I have always had a love affair with food, and not always the healthy kind. I don’t believe in skipping meals. I always have snacks. I don’t do diets, but I try to do moderation and variety. Having children has made me pay more attention to the food I bring into the house and how I prepare it. I spend one day every other week planning a two week menu, going through sales ads, writing up a grocery list, and finalizing everything before I head off to two grocery stores and the farmer’s market all to ensure that we are enjoying what we are eating, have healthy options on hand, and of course are getting a good deal.
Breakfast is usually cereal, oatmeal, or eggs. On the weekends we do bigger breakfasts when Felix is home, because he’s a big breakfast guy (and it doesn’t hurt that he cooks it haha) typically pancakes, french toast, or waffles. Lunch is PB&J, sandwiches, wraps, quesedillas – something quick, served with a fruit, a veggie, and raisins or graham crackers. Snacks are almost always fruit or veggies. Every now and then they will be a yogurt or some goldfish. Regardless of what’s being served I always try and offer a fruit or a vegetable. One of the proudest Mommy moments was when Dylan was presented with a french fry or a carrot stick at a birthday party and he chose the carrot stick! It even surprised me to be honest. I am a big believer in only making one meal for dinner. Dylan is served exactly what we are served, and now that Tillman is starting proteins he will also be eating what we eat more consistently, in a much smoother form obviously. From the beginning I have made my own baby food. I feel that babies at an early age learn to appreciate the intigirity of the food if they are given the opportunity to enjoy fresh, wholesome ingredients – jarred carrots do not taste as clean, and light as fresh carrots and jarred peas are not as sweet as fresh peas. I also make it a point to mix complementary foods to help open their palatte too. I take one afternoon a week, and I make and freeze Tillman’s food, making meal times as easy as popping the cubes in the microwave – done! I found this site via Styleberry that I love to refer to for questions and ideas with baby food making. Styleberry also has some great tips on baby food making and portions, as well as some yummy quick recipes like her pizza rolls she has shared. Just more Mamas helping Mamas which I love!!
At the same time if there is reason that you can’t make your own food don’t feel guilty about it. Make a few things here and there or do something simple like a mashed up banana and avocado every other day. Every little bit helps, and when choosing baby food do your research look into the organic brands like Earth’s Best. When we travel I will use Plum Organics and mix it in with a fruit that is easily mashable. They even offer these nifty little spoons that make traveling so easy! Only do what you can do, because adding stress only makes everything worse!
I feel the biggest keys are variety, and starting early. If several different foods are introduced in the beginning then they may be more inclined to be open-minded about food choices as they get older. Some other things that I have learned to be true, especially with toddlers and preschoolers, are that texture and size make a big difference and if they don’t like it cooked one way try cooking it another. For example, Dylan prefers his meats (pork chops, steak, chicken, whichever) to be cut up into bite-sized pieces or he won’t eat them. He also isn’t crazy about broccoli raw, but he’ll chow it down if it’s steamed. All I have asked of Dylan is to try everything, if he doesn’t like it it is fine, but he has to try it, and then usually I’ll offer it again a few weeks after maybe he’ll like it then. We also try not to say, “Yuck” or “Eww” when we see or don’t like a food because they learn these reactions from us, and if they just copy us they don’t make up their own mind about that particular food.
It definitely is a little trial and error, but it doesn’t always have to be stressful. Make meal time fun for them, which makes less stress for you. Tillman is a very noisy baby, and is very attached to me so while I am cooking I put him in his high chair with a couple of spoons in the kitchen with me so he can see what I’m doing. Usually their is music playing while I cook, so we’ll sing and dance during dinner preparations, or I’ll talk him through what I am doing and him touch and smell the fruits and vegetables we are cooking with. I will let Dylan help put the toppings on our pizza, or let him help toss the salad. He enjoys helping and is always so eager to eat what he’s helped with! There is also some obsession kids have with dips. Salsas, dressings, ketchup, cream cheese, peanut butter whatever they like give them some fruit and veggies and let them dip away! I don’t mind ranch dressing if he’s eating tomatoes, cucumbers, and carrots with it. Dylan is doing his independence thing right now, and I have found that giving him choices helps out too. Make sure both options are healthy choices, “Do you want the grapes or the strawberries?” Bottom line is I will never give the boys something that I wouldn’t eat myself, and I want to make their relationship with food a fun and healthy one so that they can enjoy carrots and cake and not just carrot cake, and certainly there is nothing wrong with the occasional burger and fries.
Below is a little peek into dinner for us. I made a Autumn Chopped Salad (shared by my dear friend, Carolyn)but I added chicken to make it a full meal, and used walnuts instead of pecans. It is amazing! Dylan doesn’t prefer a lot of lettuce, so I modified his a little bit which is what I do if salad is being served as the main course. I’ll leave out the lettuce, and serve the other ingredients separately. If salad is the side I just give him a few pieces of lettuce and lots of the other veggies. Tillman’s is the same as Dylan’s, chicken, pears, and peaches (no ketchup and cheese) pureed. I even had some leftover for Felix’s lunch the next day! Enjoy 🙂