Dancing Mama – Nutrition Day 4 – Baby Budget


We’ve been living on a baby budget since baby was born. If this is the time to take advantage of the wonderful benefits we have in this country for low-income families this will be it for me.

Discovering the Healthy Start initiative for families on low incomes was a saviour for us. As freelancers living off a small maternity monthly pay out for me we are entitled to healthy start vouchers giving us a certain amount each month off of fruit and vegetables, milk, baby formula (although  I’ve not regularly bought this ) and vitamins for me and Baby-O, from many major supermarkets. I’m yet to find any independent F&V stores that take them – and not sure it would be worthwhile for them to take them.

Learning to shop and cook on a low budget but still making tasty food has been a fun challenge for me. We’ve tried cutting down on meat we’ve tried going vegetarian and I’m still not sure how to cook sufficient food that will sustain us without meat. I know it can be done but we are a work in progress.

Although it drives me mad that organic produce is more expensive than non-organic I have tried to use organic for Baby-O where possible and therefore largely our diet consists of lots of fruit and veg and easy to throw together meals, cutting down on meat to allow for the slight luxury of organic.

I keep the store cupboards stocked up with red lentils, pulses, whole wheat pasta and lots of dried spices, so I know veggie dishes, although basic, can be bulked out with protein and with different flavours. As I mentioned yesterday, I’m cooking in bulk and freezing meals so I try to minimise wastage of some F&V that many not always get eaten up.

Now baby led weaning is underway and Baby-O is eating breakfast with us, the cheapest and most sustainable breakfast I know is porridge. I’ve been mixing it up depending on what fruit we have in, always mixing in full fat cow’s milk and a couple of dollops of full fat Greek yoghurt on the side has been a winner. My fave additions are:

*Apple or pear chopped into tiny pieces mixed into the porridge has gone down well.

*Frozen berries mixed in whilst the porridge is still on the heat to defrost them makes for a fun pink porridge.

*Always mashed banana mixed in with some cinnamon

*Dates soaked overnight, chopped and using the sweet water the next day to cook the porridge has been an occasional addition (dont want baby poop overload!)

*I’ve been adding a little peanut butter as I understand after 6 months babies can have peanut butter to help build up immunity to nut allergies.

I’ve learnt a lot since being off work about how to cook yummy things with very few but healthy ingredients and this will be a good life skill which is going to continue with me as Baby-O grows up.

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Dancing Mama – Day 3 Nutrition – The Freezer Friend

 

I love days when I look in my fridge and it’s so uninspiring that I’m considering ordering takeout. But then I remember the goodies I have in my freezer. As long as I can motivate myself and find time to prepare vegetables in advance or buy them ready prepared from the freezer department, I can quite often be creative enough to cobble together lunch or dinner from the contents of my freezer.

Preparing baby food in advance or cooking in bulk and freezing means I can easily grab something for her dinner and cook it quickly. So when she’s grizzly and hungry food can be in front of her in a matter of moments. I’ve been told about using ice cube trays to store mashed vegetables. As baby gets older she has more ‘cubes’ of food per portion but it really helps to manage her mealtimes without chunky tubs, when freezer space is at a premium.

As long as I have some good staples in the freezer I can also get something nutritious and satisfying for my lunch too. My favourite is a Asian inspired with some miso soup paste vegetables and noodles the song keep me going at lunch time and again doesn’t require much preparation.

My meal here was thrown together in moments, and with the claims that frozen foods retain their nutrition when packed from source, hopefully I’m optimising our vitamin intake as I go.

 

Dancing Mama – Freezer Food Lunch when I look in my freezer

 

 


Dancing Mama – Nutrition Day 2 BLW

No – BLW isn’t a delicious sandwich filling!  Baby Led Weaning has been hailed by child experts as an effective method of getting babies food savvy and ready to eat many types of flavours and textures.  I’ve got a few friends who recommended it, along with my cousin who is a community nursery nurse for an NHS health visiting team.

The deal is, instead of buying ready made baby food in jars or pouches, babies eat pretty much the same food as us, with their diet and nutritional dos and don’ts in mind first and foremost. I’m going to talk about cooking on a budget tomorrow, but this helps to keep food bills low.

Dancing Mama - Yes - I'm sharing Baby Food!

Dancing Mama – Yes – I’m sharing Baby Food!

Now I’m having a go at baby led weaning we’re more or less eating the same foods as Baby-O, meaning we mostly cooking everything from scratch, really cleanly, without salt. Much of the base of our food is veg and pulses. It feels good. And although I’m making most recipes up, I’ve found a few recipes that I can adapt and they still taste pretty good. A recent hit was Joe Wicks, Body Coach’s Lamb Curry!  Baby-O didn’t each too much of the lamb, but loved the sauce and veg, with coconut oil, curry paste (I found a low salt one and only put a small amount in her portion), red lentils to thicken the sauce, and ground cashew nuts instead of cream, as a few of the healthy tweaks Joe has made.  I do sometimes take Baby-O’s portion out before adding stronger flavours or some seasoning for us, but the base of most dishes can generally be shared by us all.

I’ve found Annabel Karmel’s website, where baby specific recipes can be added to, to make them a little more interesting for the adult palette. The Baby-Led Weaning book (Gill Rapley and Tracey Murkett, The Experiment, 2010) was a useful read to see how easy and straight forward BLW is, with minimal extra preparation, and I also grabbed the Ella’s Kitchen: A Tiny Taste of the First Foods Book (Hamlyn, 2015) free with the Boots Parenting Club, which gave a few more ideas for using basic ingredients, but experimenting to adapt for my meals too.

BLW has really helped me think about cooking from scratch, using fresh ingredients, largely veggie dishes as I’ve cut down on meat – and I’m definitely feeling the health benefits with more of a spring in my step!

 


Dancing Mama – Nutrition Day 1

Since I’ve lost a bit of the baby weight and my latest triumph is being able to fit into my Levis again, I thought I’d do a few days

Dancing Mama - Jeans Success

Dancing Mama – Jeans Success

of sharing my post-natal nutrition story. Again, not just about losing the weight (although that is a factor so I can get back into my old wardrobe!), but about regaining my fitness and getting healthy for me and Baby-O.


Day 1 is Smoothie-Spiration!

Dancing Mama - Smoothie-Spiration

Dancing Mama – Smoothie-Spiration

I’ve been short on time for myself so a smoothie every morning has helped me ensure I’m on my way to getting my daily Fruit and Veg (F&V) intake. There is some controversy over smoothies – the process removes some nutritional value, and then we don’t absorb all the goodness as the smoother liquid passes through the gut too quickly. I also lack the tools of a smoothie maker that optimises the nutritious benefits from the F&V etc.

It’s the difference though between me being able to throw everything into my ‘soupmaker'(!) blender quickly and getting an easy and fulfilling breakfast as regular practice, versus haphazardly finding time for my F&V throughout the day and running out of time to eat.  I’ve got my same old ingredients I pretty much use all the time if they are in the cupboard/fridge, as I’ve got used to buying them as standard on the shopping list, but I haven’t got bored of it.

I’m quite impressed with myself that this is one routine I have managed to stick to!