I don't know about you but for years I was going to Parent and Tots groups which finish just before lunch. My son has never been great at hanging on for food and for a long time also went down for a nap straight after he'd finished his plate. I thought I'd put together a short roundup of great things to make when you're really short of time and have a hungry, tired baby or toddler who needs food quick followed by a long snooze!
I love pasta for quick food. A great one for this is bolognese sauce made in a slow cooker; prep in the morning over breakfast, come back and it's done. Pasta only takes 10 minutes to cook from dried or even less if you're using the quick cooking kind or fresh pasta so this means you're ready to eat in no time and no standing over a stove to get there. The other great thing when they're really small is you can run the cooked pasta under a cold tap then mix with the hot sauce so that the overall dish cools down super quick. I remember those days of jiggling a hungry baby saying "it just needs to cool down". Pasta is also pretty popular with kids in general and the great thing about my bolognese recipe is it's a fantastic source of hidden vegetables and iron as it contains beef and chicken livers. Alternatively if you grill the peppers in advance, this amazingly tasty and gorgeous looking sausage pasta is a about a 12 minute job.
Sandwiches. Yawn! Yes I know but especially if you're going on somewhere else they are the portable lunch. Just keep an eye on salt content, especially for babies. My son though has been particularly partial to a pate sandwich since he was about 13 months old. It's amazing what strong flavours kids love.
Alternatively mix it up a bit by making Quesadillas. You can put almost anything in these as long as you include cheese (a great way of hiding vegetables.) Make it more interesting for you by adding some salsa on the side.
But then we come back to comfort food. Anything on toast! Why not try low sugar and salt baked beans? (Chose the type without added sweeteners though.) Or perhaps scrambled egg? Although these might not look like healthy options, beans count towards one of your five a day and eggs are one of the few dietary sources of vitamin D; a nutrient many kids are short of.
Alternatively, scrub some jacket potatoes, prick and put in the oven with a timer to come on. Just don't forget to set the heat to come on too! (I once managed to do this and came back to raw, hard potatoes which was very disappointing!)
I came up with the idea for Sweetcorn Fritters when I was stuck with less than 10 minutes before complete hunger related meltdown! I must have made them fifty times or more now and they always go down well. I can't believe I didn't think of them earlier because it's a great idea to have in the back of your mind when your child has had one of those days where every vegetable gets refused (they all have them!)
Then think about leftovers. What can you make in an evening to eat hot and have cold the next day once you come back from your playgroup? Sausage plait is a great idea. Or why not make small hidden vegetable sausage rolls or even vegetarian 'sausage' rolls?
Soup isn't just for winter either. This tomato and pesto soup takes 10 minutes to cook and my son is always pretty keen when he has it. Not sugar free but a small amount when you take into account the portion size.
Anything noodles is great and these Singapore noodles are interesting, different for kids, tasty and less than 10 minutes start to finish.
It might not sound healthy but fried rice is a cunning way to get your child to eat more healthily. Yes, really! Use some spray oil so it's not really fatty if you like and you can cunningly sneak the vegetables in. I love this mushroom fried rice and sometimes get some peas in too. It's one of my son's favourite meals; if you use easy cook basmati, it takes no more than 12 mins to cook!
So I hope I've convinced you, there is no need to reach for the toddler ready meal or jar and, if you think about the wealth of meals you could have in your freezer; from meatballs to soups and stews, you need never be short of a decent meal!
Delicious home made food is possible and absolutely within your reach in minutes!