking to work tomorrow for lunch, but I think I’ll make a double batch of this next time and freeze some in a muffin tin for individual portions like you suggest. It seems like it would be easy to re-heat on busy days and would be nice to have something in the fridge I know is good tasting and good for us.

    .-= Kara’s last blog: Weekend Showcase: Link Love =-.

  13. I made both dishes this week for my daughter’s daycare lunches and dinners (I’m not home in time for her meal) and so, far the turkey bolognese is a hit for both her and my husband! THANK YOU !!

  14. I love the idea of pumpkin in the mac and cheese recipe. My granddaughter is going through a stage where the only two foods she likes are pancakes and mac & cheese. Not real healthy choices but I love the pumpkin boost! Wonder if I can make pumpkin pancakes too?
    .-= Tina @ Ride On Toys’s last blog: The Power Wheels Motorcycle – The Thrill Of Speed =-.

  15. My first child was fed exclusively on homecooked food when she graduated from breastmilk. One favorite was ‘Chicken Florentine’ . I simmered tiny shreds of chicken and shreds of thoroughly washed spinach in a little butter. All I added was a bit of rosemary and parsley for seasoning. Added some cooked rice at the end and chased it through the blender for a quick ‘once-over’. Frozen in ice cube trays I always had good food on hand.
    One caveat though…she refused any Gerber or Heinz which made traveling a bit of a challenge.
    .-= Marlis’s last blog: READ ALL ABOUT IT! ‘No Child Left Behind’ is going to be left behind…. about time too! =-.

  16. I made the mac & cheese and my dd actuallyy ate it! I did add extra cheese, some salt, onion powder, garlic powder, and pepper to make it less bland. She liked it more then. I think that getting excited about her helping cook it also really encouraged her to eat it.

  17. I love the idea of adding pumpkin to mac and cheese, very clever!

  18. fitness girl says

    hi Kristen,

    I loved your idea of pumpkin mac and cheese.
    And the ingredients are all very easy to get, there is no hassle……

  19. Mmm I definitely love the mac and beef. I tried at home when my sisters made it and was nice _P:

  20. the bebe bolognese calls for star pasta and macaroni. Is the macaroni a typo? I don’t see it in the instructions.

  21. Sooo sorry, my oops. I imported the two recipes together as one, no wonder I was confused.

  22. 5 stars
    I made the mac n’ cheese tonight, substituting penne, mozzarella, havarti, and cheddar, and roasted butternut squash and it’s the first time my one year old wouldn’t stop eating. I think this will be on repeat on our menu at home. Thanks so much for sharing!

  23. Jessica Roberts says

    I came across this site when wondering what to do with leftover canned pumpkin. The Mac and cheese seemed like a good idea but I did not care for it. It was totally bland. I didn’t have butter so I subbed EVOO, not sure if that made a difference. I tried adding cayenne pepper to give it a little something. This is going in the garbage. Sorry just didn’t work for me.

  24. I did not have silicone muffin tins to freeze in portions so I spread the Bebe bolognese in a 13×9 glass pan lined with parchment paper and froze it for awhile. Then I pulled it out and cut into portions. Worked great.

  25. 5 stars
    I’ve been using the one pot wonder meal recipes since my son was 8 months old. He is now 19 months and still loves the Bebe Bolognese, super Mac and cheese soulful chicken soup, and recently I made the Gobble me up turkey…omg…he couldn’t get enough. Thank you for sharing these great recipes. I add extra veggies as mentioned in some of the recipes and it’s a great way to sneak in more veggies. All of the recipes freeze well.

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