The role of ‘parent’ doesn’t really come with a job description. All of a sudden, we are given a whole lot of responsibility for another little human being… someone forgot to write the manual and we are certainly not given any training!
It’s all about being adaptable to the circumstances and being ready to change course at the last moment. Some might say it’s the toughest job out there but also the most rewarding.
We are all just figuring it out together – whether it be with help from our partner, friends, family or internet forums – and the thing is, what works for one person may not work for another. This also may be the case from day to day. One day something works and another day it doesn’t. That’s just how things roll.
Trying to make things easier is the name of the game: minimising the size of our ever growing ‘to do’ list. For me, having healthy food for my little one as well as my family is of high importance, so the question has always been, how do I achieve this with so many other things going on and still maintain balance?
The key is working smarter, not harder – ‘ain’t nobody got time for that!
Make friends with your freezer and plan ahead
It may seem like common sense but in the craziness of parenthood, sometimes even the most obvious things may escape us until someone points it out and we have an ‘ah ha’ moment.
How you organise your meal prep will vary slightly depending on the age of your child/children, and as they get older, you are able to include more of the food that you are eating, rather than cooking separate meals.
First time foodies
Purees, purees and more purees! The key is to have a few options that you can mix and match (refer to my guide to healthy baby purees). Pick a few flavours e.g. pumpkin, apple, spinach, carrot, get your Thermomix steamer going or a pot of water with steamer and batch cook baby!
Once you have your core fruit and veg, mash or blend individually and freeze in freezer cube trays. Once frozen, bag them up, label, date and you have instant meals you can grab, defrost and combine. If you do this regularly with different fruit and veggies, you will have a constant selection, without having to complete the whole process of cooking and blending with a hungry baby in tow.
Finger food and hungry toddlers
As your little one progresses to finger food, you can do the same with healthy mini muffins, smoothies, veggie slices etc. – simply make a batch, keep some in the fridge, portion and freeze the rest.
This also works for a hungry toddler; see my recipes for ‘healthy flapjack muesli bars’ and ‘banana bread’ for some freezer friendly options.
Growing family members
When it comes to dinner time for ‘not so little’ little ones, the process is still the same, but using your own meal or a portion of your meal can be a good way to go.
Some good examples are bolognese, lasagna, stir frys, casseroles, veggie fritters and even crumbed chicken (and don’t forget to toss in some hidden veg for good measure!).
Make extra, throw some in the fridge for tomorrow night and freeze a couple of serves separately. Over time, you will have a selection you can draw from as well as variety, which we know can sometimes be key, if your little fuss pot suddenly decides the pasta he/she loved yesterday is now bound for the floor!
Most of all, try not to sweat the small stuff, celebrate the wins, accept the challenges and be kind to yourself… breathe… we are all in this together and if some days all your little one wants to eat is toast then toast it is!