Imperfect Parents: Cooking Healthy Meals for your Growing Family
The following is a guest post by Samantha Paulino, the leader of our Imperfect parents Facebook group.
What is an Imperfect Parent? All of us. If you have ever looked at that sweet little angel-faced child of yours and thought, “wow, I really need to get out for a few hours,” you might be an Imperfect Parent. If you have decided that fruit snacks might just pass for fruit, you might be an Imperfect Parent. If six rolls around and you have NO idea what the heck is for dinner at least twice a week, you might be an Imperfect Parent. Parenting is hard work, so us Imperfect Parents have to stick together. Here are a few tips that have kept me sane since I became a parent. I hope they work well for you too!
- Feed Your Child the Way YOU See Fit: I followed a feeding plan that was very different than the typical process. My son went from just formula to eating table food (meaning no purees) at six months, instead of starting purees at four months and gradually moving to solids. This worked great for my family. It might not work for yours. One thing I do know is that everyone and their mother (see what I did there) had something to say about what I was feeding my child! With so many voices in my ear, I almost caved but I am so glad that we didn’t. Our son is thriving and has become a happy little eater! Too often we feel pressure from well-meaning family and friends to do things the way they want us to. Do what you feel is right.
- Involve Your Child in Choosing Produce: To get your children to eat fruits and veggies, everyone says to let the kids get in the kitchen with you – which is GREAT! But let’s be honest it can be a little bit of hassle, so why not involve them in the buying process too? Let them pick out a fruit or veggie to add to your box. In my experience, children get excited about things that they feel like they have a say in, even if its something small like adding two mandarins to our box. Then, when the box arrives, make a BIG deal of it! Treat it like you would an Amazon delivery of your favorite bubble bath – get excited! Your enthusiasm will be contagious and they will get excited to eat the fruit or veggie that they helped pick.
- Savor the Entire Process of Making Food: As a child, I learned to cook by watching my Nonna in the kitchen. We would spend a whole Saturday just making things: sauces, cookies, pastas, everything! So block out a few hours on your calendar, put an apron on you and your kiddo, and go on a learning adventure in the kitchen. By taking time to dive in to every step of the process from fridge to fork you will not only teach your child the basics of cooking, you will show them that cooking is an important and enjoyable part of the day!
- Embrace Compromises: You don't need to prepare everything from scratch to serve your family wholesome food. It is also okay to just throw stuff in a pan sometimes! Dinner, like parenting, is full of compromises. Using store-bought ingredients isn't cutting corners; it's something all parents do to get dinner on the table. Using things like canned beans, tubes of tomato paste, or bouillon cubes is a great way to make healthy and delicious dinners faster and less stressful for your whole family. My favorite recipe is “whatever I can make with whatever we have”. Half the fun of having a produce box delivered is how it encourages you to get creative and resourceful with fresh produce.
We are all Imperfect Parents, trying to raise our little ones to be wonderful human beings. So lets remember to work together, build villages around us, and never be too hard on yourself. If this post sparks any questions, thoughts, or responses, I'd love to hear about them in our parents group!