Category Archives: Kids

Weekly Eating – Jan 25 – Feb 7

 

Hey y’all! Welcome to the series Weekly Eating.

Here is where I’ll talk about the week’s meal plan versus reality, what we ate for the week, and how we did budget-wise. I hope it gives readers a behind-the-scenes look into our life through the lens of food, and it’s also a way to keep us on track with meal planning and grocery budgeting.

Feel free to share your wins and lessons in the comments below!

 

 

Well, sorry about not posting for a week, there’s kind of a bit going on right now… We bought a(nother) house!

The Triangle real estate market is completely out of control right now, houses are on the market for literally a few hours and already contingent. So when the totally perfect gem came along, we had to act fast. I’ll tell that story some other time, but for now just know the next few months are gonna be HECTIC, so, apologies in advance if I slow down and/or disappear for a little while.

Anyways, 2 weekends ago was chill, just grocery shopping and chores around the house. Kiddo had a bit of a hard day with fussing, and also four outfit changes… at least we know he is well hydrated! And then on Sunday, I went for a long hike with my bestie. It is so very good to get outdoors into nature, get some nice workout time in, and spend time just talking about life with people you love.

Sunday night, sister-in-law’s boyfriend was in town so they came over for a few hours to play games and hang out. He works with patients, so he got his vaccine, second one in a few days. This is so so exciting to me, as someone who loves people, to know there’s a light at the end of this year long, lonely tunnel.

And I made a penne bake that was amaaaaazing and actually pretty healthy! The “meat” sauce was tempeh, mushrooms, and onion, but I did cover it in cheese. What can you do with two Italian loving men, ya know?

The following weekend was so great for my soul, because I got a lot of friend time. I went to Costco with some friends to mooch off their membership! We are doing a card churn with Citi to get bonus miles and need to hit a minimum spend. But, to my dismay, I found out in the checkout line that they no longer take American Express, only Visa! Tragic.

I still saved on things we would have bought anyways, but it was a bummer. Bestie also works in healthcare and has both vaccines now, so she was able to come over and play with the baby! It was the first time a non-family person was in the house in… like a year. Which is insane.

And finally, we had a distanced outdoor bonfire with another set of friends who had a baby boy just a few months after us. So it was cool to get to see how big he had gotten, and compare notes. Oh and then we bought a house.

So, anyways, here are 2 weeks worth of meals in review! (Also side note blog is not allowing photos to upload right now… sorry you can’t peek at all the deliciousness, but I’ll figure it out)

Monday:

Breakfast – banana bread with honey butter, then a ham egg and cheese breakfast bagel

Lunch – giant salad, 1 taco and a southwest salad

Snack – roasted chickpeas, and apple/peanut butter

Dinner – creamy mushroom & potato soup, and a homemade burger & fries with grilled mushrooms/onions and bleu cheese, yum!

Tuesday:

Breakfast – breakfast skillet bowl with potatoes, peppers, onions, mushrooms, and tofu sausage, and peanut butter toast + banana

Lunch – grain bowl with barley, roasted veggies, tofu, and hummus, and roasted veggies salad

Snack – popcorn and nuts

Dinner – leftover pasta bake and garlic bread, and chickpea curry with rice

Wednesday:

Breakfast – peaches & cream oatmeal, and peanut butter toast with fresh blueberries and raspberries

Lunch – giant bagged southwest salad and blueberries, and leftover burger/fries plus steamed broccoli & carrots

Snack – tea & shortbread cookies, and popcorn

Dinner – tofu & chickpea tikka masala, and salmon with roasted root veggies

Thursday:

Breakfast – potato and egg burrito

Today was NC’s first snow, and kiddo’s first snow ever! He was mostly not impressed haha

Snack – shortbread, a clementine, and tea

Lunch – giant salad

Dinner – leftovers

I also got my first Produce Box in a while, they had some great deals on root veggies so now I’ve got beets, sweet potato, carrots, kale, and more.

Friday:

Breakfast – peanut butter toast and a banana, and a green smoothie

Lunch – giant salad with strawberry vinaigrette, and a giant salad with salmon, roasted veggies, and edamame

Snack – kind bar, and apples and crackers

Dinner – burrito bowl with turkey, rice, roasted veggies, salsa, guac, and mushroom soup

The Weekend

Whooo boy, so basically all free time is now thinking about moving, and preparing for moving. I need to find a mountain of boxes, cause we have been burning ours in bonfires (oops) since we had no plans to move so soon. We will have about a 3 week overlap, and hope to have our current house rented out by April 1, wish us luck!

Also having another bonfire with different friends. It’s so great to finally be seeing people again regularly. And so many updates. Marriages, houses, babies, adopting dogs… good to know life is still going on out there. Oh, and the Super Bowl. But it starts at 6:30, we are not about that late night life, so I’ll just find out on the news on Monday who won. #Iwasagrandmabeforebecomingamom

Food Total: $162 + 206

Yikes… and this is without adding the amount spent on wine and formula… A bottle for baby, a bottle for mommy! lol Plus the Costco stockup trip where I got berries, spinach, salad, a pillow sized bag of broccoli, assorted spices, chicken, salmon, and pork chops, and so much more.

Kiddo eats real food, I still feed him 3-4 times per day, and he takes 2-3 bottles as well. We were lucky enough to have a friend gift us several boxes of formula their kid just went cold turkey and stopped drinking, but now that supply is gone. I also lucked out that there was a brand that must be discontinuing soon because it was on clearance, and was a ‘breastfeeding supplement’ anyways, so we are going to try that one and see how he likes it.

There were also just a lot of staples on sale that I took advantage of to restock some supplies. We got canned beans, tomatoes, corn, pasta, sauce, tortillas, granola, oatmeal, bagels, granola bars… along with lots of produce markdowns like $3 off bagged salad mixes and pints of mushrooms for 0.29! Of course now that we are moving in like a month I am kind of regretting the full pantry…

 

Lessons Learned

Opportunity truly is where patience meets action. We have been talking about what we want in our long term house forever, basically since we first moved here almost 5 years ago. We have been stalking the market all along, with alerts set for certain criteria.

A few tempting ones had come along over the years, but none that checked basically every single box like this one. So, when it’s right it’s right! And we gotta just go for it so we don’t miss our chance.

 

 

 

How about you guys? Did you have a learning week or an awesome week of wins?

New parent humor

 

Having a kid is a lotta work, there’s no denying that. And it is a lot of unpleasant things. But any parent will tell you “it’s all worth it”. I’m not sure about that just yet, but hey, we are only a few months in! Just kidding, it definitely is worth it.

But you know what helps when you’re covered in spit up and poo and the baby has been crying for an hour and it’s 3am and you’re not sure what your name is anymore? Laughter!

So I came up with a list of funny things I’ve heard or said, or stories I’ve been told about things new parents do, say, and think. Feel free to add your own in the comments!

You know you’re a new parent when…
  • You have no idea what day it is, or even what month usually
  • You’re pretty sure you showered, on Tuesday… of last week…
  • You discover a new thing you can do with only one hand every day
  • You drop food on your baby’s head, and just wipe it off, or eat it
  • You’ve worn or carried your kid while peeing, and felt guilty
  • You now look at your diaper stash, which previously you thought would surely last until kindergarten, and think, “maybe I should buy a few more cases while they’re on sale…”
  • You wake in the night to make a bottle or breastfeed and think “I cannot wait until they can eat solid food!”
  • You look at the floor, baby, walls, and think, “why did I let them start eating solid food??”
  • Your baby takes a longer than normal nap, and you have to check a few times just to make sure they’re still breathing
  • You’ve invented approximately 14567 new baby songs, and can’t remember any of them
  • If you’ve never been good at napping, suddenly you have that ability, because your body just shuts off anytime it can
  • You realize you now talk to everyone, including your spouse, parents, and the dog, in a high pitched silly baby voice
  • Everything now ends in “ies” and rhymes whenever possible “changies”, “milkies”, “burpies”…
  • You’re already out of the house and think “huh, I hope I have pants on / my shirt isn’t covered in milk / my underwear aren’t inside out”
  • People ask how you’re doing and you say “fine, great!” while thinking “HAAAAAAAALP! I haven’t left the house in 2 weeks or slept since October, I have no idea where any of my socks are and we’re running low on frozen pizzas!”
  • Someone brings you food, or does your dishes, and you just want to hug them until they can’t breathe
  • You find some old food in your bra… and probably eat it

And more input from the amazing folks of Twitter (there are some significant trends…):

  • “When sleep and time for yourself is one of life’s greatest luxuries” – Dr. McFrugal
  • “Lunch is at 10:30” – Kirk
  • “It’s 9:30pm and you’re upset you’re not in bed” – Mr. Burrito Bowl
  • “When baby finally sleeps through the night and you run to check the crib in the morning” –Steve
  • “I’ll try to remember to come back to this when I have a spare minute…” – Dillon @ Dollar Revolution

 

If you’re a parent, anything to add? I’d love to hear your funny moments below!

Making your own baby food: Is it worth it?

 

I’ve spent thirty-some years thinking about feeding myself, almost a decade thinking about feeding one growing boy (hubs), and now am starting a journey of thinking about feeding another small human! It is super fun for me, but I recognize not everyone thinks so.

There are so many decisions to be made when feeding baby, the first of which is breastfeeding, formula feeding, or a combination. There is no wrong answer here, fed is best! Not everyone can breastfeed, and not everyone wants to. These are all valid reasons. We ended up doing a combo, with mostly breastfeeding and supplementation with formula, and it worked for us.

Of course, the next step is solids!

And this changes everything. Not to get too graphic, but the daily presents in the diaper change drastically. It can also change baby’s sleeping patterns, and if you are breastfeeding it tips off another round of emotional and hormonal readjustment for mom.

But boy is it fun!

Now baby can eat at the table or high chair, just like you. Well, sort of. Baby needs to start slow before they gnaw on their first ribeye or caesar salad. They start out with very well cooked and finely mashed or pureed foods. Typically, rice cereal or oatmeal.

“How do you know if your child is ready for foods other than breast milk or infant formula? You can look for these signs that your child is developmentally ready:

  • Your child can sit with little or no support.
  • Your child has good head control.
  • Your child opens his or her mouth and leans forward when food is offered.” (CDC.gov)

But the good news is, that doesn’t have to be baby’s first food, or only food. Babies can eat almost everything we can! It just needs to be the proper texture based on their age and ability. Sometime between 4 months and 6 months of age, you can start down the food-splatter-lined road of solids.

*Disclaimer: I AM NOT A DOCTOR. Please talk to your pediatrician about what, how, and when to feed your baby.*

The first thing you feed your baby can be pretty much anything, as long as it is well cooked, and pureed. If you want to also strain it, to remove any chunks, you can do so. We did not, I think we went with cooked brown rice that was put through a blender. But we quickly moved on to sweet potatoes, black beans, broccoli, and more.

Basically, whatever I was cooking for dinner or for the week, I kept a little extra aside and cooked it a little longer. For example, steamed sweet potatoes, I’d let an extra one boil just a bit longer, or remove our broccoli when still a little crisp but leave a few florets to steam. Then I’d toss the extra-soft stuff in the food processor, or use my immersion blender if it was cooked in the instant pot/crockpot.

I had gotten some used silicone ice cube molds which turned out to be perfect for the occasion, but any ice cube tray would do. You could even use old egg cartons if you’re feeling ridiculously thrifty!

I started doing this around 2 months of age, and then put the food cubes into labelled baggies in the freezer. That way, by the time he was about 4 1/2 months, we had quite a variety of foods in stock. And I just continue to do this, adding to my stash here and there as I find sales or notice a particular food type/color is running low.

I try to make sure he gets at least 1 green veggie (zucchini and broccoli are favorites), at least 1 orange veggie like carrots or pumpkin, at least 1 protein (beef, chicken, beans), and some rice cereal for the iron. He usually gets some kind of fruit for dessert, banana, pears, applesauce, blueberries…

As he was first trying new foods, I gave him one cube, once a day, for 3 days in a row. This is to make sure if he has a reaction, we know what it is he is allergic to. Once foods were given with no reaction, then I could start mixing them.

His appetite also started picking up, where by month 5 he ate 2-3 cubes twice a day, and by 6 months at least 3 cubes 3 x a day, usually more like 4 plus a little bit of whatever I was eating.

Sweet potatoes and squashes are a steal year round, but around the holidays they go even lower, so he has had sweet potatoes or pumpkin almost every day. We were given a big bag of pureed pumpkin by a neighbor, so that huge volume will last a long time and was free for us!

Bag of frozen berries, 8.99 for 10 cups. 1/2 cup made 12 cubes, so each cube = 0.037 or roughly 4 cents. And berries are among the more expensive things he eats. Broccoli is usually on sale 0.99/lb, and one pound of florets makes 20 or so cubes, so about 5 cents. But I can also use frozen broccoli, which is even cheaper per pound and has the same amount of nutrients.

And now that he has tried many foods with no problems, I can mix them together as well. For example, I mixed a cup of frozen cherries, a can of sliced beets, and spinach together into a sweet, bright red puree. He LOVES it! And gets a crazy amount of nutrition from one ounce of food.

Let’s say homemade baby food ranges from 0.01 – 0.10 per cube, with an average of 4 cents.

Month 4 = 1 cube per day x 30 days = $1.20
Month 5 = 5 cubes per day x 30 days = $6.00
Month 6 = 10 cubes per day x 30 days = $12.00

So, three months worth of baby food for only $19.20! That’s not a bad deal at all.

Now, this is as far as we’ve gotten, but I assume his appetite will only increase. However, he can now eat finger foods, and more chunky textures. So I will no longer need to puree and freeze things, merely set his portion of dinner aside before adding any salt or sugar (spices are totally fine).

Let’s assume he adds just about ten bucks per month to our usual grocery budget, at least for a year or two. By then all babies are eating regular food (hopefully) and no longer needing the jarred variety. And I’m sure the food costs are just exponential from there, if his love of bouncing is any indicator of how active he will be!

In contrast, the baby food at the grocery store near me has a range of prices, based on brand, volume, and whether or not it is organic. But the lowest priced baby jar I saw was 0.99 for about an ounce.

So let’s say baby eats one per day Month 4, two per day Month 5, and 3-4 per day Month 6, plus the occasional puff, squeeze pouch, or cheerios. Those add another $5 per week.

Month 4 = 0.99 x 30 =$29.70
Month 5 = 0.99 x2 x 30 = $59.40
Month 6 = 0.99 x 3 x 30 + (5×4) = $109.10

In just three months you have spent $198.20 on baby food! 

Not to mention the dozens of glass and plastic pouches, containers, squeezes, lids, labels etc.

By making our own baby food, we saved approximately $179 in the first three months of solids!

Now, don’t get me wrong, there is nothing wrong with store bought. I am not out to shame anyone. There is a huge convenience factor here. When you need to feed baby on the go, you need a container. And sometimes you just don’t want to cook. Or you want baby to try something new. These are all fine reasons to go for the gerber.

We have some pouches and containers at the ready in the pantry, because sometimes baby wants food NOW and he cannot possibly wait the 33 seconds for the cubes to be heated up. Or I want to add juuuust a little something more, so a splash of pear sauce will round out the meal. Or I just want to keep him quiet for a second with store brand cheerios. THAT IS OKAY TOO.

But, it is not just about the money.

I also care deeply about what we put into our bodies and how it impacts lifelong health. A large part of why I wanted to make my own baby’s food is that I try to also make all the adult’s food too, and make it the healthiest possible option.

Baby food is something I would trust more than adult food in general, as we usually care more for infant health (sad but true). And most baby foods are carefully regulated to not contain many of the dyes, pesticides, chemicals, etc that can be found in “regular” processed foods like sauces, pizzas, bread, cereal, and more.

But even on one-ingredient baby foods, I find myself wondering how it was processed, was there high heat and pressure? Did they deplete nutrients? Where did the carrots come from originally?

When I make it myself I no longer have to wonder.

The American Academy of Pediatrics has an interactive timeline on reported feeding habits of babies in their first year. Unfortunately it reports some discouraging trends, like a drop off around 7-9 months in fruits and vegetable consumption as non-nutritive finger foods are introduced (puffs, rice snacks, crackers, etc) and an increase in TV watching/ mobile device exposure.

“The recent Institute of Medicine Report Early Childhood Obesity Prevention Policies highlights what pediatricians know and have been struggling to address. The obesity epidemic is reaching our nation’s youngest children.

  • Almost 10 percent of infants and toddlers have high weights for length.
  • Slightly over 20 percent of children aged 2 to 5 are overweight or obese.
  • Approximately one in five children is already carrying excess weight as he or she enters kindergarten.
  • Children who are obese at age six have been found to have a greater than 50% chance of being obese as adults, regardless of parental obesity status.
Additional literature suggests that the acceleration of the obesity problem occurs in the first years of life as lifelong dietary intake patterns, eating habits, sleep routines, and food preferences are established.”

So, whether you feed baby homemade foods or not, you should try to err on the side of variety. Make sure your baby (and you!) has a wide variety of colors throughout the day and the week. Every food has a different palette of vitamins and minerals, and you need balance over time to make sure you get them all.

Aim for 4-5 different fruits and vegetables every day, and as many as you can handle! No upper limit. And try to fit some movement into your day, whether that is doing “baby-ups” to work your arms and entertain baby, sit ups to play peek a boo, or a relaxing walk with the stroller or baby carrier. You will both feel great!