As a foodie and dietitian, I could hardly wait to jump into the kitchen and start cooking for my daughter Camila. There’s no doubt about it, introduction to solids is an exciting time for both you and baby. That said, if done without planning, cooking and feeding an infant can be time-consuming and leave you with only moments to enjoy a much-needed nourishing meal yourself. Which is why I’m so excited to share today’s meal prep video with all of you.
I will dive into the topic of introduction to solids in an upcoming post, but today I’d like to share the simple meal prep strategy I’ve used to prepare simple, healthy meals for both baby and me.
My approach to meal prep hasn’t drastically changed with baby in the picture. I still like to prepare batches of whole foods and use them in various combinations throughout the week, rather than eating the same meal multiple days in a row. The main difference now is that I plan my menu around baby’s needs, adapting the foods I prep to meet her feeding stage. Say for instance I prepare sweet potatoes; I will roast off a batch big enough for the whole family and then divide it in two: baby’s portion, that I will mash/store/freeze, and my portion, that I will either dice to use in salads, mash with garlic oil or store to use in other various ways throughout the week.
There is no right or wrong approach to cooking for your baby, you simply need to find what works for you. I like it this method because it allows me to maximize my time in the kitchen preparing for the whole family at once, all the while introducing baby to the foods and flavours of our cooking as early on as possible, keeping in mind the goal of having us eat the same family meals by her first birthday. Here’s how I do it:
1. Write your menu plan:
The first thing to do is start by planning your menu for the week.
- Monday: Chilled zucchini and pea soup with hard-boiled eggs
- Tuesday: Salmon and sweet potato cakes
- Wednesday: Quinoa and shrimp puttanesca
- Thursday: Kale salad with poached salmon and tahini dressing
- Friday: Balsamic grilled chicken with garlic-smashed sweet potatoes
- Cinnamon-stewed apples with almond butter
- Yogurt with mango puree and coconut shavings
2. Derive a baby plan
Using the menu you’ve just created, derive a prep list for baby that fits his/her age and feeding stage. It should include foods he’s been introduced to, while making space for new foods to try.
- Quinoa + apple + cinnamon + chia seeds
- Zucchini + pea soup
- Salmon + Sweet potato mash
- Mango + Banana puree
3. Meal prep
It’s time to prep! The amount of food you prep is entirely up to you. For example, I like to cook fish and grilled meat fresh on the same day, so I don’t prep these elements ahead of time. You most certainly can if you choose to. Start with the basics, and work your way from there.
Once you have prepared your foods, reserve a portion that you can adapt to baby’s feeding stage (puree, mash or slice into finger-foods) and adjust your portion to suit your tastebuds (adding salt and spice).
MEAL PREP STEPS
Step 1: Gather ingredients and equipment
- Preheat the oven to 400°F.
- Gather your ingredients: Sweet potato, apples, mango, zucchini, peas, mint, salmon, quinoa.
- Gather your equipment: 3 saucepans, 1 baking tray, 1 blender, 1 baby food freezer tray (I use this Siltray from Kushies), various sized storage containers.
Step 2: Roasted sweet potatoes
- Wrap sweet potato in aluminum foil, shiny side facing inwards. Wrap them tightly, so no air escapes. Place the potatoes on a baking tray and cook 50 minutes until tender. Cool 10 minutes
Step 3: Stewed apples
- Peel four Gala apples and dice into bite-sized pieces
- Add to saucepan with 3/4 cup water and 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon.
- Cook until tender, about 5-10 minutes.
- Divide stewed apples in half.
For you: Enjoy stewed apples over oatmeal or with almond butter as a snack.
For baby: Serve stewed apple chunks as finger foods or mash/blend into a puree according to baby’s feeding stage.
Step 4: Zucchini and pea puree
- Dice 2 medium zucchini.
- Add to saucepan along with 2 1/2 cups frozen peas. Cover with water and bring to a boil. Simmer until tender, 7-10 minutes.
- Add 2 tablespoons fresh mint.
For baby: Blend until desired consistency. Store in the refrigerator up to 3 days or in the freezer up to 1 month.
For you: Season to taste with sea salt and enjoy as soup for the week.
Step 5: Quinoa
- In a medium saucepan, add 1 cup of rinsed quinoa and 2 cups of water. Bring to a boil.
- Reduce to a simmer, cover and cook 12-15 minutes, until liquid has been absorbed.
- Remove from the heat, let stand 5 minutes and fluff with a fork.
For you: Enjoy throughout the week. Try the MN shrimp and quinoa puttanesca bowl
For baby: Combine quinoa with apple sauce, cinnamon and chia seeds for a delicious breakfast combination.
Step 6: Poached salmon
- Wash and dry 1 pound skinless, de-boned wild salmon or trout.
- Add 3/4-inch water to a deep skillet. Add 1 sliced lemon, 1 sliced onion, 1 teaspoon of salt and 1 teaspoon whole peppercorns. Bring to a boil.
- Reduce to a gentle simmer and add the salmon. Cover and cook until the salmon is opaque, about 7-10 minutes. Remove from liquid.
For you: Enjoy cold over salad with tahini dressing or use to make the MN salmon cakes.
For baby: Combine 1/2 cup flaked salmon with 1/2 cup roasted sweet potato for a delicious mash. Store in the refrigerator up to 3 days or in the freezer up to 1 month.
Step 7: Tropical puree
- Peel and dice two Ataulfo mangoes.
- Add to a blender and blend until smooth.
- Reserve half of the puree for you.
- Add half a banana and blend until smooth.
For you: Enjoy fresh mango puree over yogurt, with coconut shavings as a delicious snack.
For baby: Store in the refrigerator up to 2 days or in the freezer up to 1 month.
I WANT TO HEAR FROM YOU!
Don’t forget to ping me @MotiveNutrition and use #MotiveMealPrep during your next family prep session so I can see what you’re up to. Tell me: do you have a tried-and-true family prep routine? What are your musts for the week? Share in the comments below!