I’ve got heaps of free time 😎 Said no parent ever! So when it comes to feeding our families, it’s sensible to make one meal work for everyone. We all have better things to do with our limited time than slaving away in the kitchen preparing separate meals and snacks to suit everyone’s individual tastes, likes and dislikes. Plus, focussing on eating as a family and role modelling healthy eating has a myriad of other benefits too. We’ve all been there but I’m here to tell you it’s possible to make one meal work for everyone (yes, even if you have a baby or fussy toddler!), and in the midst of school holidays I hope this is welcome advice.
4 Key Strategies for Making 1 Meal Work for All:
- Separate off elements of the meal before adding spices or sweeteners - for example, portion off bolognese before adding salt and then puree for your baby. Separate a portion of pancake batter before adding sweeteners such as maple syrup to cook as a finger food for your baby under one.
- Keep ‘safe’ foods in tact - If preparing a new pasta or noodle based dish for a fussy eater, separate off some plain noodles as a ‘safe’ food for your fussy eater, and serve alongside the saucy version. Same goes for rice! You can always boost with Veggies+ if you suspect your child won’t eat the main version!
- Deconstruct - If you are making hamburgers, before you add all the ingredients together, separate the patty, lettuce, cucumber, tomato and the bread roll for your child to combine in the manner in which they prefer or if serving tacos or nachos, separate the component ingredients for your child to enjoy combining what they’re comfortable with - for example, chicken strips, grated cheese, lettuce, guacamole, tomato and sour cream.
- Use the same ingredients, change the prep - steamed sweet potato chips can be used as a finger food, mashed into a wholesome side dish, baked into a muffin or added to boost the nutrition of a pasta sauce.
Multitasking meal examples
Smoothie - Puree - Popsicle
Roasted Cauliflower - Cauliflower tots - Cauliflower puree
School Holidays - a great time to cook with your kids (especially the fussy ones!)
Meal or snack sorted ✅
Develop fine motor skills ✅
Learn about nutrition ✅
Help with desensitisation ✅
Develop vocabulary ✅
Encourage learning about maths ✅
As a busy mum, I have also found cooking with my children to be a great way to combine play with the daily routine of preparing meals. The rule in my kitchen is that we have to have fun in the kitchen and once the food is prepared I encourage my children to taste it, but no one is forced to eat it, if they don’t want to. Because they feel safe and there are no expectations, my kids are always eager to cook with me.
Why this works for fussy eaters?
Children learn to accept new foods through role modelling, repetition and exposure and there is no better way to expose children to a variety of ingredients than by choosing a recipe that you and your child would like to prepare together. Children love to eat what they’ve helped to make!
With spring in the air, and picnics on everyone's school holiday calendar, I wanted to share my favourite picnic picks!
I’ve loved getting outdoors with friends and family, and that taste of full freedom feels close and very sweet. In the meantime, let’s enjoy the spring blooms, sunny and mild weather and relaxed covid rules these school holidays before the return of homeschooling. To me that means more time OUT and less time ‘stuck’ at home in the kitchen!