Morning, noon and night, I think about food. Preparing food, buying food, packing food for lunches, toting food along for errands or road trips in case someone gets hungry, choosing healthy food, wondering whether or not to buy organic (at twice the price) food…it never ends.
I think of myself as a decent enough cook and my family doesn’t seem to disagree. We strive to eat healthy and keep a decent mix of fruit and vegetables in our diet. Sugar is under constant surveillance to keep it at a minimum or at the very least, opt for natural rather than processed sugars. No one in our household is on any sort of diet, we strive for healthy every day and keep a decent amount of exercise in our daily lives. Yet, all I think about is food. It’s exhausting!
So we’re embarking on a new strategy. I feel that we’ve learned a lot in the past year or so about portions, balancing our nutrition and cooking in general. I’ve enjoyed cooking so much more, especially when I have a plan of attack when it comes to meal-planning. One of the things we loved about Blue Apron was the convenience of having some order within our chaotic schedules. Not to mention recipes we’d never have tried on our own. My one main challenge is the planning, left to my own devices I end up rotating the same meals over and over. That’s no fun for anyone.
In an effort to cut back on spending (especially with the Holidays coming up, eek!) we’re trying something new. Essentially, it’s simply a meal-planning service that gives you recipes for every meal (breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks) and a shopping list for each. You can choose to follow it or not, whatever your preference but it at least gives you a framework to work within. My one main gripe is that the shopping lists are not consolidated. If I want to shop for the week, I have to combine quantities on my own. This is no big deal for pantry staples, but for fresh ingredients it’s a bit of pain. One main plus, is if you aren’t particularly thrilled about a menu choice you can swap it for 3-4 alternatives or just choose to eat leftovers. I typically pack my own lunch for work so that’s a big bonus for me. Leftovers are also a huge bonus over Blue Apron, hopefully they will help reduce the morning chaos that usually ensues as I try to get everyone out the door.
This is week one, so I’ll be sure to report back!
We have long been prone to offering our toddler very repetitive foods for mealtime. It’s easy, she eats them most of the time and they’re easy to keep in stock. (Grilled chicken, fresh fruit and veggies, spinach nuggets, oatmeal, raisins, yogurt, apple sauce etc.).
So far, we are very lucky we don’t have a picky eater! We have always made an effort to take her out with us and feed her from our plates so she develops a taste for things. As long as she at least tries something, we try not to force her to eat anything she doesn’t want. Of course, at home there is often a game to be played so we do set some rigid requirements around our own dinner table. We are sticklers about eating what you ask for (no wasting food) and we are not afraid to let her “go hungry” if she’s being bratty. Let’s be honest, if she were actually hungry she’d be eating what was in front of her. There are also no toys at the table and we’re working on establishing conversation so there is a small bit of ceremony around the idea of a meal.
A recent phase developed of always asking for “something else” when she hadn’t finished what was in front of her. We had been in a habit of giving her one or two food items at a time and when that was finished, we’d move on to the next. Instead, we starting placing small amounts of each food on her plate to start with. If she wants more of something, she has to finish everything on her plate first. We also typically offer a “treat” once the meal is over, this usually happens to be an “ice yogurt” (a yogurt tube thrown in the freezer). If she doesn’t clean her plate, that’s fine, but she knows there’s no “treat” later. Other special treats have been smoothies, apple sauce or other foods we might not always have available. Variety seems key here as an incentive!
There are still plenty of food battles but those are the guidelines we try to live by. Consistency has always been our friend though at times, it’s so difficult not to give in! Lately, we’ve been trying to eat more often as a family. This is far more likely on weekends when one or both of us is home to cook (aka one cooks and one plays defense with the baby walker). With the babe heading towards one year, finger foods are a new source of frustration. So far, breads, grilled chicken, Cheerios and fruit are a hit. I refuse to start making three separate meals so baby Maggie is getting some major food exposure much more quickly than her sister ever did.
When I’m in a rut and need inspiration, there are a few places I can usually count on for inspiration:
She also has a cookbook!
100 Days of Real Food
Also with a book.
Super Healthy Kids
I tend to be more of an online girl myself, but that doesn’t always work for everyone!
PS: You’d laugh if you could see my “office” space today…I have to show you. At least I have tea and a view?