I’m Kayley, 30 year old mum to 2. Harry is almost 3 years old and Megan is 8 months old. I share our weaning journey and recipes on my blog, Friendly First Foods, as a way of capturing memories and hopefully helping other parents along the way. I’m all about sharing the REAL side of parenting. The meals I show are made for my children, usually while one is running around the kitchen singing the Go Jetters theme tune with no pants on and the other is impatiently throwing her toys on the floor getting cross because she wants her dinner NOW! I feed my family on a tight budget but still manage to keep their meals healthy. Megan is 8 months old and has been feeding herself from the start. She eats what we eat which makes life a lot easier. I’ve learned a few tricks along the way that make cooking for my children as quick, stress free and simple as possible. Here’s my top tips:
I take lots of shortcuts in the kitchen. Frozen veg is a real time and money saver. Garlic paste saves messing about with cleaning the garlic crusher. Frozen mashed potato can be cooked in the microwave in less than 5 minutes. Scrambled egg is also much faster and easier to make in the microwave. Simple shortcuts like this make life so much easier! You don’t get a medal for making everything from scratch and these options are usually just as healthy! Utilise your microwave and freezer, they can save you a lot of time and effort, and leading on from this…
Feed Your Freezer
Batch cooking not only saves time but also money. It’s usually a lot cheaper to buy meat in larger quantities and in the same amount of time it would take to make one meal you can make two or three! Our favourite meals to batch cook are; spaghetti bolognese, chilli, chicken curry, pulled pork and veggie pasta sauce. These keep in the freezer and defrost really well for a healthy ready meal when you just don’t have the energy to cook.
Hide Vegetables in Everything!
I’m quite lucky, both of my children love vegetables and eat them without much fuss. (I have no idea how that happened, it is honestly nothing I did. I just got lucky!) For little veg dodgers though or even just to add even more healthy goodness to meals I’m a big fan of hiding vegetables in everything! Grated carrot, courgette and onions in a bolognese, cauliflower in a curry, whatever you have available just thrown in a food processor with passata to make pasta sauce, avocado in chocolate pudding, broccoli added to homemade potato smileys..
Ok I took it a bit far with the last two but they aren’t that tricky to make and the smileys freeze really well so if you have the time definitely give them a try!
I hear so many parents panicking about how much baby is eating or whether they are feeding them the right foods. When baby is hungry, they’ll let you know. If you are worried about what baby is eating the chances are you are 100% aware of what you are giving them and are making healthy choices. If baby refuses to eat anything other than toast and yoghurt don’t worry.
They all get there in their own time. When my foodies refused a food I just took it away, no pressure or discussion at all. I kept offering the rejected foods regularly alongside their favourites and eventually they tried them. (It took about a year for Harry to try peppers!) They’ll all get there in their own time and before you know it the days of messy food covered babies will be over. Enjoy it while it lasts. (And maybe get some pictures to embarrass them with when they’re older!
A few miscellaneous quick fire weaning tips that I think are important to share:
- Cereal sticks to high chairs, tables and floors like cement. Seriously, you could build a house with Weetabix! Wipe that stuff off the second it comes into contact with your furniture or you’ll be trying to chisel it off for the rest of forever!
- Babies don’t need teeth to be able to demolish a plate of food.
- Hiding in the bathroom to eat something you don’t want to share is perfectly reasonable parenting behaviour.
- A baby can turn a kitchen into a giant snow globe using only couscous and a lot of determination.
- What goes in must come out.. Sometimes looking scarily the same as it did when it went in. Also watch out for banana nappies. Brown strings are completely normal in baby’s nappy after eating banana but terrifying if you aren’t expecting to see them and think they’re worms!
- Baby meal tax is a thing. We soon realised when Harry started weaning that we would forever be having to hand over 20% of our food to him, whether he had his own plate with exactly the same on or not! And leading on from this…
- Stolen food tastes better. Even for babies.
- Tomato soup can rival any fake tan. It gives a ‘healthy orange glow’ that can last for days!
Here are two really simple recipes that can be ready really quickly with minimal washing up!
Creamy Green Pasta
Ready in the time it takes for the pasta to boil this is perfect for those busy days when you need something super quick and easy.
To feed 2 hungry children.
- Enough pasta for 2 children
- A large handful of spinach
- 1/2 a ripe avocado
- 1 tbsp cream cheese
- A twist of black pepper
- Boil the pasta until cooked.
- While the pasta is cooking, make the sauce.
- Put the spinach in a food processor and blitz until finely chopped.
- Add the avocado, cream cheese and black pepper to the food processor and mix until smooth.
- Drain the pasta and return to the pan. Stir through the sauce and serve.
Cheesy bean wraps
Great for little foodies who find it easier to pick up larger chunks of food. These are a fun twist on traditional beans on toast.
- 1 tortilla wrap
- 2 tbsp baked beans (low salt option if possible)
- Handful of grated cheddar
- Lay the wrap on a baking tray.
- Warm the beans in the microwave for 1 minute.
- Spoon the beans down the centre of the wrap, leaving space around all edges.
- Sprinkle the cheese over the beans.
- Fold the wrap so the beans are completely covered and can’t escape.
- Turn the wrap over so the folded side is facing down and cook under the grill for 1-2 minutes, until crisp and golden.
- Flip the wrap so the folded side is up and return under the grill for a further 1-2 minutes.
- Cut in half, allow to cool (it will be very hot) and enjoy!