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The other night I made A CLEAN OUT THE FRIDGE sort of meal.  Granted, it wasn’t a five star meal, or something I would make again and again, but the reason it is worth writing about is because I was able to pull it off before my husband arrived home, and Cosette, my toddler was wide awake and under foot.

ricBeing a busy mom, I often have to wait to cook until my husband is home in the evening, or until my toddler is asleep. Which as all parents know, getting a toddler to sleep, and stay asleep, can take all evening. Dinner time is often sacrificed to keep up with our busy lives. The meal I cooked the other night didn’t require much prep work, or clean up, and I didn’t even consult a recipe. I was using fresh ingredients I had on hand, and vegetables that I didn’t want to go to waste. This meal didn’t take much time to put together, which was key in holding my daughter’s attention. My strategy was to get her involved as much as possible.

image1 copyI got the wild rice started on the stove because I knew that would take the longest, and while I was doing that, I gave her the chore of gathering all of the vegetables out of the fridge. This took a while since she would pick them up and carry them one at a time. Then while I was chopping the veggies, and making the sauce, I had her sit in her counter height, high chair, where we had a little conversation about all of the veggies. We talked about the color, the texture, we would smell it, taste it, and ultimately she would decide if she wanted more of it or if one taste was plenty. I am trying to introduce her to lots of vegetables early on, so when she isn’t with me and starts making her own food choices, she is comfortable trying new foods and not limited to the children’s menu. Not every meal has to be amazing, but if you can incorporate healthy habits, and build them up slowly, it will payoff for your family in the long run.