How to juggle making food for kids while cooking for adults

How to juggle making food for kids while cooking for adults.

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The juggle is real when you’ve got kids to feed. But this food-focused mum has some smart tips.

You can still have your kale after having kids, swears Danielle Krupa, a trained, health-supportive chef who shares her insights on her Red Kitchenette blog (@ redkitchenette). Danielle, a mum of two girls (that’s her with Audrey, now 6, and Emerson, now 4), knew that after becoming a parent she would want to stick to cooking natural foods despite the hurdles, so she devised a plan that made sense for both her and her family. “Basically, I didn’t want to labour over the babies’ food and then, out of exhaustion, order takeout for myself,” she says. Here, the everyday strategies that worked. 

Adapt, but don’t give in

Danielle has a no-separate-meals policy, but 3-year-olds are ridiculously picky. To accommodate everyone, she reverse engineers her favourite dishes so ingredients can go high or low. For example, when Danielle would cook a pork loin with sweet potatoes and apples, she turned a portion of the sides into a sweet potato and apple puree to keep the kids’ palates happy. Or if she’s blending breakfast smoothies, she reserves half for the girls before adding things like collagen powder and chia seeds for herself.

Build-your-own makes everyone happy

DIY tacos are big with her family, Danielle says. “I’ll put out all the fixings for fish tacos, but I’ll have some fish cooked in a blackened seasoning mix for my husband and me and some left plain for the kids,” she says. Small bowls of red cabbage salad sit next to plain shredded lettuce. “The girls can try the cabbage if they feel adventurous,” Danielle says.

The two-step breakfast is key

It’s grab and go during the week, as it is for most families. “That’s something that’s really changed since I became a parent,” Danielle says. “Now I rely on things that are quick and easy but high in protein.” She has a list of foods that take 10 minutes tops to prep and that everyone will eat: hard-boiled eggs, Greek yogurt with fruit, smoothies, whole-grain toast with salmon cream cheese or nut butter and fresh berries, make-ahead mini frittatas. Overnight oats and chia seed pudding are also in the rotation.

Make Sundays count

Danielle roughly maps out the week’s meals in her head and stocks the fridge ahead of time. “I cut up veggies so they’re available for salads, snacks, and lunch boxes,” she says. “Then I always do a sheet-pan roast of a root vegetable like butternut squash or broccoli because we all love it. It makes an easy side dish or an add-in to a dinner frittata or mac and cheese.” She also makes homemade granola bars or energy bites to have at the ready.

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Snacks Are Saviours

Try Danielle’s easy lemon-turmeric energy bites:

Blend 1 cup raw cashews, 1 cup raw almonds, 12 pitted Medjool dates, ¼ cup lemon juice, 1 tsp vanilla extract, 1 tsp ground turmeric, and ½ tsp ground ginger in a food processor for about 1 minute. On a sheet of parchment, roll the mixture into 14 balls, then flatten; garnish with zest of 1 lemon. Chill in freezer for 20 minutes, until firm. Store bites in an airtight container in fridge.