Beginning the weaning journey is such an exciting time for so many reasons but it can also be a bit overwhelming with so much to think about and prepare for.
Getting organised in the kitchen will make your life so much easier… and I’m not just talking about the dreaded Tupperware cupboard! I have put together a few tips to help make sure your kitchen is as ready as possible so that the food you serve your little ones is safe; allowing you to relax, and enjoy the weaning process!
First things first, start with organising your fridge. Knowing how to store food once you get it home from the supermarket and organise your fridge correctly will help you avoid food poisoning by reducing the risk of cross contamination between raw and ready to eat foods as well as helping you to reduce food wastage.
Did you know? The average household with children could save around £60 per month by reducing their food waste and saving food that could have been eaten from being thrown away?!
So, how exactly should you organise your fridge and what else do you need to know to help keep the food in your fridge safer for longer?
- Most importantly, check the temperature of your fridge! To reduce the risk of food poisoning, make sure your fridge is running between 1-5⁰C. If your fridge doesn’t have a built-in thermometer, then you can check this using a fridge thermometer or a food probe!
- Organise your fridge! Check out the guide below to help you organise your fridge… But always make sure you store raw meat and fish separately from ready to eat foods. The best place to store raw meat and raw fish is the bottom shelf – not only does this prevent cross contamination of juices dripping onto other foods below, but is also the coldest part of the fridge.
- Keep cooked and ready to eat foods higher up, saving the doors for condiments, jams and juices as the doors are most at risk of temperature fluctuations
- Store eggs in the fridge – For safety and freshness, the ideal place to store eggs at home is in the fridge as this ensures eggs are stored at a constant temperature below 20⁰C.
- First in – First out: When returning from the supermarket, put new foods at the back so using older products first will come naturally!
Planning ahead the meals you want to cook for baby (and yourself!) for the next couple of days will help you decide what foods you can keep in the fridge, and which foods to freeze!
It’s important when planning your meals to be aware of the difference between use by dates and best before dates and to never serve a baby food that has gone past it’s use by date. Put simply….
Use by dates are there for your safety and must not be ignored
Best before dates are about quality; which means food is safe to eat past its best before date, but just might not taste as good!
And don’t forget to keep an eye on packs that have been opened – Opening a product; such as ham or milk, will change the shelf life and usually mean it needs to be used within the next few days, so make sure you check the back of pack for this information!
The good news is though that it is perfectly safe to cook or freeze food right up until (and including!) the use by date. So, if you’re not going to use something before it’s use by date, either pop it in the freezer or cook it up and use the leftovers within the next 2 days.
Did you know? Even if you use previously frozen raw meat when cooking, you can still portion and freeze the cooked leftovers to reheat another day?!
When you start the weaning journey, there are so many weaning ‘essentials’ covering everything from choosing the right highchair, spoons, bibs, plates (and so much more…) but don’t forget to stock up your kitchen with essential items that will help make your food prep easier and safer!
I’ve put together a list of my top 10 kitchen essentials to help make sure the food you serve is safe, that little bit easier!
- Food probe – I consider a food probe a must-have for any kitchen! You can’t tell from the outside whether food is cooked, so a food probe eliminates the guesswork whilst also helping to prevent over-cooking – it’s a win-win!
- Colour coded equipment – Choosing colour coded chopping boards is the simplest and easiest way to reduce the risk of cross contamination between raw and ready to eat foods
- Freezer labels – Ever pulled a random container of food out of the freezer having no idea what it is or how long it’s been in there?! No, me neither……. I’m a huge fan of batch cooking with a little one at home so keeping track of what is in your freezer is a must!
- Portion pots – Babies have small appetites so being able to portion their food is a must! Remember when grabbing food from the freezer that you can only reheat food once so having small portions will help make sure you are only reheating as much as you need and reducing your food wastage!
- Anti-bacterial cleaner – Make sure you have a decent cleaner to help keep your kitchen sides clean before cooking and after handling high risk foods such as raw meat and poultry
- A selection of cloths and tea towels – It’s best to make sure you have enough cloths and tea towels so you can change these daily! If you can though, I would always recommend that when cleaning up after preparing raw foods; such as raw meat, poultry and soiled vegetables, that you use a paper towel squirted with anti-bacterial spray. This will help make sure that you don’t pick up food poisoning germs and spread them around the kitchen!
- Air-tight containers – These containers are great for storing dry food items as well as leftovers in the fridge! By keeping moisture out, airtight containers help keep food fresher and safer for longer.
- Food Cover – A mesh food cover is a must have for any kitchen to make sure those pesky flies don’t land on your food – whether you’re dining alfresco or cooling your leftovers!
- Fridge thermometer – If your fridge has a built-in thermometer, you might not need one of these but if not, then it would be worth investing in a fridge thermometer to make sure your fridge is running below 5⁰C and the best part is, you can usually pick one of these up for less than £5!
- A colander – Okay so you probably do already have one of these but don’t forget that you’ll need to wash all fruit and veg before giving it to baby!
Did you know? Even Norovirus (the most common cause of gastroenteritis) can be found on foods such as lettuce and raspberries?
Hopefully you find this blog useful in helping you prepare for the weaning journey with your little one!