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?
It’s amazing how you look back at life before one child and think, “What did I do with my day?!” Well, the feeling grows exponentially with the second!
With our first, we were both working full time and our evening routine consisted of rushing in the door, throwing together kid good, getting said kid washed and into bed, scarfing down something vaguely food related and collapsing into bed. The second time around I was determined to avoid this. I’m an organized person. Really, I am. Sudden changes to routine send me into a tailspin. Ask my husband how many times I check with him to be sure he’s picking up the kids! Changes to the routine equals bouts of anxiety quickly escalating into panic. Seriously, don’t mess.
Over the past three months of maternity leave I felt like I gained a lot of traction in organizing our lives. It was complete chaos most of the time but the last few weeks we had full cupboards, healthy meals (albeit from a relatively limited menu) and clean clothes the vast majority of the time. I remembered why I enjoy cooking so much and took pride in our new house , actually having time to keep up with most (ok, some) chores. Facing the end of leave, I was living in abject fear. Let’s just say I have a hard time giving up control. There, I said it.
I couldn’t fathom spending one minute away from my not-so-tiny babe and my precocious two-year-old, let alone commuting for the first time in two years. Anxiety induced paranoia? Check. Floods of tears? Check. Begging to stay home even though I knew I’d be miserable and it would be fiscally impossible? Check. Week two and I’m totally better. I didn’t actually burst into tears upon leaving my kids in the hands of my mother, who lives roughly three minutes from work and feeds me lunch (when I stop in to check on the kids) while also delivering said kids to my doorstep at least once during the day. Yep, SO much better. You get the picture.
Anyway, one way we have introduced some sense of sanity (because clearly I have none) is through a nifty service we saw online and decided to give a whirl. Blue Apron is a game changer. Not only do they deliver delicious and easy recipes to your door, they’re healthy too! What’s better than fresh ingredients and fun recipes that encourage you to try new things?
Also, they’ve recently upgraded their menus so now you can more accurately select the types of foods you enjoy and opt out of foods you don’t eat. Can it get any easier?
Ok, so it might be slightly more expensive than your average home cooked meal but I believe you make up for that in lack of waste. I mean, how often do you need a head of red cabbage or an entire jicama? Most of the ingredients are readily found in most grocery stores so if we like a recipe we just buy the basic ingredients and recreate it on our own.
So now, three nights a week we have meals planned. We wing the rest but have rediscovered our love of cooking. New ingredients, new recipes…and it’s relatively brainless time we can spend together when we are burnt out at the end of a long day. We just have some fun and eat a great meal, together. Hard to pass that up!
A few of our favorites:
Kumquat lime glaze over chicken with a side of freekah with Brussel sprouts, mint and almonds.
Shortrib burger on a pretzel bun with sweet potato chips.
Turkey with lemon caper sauce over mashed potato and roasted broccoli.