Life Rhythm: Meal Planning Board

I love it when the sharing economy helps me in my journey! The other day, I found a whiteboard in my father-in-law’s apartment swap area. First of all, I am so thankful for the way that Rochester’s community values reuse, upcycling, and alternative economics. This apartment complex’s neighbor book and household good swap is just one of many places in my city where people give and take as they need, rather than tossing out old things and buying new.

I found a whiteboard with a weekly layout in the swap pile and eagerly began brainstorming a plethora of ways which I could use it to make my everyday life easier.

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I settled on meal planning, since I have never been very good at consistency in this area. Actually, I regularly say to my friends that consistent meal planning is pretty much the epitome of adulthood and having your life together. I have to say, thus far, I was incorrect in my casual idolatry of meal planning as the end all be all. Nonetheless, it is pretty great!

This week is week 2 in our house of having planned out the meals in advance on this nifty whiteboard. My takeaways have included:
  1. I need this! When I am hungry, I skip hungry and go straight to hangry. If you are unfamiliar with this term, I am happy to have introduced you to it… it means that the minute I realize that I have less than the amount of food I would like to have in my body, I turn into an irritable monster who is incapable of making simple decisions.
  2. We don’t always stick to the plan, and that’s okay.
  3. Meal planning helps me to make healthier eating choices (like eating real food and not spoonfuls of peanut butter out of the jar)!
  4. Assigning meals is helpful (those are the little (M)’s and (A)’s on our board). Why? See #1!

If you are a person who is more experienced than I at meal planning (or anyone who has done it for more than 2 weeks!) feel free to comment on your tips and tricks! I would love to learn from your experience!

Baby-Led Weaning: Book Review

Baby-Led Weaning: The Essential Guide to Introducing Solid Foods—and Helping Your Baby to Grow Up a Happy and Confident Eater, by Gill Rapley and Tracey Murkett, offers a simple, no-puree method for starting your child on solid food. Baby-Led Weaning is a great resource.

I feel much more confident in my decision for introducing the same solids that we are eating as a family. It’s so natural and promises a heap of benefits later on!

Babies are “encouraged to explore food” and “join in when ready.” Babies continue to nurse on-demand until at least a year, and it is “up to her how much she eats,” or even “whether or not she eats at first.”

Baby-Led Weaning touches on several main points. First, the book explains what BLW is and its benefits and disadvantages. It outlines baby readiness signs and safety. A chapter is devoted to getting started, to food ideas and preparation, and to what comes next as the baby develops. There are SO MANY tips and tricks given, as well as anecdotal evidence sprinkled generously throughout the book.
Here are a few of the fundamentals for those who are interested but not sold on this method.

Baby Readiness:

  • Baby can sit up straight, unsupported
  • Baby can pick things up and accurately put them in their mouth.
  • Baby puts food into her mouth!
  • Baby is older than 6 months (based on the recommendation of the WHO, 2002)

Tips:

  • Make sure that baby is upright and focused while eating to prevent choking.
  • Don’t force feed or persuade baby to eat more than she wants!
  • Don’t worry about missing meals in the beginning while its not about nourishment.
  • Keep the focus on playing and experimenting!
  • Always stay with baby while she’s eating or playing with food.
  • Don’t worry if baby seems frustrated! Often the problem is that the food is too slippery or the wrong size or shape for her to pick up.
  • Allow at least 45 minutes for a meal.
  • Take a bite out of whole fruits to help baby get to the flesh.
  • Be a good role model, and be consistent!

Safety:

  • Wash hands often – yours and baby’s.
  • Clean all surfaces and equipment thoroughly.
  • Store food appropriately and cook food adequately.

This book has definitely been a helpful tool for me over the last month as I began solids with my daughter! I just picked out a couple tips that I have found super applicable, but if you are beginning this process with your baby, I highly recommend that you read the book! Every child is different, and I am sure that others would say that other tips from the book were more of a help for them.

Some of the other mealtime tools that I use daily are the Ikea Antilop highchair, which is a great simple design for a highchair and was pretty affordable. We bought the chair with a tray, but we don’t ever use it (we just bring her right up to the table). We enjoy having her right there with us.antilop-highchair-with-tray__0339304_pe527619_s4

Another invaluable tool for us has been this silicone tray which allows us to let her join in our messier meals (like soup or yogurt) without throwing her bowl.91v3qi0v-wl-_sl1500_

We also have an assortment of plastic baby sporks and spoons to pre-load and hand to her, or let her explore on her own.

And finally, here are a couple quotes that I really loved from the book!

“When people ask ‘How much is she eating?’ list all the things she’s tried instead of trying to gauge the amount of food!”

I think that it’s equally as hard at this point to list all the foods she’s tried, but it definitely is a better way to stop the meddling Facebook friends from railing you about your mom skills. As the book says, the two disadvantages are the extraordinary mess your baby will make at the beginning, and the disapproval of well-meaning strangers, friends, and family.

The other quote that I find helpful to remember is this one:

“Aim to treat your baby with the same respect you would any other mealtime companion. That means not telling her what to eat or how much, not constantly wiping her face, and resisting the temptation to do the washing-up while she is eating!”

The mealtime adventures, and watching my daughter discover what food is, have been a great experience for us both so far! The other night we went out to sushi and ordered her an appetizer and a sushi roll (without raw meat, obviously!). She had a lot of fun and even tried a dab of wasabi and some ginger… which she loved! So far, we have a happy mom and a happy eater!

Baby-Led Weaning Begins!

I have been ravenously pouring over Gill Rapley & Tracey Murkett’s book, Baby-Led Weaning. My daughter turns 6 months old this week, so we have been enjoying allowing her to explore food. The basic premise of baby-led weaning (BLW) is that the child is in charge of her own eating. She eats whatever we eat, and chooses from the variety of foods given to her at her own discretion. Norah, my daughter, has enjoyed curry chicken and veggies with us this weekend, along with oatmeal with apples, squash soup made by Grandma, and some mango lassi! I’ve been struggling with meal planning for myself, so it has been challenging to create structured mealtimes and to cook well-balanced meals.

Today, I somewhat successfully fed myself and Norah three meals, although I sacrificed the cleanliness of the entire kitchen and dining room and was pretty stressed about offering her more than just grains or dairy. So that’s why I say somewhat. I am hopeful that as I continue to establish a new daily rhythm which includes meals it will get easier!

I have decided to start planning — or at least keeping track of– our meals using this template I found on Pinterest. I copied it into my Bullet Journal and I’m excited to track and plan this week. Next week I’ll try to actually make up a grocery list!