Perfect Weaning Recipes for Busy Mums

When you start to wean your baby, the last thing you want to do is prep separate meals for the whole family.

The best kinds of meals are going to be ones that you can batch cook, and have plenty leftover to make up baby sized portions and that freeze easily!

When I started weaning Olivia, I still suffered with anxiety and had a particular fear around her choking. So baby led weaning didn’t work out for us very well at first. Instead, I prepped lots of (pescetarian) meals for her and blended them up.

These are my top meals (and quick recipes) that I used a lot while weaning Olivia onto solid food!

  1. FISH PIE
  2. BOLOGNESE
  3. LASAGNE
  4. PASTA BAKE
  5. LEEK AND POTATO SOUP

Fish Pie

Ingredients:

  • Frozen White Fish Fillets x 6
  • Frozen Haddock Fillets x 4
  • Peas
  • Plain Flour (25g)
  • Butter (25g)
  • Milk (1 pint)
  • Cheese
  • Baking Potatoes x 3
  • Chives
  • Black Pepper
  • Parsley
  1. Pre-heat the oven to gas mark 6 / 200 degrees C.
  2. Chop the potatoes and place them in a pan. Add boiling water to bring the potatoes to the boil and keep them on a medium heat. Stir regularly.
  3. In another pan, add the butter and flour. As the butter melts, whisk the butter and flour together to make a roux.
  4. Add a little milk at a time, whisking the roux into the milk. Whisk out any lumps and continue until you have used all of the milk to create the sauce. Do not let the sauce settle for too long.
  5. Sear the haddock and white fish fillets in a frying pan and remove the skin from the back of the fillets.
  6. Add cheese to the sauce and continue stirring. Add as much as you want for however cheesy you want your sauce to be!
  7. Add the fish and 2 cups full of garden peas to the sauce and stir regularly.
  8. Now add your herbs to the sauce. If you’re using ready chopped herbs, you need a pinch of black pepper, about a teaspoon of parsley, and a teaspoon and a half of chives.
  9. By now your potatoes should be soft enough to mash. Drain the water, and mash them using a splash of milk and a dash of butter.
  10. Pour the sauce, fish and peas into an oven dish.
  11. Gently scoop out the mash and spread it over the saucy layer into the oven dish. Use a fork to spread the mash so that it covers the dish evenly.
  12. Add more cheese to the top and put it in the oven for 20 minutes, or until the cheese has melted and browned.

This can easily make 6 portions, and is very easy to blend thanks to the sauce!

Slow Cooker Spaghetti Bolognese

Ingredients:

  • Mince / Quorn Mince (500g)
  • Chopped Tomatoes (2 tins)
  • Carrots
  • Brown Onion
  • Garlic (2 cloves)
  • Cheese
  • Spaghetti
  • Tomato Puree
  • Black Pepper
  • Basil
  1. Put a little bit of oil in the bottom of your slow cooker and turn the heat onto low.
  2. Peel and chop the onion and add that to the slow cooker.
  3. Crush the garlic and add to the slow cooker.
  4. Add the mince/quorn mince and chopped tomatoes.
  5. Stir the pot thoroughly.
  6. Peel and chop the carrots and add to the slow cooker.
  7. Add some tomato puree and stir the pot again.
  8. Add your herbs and stir again.
  9. Now you can leave your pot and come back to it later. I don’t tend to leave it more than 4 hours, even on a low heat, without stirring!
  10. About 10 minutes before you want to serve dinner, boil enough spaghetti for all of you. Then drain once cooked.
  11. Grate your cheese (cheddar or parmesan).
  12. Plate up and garnish with your cheese on top! The leftovers can be blended up for baby to enjoy with you, and are easy to freeze.

Lasagne

Ingredients:

  • Mince / Quorn Mince (500g)
  • Chopped Tomatoes (2 tins)
  • Aubergine x 1
  • Courgette x 2
  • Brown Onion
  • Garlic (2 cloves)
  • Cheese
  • Lasagne Sheets
  • Tomato Puree
  • Black Pepper
  • Basil
  • Easy Mix Béchamel Sauce / Ready Made White Lasagne Sauce
  1. Pre-heat the oven to gas mark 6 / 200 degrees C.
  2. If you need to prepare your Béchamel sauce, do that now.
  3. Put a little bit of oil into a frying pan and turn the heat onto low.
  4. Peel and chop the onion and add that to the pan. Stir until the onion starts to go transparent.
  5. Crush the garlic and add to the pan.
  6. Brown the mince/quorn mince and then add chopped tomatoes and stir.
  7. Stir the pot thoroughly.
  8. Chop the aubergine and courgettes and add to the mixture.
  9. Add some tomato puree and your herbs and stir again.
  10. Leave the pan to simmer while you pre-boil your lasagne sheets.
  11. Lay as many lasagne sheets as required on the bottom of your oven dish, then pour about half of your lasagne on top.
  12. Pour some of your Béchamel / White Lasagne Sauce over the lasagne.
  13. Repeat no. 11
  14. Top off your lasagne with more lasagne sheets, and the rest of your Béchamel / White Lasagne Sauce.
  15. Grate your cheese (cheddar or parmesan) and sprinkle it over the top of your lasagne.
  16. Cook for 30 minutes or until the cheese has all melted and begins to brown.
  17. Plate up – the leftovers can be blended up for baby to enjoy with you, or for you to have on another rainy day.

Pasta Bake

Ingredients:

  • Fusilli Pasta
  • Chopped Tomatoes (1 tin)
  • Tinned Tuna Chunks
  • Cheese
  • Tomato Puree
  • Garlic Puree
  • Basil
  • Oregano
  • Sweetcorn
  1. Pre-heat the oven to gas mark 6 / 200 degrees C.
  2. Boil enough pasta to fill your oven dish when cooked. Remember that pasta doubles in size when cooked, so don’t do too much!
  3. Drain your pasta and put it back in the pan. Add your tomatoes, tuna and sweetcorn. Depending on how much pasta you’re making, you may need more than 1 tin of chopped tomatoes.
  4. Stir the pot and add your purees.
  5. Grate some cheese. Add about half to your pot and continue stirring.
  6. Now add your herbs and stir thoroughly before you pour the pasta into an oven dish.
  7. If you’re not making baby a portion, add some crunched up crisps to the top of the pasta to make it nice and crunchy once baked. If you are making a baby portion, it’s probably best to just sprinkle the rest of the cheese on top.
  8. Bake in the oven for 20-25 minutes.
  9. Plate it up and blend/keep the rest for baby! Pasta is a great weaning food because it’s soft and easy for little ones to pick up with their hands.

Leek and Potato Soup

This one is one of my all time favourite recipes, so I’ve blogged it before! Check it out here.

This one is also great fun for babies because

  1. it’s already blended
  2. they get to munch on bread and butter with it

What are your favourite weaning recipes for your tots? Have you used any of these ones before?

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7 Top Tips for Shopping with Food Allergies

My son was 5 months old when we finally established that the reason for his slow weight gain, reflux, explosive nappies, wheezing and general discomfort was CMPA – Cows’ Milk Protein Allergy.

As we were just about to  embark on weaning we had to learn to shop for allergies pretty quickly, and by this point my maternity pay had stopped so we had to do it on a budget. One stroll down the “free from” aisle in any supermarket will tell you that allergy shopping can get pretty expensive pretty quickly, so here are my top tips for allergy shopping:

1. Plan meals around things that don’t usually contain your allergen(s)

It might seem obvious but sometimes its hard to see past ‘replacement’ items and look at what is already available to you. For us there are a lot of things that are fine to eat without changing anything. Pasta, noodles, rice, bread and potatoes are usually all dairy free as are fresh fruit and veg and meats. for people with a gluten allergy there is still rice, potatoes and rice noodles before you have to start looking at ‘free from’ alternatives.

2.  Search for vegan recipes rather than “dairy free” or “egg free”

Veganism is growing in popularity fast, there are a huge amount of vegan recipes out there that you can make as they are or add whatever you like. Dairy free and egg free are a little more niche when it comes to cooking blogs and videos. Having a good selection of meal ideas is going to make your planning and shopping easier and cheaper.

3. Swerve the free from aisle and look at value products.

My favourite example is garlic bread. In Tesco they sell a free from garlic baguette for £2.50 and an Everyday Value garlic baguette for 35p. Both are dairy free. Asda’s own brand mince pies are 89p and vegan so dairy and egg free and Lidl ‘Simply’ white loaf is the unicorn of breads – it is dairy free like most bread but also contains no soya flour. **Correct at the date of my last shop in each supermarket**

4. ALWAYS ALWAYS ALWAYS read the label.

Sometimes they sneak milk products into the funniest of places, like the sliced sandwich chicken in ASDA or Bernard Matthews Turkey slices with added milk proteins. Even if you’ve had something before, check again because recipes change.

Don’t just check the ingredients though, the allergy advice below can be important. A lot of products in Sainsbury’s and ASDA have the phrase “not suitable for milk allergy sufferers due to manufacturing methods”. This basically means that there is a very high chance of cross contamination with milk products.

5. Get your chocolate fix on the cheap

There are free from chocolate options available but normal dark chocolate is often dairy free and a fraction of the cost. Instant hot chocolate powders contain milk but Cadbury Drinking Chocolate has a dairy free recipe (it says may contain traces which can be fine in some families) so pop some of that in a cup of oat milk and have a creamy hot chocolate.  Bourbon biscuits, for the most part, are also dairy free but that can vary massively from brand to brand so check the packet!

6. Shop around

Alternative milks are perhaps one of the unavoidable free from products. We like oat milk best of all and that can come with a pretty hefty price tag. ASDA is usually the cheapest for fortified Oatly and Morrisons for Oatly Barista when we can get to one. Sometimes they come up on offer on Amazon or  other online retailers so its worth checking around from time to time and stocking up when you find your milk at a good price. Recently, Alpro Hazelnut milk was on 3 for £3 so I stocked up on that for myself and let my son keep drinking our more pricey oat milk stash.

7. Find other allergy families

The best source of information, recipes and bargain tip offs is other people with allergies. I’m in several Facebook support groups and when there’s an offer on they always let us know. They will share their experiences with certain products and let us know if they are worth buying or whether to give them a miss.  I also have some local friends whose children have allergies and it can be much easier to have lunch dates with them because their food will either be safe to share or they will understand the importance of the children not sharing.

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Trying SimplyCook

Before I start, I should probably say, this isn’t sponsored by SimplyCook. I’m just a mumma who loves food and discounted/free thigs!

As the main cook in my household, I hate dinner time, because I try and make something new but always end up going back to the same old meals we usually have, which is what drew me to SimplyCook. As a lot of ‘post box’ brands do, SimplyCook had a ‘first box for £3’ offer going and I’m never one to turn down discounted things so I got one and eagerly awaited the post for my box.

In your box you get 4 mini boxes containing herbs, spices etc. Everything you’’ll need to add to your food to make it taste amazing.

Meal 1- Santa Fe Chicken Salad


Included in the box – 
Cilantro Salsa Blend
Grilled Pepper Mix
Ancho Chilli Rub

Ingredients to buy
Chicken
Peppers
Red Onion
Tomatoes
Bag of Salad

The Verdict.
I’m a little bit on the fence with this one. The chicken had such an intense, moreish flavour to it and really brought the salad to life and the same with peppers but unfortunately the same can’t be said about the Cilantro Salsa Blend. It had a very intense lemon flavour that was hard to swallow and just didn’t go well with the chicken. It was the only thing left on our plates at the end of the meal, which was a shame because I LOVE salsa so was looking forward to trying it on a salad. It just didn’t match the great tastes of the chicken. At  approximately 410 Calories per serving, which isn’t bad, I just don’t think its worth trying again just because of that.

Overall I’d give this meal a 6/10, sadly let down by the Cilantro Salsa Blend. My partner sadly gave it a 4, again let down by the Cilantro Salsa Blend.

Meal 2 – Hungarian Goulash Soup


Included in the box
Sweet Paprika
Goulash Spice Blend
Beef Stock

Ingredients to buy
Pork Sausages
Onion
Carrot
Red and Green Peppers
Tomato Puree

The Verdict.
This meal was delicious! It was warming, comforting and just everything you want for a cold, miserable day. I will say, I chose to have it with crusty bread rather than the 2nd option of mashed potatoes, but I wish I had gone for the potatoes as it is more of a casserole consistency and would have made the meal even better. I can’t fault this meal at all, it wasn’t perfect but it was very very yummy! It is approximately 500 Calories per serving which is amazing from something so hearty!

Overall I’d give this meal an 8/10, simply because it was more of a casserole than a soup but still tasted amazing!

Meal 3 – Shakshouka


Included in the box
Cumin & Caraway Mix
Spricy Tomato Paste
Shakshouka Spices

Ingredients to buy
Eggs
Tomatoes
Onion
Red and Yellow Peppers
Bread

The Verdict.
WOW. We had this for brunch after date night and it may not look like much but it was amazing. It was such a welcomed change to our breakfast routine and it was just perfect. The spices and flavours in this meal just blended so perfectly together with the eggs and it really got me and my partner excited to try it again. At only 375 Calories per serving, it would be rude not have it again! Definitely the best meal from these boxes so far!

Overall I’d give this meal a 10/10. It was such a lovely change from our usual breakfast choices and we are already planning on having it again!

Meal 4 – BBQ Tandoori Chicken


Included in the box
Smoked Chilli Blend
Sweet Potato Seasoning
Tandoori Paste

Ingredients to buy
Chicken Thighs
Natural Yogurt
A Lemon
Sweet Potatoes
A Bag of Salad

The Verdict.
This meal was pretty good, not too spicy but not lacking in flavour also. Even my daughter tried it, which at the moment is saying something because she is ill and really fussy. The meal made me and my partner nicely full and kept us full for a longer period of time (although, I did have room for a sneaky piece of banana cake whilst I wrote this… oops!) This one is a nice altenative to buying food from a takeaway and a lot healthier at approximately only 500 Calories per serving!

Overall, I’d give this meal an 8/10. It was a lovely meal and I will definitely try it again, it just can’t have a 10 because it was nowhere near as good as the Shakshouka.

So! Would I buy this again…?
Absolutely! Not only did it help with the buying side of things, it also gave me more ideas for dinner time. We would never have tried most of the things in this box but we do definitely be eating them again. (Especially the Shakshouka!)

I would absolutely recommend SimplyCook to anyone who is stuck for dinner ideas, wanting to try something new or anyone who just loves amazing food!

Vegan/Veggie curry recipe

As a mummy who was given a huge kick up the bum by her partner to finally go vegan as I’ve been threatening for years, I thought I would share my favourite vegan recipe for any other undecided people out there.
This one is fab, because you can get so many vegetables into it, and it’s even a hit with my little 15 month old (today) Olivia.
INGREDIENTS
A tin of chopped tomatoes
Vegetable stock
Tomato puree
1x brown onion
1x butternut squash
A tin of chickpeas
Oil
Basil
Mild vegan curry paste
A handful of spinach
Enough brown rice for whoever is eating
RICE METHOD
1. Add 1 cup of rice to 2 cups of cold water and put the pan on a low heat. Do not let the rice boil, and keep it moving to avoid it sticking to the bottom of the pan.
2. Rice takes a while to cook, so keep checking back with it. When it’s ready, drain it and cover over with a teatowel to absorb the excess moisture.
CURRY METHOD
1. Pour roughly a tablespoon of oil into a large frying pan and set the pan on a medium heat
2. Core, peel and dice the onion and the butternut squash and put both into the pan
3. Stir regularly for about 5 minutes or until the onion starts to soften and turn clear, then add 3 tablespoons of curry paste (if you’re not vegan, don’t worry about making sure it doesn’t contain milk or eggs, but if you are, you may need to find a vegan subsitute).
4. Mix the curry paste in well, making sure to cover all of the squash and the onion, keep stirring for a couple of minutes.
5. Add 300ml of vegetable stock and make sure there are no lumps of curry paste. Keep stirring and add the tomatoes. Let it simmer on a low heat for about 5 minutes. Don’t let it start to boil!
6. Add in some tomato puree. You can add as much as you like depending on how thick you want your curry sauce. Then add in some black pepper and basil for seasoning.
7. Drain the chickpeas and add them into the mixture. Let the pan simmer for another 5-10 minutes.
8. Tear up a few handfuls of spinach sprinkle into the mixture. Remember, spinach reduces when it’s cooked, so add in slightly more than you think you need. Keep the curry simmering for a couple of minutes to heat it through.
9. Plate up the rice when it’s ready, and then pour the curry on top! If you’re still waiting for the rice to cook, keep the curry on a low heat until it’s ready.
I hope you enjoy trying this one out. You could also add in carrots and peas to get all of your 5 a day in one meal, but this is healthy enough already, and ridiculously tasty!
Please share pictures of your dishes if you attempt the recipe! Here’s mine…

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