Beginning your weaning journey with your baby 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.
Get ready to wean by getting organised in the kitchen, it will make your life so much easier… and I’m not just talking about the dreaded Tupperware cupboard! In this article I have put together your weaning equipment essentials, as well as a few tips to help you get ready to wean and make sure your kitchen is as prepped as possible! This will help make sure the food you serve your little ones is safe, allowing you to relax and enjoy the weaning process!
How to organise your fridge
How to get ready to wean? 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.
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 to 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
- It’s best to store eggs in the fridge for safety and freshness 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!
- Don’t forget to also keep an eye on packs in the fridge that have been opened! Opening a product with a ‘use by’ date (more on these next) such as ham or milk, will change the shelf life and usually means it will need to be used within the next few days, or popped in the freezer.
Plan ahead when preparing your baby’s meals
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!
The good news is 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 and use the leftovers within the next 2 days.
Don’t be put off freezing your foods as this has no impact on being able to freeze the leftovers.
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?!
It’s important when planning your meals to be aware of the difference between ‘use by’ dates and ‘best before’ dates. Put simply, ‘use by’ dates are there for your safety and mustn’t be ignored whereas, ‘best before’ dates are about quality. Whilst food is safe to eat past its ‘best before’ date (but might not taste as good), food past its ‘use by’ date is not safe to eat especially as you often can’t tell if a food is unsafe by its appearance, smell or taste, so it’s not worth the risk; particularly when there are little ones involved.
Kitchen essentials for weaning your baby
Get ready to wean by making sure you have all the kitchen essentials.
When you start out on your 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 weaning kitchen essentials to help make sure the food you serve is safe, that little bit easier!
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 overcooking – it’s a win-win!
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.
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!
Babies have small appetites so being able to portion their food is a must! Remember, when grabbing food from the freezer 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.
Make sure you have a decent cleaner to help keep your kitchen counter clean before cooking and after handling high risk foods such as raw meat and poultry
It’s best to make sure you have enough cloths and tea towels so you can change these daily. If you can, 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.
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.
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.
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!
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?
 WRAP, ‘Food surplus and waste in the UK – key facts’ (2020)
 Food Standards Agency, ‘Assessing the contribution made by the food chain to the burden of UK-acquired norovirus infection’ (2019)
ARTICLE WRITTEN BY JENNA BROWN
Jenna is a fully qualified Environmental Health Practitioner specialising in food safety and public health.
She obtained a first-class Batchelor (BSc) degree in Environmental Health and has since qualified as an Environmental Health Practitioner with the Chartered Institute of Environmental Health (CIEH). Over the past 12 years she has worked in both the public and private sector advising businesses on all things food safety and public health.
Since becoming a Mum to her 2-year-old little girl Mia, she understands first-hand how much things change when you have a little one to think about too! She has always been passionate about food safety and her mission as Food Safety Mum is to help give parents confidence when cooking at home or when eating out and about!
For lots more food safety advice, follow Jenna on Instagram @Foodsafetymum