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Bad cook needs HELP with real food for toddler

(21 Posts)
MichaelaS Fri 03-Jun-11 00:21:54

Right, time to do something about my guilt trip and ask for your help.

I am a kitchen novice and a vegetarian. I eat mostly pasta, pizza, bread products (tea tonight was crumpets after some tapas in a cafe earlier on). I dp cook sometimes - things like yorkshire puddings and I have a few things I dabble with - such as soup and even bread. I can follow a recipe and get an OK result, but with a busy toddler and a demanding part time job I struggle to motivate myself in the kitchen for everyday food week in, week out rather than one off herculean efforts for a dinner party or special occasion.

My DS has been eating mostly jar food since being weaned, he had some issues eating lumps and needed high calorie food for medical reasons and I seem to have got into a habit now. We don't tend to have a lot of baby-led-weaning type of veg in and when I have tried buying things a lot ends up in the bin. I'm just struggling to translate my desire to do more with my crapness to actually do it!

I'd love to start making some family dishes we can all eat, or even just doing more home cooked things, but i'm a bit scared of the amount of effort it will take and whether i'll be any good at it. My DH is a big meat eater but quite critical about how others cook food, and I don't want to spend hours chopping veg if I can help it.

So please can you help me out with simple suggestions for what I can try that will be relatively easy to prepare for a kitchen novice? It'd be good if I could cook say 3 meals from scratch a week, my DH can do a similar amount, and between us and DS's nursery he'd be getting the majority of his food home cooked rather than processed. I just don't want to teach him bad food habits because I have them, I want him to have a better attitude to fruit and veg than I do. Help!

coansha Fri 03-Jun-11 00:56:23

do you eat eggs?? Spanish Tortilla (omelette ) is really easy and my DD's loved it from an early age. I cheat with the cooking a bit to speed it up but takes approx 30 mins.
Eggs are great meal if you eat them and very quick with toast(soldiers) and boiled.
Do you eat fish? as home made fish & chips is another firm favourite and really tasty?
Am not veggie but 2 friends are and eat fish/eggs, if you dont I would suggest getting a good easy cook book(go library or search online).
Cous cous is another easy option and you can add lost of lovely roast veg to it and spices, roast sweet potato is delicious.
Let me know if you eat eggs and fish and I will put the recipe on here.
Dont beat yourself up about it as you can see it needs sorting out and are doing it.
My eldest DD as a baby would only eat 6 flavours of bottles meals, rotated and I bought every book in the world for babies cooking. DD #2 would only eat my cooked food but 5 meals and again in rotation!! It didnt last long but drove me insane at the time. Luckily it was quickly sorted and now both love food & my cooking to the point that they ask what's for dinner at breakfast or request favourites.
let me know about the recipes

isthismadness Fri 03-Jun-11 01:04:41

Coansha how did you sort it? Hijack sorry. Ds will eat only my food, about 20 diff meals (not bad I know) but he won't even try anything new! He loves fruit etc and meals are healthy but that's not the issue

isthismadness Fri 03-Jun-11 01:06:25

Michaela a tip is when you do cook something that is a massive effort cook double or even triple quantities and freeZe in child sized portions. Just bung in microwave when you need later on. Eg fish pie lasagne chicken or lamb stew

coansha Fri 03-Jun-11 04:45:45

I did add tiny bits of other food onto the "set" meals they would eat, just building it up really, takes determination and gave ordinary food fabulous names, Like Princess Sophie pie(if u have a sophie) etc, my sis used to called fish goujons karate sticks... its laborious to the extreme but from then on it just got better, now at 10 & 13 they love EVERYTHING!! And make cooking a game, get them to choose with you etc,
I used to tell them if we didnt hurry up the boy next door would steal it, terrible I know but it worked for a while and then had to think of another.
It will pass honest and then you look back think it wasn't that bad but at the time gave me sleepless nights, pathetic but true.
Oh , one more thing I gave them vitamins too, liquid ones, hidden!
You just get crafty, adding cheese to mash and milk to sauces and grated veg, I should have been in vegetable espionage.

coansha Fri 03-Jun-11 04:48:54

Totally agree with isthismadness , I batch cook too, excellent idea, enough for an army my mother says but when you feel crap or running late its fabulous to heat it up and no worries. I have curry, chilli, spag bol and beef casserole in my freezer.

peasandlove Fri 03-Jun-11 05:13:42

you could also give your toddler meze style plates. I make for my DD 2.5 maybe a cooked sausage or a small piece of fish, a chopped up tomato, chopped cucumber, a few cubes of cheese, some olives, carrot sticks, sometimes pasta (fusilli,etc)
she loves these and usually eats it all.

you dont have to give them a cooked meal every day

CogitoErgoSometimes Fri 03-Jun-11 08:10:35

I also batch cook popular dishes -usually at the weekend when I've got more time. I have hundreds of those 'Tub-Its' boxes with lids. Lasagne cut into portions, bolognese sauce, various casseroles all feature in the freezer. Baked beans or scrambled eggs and toast fingers never fails either smile

ppeatfruit Fri 03-Jun-11 13:15:01

A brill. way to use up veg is to make soup (IMO the more veg. used the better the flavour)you can make hot in the cold weather and cold in the heat. i use a hand blender and only use one container.

ppeatfruit Fri 03-Jun-11 13:19:05

Veg. soup cont......You can chop up the veg anywhere and yr L.O. can help (give an easy veg,. and blunt knife and watch like a hawk!) they also like to sample what's being chopped!

MichaelaS Fri 03-Jun-11 15:21:07

great ideas, thanks! I do eat eggs but not fish so omlette based stuff with veg on would be a good idea. I could do a spag bol (child friendly - our grown up ones always have lashings of red wine in!) and a chilli at a push, and freeze portions.

like the meze idea too - I could use left over veg for soup.... hmmm.... ideas are bubbling thanks!

Any more advice?

JetLi Fri 03-Jun-11 17:40:51

Don't worry about booze in cooking - the heat evaporates all the alcohol off so your spag bol will be fine for the toddler.

chubbly Sat 04-Jun-11 08:00:34

Hi! We have toad in the hole with quorn sausages and veg; make the batter in the morning, then you just need to shove things into the oven when you get back in evening. Also frozen veg is a quick one - my dd loves picking at sweetcorn, peas, broadbeans; they are easy to just bung into pans with some butter too.
By far the favourite is sweet potato and feta with yet more sausages. Chunck up sweet potato, normal potato and an onion, cover in oil, add thyme and/or rosemary sprigs and a couple of garlic cloves. If you are using veggie sausages shove these in too (i would cook meat ones separately). All goes in the oven. When it's cooked (potatoes are soft) crumble over feta cheese and squeeze of lemon. It takes no time as everything is in the oven, plus you can mash up the potatoes for your toddler whist he can still try chewing pieces of sausage.

chubbly Sat 04-Jun-11 09:44:54

Ooooh and you can premake garlic butter, buy a block of butter, loads of parsley etc. Make up and put in fridge to re-harden, roll into large sausage and wrap in clingfilm. You can then freeze it and cut off slices to wedge into baguettes and pop in oven along side anything else you are oven cooking. It's a high calorie quick snack or side dish.

ppeatfruit Sat 04-Jun-11 13:49:14

I often batch cook whole rice and quinoa they're both really nutritious and can be frozen easily ready to add yr veg to in the week.

ppeatfruit Sat 04-Jun-11 13:58:56

And defrosted for risotto, rice pudding, quinoa salad it's nice hot too gently fried with garlic and onions smile

isthismadness Sun 05-Jun-11 14:42:08

Coansha sorry late coming back to this thanks for your tips!

MegBusset Sun 05-Jun-11 15:00:53

I too am a lousy cook but try to make myself where poss. Pasta + sauce is a staple in our house. Cheese sauce is dead easy to make, so's tomato sauce (I can post recipes if you like). The cheese sauce can be used for cauli cheese etc. Tomato sauce you can have with meatballs (I buy Tesco meatballs as life's too short but you can home make and freeze if you like).

isthismadness Sun 05-Jun-11 15:04:04

Ps the red wine boils off so you can pit in kiddie version if it's left to simmer for a while eg half hour

nometime Sun 05-Jun-11 15:11:18

One ds is near vegetarian (we're not as a family) but I do him things using Quorn mince like, bolognaise, lasagne and chilli (mild). I also use the Quorn sausages and when we BBQ he has their burgers or a piece of fish. Though his all time favourite is macaroni cheese.

If you can master a quick cheese sauce the world is your oyster (so to speak!).

I know you don't eat fish but if you don't mind him eating it it really is an excellent source of easily digested protein and does make going out to eat very much easier. Before anybody jumps on me we have found that vegetarian dishes in pubs and restaurants tend to be quite "grown up" but you can usually always get a nice fish dish, whether it be fish pie or fish and chips!!

RhinestoneCowgirl Sun 05-Jun-11 15:21:07

I'm no longer veggie but we only have meat 1-2 a week, so I cook mostly veggie meals.

I do a veg & kidney bean soup to use up odds and ends of veg - usually has garlic/herbs, onion, potato, carrot as a base then maybe red pepper, leeks, few mushrooms, bit of courgette etc. Then add a drained can of kidney beans, can of chopped tomatoes and water to cover. Simmer until everything is soft. DH likes it pureed (yuk) I prefer it chunky.

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