How has your cooking changed since you've had children? - Mothering Forums
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#1 of 7 Old 01-17-2012, 04:44 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I am four and a half months pregnant, a long-time vegan, and I enjoy cooking and eating a variety of foods.  I love spices, trying new recipes, and many different soups and casseroles, often with many different vegetables, big chunks of onion, etc.  In other words, I don't eat many typical "kid" foods.  I have cooked for children before, but I always made them separate dishes, sometimes using the same main ingredients, but preparing them much more simply.  This went fairly well, but when I have my own child, I would like us to share family dinners most of the time.

 

Has your cooking changed much since you've had children?  Do you find that you've abandoned many of your old favorite dishes, or that you now mostly make the same few dishes your kids like, instead of trying new things?  Has it changed in any other way, such as becoming healthier because you care so much about your kids?  I'm trying to get a feel for what's ahead of me.

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#2 of 7 Old 01-17-2012, 08:34 PM
 
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I guess my cooking has changed in a few ways.  First, it has become much simpler, especially when there is a baby or toddler in the house.  Some people are good at cooking with children, but for some reason, mine have always tended to fuss while I'm in the kitchen (when they were babies at least, after about age 3 or so, cooking gets much easier.) 

 

I remember the first time I walked downstairs with my first baby in my arms a few days after he was born.  Other people had been preparing food for me, and they were all gone for the first time.  I wanted to toast a bagel for breakfast and suddenly I was overwhelmed.  I didn't have a sling to put him in, and I didn't feel comfortable just leaving him in a seat.  It was an odd feeling.  Obviously, that problem has disappeared by now, but that was my first memory of cooking with a new baby.

 

In terms of cooking for kids - we eat a lot of spicy, mixed and strong tasting foods too.  Usually I just do the deconstruction thing you described.  Burritos with red sauce, green chile and refried beans become whole pinto beans and tortillas for the kids.  I'd like it if they ate casseroles and other stuff that we grownups like, but mostly, I just want them to eat, so I do a bit of deconstruction if it isn't too hard.  If people don't like the food that is for dinner, I usually put a bowl of nuts and some bread on the table too and they eat that instead. 

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#3 of 7 Old 01-17-2012, 08:34 PM
 
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I guess my cooking has changed in a few ways.  First, it has become much simpler, especially when there is a baby or toddler in the house.  Some people are good at cooking with children, but for some reason, mine have always tended to fuss while I'm in the kitchen (when they were babies at least, after about age 3 or so, cooking gets much easier.) 

 

I remember the first time I walked downstairs with my first baby in my arms a few days after he was born.  Other people had been preparing food for me, and they were all gone for the first time.  I wanted to toast a bagel for breakfast and suddenly I was overwhelmed.  I didn't have a sling to put him in, and I didn't feel comfortable just leaving him in a seat.  It was an odd feeling.  Obviously, that problem has disappeared by now, but that was my first memory of cooking with a new baby.

 

In terms of cooking for kids - we eat a lot of spicy, mixed and strong tasting foods too.  Usually I just do the deconstruction thing you described.  Burritos with red sauce, green chile and refried beans become whole pinto beans and tortillas for the kids.  I'd like it if they ate casseroles and other stuff that we grownups like, but mostly, I just want them to eat, so I do a bit of deconstruction if it isn't too hard.  If people don't like the food that is for dinner, I usually put a bowl of nuts and some bread on the table too and they eat that instead. 

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#4 of 7 Old 01-18-2012, 01:22 AM
 
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Like pp described, the first 18 months or so were overwhelming.  Hard to get anything done with a baby in the house!   We bought a microwave (not really a healthy move but it was better than eating cold sandwiches without margarine all the time (I couldn't spread the margarine one-handed so ate without :))  I find the best way to prepare food is to cut up the veg and fill up the steamer or casserole dish, etc whenever I have a free moment then it is all ready to go.  In this way a vegan diet is really superior because you don't have to worry about veg and beans spoiling if they lay out for a couple of hours before cooking.  A sling is a big help but I still tried to do casseroles in the oven, or use the tiered steamer, or slow-cooked soups, I never felt comfortable frying in a pan or doing complicated recipes which rely on timing and a lot of stirring, with a baby in the sling or a toddler underfoot.

 

As for what to serve--I would really encourage breastfeeding for a longer time (which you're probably planning on doing anyway because you're on this forum!)  that way your LO gets all the healthy fats and calcium they need without too much effort on your part.  Children under 2 need a lot of healthy fat and healthy food can have too much fiber and fill up little tummies before they've had enough calories.  The best thing to do in my opinion is introduce your own style of cooking to LO (as age -appropriate of course), he/she will get a taste for the flavours you cook with already in utero and thru the breastmilk and will like the food even if it is not what you think of as "children" food.

 

As DD got older I figured out what she did and didn't like.  She is picky in the sense that she likes things plain so she knows what she is eating. So for ex I save her a portion of beans before adding the rest to a pot of chili.  She likes pasta a lot too which means even if I try a new sauce the pasta part is familiar to her.  DS is only 1 and he loves the soupy, mixed foods but that could change later on.  I just make it mild for him so he doesn't get diaper rash.  Once he's PT I'll be more relaxed about offering him spicier versions if he likes it. I think I go back and forth between cooking healthy dishes for my family, and throwing things togeter in a rush because I don't have time and energy to deal with it.   I'm not afraid to put new things on the table (in fact we are in the process of switching to vegan foods at the moment, we have always been meat-eaters) but I think it's important that kids can choose familiar dishes alongside the new ones so it's extra work.  Fortunately vegan food works great as leftovers!  My biggest fight at the moment is trying to get her to eat fruit instead of the candy that everyone gives her.  It feels like the world is against us--even when I stock up the cupboards with healthy snacks she comes home with candy from kindergarten or a play date.

 

I think it's great that you are thinking about your baby's diet already--if you don't plan it well, you could end up missing the critical stage (where they are open to new foods, before they become a toddler.) It is much harder introducing new foods when they are toddler or preschool age.  So it's definitely worth thinking about your long-term ideas about food now.

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#5 of 7 Old 01-18-2012, 01:23 AM
 
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Oh and you probably have one already but if you don't, a good blender or even a cheap coffee grinder makes it easier to add healthy fats (nuts and seeds) to baby's diet to complement the breastfeeding, once you and he are ready for that.

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#6 of 7 Old 01-20-2012, 07:52 PM
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I didn't have much problem with feeding the kids until they weaned.  I just gave them whatever we were having and figured that if they didn't eat it, they would nurse later.  I nursed each of mine for a good while (the first was 28 months, second was 35 months, and the third went for just over four years).  Of course, when they get older they nurse less and eat more--but the nursing always gave me peace of mind. 

 

One thing I liked was a mesh feeder.  I would put grapes and crushed ice in it when they were teething.  The mesh kept the skins from becoming a potential choking hazard and made easy prep for me to include soft fruits/veggies at a fairly young age.  My kids have always liked fruit, raw veggies (once they were old enough to eat raw veggies), and not much else.  My youngest has the widest acceptance of foods.  We are also "transistioning vegans" and so our kids did have meat, dairy, eggs available.  

 

I think that if you always cook the way you cook, that the kids will grow accustomed to it.  As you get to know your child, their likes/dislikes will become apparant and you can adjust as you see fit.  But I wouldn't go into the game that way.  

 

Skip the packaged baby food too.  Super easy to mash stuff yourself.  If it needs to be nearly liquid for them to eat, then they probably don't need it anyways.  Using your own mashed (or well steamed) food will simply teach them that this is what we eat.  If you start with "gerber" or whatever, their palate will become accustomed to bland, tasteless food.  

 

Oh, and I was never a great cook--so I guess that didn't change!

 

Amy


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#7 of 7 Old 01-20-2012, 11:40 PM
 
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The biggest change for me was learning to meal plan. It used to be 4 pm before I even considered dinner. Then it was a quick run to the store for the ingredients I'd need and dinner by 6. With kids that is just too funny to contemplate. Now I make a menu for a week, make a grocery list based on that, and shop once. Today I went to 6 stores with two kids--one was the vet's for cat medicine, and the other was Costco because we're almost out of cat food and rice milk. The third was a specialty store because I needed lemongrass and galangal (my kids love lemak as we do.) Then Trader Joe's which is next to Petsmart where we got dog food. (We'd done Sunflower after library story time.) Shopping with two mobile kids is exhausting, especially a marathon like today--which is out of the norm. Normally we do Trader Joe's and either Sunflower or Whole Foods, depending on what we need.

 

When baby 2 came along, I used the crockpot almost every night. I could fill it up after the kids were in bed then put it in the fridge. In the morning I turned it on and was done for the day. Eventually it got so I could prepare dinner when my husband got home from work and he could watch the kids. Now I can actually start dinner before he gets home. Other than the meal planning, our food didn't change that much with kids.

 

Then our daughter needed a special diet. We went from eating a lot of wheat and cheese dishes to being gluten and dairy free. It was a wonderful change, but it's not so easy any more. Especially since she can't have cane sugar or tomatoes either. I can't rely on packaged foods when the day's been overwhelming. I must really plan what we're going to eat.

 

Our son is 6 and fairly picky these days. He still loves curry and enchiladas, but he just decides he doesn't like something and that's that. So tonight was corn tortillas and scrambled eggs. He ate pasta with sauce. But because I don't force my kids to eat stuff, he will eventually ask to try something he's seen us eat a lot. For instance, I make tortillas out of mung beans. He would not try those tortillas for anything so we just left it alone. Then one day he asked if he could have a bite of my husband's lunch. Now he loves mung bean tortillas.

 

When my son was born I considered it a good day if I got a shower and made the bed. When my daughter was born, I considered it a good day if I got a shower. That says nothing about laundry or sweeping. And forget mopping. Oh, laundry. I posted on facebook that what I REALLY, REALLY, REALLY want is for someone to fold my laundry and sort socks. Since my son was born clean laundry sits in piles in our bedroom. Usually I can fold it on Thursday or Friday. I wash all week long, but folding is a joke. Getting a laundry sorter was a great day. http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B001D4AJNA/ref=oh_o00_s01_i00_details

 

You may find this book about child led weaning very helpful. http://www.amazon.com/Baby-Led-Weaning-Essential-Introducing-Confident/dp/161519021X/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1327131548&sr=8-1

 

Bottom line, just cook, feed your kids what they'll eat, and don't introduce them to junk. The only reason kids love McDonalds is because someone fed it to them. 

 

 


Created an instant family (7/89 and 5/91) in 1997. Made a baby boy 12/05 adopted a baby girl 8/08. Ask me about tandem adoptive nursing. Now living as gluten, dairy, cane sugar, and tomato free vegetarians. Homeschooling and loving it.

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