Before I had kids, I used to joke that my stomach was lined with cast iron and I could eat anything. Ah, to be young again. Pregnancy, having babies, and feeding babies has changed a lot of things. Seven years ago, I ate a lot of boxed macaroni, frozen pizza, and break and bake cookies. Then when I was pregnant, all of those foods made me ill.
All in all, I’m grateful to my babies, because I found that if I wanted to keep food in my stomach, I needed to learn how to cook, and cooking really has been a source of great joy for me.
Since I talked about meal planning yesterday, I thought I would share some simple and accessible cookbooks that I’ve found really helpful in planning meals that I actually make and that are affordable.
I have a couple of cookbooks that have amazing, delicious recipes, but they involve things like weighing ingredient and poaching chickens. They use ingredients like the fresh tears of unicorns. I cannot have these things in my diet on a regular basis. It is too hard and expensive.
So, here’s my highlights:
For Feeding Babies and Toddlers (and, in my experience, some elementary schoolers, too)
I was wandering through Barnes and Noble desperately trying to figure out what to feed my exclusively breastfeed baby, and I found Ansel’s instructions and organization to be really helpful. She explains the nutritional needs of kids and has helpful serving suggestions. Also, her recipe for tomato soup is so simple and delicious that I still make it all the time. There’s also an Indian Spiced Lentil Stew that is so easy and delicious for kids of all ages that I always double the recipe when I make it. There’s also an excellent applesauce recipe in the “first foods” section that I still make from time to time.
- Child Nutrition and Cooking is a free course on Coursera by Stanford Medical School lecturer Maya Adam, MD
If you, like me, find yourself totally lost in the kitchen, I found this Coursera course to be SO helpful. Dr. Adam has helpful videos, suggestions for cooking and substitutions if your child has allergies, ideas for letting your kids cook in the kitchen with you, and explained a lot of cooking basics in a way that I found really helpful
There are other great resources for this stage of life. But, these are good enough. I didn’t need ten Baby and Toddler cookbooks because I didn’t have time to read them all – I had a baby and a toddler. I found these recipes to be enough to get me started and keep everyone fed.
Feeding Bigger Kids and Grown Ups
These days, I find that I don’t want to stick to a rigid diet (ex: Whole 30, Paleo, Keto, low card, etc.) I’m just going to believe that eating a variety of healthy foods is going to be the best for my long term health.
Enter this delightful pair of cookbooks:
Now, I know what you’re saying: “Maggie, I’m not a runner, I can’t eat runner food.”
That is what I thought, but my sister (who is a runner) told me for two years that she thought I’d really like this cookbook and sent me links every time the book was on sale until I finally borrowed the cookbook from my library (P.S. DID YOU KNOW YOU CAN CHECK OUT COOKBOOKS AT THE LIBRARY?!?!!) and was like, “Wow! This is an amazing cookbook, I need to buy it!”
So, I did.
If you have an athlete in your house, I think that Kopecky and Flanagan offer sensible meal guidelines and really take the opportunity in their cookbook to advocate for better nutrition for high school and college athletes. As a person who really believes in youth sports and that our kids need to have an active lifestyle, their approach really sings to me.
AND if you’re not really an athlete, but you like good food that is nutritious, all the recipes are delicious. Not only that, I find that they’re pretty easy to execute and don’t use a lot of esoteric ingredients or complex cooking methods.
I normally won’t recommend something I haven’t finished reading, but Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat by Samin Nosarat is a delightful cookbook that I am working my way through (that you also might want to read cover to cover) if you want to learn about flavors, food science, and learn to improvise in your kitchen a bit.
Do you have a favorite cookbook? Favorite Recipe? Tips for feeding my suddenly very picky elementary schooler? I’d love to hear in the comments!