Haha no seriously, this is not some kind of definitive post on how to feed your kid. But sometimes it is just ridiculously hard to come up with ideas on what to get into that little squidgy belly of theirs that a) they will like and b) isn’t somewhat terrible for them. (I mean, the Rocket would eat chips all day, as would I, but it’s probably not recommended in anything but the Fiona Food Pyramid.)
Food can also be something that can really tie into your self-esteem as a parent. Sometimes you’ll turn up to a group outing with a packet of insta-food (Rafferty’s Garden do great ones) while every other adult has prepared something fresh for their kid, and you’ll feel like a lazy parent. If, like Rocket, your kid is a bit undersized, you’ll worry you’re not feeding them enough, or the right things, and then you’ll share your worries with some other parent of a normal-sized kid who will suddenly panic because their kid only eats half as much as yours is, so are they doing it wrong? Some parents pre-make heaps of healthy meals and then freeze them, but I have never been that kind of person and while I desperately wanted to be that kind of excellent, coordinated mother, I just cannot. (I did actually make a bunch of vegetables once and froze them, about seven months ago, and they are still in the freezer in the container I bought specially for the purpose. I don’t even want to unfreeze them because it will probably be gross. I’m thinking I might just buy a whole new fridge so I don’t have to think about it.) Once I spent two hours making these tofu vegetable pancakes that Rocket hoovered down at a potluck, only to have her push them off her high chair onto the floor in disgust. Sometimes she will eat everything I offer her, other times she refuses everything that isn’t bread. So I will say: don’t beat yourself up about food. Do what you can, offer variety, but look at the big picture, over a week or so, not that day where all your kid ate was sultanas from underneath the couch and eight hot chips from when you had lunch at the shops. And what you offer your kid compared to what your friends offer theirs does not in any way indicate who is a better parent or who loves their kid more.
That boring telling-off over, here’s what I tend to do. Sometimes she can eat what we’re having, but sometimes our food is a little spicy or awkward or too chewy etc etc so I mostly give her her own thing to munch on. Here’s just a few of the things I feed the kiddo, that she’s loved repeatedly, and if you have any excellent ideas I would love to hear them too. I especially like things she can feed herself, because that means I can eat my own food in peace without having her scream at me for being too slow on the spoon front. I AM NOT YOUR SLAVE, BABY. (I am totally her slave.)
1. Vegemite Sandwich. Never underestimate the Vegemite sandwich. Warning: you will get jealous, so make sure you have enough to make your own. Warning 2: it will go everywhere.
2. Baked beans. I chop up some spinach to go with them. Warning: you will get jealous, so make sure you have enough so that you can eat some, for temperature testing purposes of course.
3. Squishy packet of supermarket baby food + pasta. These packets are lifesavers, and I usually have one in my bag for a good snack and about ten in the house to add to things. They’re often pureed but you can get other types, meaty/fishy ones too, but I get the vegetable ones and they have no additives. (You know they’re telling the truth because they look totally unappealing.) Add them to couscous, quinoa, pasta, or when your kid is hungry, give them one to suck on. It’s fun because they can do it themselves, it’s not fun because they can get excited and fling them around, getting pureed swede on your newly cleaned floor dammit.
4. Felafel (I get the Macro ones that are interesting flavours, like split pea and spinach, or smoky eggplant, etc etc) mashed up into a bowl with other smooshy things, like avocados, cheese if you’re into dairy, hommous maybe, stuff like that.
5. One thing I make which takes no time and makes enough for maybe three meals is this. 1 can lentils (I mean, sure, soak, drain, and boil your own, but I am never that prepared.) 1 handful frozen peas, thawed. 1 little can corn. Put one third of each amount in a bowl and fridge the rest. Add 1/2 avocado. Mush together. The Rocket goes nuts for this. I’ve also used other bean things when I opened my can of lentils and discovered it had expired, even though I had bought it that day. (Putting the gross into grocery store, guys.) So, three bean mix, or maybe kidney beans, whatevs.
6. I am suddenly forgetting everything else I make.
7. My actual reason for this post was because I’d had a good success the other day with these tofu strips. We had a picnic on the State Library Lawn with my friend Steph and she’d contributed some marinated and fried tofu for the adults, but the Rocket got her hands on them and totally went for it. I demanded a step-by-step instruction text, because I am terrible at winging it with food, and made them. Fresh, they are crispy and SUPER GOOD. I ate them alongside her and am scheming ways to put them in grown-up dinners and sandwiches.
i. Get some of the firmest tofu you can, so it holds its shape. I went for the Macro brand again. Use about half a block, it makes enough for you *and* them.
ii. Not sure if this is necessary, but I pressed it to get the water out: you fold some paper towel, put the tofu on it, add more paper towel, then put a weight on top. (I used 1001 Books to Read Before You Die.) Leave as long as you can. I probably waited quarter of an hour.
iii. Slice into rectangles maybe half a centimetre thick. Or whatever. I’m not the boss of you.
iv. Make a marinade of 1tbsp soy sauce and 1tbsp Chinese 5spice powder. Coat tofu strips. Leave to marinate at least ten minutes probably.
v. Fry in a bit of oil, flipping over halfway, until golden brown.
vi. Eat them, MAKE MORE, share with the kid I guess. I left some in the marinade overnight and the next day they were good too. I served them to the Rocket with a bunch of peas and pasta (i.e. all lazy finger foods) and she ate every single bit apart from five peas that escaped the table. SUCCESS.
Thus ends a lecture on food for one-year-olds. You better have paid attention, because there will be a test.*
*This is lies.