Planning your Baby’s Meals Ahead

I have been brought up eating homecooked food by my late grandmother throughout my growing years and even as a busy working part time mother and stay at home mom, I am committed to bring up Matilda the same way. I believe good nutrition starts from home and the heart. I have been cooking for her since she started weaning and I am always constantly ensuring she is eating well, trying with new ingredients. Fresh ones.

I came across this term ” Baby Weekly Meal Planner’ in my baby weaning reference book by Annabel Karmel. Basically, it is to draft out what your baby is going to have for breakfast, lunch, teatime and dinner for the week. It is simple, just draw out a table with 7 columns for 7 days of the week and 4 rows across the columns to indicate ” Breakfast/ Lunch/ Teatime/ Dinner”. Fill in with the recipe name within the boxes.

I dont usually plan one but when I predict that the coming week may be hectic and more unpredictable, I will plan one to ensure that my baby has enough food and that I am not over exhausted out from rushing to shop for groceries and to cook. It is also a bit more challenging to find time and energy to cook for 8months old Matilda as her gourmet repertoire expands and also for ourselves.

So, here’s my personal insights on why you would want to have a weekly meal planner.

1.) Saves time and costs on groceries

Have you ever been caught in situations where cooking is aborted because you forget to buy certain ingredients or simply run out of it? Meal planning helps you to see the overview for that week and you can get all the ingredients you need in one or two groceries shopping trips. And the best part is there might be some discounts when you buy more.

2.) Reduce throwing out expired ingredients

For that week, have recipes that contain a few common ingredients so that you are not just getting a particular vegetable just for that dish only. Because usually, some extras usually ended up turning bad or we used that ingredient just once and probably chuck it aside until we forgot about it. For example, I will make Braised Beef and Chicken Stew, so I know I will have carrots and sweet potatoes as the common ingredients. I will probably not make Spinach with Fish and Braised Beef together as that means I will have to get more different ingredients altogether.

3.) Makes meals storage manageable

Unless you really have more time on hand and cooks fresh daily, or have a big fridge and plenty of storage cups, you need to work out if there are enough storage cups or fridge space to go around. I ever got over ambitious and made 2 dishes in one session and forgotten that I had some meals in the storage cups in the freezer. I ended up using other food containers of all sorts and squeezed them into the freezer. You can also calculate the number of portions you will get from the recipes or something else you have worked out based on your child’s consumption.

4.) Extras for the dinner table

Dont be surprised that actually there are many baby food recipes that taste so good even without seasoning. Planning for meals for your baby may also mean you can cook extra and serve them on the dinner table for the entire family. For me, I cook extras for my dog and stopped buying dog canned food and save a huge chunk. My dog loves baby food too!

It takes some practice, patience and lots of love to do it for your child. The results is often fulfilling and remarkable. I like to share what I cooked on my Instagram. Follow me on Instagram @mamaandmatilda.

Salmon with Carrots and Tomatoes

Salmon with Carrots and Tomatoes

Salmon with Carrots and Tomatoes

This is a recipe from Annabel Karmel’s ” The Healthy Baby Meal Planner”. This dish tastes naturally sweet, thanks to the carrots and tomatoes used. It also has a strong savoury taste from the cheddar cheese that goes very well with the salmon fish. As usual, I have also added baby pasta to go along with it. Ideal for introducing texture into baby’s food

Salmon with Carrots and Tomatoes

Salmon with Carrots and Tomatoes

Fish with Spinach and Cheese

Fish with Spinach and Cheese

Fish with Spinach and Cheese

This is a recipe from Annabel Karmel’s ” The Healthy Baby Meal Planner”. Combining cheese sauce with fish and vegetables is a good way to hide some of these food if baby doesnt like them. The creamy cheese does a very good job of masking the bitter taste of spinach and is extremely yummy.

What I love about this dish is the use of some peppercorn and bay leaf which gives this dish its distinctive aroma. I substituted codfish with flounder fish because I like codfish for its less fishy smell, lesser bones and high in DHA content. This dish is full iron packed with spinach for young babies’ growth at this stage. I also like to add in baby pasta to add texture. Matilda, like me, loves pasta very much.

Fish with Spinach and Chese

Fish with Spinach and Chese

 

Chicken in Tomato Sauce

Chicken in Tomato Sauce

Chicken in Tomato Sauce

This is a recipe from Annabel Karmel’s ” The Healthy Baby Meal Planner”. This dish is good itself for the entire family too. Its naturally sweet flavour are from the root vegetables and chicken. Blend this dish very thoroughly to avoid chunky and tough chicken shreds which your baby cant swallow at this time. Easy to make and ingredients are cheap and easily available too. Dive into it!

Chicken in tomato paste

Chicken in tomato sauce

Dried Apricots with Papaya and Pear

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This is a recipe from Annabel Karmel’s ” The Healthy Baby Meal Planner”. I replaced papaya with apples as I did not have papaya on that day, but still, it turned out fantastic. This dark gold caramel liked syrup is robust in flavour with the dried apricots. An excellent recipe for babies who have done their first tastes on papaya/apple and pear.

Note: Use only sulfur free dried apricots. Usually, the packaging will indicate whether it is sulfur free or not. On the ingredients list, it is shown as sulfur or sulfure dioxide. Sulfur may trigger asthma attacks in some babies, so be safe. Sulfur is also used to preserve the bright orange color of apricot flesh for aesthetic purplse. Sulfur free dried apricots are darker brown in color. You can get them from organic stores or well stocked supermarkets. They are usually more expensive though.

One of Matty’s favourite dessert for tea time.

dried apricots with papaya and pear

dried apricots with papaya and pear

Leek with Potato Puree

leek and potato puree

leek and potato puree

This is a recipe from Annabel Karmel’s ” The Healthy Baby Meal Planner”. Looks like your ordinary mashed potato or in baby weaning term, it is potato puree. Leek and potato puree makes a fantastic combination and an excellent way to hide those green in your baby food. In addition, butter makes this dish bursting with rich aroma. So good that I stole a few bites from Matty.

Leek with Potato Puree

Leek with Potato Puree

Braised Beef with Sweet Potatoes

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This is a recipe from Annabel Karmel’s ” The Healthy Baby Meal Planner”. I tried it today and it was whooping good. The sweet potatoes  brings out the full flavour of the beef,and combination of leek sauted in butter boosts up aroma of this entire dish.

Pretty simple to make and I think it will go just as well with pork or chicken. I had modified the cooking method because I don’t have an oven so I boiled the sweet potatoes so that they will turn soft quickly to blend them togethewith the beef and leek mixture. I suggest it can go well with couscous.

My tip: When blending, you can add more gravy to make the puree more moist so that they can be poured over couscous and serve together for your baby. Couscous is a middle eastern staple that cooks extremely quickly. It is very nutritious and soft enough to feed a weaning baby.

So here is my Braised Beef with Sweet Potatoes.

Braised Beef with Sweet Potato, by Annabel Karmel

Braised Beef with Sweet Potatoes

Recommended book for all about Baby Weaning

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” The Healthy Baby Meal Planner” by Annabel Karmel, the bestselling author on nutrition and cooking for babies.

This is a very pretty cookbook that will sit nicely on any shelf with adorable veggie illustrations and brilliant photographs. This is my one and only cookbook that I used for baby weaning as it suffices what I need to know all about this milestone. From essential vitamins, cooking methods, dos and donts,what to offer and what not, suggested weekly meal planner and health concerns.

However, if you are already someone who has been in the kitchen long enough, you might think what’s the big deal about mixing some carrots, potatoes and chicken together and puree them? Sure enough, these are not some out of the world gourmet recipes but a noob like me are totally clueless to what I can cook to make weaning an enjoyable journey for us.

This cookbook provides ample recipes from 6 months old to toddler age.