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You may be an entrepreneur, a corporate biggie, a stay-at-home mum or dad, or even a chef, but keeping things interesting for your kids on the food front is every parent’s challenge. How do you serve meals on the table, week in and week out, without your children getting bored? Leave it to award-winning cookbook author and TV host Maria Goretti to come up with some great food hacks to make feeding your kids easier, faster and a whole lot more fun. Although, as Maria admits, now, her son Zeke is fond of cooking and her daughter Zene Zoe has taken a keen interest in reviewing his food. So, maybe, we are looking at the next Masterchef and food critic in the celeb food blogger’s home. But for the rest of us, here are some tips to make your lives simpler:
- Always Plan in Advance: And that’s the biggest trick, stresses Maria, as parents you need to be foresighted. Spend time each week browsing through recipes that are healthy, yet look delicious. Now that you are inspired in what to eat, start a calendar of what you’d like to cook over the next few days or few weeks. Then, once your list is drawn out, move on to sourcing the ingredients, and you can have them ready at home over the weekend. Barring the vegetables and protein, you can keep your gravies in jars or keep the stock prepared. This will help you whip up something quickly in the kitchen when you are pressed for time.
- Maintain a Meal Planner: Maria devised a meal planner for her children and it was essential because it saved her time, helped her plan the meals beforehand and maximised her children’s nutrition intake for the week. Plus, she found that they grumbled less when she made them a part of the planning process. So, invite your children’s inputs and create the meal planner jointly—it could be mix of healthy and indulgent. Some children may like to have a theme night each week. Explore that idea, like Monday is pasta, Tuesday is paneer, Wednesday is chicken.
- Get Creative with Shapes: When Zeke and Zene Zoe were younger, Maria would cut the vegetables into interesting shapes, and bake cakes and breads in various shapes as well. And kids are fascinated by shapes and colours—whether it’s eggs, pancakes or fruits, the possibilities are endless and the results are adorable. Maria also suggests that you could create fun stories about nutritious food to tempt your kids to eat these healthy foods.
- Keep it Simple: For kids, the key is to keep the flavours of vegetables and meats simple and fuss-free. You don’t need a plethora of ingredients and you definitely don’t need to confuse their taste-buds. All you need to focus on is balancing nutrition with good taste. As a parent, you must be curious to learn new things, try new recipes and modern cooking techniques and gadgets, which can save you time and effort. This way, you will be able to serve your family nutritious food without spending all your time in the kitchen.
- Create Bite-sized Helpings: Prepare their food in smaller bites because this makes it easy to eat and share. And, this way, it doesn’t lose its taste when it gets cold. This especially holds true for their tiffin box. If the school hours are long, Maria recommends that you divide their food into small portions rather than shoving it all into one big lunch box. You can create smaller boxes filled with homemade snacks or dry fruits which they can munch on all day long.
Image Courtesy: Maria Goretti
Illustration Courtesy: Vartika Pahuja