We have very strong food values in our home and I wanted to create an environment where my daughter felt in control of her food choices, while being provided with delicious, healthy food. I wanted her to be able to access food and drink whenever she needed it, without needing to ask for assistance unless she wanted to. I luckily still had a mini-fridge from my undergraduate years, but a low shelf or cupboard with shelf-stable foods would also be a great option.
This fridge is not just for Ella; it also stores copious amounts of butter, milk, and eggs. I’ve made it clear which items are hers by placing them on a plastic tray. I chose plastic just because I didn’t want a wooden tray that would absorb fridge smells, and I haven’t found a small glass tray, yet.
Making sure that the fridge or space where the snack tray or basket is free of too much temptation and is safe for children to explore is essential. Ella is tempted by the eggs, but she knows that if she wants to break eggs that she can request to bake. She was supervised routinely when I introduced the mini-fridge concept, and I feel like she is developmentally ready for it.
Ella helps me prepare her snack options every day or every other day. This ensures that the snack items are ready-to-go when she’s hungry and that any preparation is supervised. (I do not replace snack options as a spot opens up — she eats all of the snack options before the tray is replenished.)
This week, a favourite treat has been apples. Ella is capable of cutting the whole apple through with her apple slicer, but I have started cutting the apple in half horizontally before she initiates her “apple slicing work” to prevent it rolling. After she is done, we sprinkle the slices with a bit of lemon juice to prevent browning and place them inside her Sew Smart Solutions food pouch and place it on the tray. I love these reusable pouches, they are good for a variety of items, as they are lined, and the velcro seal is really easy for little hands to open and close independently. I am trying to become plastic-free, especially in the kitchen, but my glass containers have stiff lids that are too hard to open without sending the contents flying everywhere! These pouches replace the need for tupperware, and by having Ella prepare the food with me, she knows what each pouch contains.
And while Ella is no longer in the puree stage of life, she still loves these Little Green Pouches, which are reusable and can be filled with yogurt, apple sauce, smoothies, etc. We’ve been using these for over a year now, and while the first batch had some defective seals that ripped after a few uses, the company quickly replaced them and the new set has not had any issues. I especially love them now that I’ve seen some of the nasty videos and pictures of the disposable, store-bought squeezables and the things that can lurk inside those containers. By having reusable containers that we fill ourselves, I can ensure that everything that goes in is good quality, I can open and peek inside if needed, and I can know when it was prepared.
We also have this small, lightweight-glass pitcher with a lid that we fill with flavoured tea and chill for a natural “iced” tea minus all of the sugar. (Sometimes we just fill it with water, too.) This pitcher is small enough that Ella can properly handle it and I don’t have to worry about spills. I always leave it slightly opened, since it gets “refreshed” often, but an older child could twist it open and closed with little effort.
As a special treat, Sew Smart Solutions has a great deal on their pouches — buy one get the second half off until December 1st! They also have unpaper towels and sandwich bags, all in some cute patterns. We’ve just placed an order for the unpaper towels and requested snaps on them so that they can be rolled onto our “unpaper towel roll holder.”
We’ll be regularly featuring posts under the title “Kids in the Kitchen,” and will discuss other tools and strategies to help include children in food prepartion. And we’ll continue to give you little sneak peeks into our Montessori-and-Waldorf-influenced home.