Cooking for a toddler sucks. It’s boring and repetitive, everything I hate about food. It’s often not even really cooking. The list of things Leo will reliably eat at the moment, in order of frequency, is:
1. Fish fingers. Bought, fried, most of the crispy bits picked off. Homemade ones are apparently not as nice.
2. Pasta (spirals or penne) with either Marmite or one particular type of pesto.
3. Homemade meatballs with as much vegetable matter as I can sneak into them. Hurrah for something I made!
4. Quite a decent variety of fruit.
5. Weetabix, usually.
6. Toast with PB and banana/scraping of jam, or Marmite.
7. Greek yogurt.
8. Roast chicken, but only fresh, not leftovers. Unless part of…
9. Satay noodles, usually with leftover roast chicken, sometimes with vegetables (courgette, mushroom, peppers). But the veg usually gets a “bluch” noise. More eaten if I feed him using chopsticks.
10. Cake. Mostly homemade, not so many vegetables in that though.
11. Scotch pancakes.
12. Biscuits. Rarely homemade.
I think that’s it.
Thing is, he really doesn’t seem to care. Fish fingers again, Mama? Yum! But he will refuse something he doesn’t fancy in favour of another option. The old “he’ll eat if he’s hungry enough” doesn’t quite work for us. Often I’ll make him something, it’s given the “bluch” verdict and the sideways screwed-up smile. So if there’s something easy to hand in the fridge, I’ll make a second choice (like, 30s heating up some pre-cooked pasta) and that’ll be wolfed down. So he was hungry, just didn’t want option 1. And I get that, sometimes I don’t fancy what I thought I would and have a completely different dinner than I planned. But it’s frustrating in this pre-verbal period; I know there are going to be “but you asked for X!” scenes at mealtimes of the future but right now, I’d take that over the guessing game we play twice a day.
He’s always welcome to try whatever I’m having too: sometimes we have the same thing, sometimes we don’t. Family meals are far less stressful but in the weeks of bad sleep, they take more planning than I am capable of. I do love it when we have a family meal together , I think our weekend roast chicken is my favourite meal of the week. And he does often try new things, then just as often hands them straight back to me.
Two books I’ve read recently made me feel a bit better about this: The Bad Mother by Esther Walker (Giles Coren’s wife, journalist and mum of two, her blog makes me smile wryly) and Zoe Williams’ Modern Parenting. Reading about other people’s experiences with toddlers makes me feel less frustrated and less alone in my frustration.
So for now, it’s fish fingers all round. Ketchup for the boy and a side of peas and homemade tartare sauce for me, please.