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Please Note: All opinions and information contained in this article are contrived from my own research. I am not a nutritionist or medical professional, and nothing stated below should be construed as professional advice. As always, I encourage you to speak with your child’s pediatrician or family doctor before making any changes to his or her diet.
How to Meal Prep For Baby (Baby Led Weaning Edition)
I’ve been feeling some fierce mom-guilt lately. I don’t play with Lottie enough. I don’t challenge Lottie enough. She needs more sleep. She needs less sleep. I should really make her put on clothes. The list goes on and on. But the one worry that bothered me most was the feeling that I was settling for feeding Lottie a “good enough” diet.
If you know me, then you know that I am deeply passionate about food and nutrition. Mountains of evidence show that old maxim “you are what you eat” to be all sorts of true. In fact, I credit changing my diet with my ability to become pregnant after two years of inexplicable infertility. With all this in mind, I couldn’t let go of the fact that I carefully monitor every item that enters my own mouth while letting Lottie live what can only be described as “the puff life.”
You see, over the last few weeks Lottie has become food obsessed. Not only can she locate a puff container from a mile away, she can pry the lid off with her teeth. If I have something, Lottie has to have it, and if there’s something on my plate that isn’t on hers, Lottie will go on full-out hunger-strike until said item is clasped in her grubby hands. Combine this with Lottie’s shining independence and total lack of interest in all things puree, and you’ve got the perfect breeding ground for a junk diet.
I admit, I gave up the fight. It was easier to just let her have the puffs, and with all the glory that is PPD, I just didn’t have the energy to insist on doing better. Enter today, when I realized the most nutritious thing I’d fed my child was an Eggo waffle. Epic fail.
So after dinner, my husband and I headed to our trusty grocery store to pick up some better options. Look, my PPD isn’t going away any time soon, and I’m beginning to learn that it’s better to work with my depression than against it. My chosen path of least resistance? Meal prep for baby in under 15 minutes.
What is Baby Led Weaning?
Starting around six months, baby led weaning is an approach to feeding where you introduce solids from the get-go instead of starting with purees. Admittedly, I did not immediately go this route, but since Lottie showed very little interest in purees and really only wants what Mommy and Daddy have, the baby led weaning route just makes good sense for us.
There are certain safety concerns to keep in mind with baby led weaning. You need to be wary of foods with higher choking risks, such as grapes or other foods with skins and peels. And you need to make sure any foods you choose are easily chewed–such as steamed vegetables, salmon, or bananas.
But if you do your research and are smart about your approach, baby led weaning can have real benefits. Most notably, a lower likelihood for obesity and a higher likelihood of developing a varied, healthy palette. Of course, this all comes with my favorite benefit, being able to feed my daughter exactly what’s on my own plate, no extra work necessary.
If you’d like to find more information on baby led weaning, my favorite resource is Marla at Because I Said So Baby.
Keeping Baby Led Weaning Simple
I learned years ago that the only way I can keep to a healthy meal plan is if I keep it simple. The same rules apply to feeding my baby good foods.
Remember that big-time personal diet change I mentioned at the beginning of this post? For me, that meant several months of a strict paleo lifestyle (and almost a year of no gluten or processed sugar). Eating well can be hard for anybody, but it’s 10x harder when you live in a small town like me. Fast food wasn’t an option, so I needed to find a way to keep my mealtimes fast.
During this time, I discovered a website called No Cook Paleo. The founder wanted to follow a paleo lifestyle but hated to cook. Her solution? Rethinking meal planning.
When we picture dinner, most of us think beef roast, carrots and potatoes, laboring over a hot stove. Or for a healthy lunch we scour Pinterest for Buddha bowls and elaborate salads. Healthy, in most of our minds, has become synonymous with work.
No Cook Paleo thought differently. On her website, I found picture after picture of “no cook” meals, entirely comprised of boiled eggs, raw veggies, nuts, fruit, deli meats, pickled and smoked fish… It changed the way I think about eating.
The reality is that the healthiness of our meals isn’t determined by the amount of effort we put into them. In fact, many “no cook” meals are leaps and bounds ahead of the traditional home-cooked meals you’ll find in the average kitchen.
How We Prepped for the Week
Still not sure about this whole meal planning thing, and need a little guidance? Here’s what Lottie’s eating this week. Just remember–meal planning only has to be as hard as you make it. If anything here feels to overwhelming or like it’s not the right option for you, swap it out! Snag our fast and easy baby food list for more ideas!
Lottie and I have found ourselves in a bit of a breakfast rut. For the last month we have shared a blueberry toaster waffle slathered in buttery goodness. Every single morning. I mean, whole grains are good and all, but all that sugar and gluten for my baby? No thank you. I needed a healthy, easy replacement. Like, stupid easy. Can handle while the coffee’s brewing easy.
I bring you the fruit and fat breakfast. As a general rule, I am trying to cut back on sugar in Lottie’s diet as much as possible, but I’ll make an exception for fruit, especially when paired with a healthy whole fat. Sugars consumed in conjunction with fat and protein burn at a slower, steadier rate than sugars consumed alone, meaning the body’s insulin doesn’t spike.
I chose full-fat cottage cheese and plain Greek yogurt to pair with fresh fruit for Lottie’s breakfast. A quick slice and dice, and breakfast is served. It doesn’t get easier than that.
I have, on occasion, read claims that children under a year of age cannot have products made from cow’s milk. I went with my pediatrician’s advice on this one. If you’re questioning whether or not dairy is appropriate for your baby, I suggest consulting a medical professional.
Lunch, by far, is my trickiest meal of the day. Dinner I can just give Lottie a little of what ever is on my plate, but since a ham sandwich is hard to share with a ten month old, lunch is an easy one for me to backslide on. I needed something I could prep in advance, requiring minimal time in moving from fridge to table. I opted for an easy vegetable medley.
Bulk, whole vegetables are some of the easiest, least expensive healthy foods you can buy. Seriously, a bag of whole carrots? 98 cents. I chose vegetables that I can cook quickly on the stove, knowing that Lottie will only last 10 minutes maximum in her exersaucer or playpen. Carrots, celery, and a handful of mushrooms will sweeten up nicely sauteed with butter, and will be soft and easy for Lottie to eat once cooked. I decided to add a little onion and garlic to my mix–both act as natural immune boosters, and we cook with them constantly, so I want them to be familiar to Lottie’s palate. At the last minute, I threw in a little chopped kale. You know, because I could.
Overwhelmed by all the slicing and dicing required for this one? Opt for a bag of frozen mixed veg. Pop it in your microwave, and you’re good to go.
One carrot, one stalk of celery, and a handful of mushrooms chopped into small, bite-size pieces filled three small Pyrex dishes. A child’s stomach is only the size of her fist, so this medley should last for five or six meals. To round out her lunch, I shredded up a chicken breast (note that not all children will be ready to chew meat at the same time, and you will need to use your own discretion).
Snacks are my greatest downfall. We’re constantly on the go, and Lottie rarely wants to take the time to sit in her highchair. I was so excited when I found this Munchkin mesh pacifier (affiliate link). It’s super easy to fill with a handful of frozen fruit, and feels good on sore gums, too! Lottie especially enjoys frozen melon balls, which breakdown nicely and don’t make nearly the mess that frozen berries do.
For times when Lottie is in need of a little more sustenance, I picked unsweetened applesauce (Go Go Squeez is my hands-down favorite) and shredded cheese. Done and done.
Congratulations, Mama! You just meal prepped for baby.
Whole food nutrition doesn’t have to be time consuming or difficult. In less than fifteen minutes, I prepped an entire week’s worth of food and quieted that little voice in my head telling me to strive for more than good-enough.
What are your quick and easy go-to meals for your little? Share in the comments below, or join the conversation on our Facebook page.