After having a baby, we get used to working around her schedule. We learn how naps have to be coordinated with outings, and you find favorite areas for nursing and changing diapers around town. We’ve become adept to at accomplishing our weekly grocery shopping in precisely 37 minutes, before a melt-down ensues, and we know that the 70-minute drive to our parents’ house is just the right amount of time to accommodate that afternoon nap. Then, baby starts eating solids and we’re expected to feed her three meals plus two snacks each day, and we have to revamp our whole routine! It’s inevitable that a baby’s feeding time will conflict with errands and obligations, so knowing how to be prepared for meals on-the-go will help save you from potential mess, hungry meltdowns, and resorting to fast-food.
PLAN MEALS AHEAD
When you plan your meals for the day ahead of time, you’ll save yourself the hassle of thinking up something nutritious when you’re out and about. If you know you’ll be on a playdate at lunchtime, ask your fellow mommy friend if she’ll provide the main dish and you provide a veggie or fruit as a side.
On those days when you head to the zoo or museum for the day, pack a lunch. Purchase a bento box-style container or several smaller ones and make a sunflower seed butter and banana sandwich for you and baby to share. Slice a mango, shuck some peas, and sauté some diced sweet potatoes in coconut oil with a dash of cinnamon. Congrats, you’ve made your first healthy, homemade lunch for you and your kiddo to share!
WHAT TO KEEP ON HAND
We’ve all been stuck in the post office line when snack time hits and a tantrum ensues. For those times, here are my must-haves in order to always be prepared for an impromptu meal on-the-go.
- Pouches: The latest trend in commercial baby food is super travel-friendly. Pouches of food are shelf-stable and typically contain a short list of ingredients limited to fruits, vegetables, grains, and sometimes, a protein. While it’s true that sucking on the “straw” of a pouch for hours on end (nursing it, so to speak) is not healthy for teeth, infants and toddlers can safely consume them as part of a meal or snack while on the go, saving us from dirty spoons and a half-eaten jar of food.
- Puffs: These easily graspable snacks can keep hunger at bay until you’re able to prepare and sit down for your actual meal with your little one. My tip here is to use an old baby food jar and fill it with puffs. The small size makes for one or two perfectly portioned snacks and the fact that they’re in a glass jar means those precious puffs won’t be squished in your bag underneath diapers, wipes, and your wallet.
- Fresh fruit and vegetables: An apple, banana, carrot, or snow peas can be a perfect little snack. It’s true you’ll have a little garbage once you’re through, but you will have fed your baby a fresh, nutritious snack and spent very little money on it. Take twice as much as your little one will eat and you’ll have yourself covered, too!
- Emergency bag: By now, you should have an emergency bag in the trunk of your car. Inside are diapers, wipes, a change of clothes for you and your baby, a couple of blankets, bandages, sunscreen and food. What food? Enough for you both for a day. Go with bags of dehydrated fruit (delicious for both of you and safe for your baby), a few pouches or jars of baby food (check those expiration dates regularly), and a couple bags of rice cakes or other shelf-stable snack that you and your baby can have. Then, don’t be afraid to actually use what’s in your emergency bag and then remember to restock afterwards.
With a little forethought and the right tools, you can be ready to tackle a meal on-the-go with no mess, no fuss, and no resorting to French fries of junk food for you or your child!