Monday, July 01, 2013

Mommy Mondays: Cooking with Kids

I know I talk a lot about Thatbaby's eating habits, but really, given the focus of this blog, that makes sense.

Most of the meals I make are "kid-friendly" to an extent.  As I've mentioned, Thatbaby is not a fan of spice.  Which means that many nights I make some modifications to his meal while I'm cooking so he has a version with less heat.   I'll start including these "toddler tune ups" with my main recipe, so you know the best way to adapt them for little eaters.

Another thing I rarely write about is how I'm able to cook these meals while still taking care of a toddler.  Because if you have a child, you know that they lack any semblance of patience.  And kitchen time becomes a precious commodity.  Thatbaby is no exceptions.  I pick him up from daycare between 5 and 5:30.  From the moment we get home, he's asking to "eat, eat."  There is no time to leisurely prepare an elaborate, gourmet meal.  I have several solutions to this problem.

1) The Reheater.  Now that the weather is nice, and the days are long, I try to take advantage of it by going for a run after dinner.  This means dinner needs to be ready moments after we get home.  The benefit of this is that it keeps my STARVING baby happy.  I accomplish this by cooking the meal the night before, after Thatbaby is in bed.  Then, when we get home, all I have to do is reheat!  Cold meals like salads are even easier because I don't have to worry about reheating.

2) Playtime in the Kitchen.  When the days aren't so long, I do try to make dinner at dinner time.  To do this, I try to have special toys to preoccupy Thatbaby.  Kitchen toys.  Some people let their children raid their tupperware cupboard.  I usually just hand Thatbaby a bowl and a spoon.  Or his special spatulas.  And he adores my silicone baking cups.  Sometimes that's enough.  Other times we turn to:

3) Snack Attack.  We have a little plant stand that Thatbaby has commandeered as his table.  He loves to eat in the kitchen on his table.  The best snack for distraction is frozen corn and frozen peas.  This is obviously going to vary by child.  I'm sure I have one of the few freaks of nature that loves frozen veggies.  These work especially well because they take him a while to get through.

4) Mother's Little Helper.  When all else fails, or when he asks to help, Thatbaby helps me make dinner.  Because I'm lacking in the height department, we have a stepstool in the kitchen that lets me reach higher shelves.  It also works as Thatbaby's "helper stool."  When Thatbaby wants me to hold him while I cook, I pull the stool over.  Now I ask him if he wants to help and he starts pulling the stool over.  He stands on the stool and helps me stir, add ingredients, or munch on the vegetables I'm chopping.  This is a sure fire way to keep him busy while I get things ready.  And I think he likes when I give him credit for making dinner.


  1. I feel like I'm going to go crazy trying to entertain a future child while I"m cooking dinner! Great tips.

  2. Right now N just plays in his jumper while I try and do everything as fast as possible. I can already tell that he will be a kitchen toys type of kid though. Some Tupperware has already made it into the toy box

  3. That's a great idea! H wants UP and will wraps his legs around my waist and cling if I try to put him down so I can use two hands for something.

    He likes pressing the buttons on the microwave, and opening and shutting the cupboard doors (so, so helpful).

    In the mornings,he likes to play with a wooden spoon and a saucepan, which I usually lovingly give to him when Daddy is sleeping in and Mama wants him to wake up and come help... *evil grin*

    I love the stool idea. Does he understand the concept of "hot" and "don't touch"??

    1. He definitely gets "hot" and we've been using that with the stove since he could understand three concept. Whether the oven was actually on or not. So he knows he can't touch the stove or anything in it.