Initially when starting Shared Parental leave I was terrified of the countdown to food time, there are 3 meals to prepare (7am, 12 and 5pm) and that is before you start thinking of yourself. When you finish one, get her to nap and then play she is ready for the next. I can cook basic stuff and things from recipes so I am not a complete student but it’s not something I have a 7 day meal plan for.
What you need to know is really simple, by the time they get to 11 months they will pretty much eat anything, from paper, plastic, soil, sand, poo (I caught her once trying to put a recently deposited whole sweet corn back in to her system) and of course normal food. They are also human and so pretty much can eat what you eat with all traces of salt and non-natural sugar removed. Sofia is lucky she also doesn’t suffer any food allergies which complicates matters.
The key however is the starter, the food you keep them entertained with prior to the main event you are still frantically preparing after not getting home on time or letting her have just 5 more minutes in soft play. As she rapidly descends in to madness you need to have some food lined up to entertain. So here are the top 5 small snacks and it is oh so simple…
Pizza courgettes – take one courgette, slice, cover each slice in tomato, cover in cheese, stick in oven. You can put these in the fridge and reheat when needed.
Frittata – basically egg mixed with cheese, tuna, tomatoes or whatever you fancy and oven baked for 10-15 mins in a small cup cake tray. Again these can be eaten hot or cold.
Grissini – a simple eighties snack given to humans in Italian restaurants while waiting for food but a awesome snack when covered in cream cheese (do Italian restaurants still have these?).
Fruit – it’s a classic from the bible but fruit is a really simple snack to have handy, sliced grapes (no choking) and blueberries are perfect sugar hits.
There are also tonnes of supermarket baby snacks you can buy, we also had rice crackers on the menu till we heard that we could be pushing arsenic in to her stomach. The rice cracker industry has probably collapsed on that story.
So snacks are done but food is another story. You have the option of eating at home or out, luckily we don’t have too much money worries at the moment so eating out it always a option.
I used to frown upon the classic Italian eatery but a bargain offer (kids for a £1, or 3 courses for £6.95) goes a long way to restoring faith. Pasta is also a genius Italian invention for kids and Sofia has the Italian dad gene and can’t get enough. You also get to steal their desert when chocolate (can’t let them get the taste before 1!). So the Italian chains of Prezzo and Pizza Express feature up there is places now to go in Hitchin. Also the various local soft play and children’s play tend to have cafes and basic food to eat. This is a market waiting to be tapped as the food tends to be pretty poor with 2 overworked staff trying to keep the toys and play areas free from sick and poo, while still cooking and also getting people to pay for their visit.
At home she pretty much can eat what we eat. So no curries yet but simple basic pasta meals, sausage and mash (throw in some leek), sweet potatoes (this should have been on the snack menu), fish fingers and peas, jacket potato, broccoli, cauliflower cheese, pizza and pasta and more pasta. She pretty much turns her nose up at any attempts of packet food which is great but also a curse when it comes to needing a quick fix.
So after 6 weeks of this I am now surviving. Just need to start my soft play dining experience now.