Saturday, October 11, 2008

Working Mom Toddler Food

When M was little and just breastfed or maybe ate a few solids, the whole working mom thing was easy. Sure, I pumped at work, fed her right before daycare, and right away the moment I walked in the door at home. When she started eating real, you know, normal people food I started having issues.

We knew from the start that we didn't want to get in the habit of just feeding her "kid" food. The processed stuff is full of things we didn't want, especially sodium. Good food habits start early too, and we had seen how busy parents we knew (with now 23 year old kids, lest anyone thing I'm talking about them) had ended up with kids who wouldn't eat anything except bread, meat and cheese. However, working doesn't make that easy. It is time to eat the moment I get in the door.

Most of the time, she eats what we eat, or what we ate last night since it is ready right away. But sometimes there are no leftovers, or we're being slackers and eating malt-o-meal for dinner. I can steam veggies for her quickly, and I alway do a couple of servings worth, but my challenge has always been protein. Easily portioned food she would eat. (the kid still isn't as big of a fan of chicken as I'd like)

My solution, mama's meatballs. I make little meat balls that I freeze and can reheat a portion at a time. Here is my basic recipe:

1 lb lean ground beef (sometimes I double it or use half ground turkey)

combine in mixer (love my kitchen aid, saves huge amounts of time with this one) using batter attachment.

1 Tb each of dried basil, dried oregano, dried thyme.
ground pepper to taste
1/2 tsp of garlic or three cloves finely chopped (she eats the more quickly the more garlicy they are)

1/3 cup plain breadcrumbs (optional)

Make sure to lock the mixer, and mix until combined

Portion into small meatballs. Another time saver, I use an ice cream scoop, the spring loaded kind (thank you Alton Brown for that idea) and I get 16 per pound. Two meatballs is an ideal serving size, 2 oz of meat. Roll. Brown in a pan with a little olive oil. (Eventually I want to try baking them in the oven in muffin tins like I saw on Good Eats, but so far it hasn't been cool enough. )Then simmer on low for at least an hour (I've gone close to two hours with a large batch in a larger pot), in a mixture of 1/2 jar commerical pasta sauce (I use a higher end brand) and and equal amount of water. Make sure to put a tight lid on it. If it isn't covered tightly enough, you may need to add more water to keep it from burning.

Lay on cookie sheet, freeze, then transfer to a bag or some such. M couldn't have tomatoes because of the acid for a long time, but this was mellow enough since I took them out of the sauce. They are really flavorful, but still healthier than processed food. It is a bit of work to make, but I think it pays off in knowing she's getting good food.

My other favorite shortcut, just make her a cheese omelet. The loves them.

I've been meaning to write about my meatballs for awhile, but I finally did it because of the Blog Blast at PBN, sponsored by Ore-Ida (time to make some tater tot hotdish). I am curious about the whole steamed mashed potatoes, since I'm totally loving steam in bag spinach.


Jill said...

Grilled cheese sandwiches rock at our house, esp for lunch. As do tortillas spread with pb and rolled up. Protein & carbs in one.

Calee said...

These sound tasty for me, not just the toddler!

April said...


Christina said...

We give in way too much to processed foods. But it's because I'm a lousy cook and we're both lazy.

May have to give these a try, though.