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Fast Food for Babies

I’m a fairly new mom (my daughter is 18 months old), and so far my observations  in the realm of babies and food are that: babies eat frequently throughout the day; babies are not known for their patience; babies tend to eat dinner much earlier than adults.

All this adds up to the conclusion that it’s really important to be prepared for assembling wholesome meals for your little one at a moment’s notice.

My daughter is old enough to eat the same things I do, but the timing for that doesn’t always work out. I like to be prepared with lots of options to pull together a quick dinner or lunch for her.

Here are my tips for making good food, fast, for babies.

Play favorites

Identify some of your baby’s favorite things to eat, and try to have supplies on hand at all times for making them.

  • Avocado toast — In my book, this is a great meal for any age, and it doesn’t get simpler. The key is having a ripe avocado on hand. Toast a slice of bread or an English muffin. Spread some avocado on top. Cut into pieces and serve. For adults, sprinkle with fleur de sel.
  • Roasted sweet potatoes — I roast several at a time and store in the fridge.
  • Hummus — For dipping crackers or steamed green beans.
  • Macaroni and cheese (yes, it happens) — Stir in garbanzo beans or steamed cauliflower florets to round it out a little.

Stock up

Grocery shopping takes on new importance. It’s not as easy to postpone this task when you start to run low on certain favorite items. Some staples that make frequent appearances on my grocery list, for their reliability in delighting my daughter, and for their ease in turning into a meal or a snack, are:

  • Fresh produce: Bananas, avocados, berries, clementines, melon, broccoli, sweet potatoes and butternut squash
  • Frozen: Whole grains, veggie burgers, fruits (especially cherries) and vegetables (especially green beans and edamame), whole grain waffles, potstickers
  • Pantry staples: Canned beans, couscous, pasta, oats, red lentils (they cook in just 20 minutes!), applesauce, pouches of fruit and vegetable purees (for those times when we’re on an outing and in a pinch)
  • Dairy, eggs and cheese: Plain yogurt, cottage cheese, mild cheddar, grated Parmesan, eggs (scramble or hard-boil for egg salad)

Double up

Look closely to figure out how you can maximize your time in the kitchen. Some things I like to do to stay ahead of baby’s meals and snacks:

  • While making breakfast, steam green beans or broccoli to have ready for including in a lunch or dinner.
  • When baking, roast a butternut squash or sweet potato at the same time. Roast at 375°F until tender, 30 minutes to an hour (depending on the size of the potato or squash).
  • When cutting cheese into cubes or slicing strawberries, go ahead and fill several snack containers on hand.

Take out

Identify some to-go options that work for everyone in your family for those evenings when you are running late, haven’t swung by the store as planned, or just don’t feel like cooking.

  • Indian: Rice is always a hit, and there are frequently leftovers. I mash avocado or shredded cheese into the rice, and serve with a spoon or shape into little balls. Other baby-pleasers in our house: mango lassi, chana masala and saag paneer.
  • Tex-Mex: Rice again, along with beans, tortillas, avocados and cheese. What’s a baby not to like?

What are your tips for fast food for babies? I love hearing what works for others!

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Sandy Murphy says …

Hi, Kate: I have 2 grandsons in California....ages 3 and 10 months....nice to see you're feeding your daughter healthy food! Avocado was an early favorite of both my grandsons....which is great. The now 3-yr old also loves mangoes and berries.....they have a vegetable garden, so it is fun for the boys to eat what they grow. Best to you.

Pavani says …

My 11 month old seems to enjoy 'real' food more than baby food and I'm looking forward to the day when I don't have to make baby food anymore :-) But for now we are slowly transitioning over and I'm sure these tips will come handy pretty soon. Thanks for these useful tips.

Katie Burgis says …

One of our favorites this summer has been sautéed onions with summer squash added to steam. Once liquid from the squash forms, add quinoa till cooked. My 18 month old granddaughter LOVES it. I added fresh rosemary last time also. Now I'm bringing it to work for lunch too! Zucchini and fresh tomato sautéed works too. Use bulgur for a change.

Melissa Kentros says …

My 14 month old doesn't eat any of that lol my 3 year old barely eats any fruits or veggies other than the Ella's pouches. I will keep trying!! Your pointers seem very logical & hope that I can follow through on my end. Thanks for the tips. :)

Linda says …

These are great tips for Moms...my grandson is 16 months old and a picky eater. Any additional suggestions would be greatly welcomed. Thanks so much!

Chrisina says …

I really like these recipes.......... what about if you made cherry tomatoes cut them in half then get cucumbers and have those in 4ths and then sprinkle a little italian dressing and there you go!

Christine Rupprecht says …

Great suggestions, as a Grandma I plan to always have some of your suggestions available when the grandkids come to visit!