Since Eliana began eating solids, 9-10 months ago, I’ve been cooking all of her food. At this point, I cook almost every day and many days I cook multiple times a day. To make life easier, Eliana and I often eat the same thing for lunch. Hel-lo? Who has time to make a different meal for each of us? And, more importantly, who wants to? Not me, that’s for sure! Many days, I prepare a lunch for us to share together before she goes down for a nap. Even though it sometimes takes a little longer for us to eat, I like the idea of us sharing a meal together. It is usually a calm and pleasant time to spend together. We listen to music and I talk to Eliana about what we are eating in terms of the flavors, textures and colors. Eliana also practices using utensils. She isn’t yet able to spear her food with a fork or scoop up something with a spoon, so I do that for her. I set the utensil down onto her tray for her to pick up and put into her mouth. It’s pretty funny to watch her do this.
|I’ve almost got it!|
Making lunch for us to share hasn’t always been a lovely and beautiful experience. There were definitely times where there was a lot of crying and whining due to hunger and frustration. And not just from the toddler in the scenario! So over the last few months, I’ve learned a few tricks that help me get some food onto the table fairly quickly. One trick is to have some pre-cooked ingredients in the fridge so I can turn them into something for lunch. Another trick is to make some sort of salad that I can use as a recipe base or as a side dish. And when in doubt, I scramble cooked vegetables, cheese and any pre-cooked grain I might have with some eggs and…voila! Lunch is served.
- Here are some of the items I try to keep cooked and ready to go in the refrigerator to help me get our lunch onto the table quickly:
- -Half of a box of whole-wheat pasta. After draining off the water, I mix in a little olive oil and keep it in an airtight container.
- -A few cups of another already-cooked grain such as brown rice, basmati rice or quinoa.
- -Some sautéed or roasted vegetables from our weekly Sunday trip to the farmers’ market.
- -A bean salad. Lately, I’ve been using mostly black beans. When I make this ahead of time, it allows for the flavors to marinate. I can serve it on it’s own or turn it into something else like tacos or quesadillas.
- -Either chopped tomatoes or a tomato salad.
- -I also keep baked chicken breasts in the refrigerator. Those are for Eliana and Matt. It doesn’t fit into the “Jory & Eliana lunch together” theme, but it is a regular in the fridge so I thought I’d share.
Here’s a sample of some of the meals we’ve shared for our lunches together. Recipes are at the end of the post.
Tomato, Egg and Halloumi Cheese Scramble
Vegetable and Quinoa Salad
Black Bean and Corn Salad
|Investigating some of the ingredients.|
|Here, Mommy. You take this bite.|
Black Bean and Egg Tacos with Salsa
|The Black Bean & Corn salad turned into a new meal.|
Pasta with Sautéed Tomatoes, Onions and Summer Squash
|The cut-up pieces on the top are for Eliana.|
What, you may ask, is Eliana doing while I quickly prepare our lunch? If she isn’t stuck in “Baby Jail”, also known as the pack-n-play, she entertains herself in a bunch of ways.
Playing on the step stool (in the background) that I used to get something from the cabinet.
|Matt was home for this one so he was in charge of making sure she didn’t break her neck here.|
Patiently watching me cook.
|This better be good, Mommy!|
Dancing around the boxes to be recycled.
|My bib is on and I’m ready to eat! Just let me get my groove on first.|
Trying on my flip flops.
|Is this how I wear them?|
Reorganizing the shoes.
|This is not where Daddy’s sneaker should go.|
Unpacking our bag from the store.
|I know Mommy bought some fun things I’m not allowed to play with. They’ve got to be in here somewhere.|
And, here are the recipes:
- Tomato, Egg and Grilled Halloumi Cheese* Scramble
- · 2 whole eggs
- · 2 egg whites
- · 1 medium red tomato, chopped small
- · Around ¾ of a package of halloumi cheese, grilled and cubed (Queso Fresco would be tasty here too)
- · Salt, pepper, garlic powder and olive oil/cooking spray to taste
Heat a grill pan over medium-high heat. Drain, slice and grill halloumi cheese. Set aside for a few minutes then chop into small chunks. Put eggs, salt, pepper and garlic powder into a bowl and scramble with a fork. Heat a non-stick pan over medium heat. Add olive oil or cooking spray. Add chopped tomatoes and dash of salt. Cook for around 2 minutes, mixing occasionally. Add eggs and mix. Keep pushing mixture around the pan for around 2 minutes until eggs begin to set. Add chopped grilled halloumi. Keep pushing mixture around the pan for another minute until eggs are set.
*Halloumi is a salty cheese so use less salt than you typically would.
Variation: Add cooked rice and chopped fresh herbs such as parsley.
Vegetable and Quinoa Salad
- Black Bean and Corn Salad
- · 1 can black beans, rinsed and drained
- · Kernels from 1-2 ears of corn
- · 2 scallions, white parts only, chopped
- · A handful of grape tomatoes, chopped in half
- · Chopped fresh herbs to taste (I like to use parsley)
- · Olive oil, salt, pepper, chili powder, garlic powder to taste
Mix all ingredients in a large bowl. Taste and adjust seasonings as needed.
- Black Bean and Egg Tacos with Salsa
- · Around ½ cup of Black Bean and Corn Salad
- · 3 egg whites
- · 2-3 corn tortillas
- · Shredded cheese (I use whatever I have which is typically Mozzarella or Monterey Jack or in this case, torn up string cheese)
- · A few tablespoons of salsa
- · Olive oil, salt and pepper
Heat some olive oil in a non-stick pan over medium heat and add the black bean salad. Heat for around a minute or two stirring occasionally. Scramble the egg whites in a bowl and add a little bit of salt and pepper. Add eggs to the pan and cook, stirring/scrambling often, for around 1-2 minutes until the eggs are cooked through. Remove the pan from the heat. Heat the tortillas according to the directions on the package. Top one tortilla with cheese, part of the egg mixture and salsa. Repeat using remaining cheese, eggs, tortillas and salsa.
- Pasta with Sautéed Tomatoes, Onions and Summer Squash
- · 1½ cups pre-cooked pasta
- · 1 cup sautéed onions and summer squash
- · 1-1½ cup chopped fresh tomatoes
- · Grated Parmesan cheese
- · Chopped fresh herbs such as parsley and or basil
- · Salt, pepper, olive oil, red pepper flakes and garlic powder, to taste