Originally posted on February 23, 2018.
Alexander and Nathan recently started a diet of table foods only. They only have baby food pouches in their diaper bag as an “in case of emergency” snack, and they only get one bottle of formula at night as part of their bedtime routine. They’re not a year old yet, and they only have two teeth apiece, but we didn’t force it – it was a natural progression. Just like they showed us they were ready to try baby food, they showed us they were ready to ditch it. The baby food pouches they ate were no longer enough to satisfy them, they were able to self-feed well with their hands, and together, they were going through a container of baby snacks like Puffs and Melts in a day. I was tired of going to the store and wasting money, so one day I went out and bought them a bunch of big people food that I thought they’d enjoy.
Here’s the kicker, though: I hate cooking. I always have. It’s one of my least favorite things to do, and now that I have the twins and I’m in school full time, I hate it even more! It’s so time-consuming. But I also knew I wanted my babies to eat real food instead of fast food everyday, which was a conundrum: how do I make sure they’re getting real, healthy food without spending all day in the kitchen? Short answer: Do not be afraid of frozen foods and pick a select few foods to cook for them in advance. Long answer: Here’s my list of my babies’ daily meals that only take a few minutes to prepare!
Banana: Possibly the simplest baby breakfast food ever! Broken in pieces so they can self-feed easily.
Scrambled Eggs: I make a large batch in advance so I don’t have to make them every single morning.
Applegate Organic Chicken & Apple Sausage: Nuked in the microwave and cut in tiny pieces so they can self-feed. This is one of their favorite foods! They usually finish this first.
Van’s Organic Bluebery Waffles: I save this for the end so it’s like “breakfast dessert.” The twins love all carby foods – just like their mama. 😫
Bird’s Eye Lightly Seasoned Sweet Potatoes: So I’m totally okay with frozen veggies. I think as long as the boys get vegetables in some way, it’s fine. Bird’s Eye makes steam-in-bag sweet potato pieces in a light brown sugar sauce. The boys LOVE them and get upset when they’re all gone.
Garden Lites Superfood Veggie Cakes: This was actually one of my favorite health foods and one day it dawned on me that they’re perfect for them! They’re little soft, muffin-sized cakes made with brown rice, kale, carrots, cauliflower, broccoli and brown rice. These are in the frozen health foods aisle at the grocery store. The boys love these too and pounce on me when they see I have some.
Grilled Chicken Breast: This is another one of my “make ahead” foods. I cook enough boneless, skinless chicken breast for the family to munch on throughout the week.
Fruit Cup: Dessert! I get the lunchbox-sized cups of fruit in their own juice instead of heavy syrup. The twins love fruit so I give them these once they’re done with the rest of their meal. I drain the juice out beforehand to minimize mess.
Bird’s Eye Lentil and Zucchini Pasta with Marinara and Ground Turkey: Bird’s Eye’s frozen pasta dishes are yummy, quick, and an easy way to sneak in vegetable servings – it just tastes like pasta with marinara. I cook my own pound of ground turkey and mix it in with a couple cooked bags of the pasta and store it for the twins’ dinner for the week.
I do not buy baby snacks anymore at all! The yogurt melts, puffs, and crunchies were great when they were smaller and learning how to finger feed and chew, but as they grew, I found they went through them way too fast and I was wasting money. Now, between meals, I give them graham crackers, fruit (banana pieces are easiest when on the go), plain soup crackers and Veggie Straws. They like them and I’m able to get more for my money than with baby snacks.
Now, this is not to say my kids eat healthy everyday. If we’re getting pizza for ourselves, they eat pizza, they love the hash browns at Dunkin Donuts, and they’ve never met a french fry they didn’t like. But I feel confident that even though I’m no chef, I am making a solid effort to feed my babies healthy, real food! They’re fat, healthy, and happy so I must be doing okay.
What’s your favorite low-effort meal for your little ones? Comment below.