How to Prepare and Store Portable DIY Baby and Toddler Food
We all know the importance of feeding our little people quality, nutritious food. It creates positive lifelong eating habits, and with 1-in-4 Australian kids now overweight or obese, it’s more important than ever.
But as mums, our lives have never been busier. Within one generation, we have added a career to the already hectic juggling act that is parenthood. It generally means less time in the kitchen, and less time eating at home.
Store-bought feeding solutions, such as food pouches, have given us a fast way to get the job done. But it leaves one wondering… what has my child actually eaten?
We have pulled together a few prepping and packing tips to help you master portable eating like a pro.
GET GEARED UP
For babies, you're definitely going to need some key items to ensure feeding on-the-run is a pleasant and safe experience.
STOCK UP ON FREEZER-FRIENDLY CONTAINERS
Ideally, they should be airtight or at least have lids. Also look for baby storage solutions that have none of the nasties, such as phthalates, BPA and PVC, which can leach into foods, especially when frozen.
If pureeing, good quality non-toxic reusable food pouches are ideal for no-mess feeding on the go. They are generally freezer safe, leak-proof and budget friendly. AND most importantly, you know what’s in them.
PETITE PORTABLE PORTIONS
This means having single-serve sized containers which can easily be transported in a small cooler bag (see details below regarding safe storage). Any uneaten food should never be consumed at a later date, so to reduce food waste, one serve containers are best. Again for purees, reusable food pouches or other small sealable containers are ideal.
Investing in a good multi-compartment, bento-box style container is a great way to promote feeding a range of different food types safely. Here are some things to consider.
- Compact design - it may need to fit in your nappy bag (along with the kitchen sink!) So the more compact, the better.
- Needs to fit in a cooler – your food containers must fit into an insulated carry bag, particularly if you plan to include any of the ‘Higher Risk’ items from the list below.
- Keep it simple - from a food safety perspective, a simple design is best. The fewer nooks and crannies for germs to hide in, the better.
- Non-toxic – look for lunchboxes that are BPA free and Phthalate free. These are chemicals that you don’t want near your little ones food. If it’s not stated anywhere, assume it’s not free from these nasties.
A QUALITY COOLER
Even on cold days it’s important to use an insulated bag, with either an ice brick or a frozen reusable food pouch to keep everything cool. There are loads of insulated bags around. I recommend selecting one that:
- Is machine washable – you should be able to just pop them in the washing machine on a gentle cycle, and air dry
- Is big enough to fit all the containers and accessories required for hassle-free feeding on-the-go.
- Has a top handle or strap to carry or attach onto a backpack or nappy bag if you run out of space.
WHAT ARE THE BEST FOODS TO EAT ON-THE-GO?
We've put together a list of low-risk and higher-risk snack and meal ideas for safely feeding little ones on-the-go. It’s important to know however, that all foods can cause food poisoning, it’s just that bacteria grow better in some foods more than others.
It’s a good idea just to get in the habit of storing all foods in a cooler bag. So make sure you have ice-bricks on hand. A frozen DIY smoothie or yoghurt in a reusable food pouch can also act as a great secondary ice-brick.
Many of these suggestions are simple to pull together. For those that need a little more work, do yourself a favour and bake or blend in bulk, then fill your freezer. This way you’ll have chilled, healthy homemade options to grab and go!
LOW RISK FOODS
- Vegetable or fruit baby purees
- Avocado, eaten with a spoon
- Nut butter with crackers, carrots, celery, cucumber.
- Vegetable sticks – cucumber, carrot, capsicum, celery, snow peas
- Finely chopped nuts (cashews, brazils, walnuts are best)
- Rice cakes or corn thins, or avocado with wholegrain crackers
- Corn on the cob
- Apple or pear slices with nut butter
- Homemade popcorn
- Cubes of steamed or roasted sweet potato and carrot
- Frozen peas and corn, thawed
- Broccoli and cauliflower skewer – florets steamed and popped onto stick (avoid sharp sticks!)
- Grapes and cherry tomatoes, halved or quartered
- Watermelon sticks, leaving green part on to use as a handle, less mess!
HIGHER RISK FOODS
- Baby purees containing meat, dairy, seafood or poultry
- Smoothies - a great way to get extra fruit and veggies into your toddler’s diet. Transport in reusable food pouch (doubles as an ice brick and thaws to a slushy consistency... yum!)
- Hard boiled eggs - cut into quarters or sliced
- Eggy bread - cut into fingers
- Chia Pudding - great in reusable food pouches (mix together greek yoghurt, chia seeds & blended fruit of choice)
- Frozen DIY yoghurt pouches – using Greek or coconut yoghurt as the base
- Hummus with vegie sticks - carrots, cucumber or celery
- Mini egg quiches
- Chickpeas - cooked until soft
- Healthy homemade muffins – can be made in bulk and frozen for quick access
- Homemade banana pancakes.
Note: these have no age recommendations listed, so if you're unsure as to what your baby or toddler should be eating at their current feeding stage, visit https://www.pregnancybirthbaby.org.au/moving-to-solids .
What is your littles favourite on-the-go meal or snack?