Establishing a routine

Libby and Lia are much too young for school, but that doesn’t detract from the need to establish a good tea time routine that will make life easier when they do start school. The most important thing for me when it comes to tea time is that we all eat together as a family. I think this encourages children to eat well, enjoying the same food as us and eliminating the need to cook several different meals at different times.

I like to cook fresh food, using a variety of ingredients, particularly fresh vegetables to make sure that the girls get used to eating things like that. As I work from home and look after the girls as well, this can sometimes be a bit of a challenge, particularly when I’m snowed under with work or hubby is finishing work late.

That’s when I just love the ease of frozen food. I’ve heard that frozen vegetables can actually contain more of their original vitamins and nutrients than fresh ones as they are frozen straight away, whereas supermarket fresh vegetables have been sitting around for a while by the time we eat them. When tea needs to be prepared in a hurry, a helping hand from the freezer can mean that we end up with nutritious food rather than a takeaway or a sandwich.

Another tip for establishing a good tea time routine is to get children involved with buying (or growing) dinner. We have grown some beans and peppers in our garden this year, and Libby is always delighted to eat those. She is equally delighted to eat something that she remembers buying from the shop. Shopping trips can be a little hazardous for Libby, here she is demonstrating how to get around the supermarket in the same trolley as your baby sister without getting your hair pulled!

Dinner today was courtesy of Birds Eye, as we were lucky enough to be sent some vouchers for Birds Eye products. Here are just a few of the delicious meals that are now gracing our freezer.

I have to admit to being a little addicted to the Birds Eye potato waffles, so I had to convince myself not to cook those for dinner today. We had loads of potatoes to use up, so I decided to make a mash with potatoes and parsnips. Combining the two is a great way to incorporate vegetables into the tea time routine, since even the fussiest child will never notice some parsnip sneaked into the mash. The beauty of the potato waffles is that they will last for another day, unlike the potatoes. We combined those with fish fingers (for Libby and hubby), peas and sweetcorn, and vegetable fingers (for me). Even Lia had to get involved in the mission to use up the potatoes, so her dinner was mashed potato and parsnip.

Here is the end result. Please feel free to comment on the beauty and tasteful decoration of Libby’s bowl. This was the product of Libby’s biggest tantrum EVER, so she treasures it and insists on eating from it most days. I tend to pick my battles, if she wants to eat dinner from a bowl then so be it, as long as she eats her dinner.

When I became vegetarian, I wasn’t much older than Libby – I was four years old. The only things I was upset about being unable to eat were fish fingers. The discovery of Birds Eye vegetable fingers was therefore somewhat of a victory for me, as they are a great alternative.

Another quick tip from our household for tea time is to let kids know what’s for dessert whilst they are eating dinner. Libby knows that she only gets pudding if she eats all her main meal and today it was home made blackberry and apple pudding, so she was keen to eat up. Despite this, the fish fingers were much more of a hit than my mash. I didn’t mind this though, I worry that Libby doesn’t get enough Omega 3 because we rarely eat fish, so the fact that she happily munched her way through the fish fingers before touching anything else was fine by me.

We are very lucky with Libby because mealtimes really are a pleasure, she eats well and is always polite. I hope that we are equally lucky with Lia, and long may enjoyable tea times continue!

This post is an entry for #Afterschoolchefs Linky Challenge, sponsored by Birds Eye. Learn more on the Birds Eye Facebook page.

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