I couldn’t wait to wean my twins! Exclusively breastfeeding twins is pretty draining and I looked forward to the promise of them dropping some milk feeds and sleeping longer with fuller bellies. Little did I realise that for a couple of months after starting weaning, the babies would continue to have as many milk feeds as ever alongside their food, and while their tummies got used to digesting new substances they would wake even more frequently with dirty nappies or wind.
I knew from the outset that I wanted my girls to eat home cooked, unprocessed, simple ingredient, and where possible, organic food. I’m not a snob but I believe nutrition is one of the most important things in life and these new lives needed the very best foundation for their future health.
My research led me away from starting the girls on the traditional bland and filling, but nutritionally void foods like baby rice, baby porridge, packaged purees and other forms of processed drool; to foods packed with nutrients that were vital for their development: egg yolks, avocado, banana, sweet potato, and butter. Gradually I introduced more vegetables, cheese & yoghurt, fruit, nuts, meat and fish. Now at 13 months the girls’ diet is more relaxed and includes beans, rice, corn, oats and honey, but I still avoid giving them processed food, and non-organic dairy, vegetables & meat wherever possible.The girls have eaten finger foods from the offset, as they were very strong, could sit up early and were dexterous allowing them to feed themselves (aka baby led weaning). However when they were little and went through growth spurts or hungry days, or now when their teething puts them off food, I supplement their finger foods with my homemade soups, purees, mashes and yogurts.
My approach makes it more time consuming to prepare food than it would if I went down the pouch route, and it takes some forward planning to get out of the door. However there are some great shortcuts, and relatively non-messy foods that we find good for taking out and about (or chosen from a menu if you’re eating out)
Usually we eat breakfast before we need to head out for the day because we get up so early, but occasionally, if going on a long trip, we might get the girls up and to sleep in the car before breakfast, so we need breakfast on the road.
A great nutritious portable breakfast are banana pancakes. I blend two eggs with one banana and sometimes a teaspoon of nut butter, and fry the mixture into mini pancakes. These will keep fine for a few hours out of the fridge if it’s not too hot, and I can make them the night before. These were great first foods for the girls, but made with just the egg yolks until they got older.
If we’re eating out, then scrambled egg, bacon and peas can be found almost anywhere that serves breakfast and is the girls’ favourite!
If we’re out for the day we almost always take a packed lunch. It saves money and I can’t guarantee finding suitable food out and about every day.
Items regularly found in the girls’ lunchbox include sliced organic ham or turkey, cucumber sticks, carrot & apple (now they have more teeth), sticks of organic cheddar, rice cakes, cold roast veg or potatoes normally left over from the night before!
We rarely eat out for lunch but items we’d pick from a standard menu at one year old are side dishes of vegetables, potatoes, fish, a high quality burger or sausages (cut up and skin removed), or something like a risotto. At the moment I don’t usually give them anything from the children’s menu.
When we’re travelling or staying with friends or family we usually cook separately for the girls and then eat later with them. I like to give the girls a hot dinner so items that travel well – tinned and packeted whole foods – do well here.
Something like a chorizo and bean stew can easily be rustled up from dry ingredients, and the girls love this dish!! We’re normally at wherever we’re going to lay our heads for the night for dinner, as the girls go to bed shortly afterwards. Avocado travels well and can accompany many dishes to boost the nutritional value of a meal. If the girls have had a really busy day then I’ll often give them porridge before bed and this can be made with oats and tinned coconut milk for a travel-friendly version.
With such a varied diet I do find it a challenge to think of portable snacks that aren’t repeats of ingredients I use in their main meals! However, the girls do get hungry between meals (even with their milk feeds!) so I tend to revolve a few favourites such as rice cakes (not that nutritious but they aren’t that worrying either) – the Organix ones are great; dried fruit, cheese sticks, homemade flapjacks, cucumber, apples, pears etc.
At the beginning of weaning it can be a daunting prospect to eat outside of the (relatively) controlled environment of your own house. We invested in very cool foldable high chairs that strap on to almost any seat so that if we were anywhere without two high chairs then we weren’t! Large bibs and plenty of wipes are a must, although I hate the wastage of wipes so I rather use a cloth and water. I keep a blanket in the pram and backpack so we can picnic wherever we are even if the ground is wet or dirty. Lots of mini Tupperware and a decent insulated lunch bag helps keep food fresher and less messy.
I hope this post shows that it is definitely possible, if a bit exhausting, to get out every single day with twins and keep them fed healthy food.
Please note that I am not a qualified nutritionist and this post is not intended as professional dietary advice but to inspire ideas only.