Cooking for babies and toddlers

For busy parents, being able to provide healthy home-cooked meals in minutes for your little ones is essential. I have found freezing food into small portions an excellent way of doing this.

Storage:


Once cooked and the meal has cooled, try and batch it up for the freezer straight away. Once in the freezer try to use the meals within a couple of months.

Containers:


Jam jar type containers are excellent. Alternatively, plastic takeaway containers are good. Make sure the lid fits well and the container has been well washed out. Meals like lasagne, once chilled, are pretty solid and the portions can be cut and wrapped in cling film and then foil. Make sure you label the jars with the name of the meal and the date. (You'll think you will remember…but you won't when you have a freezer full). I just use pieces of paper stuck on with sticky tape.

Stock and Salt:


Baby's under 1 year should not have any salt. I never add salt to my cooking even for my toddler. Stock cubes are heavily loaded with salt so be careful. If you feel you need to use them, try making your own stock (Annabel Karmel has recipes you can follow) or try using the low salt cubes you can buy. I just add more herbs and spices to give flavour to the food. However, the younger the child is, the more content they will be with basic flavours of your cooking. It may be bland to you, but it won't be to your baby.

Re-heating and Defrosting:


The meals seem to taste better if allowed to totally defrost before heating in the microwave. However, they can be heated slowly on a defrost setting first. Make sure the food is piping hot and mixed well to avoid hot spots. Allow plenty of time for cooling before feeding to your child.

Vegetables:


I try to cram my meals with vegetables to make life easier. However, it is still nice to cook vegetables fresh occasionally. They will freeze fine, although large pieces of mushroom and potato can sometimes hold water and go soggy. Fresh vegetables do taste better and crunchier as once frozen they can lose their bite. However, with meals like Cottage pie, it is easy to just add some freshly cooked broccoli or beans to the meal the day you re-heat it. Just wash and break up the portion size you need into a small bowl and add a couple of tablespoons of water and cook for 2-3 minutes in the microwave.

Meal ideas that work well:


Spaghetti Bolognese/Lasagne, Cottage Pie, Fish Pie, Chicken Casserole (excellent for baby's as it is nice and juicy), Quorn Biriani, Sweet chilli con carne, Creamy salmon pasta. These are a few of the meals I regularly cook for my baby and toddler. A couple of these recipes started out as recipes from books, which I have changed around to become baby proof and suitable for freezing. All go down very well with my two little ones.

If making for a baby just use a hand blender to get as smooth or chunky as they will eat.

Spagetti Bolognese


500g Lean minced beef

1 onion finely chopped

2 cloves garlic peeled and crushed (I mash mine with a fork on the chopping board)

½ a tube of tomato puree

1 Can of chopped tomatoes

2 small carrots (or 1 large) peeled and finely chopped

A handful of mushrooms washed and sliced

½ a pepper washed and finely chopped (any colour is fine)

A dash of Worcestershire sauce (optional)

1 Tbsp of dried Italian herbs

1 tsp of dried oregano

Pinch of pepper

Dried spaghetti

Using a non stick saucepan over a medium heat, add about 2 tbsps of olive oil to the pan and brown the meat. Add the onions, garlic, mushrooms, carrots and peppers. After a couple of minutes add the rest of the ingredients, stir well. Add any water for extra juice if desired. Cover and simmer for about 20 mins.

Serve with dried spagetti cooked according to instructions on the packet. Usually an adult portion will make 2 childrens portions.

Lasagne


Bolognese sauce as above

Pack of dried Egg Lasagne sheets

2 large handfuls of grated mature cheese

Whole milk

2 dsp full of plain flour

2 dsp of butter

Pinch of pepper

Once you have made the Bolognese sauce as above set aside. In another non-stick pan melt the butter and then add the flour on a low heat. Add a small amount of milk at a time mixing really well.

Gradually turn up the heat as it becomes a paste and add milk as required to make into a smooth thick sauce. Add most of the cheese to the sauce and a pinch of pepper. In a large ovenproof dish layer the sheets of lasagne and Bolognese sauce alternately until near the top of the dish. Then pour over the cheese sauce and sprinkle on the last of the cheese. Cook in the oven on 180 degrees (fan) for about 30 mins.

Cottage Pie


500g Lean minced beef

1 onion finely chopped

1 clove garlic peeled and crushed

½ a tube of tomato puree

½ tsp of ground cumin

1 tsp mixed dried herbs

2 small carrots (or 1 large) peeled and finely chopped

A handful of frozen peas

½ pint of water

Pinch of pepper

6 medium sized potatoes, peeled and quartered

Butter

Sprinkling of grated cheese

Using a non stick saucepan over a medium heat, add about 2 tbsps of olive oil to the pan and brown the meat. Add the onions, garlic and carrots. After a couple of minutes add the tomato puree, herbs, cumin and pepper. Stir well. Add about ½ a pint of water. Bring to the boil and add the peas. Cover and simmer for about 10 mins, checking to see if it needs extra water as it cooks. Boil the potatoes and when soft mash with a little butter or olive oil.

Pour the mince into a large oven proof dish and spoon over the mashed potato. Level off gently with a fork filling the gaps and sprinkle over the cheese. Cook in the oven for 30-40mins on 180 degrees (fan).

Fish Pie


500g pack of fresh white fish like Cod or Haddock (boneless and skinless)

1 onion, finely chopped

2 carrots, finely chopped

6 medium potatoes, peeled and quartered

8 balls of frozen spinach defrosted

½ pint of cream or whole milk (both work fine)

½ tsp of mustard

1 tbsp of chopped parsley (optional)

200g of grated mature cheese

Juice of ½ lemon

Boil the potatoes under soft then mash with some butter. In a non-stick pan fry the onions and carrot in a little olive oil until softened slightly, add the cream or milk and bring to the boil. Add the cheese, parsley, lemon juice and mustard. Chop the fish into chunks about 1 inch cube. In a large oven proof dish lay the fish on the bottom and spread the defrosted spinach over the top. Pour the sauce over the fish to cover. Spoon over the mashed potato and spread with a fork. Sprinkle with a little more cheese. Cook in the oven for 30-40mins on 180 degrees (fan).

Chicken Casserole


1kg of Chicken pieces such as thighs or drumsticks

1 onion peeled and finely chopped

2 cloves garlic peeled and crushed

2 celery sticks thickly sliced

2 carrots peeled and cut into chunks

2 leeks trimmed and cut into chunks

6 potatoes peeled and cut into large chunks

1 tbsp plain flour

1 pint of water or low salt stock

1 tbsp of mixed herbs

½ lemon

Pinch of pepper

Heat 1 tbsp of olive oil in a large Casserole pan, add the chicken and fry the chicken until brown using the lid to prevent spitting. Once brown, set aside on a plate. Add the onion, garlic, celery, carrots, leeks and potatoes to the pan and fry for a few minutes then add the flour for a minute. Pour over the stock or water. Add the pepper, herbs and the chicken. Stir round well and then squeeze over the lemon juice. Replace the lid and cook in the oven for 25-30mins on 180 degrees (fan).

The chicken should easily fall away from the bone when cooked. Obviously remove the meat from the bones for little ones before serving.

Quorn Biriani


300g pack of Quorn pieces

1 onion peeled and finely chopped

2 carrots peeled and chopped

2 potatoes peeled and chopped into 2cm chunks

½ tsp cinnamon

1 tsp turmeric

1 tsp ground ginger

½ tsp ground coriander

1 tbsp of mild/medium curry paste

2 cloves of garlic peeled and crushed

200g long grain rice

1 pt low salt stock or water

½ cauliflower broken into small spears

2 good handfuls of frozen peas or mixed beans and peas

A handful of cashews (optional. Toddlers only perhaps)

2 generous handfuls of chopped coriander

You will need your best non-stick pan for this as it has a habit of sticking. In a little olive oil fry the quorn until browned slightly. Add the onions, carrots and potatoes and a bit more olive oil if needed. After a couple of minutes add all the spices, garlic and curry paste. Mix well and then pour in the rice and stir for another 5 mins. Add the water or stock and the cauliflower. Cover and simmer for about 15 mins stirring regularly to stop it from sticking. Add more water if it is too dry (it should have a little juice still at this stage.) Add the chopped coriander and the frozen peas and cook for a further 5-10 mins.

Sweet Chilli con carne


500g Lean minced beef

1 onion finely chopped

2 cloves garlic peeled and crushed

½ a tube of tomato puree

1 Can of chopped tomatoes

1 Can of Red kidney beans, drained

1 tsp of ground cumin

½ tsp of mild chilli powder

1 tbsp of good quality Mango chutney

½ pt of low salt stock or water

Long grain rice to serve

Using a non stick saucepan over a medium heat, add about 2 tbsps of olive oil to the pan and brown the meat. Add the onions and garlic fry for a further couple of minutes. Add the spices, tomato puree, red kidney beans and tinned tomatoes. Cook for a further few mins then add the mango chutney and the water or stock and simmer with a lid on for about 20 mins. Serve with some long grain rice cooked as per the instructions on the packet.

Creamy Salmon Pasta


2 fillets of salmon (boneless and skinless)

2 large handfuls of grated mature cheese

Whole milk

2 dspn plain flour

2 dspn butter

Pinch of pepper

200g Fusilli or penne pasta shapes

2 handfuls of frozen peas

½ broccoli pulled apart into spears

2 carrots peeled and chopped

Grill the salmon pieces under a low-medium grill. Once cooked set aside.

In a non-stick pan melt the butter and then add the flour on a low heat. Add a small amount of milk at a time mixing really well. Gradually turn up the heat as it becomes a paste and add milk as required to make into a smooth thick sauce. Add the cheese to the sauce and a pinch of pepper.

Break up the salmon pieces and add to the cheese sauce. (This can be frozen at this point if you wish and then just cook the vegetables and pasta on the day).

Cook the pasta as per instructions on the packet. Put the vegetables into a bowl and add a few tablespoons of water. Microwave on full for 4 minutes. Add all the ingredients together (My toddler likes to do this bit himself).

Your Views



Posted by:
Larry Woods

Posts: 15

From:

Pembrokeshire


Cooking Ideas



It is true that for busy parents cooking healthy meals for the kids on a daily basis could be difficult. But try to take out some time from your busy schedule to cook fresh meals that could be prepared within minutes. However, you should also ensure that your kids are drinking pure water and for this you should install bottleless water dispenser.

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Posted: 14/Aug/15 at 11:18:18


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