What Types of Meals Does Your Nanny Prepare for the Kids

Updated on June 10, 2013
K.A. asks from New York, NY
29 answers

I have a 6 year old and almost 1 year old who are very good eaters but find that all they had for dinner with our nanny was pasta, chicken nuggets, fish sticks, and frozen veggies, etc. unless I cooked something. We just hired a new nanny so I want to start off right with dinner time. Just curious what your nannies prepare for dinner and what you keep in the house for them to make for the kids.

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M.!.

answers from Phoenix on

I think you should re-read the responses you received with an open mind. I just read them all and I did not see the "judgement and obnoxious tone" you did. I saw moms who qualified their answers by saying they themselves didn't have nannies, but if they did.... And moms who were trying to give you the help you asked for.

9 moms found this helpful
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G.B.

answers from Oklahoma City on

When I was a nanny the mom did the monthly menu and bought the groceries so it was never any question about what I was cooking for dinner.

7 moms found this helpful
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O.O.

answers from Kansas City on

I've never needed a nanny, but have a question...,Is she meal planning & shopping? Because if so, something there needs adjusted.
Either you plan & she shops, or you plan & shop.

Or is she watching them at her home?
Or are you providing money for her to take them out?

3 moms found this helpful

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C.O.

answers from Washington DC on

K.:

I don't understand - does your nanny go out and do the grocery shopping or does she use the food in your refrigerator? If so - then you have no one to blame but yourself about what they ate.

I don't have a nanny. I'm the mom - so in essence, I am my kids nanny, chef, short order cook, meal planner, nurse, psychiatrist, planner, taxi driver/chauffeur, maid, and so much more.

Since you have hired a nanny - she is your employee. You tell her what to do, what the schedule is, meal planning etc. if you want HER to do it? Then you need to sit down with her and have an expectations meeting. Write out EXACTLY what you expect of her - cooking, cleaning, meal planning, child care - is she expected to help with homework? Is she expected to drive them to and from school? Is she expected to pick them up when they are sick and care for them? YOU need to detail that with HER.

Set your budget for meals. Set your expectations and work with her. The first 30 days are the days of 'dating' and getting to know each other.

Good luck!

10 moms found this helpful
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S.S.

answers from Chicago on

I am a nanny. I'm not a house keeper or a cook. I will heat up things that my boss leaves. I will start dinner for him that he clearly indicates. I occasionally make dinner if he is running late. Lunches are easy things. Sandwiches, fruits, veggies, yogurt etc. Unlike the previous poster I do not make glazed salmon etc. I was hired to care for the children not be a fancy cook.

9 moms found this helpful
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H.W.

answers from Portland on

I agree with the previous posters on the importance of communication.

When I was a nanny, it was expected I would make some meals for the kids, but they were certainly not gourmet meals. Kids are such picky eaters (some of them) that I often made something much like a ploughman's plate (hard boiled egg, cheese, whole grain bread, fresh veggies and some apple slices); or grilled cheese/cheese quesadilla with veggie slices or a cooked veg like peas or corn; soups and sandwiches, etc.In short, the meals weren't labor intensive and I wasn't usually cooking from scratch (unless we were doing cooking as an activity for the day).

With a nearly-1 year old (at that age, they often keep a mom's arms busy-- I remember trying to make meals with my son at that age and it was pretty intense) I'd go for meals that are simple and that can be prepped in advance. Infants are very demanding and if you have a six year old, that nanny is probably also helping with homework/reading, etc. I'd leave the fine cuisine for the nights you are home and go with reliable favorites when the nanny is there. Just be sure to specify what you want served or even make out a menu in advance to leave her.

8 moms found this helpful

T.S.

answers from San Francisco on

Wow, I don't really get your SWH. I think you got some good advice. No one was really judging you for your food choices or having a nanny, they were just saying you need to be more specific about what you want and communicate that to your employee. Unless you are specific then it's up to the nanny what she wants to prepare.
Have the foods on hand you want her to prepare and TALK to her about what kinds of meals you expect. The clearer you are the happier you both will be.

7 moms found this helpful

M.S.

answers from Omaha on

I read your question, and I thought to myself: I hope they don't rip this woman apart for having a nanny. So I looked through the responses, and I from what I saw, no one did. I think you got some really good advice.

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E.T.

answers from Albuquerque on

Our nanny was an awful cook, and lived on Diet Coke and chips... so cooking a well balanced meal was not part of her skill set. I had to actually plan out meals and show her how to cook some of the foods I wanted my kids to eat, but once she had a little instruction she was good to go.

Your previous nanny probably didn't know how to cook and wasn't very inventive, so she just grabbed whatever frozen food you had stashed away. There's nothing wrong with kids eating chicken nuggets and frozen vegetables (otherwise why would you have them in your house, right)... but they can eat a lot more than that. Work with your new nanny on a meal plan. That's the best way to start things off right.

7 moms found this helpful

C.C.

answers from San Francisco on

When my girls were little, our first nanny was a grandmother from Mexico, and having raised 7 children herself, she was an excellent cook. She could cook a full meal while holding the baby on her hip! She would make enchiladas, chilaquiles, chicken in mole sauce... all kinds of things. She would hide fresh veggies in quesadillas. The girls were very well fed.

Our second nanny was Armenian by way of Syria. She would cook great middle eastern food - cheese boreg, kufta, you name it.

However, if your nanny is American and was raised on junk food, then you're going to have to get creative. I'd suggest that if her cooking skills are not quite up to par, that you look into something like Dream Dinners. Basically, you go once a month and assemble dinners. All of the ingredients are there, and you freeze the dinners. The night before, remove the bag from the freezer and put it in the fridge to thaw. Then it will be ready for dinner the next night. The instructions are right there (if my husband can follow them, surely your nanny can, too), and most dinners are quick to assemble, and cook in half an hour or so. Then you have a dinner that is actually pretty fancy, yet easy for a non-chef to cook. My kids love these meals.

That being said, there's no reason to condescend to people who are trying to help you. I am a mom who has always worked full-time, and have employed nannies, but I wouldn't look down on advice from a mom who is a mom full-time. If you don't want advice, then don't ask. Just my two cents.

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J.B.

answers from Boston on

When one of my friends was a nanny she used to cook things like honey-glazed salmon and garlic-lime chicken, which I only know because she used my recipes and reported that they were regular favorites with the kids she watched. Part of my friend's job was menu planning and shopping, so she would put together ideas for the mom to approve and then shop and cook. She only worked afternoons/evenings because the kids were in school so crockput meals weren't an option but those would probably be easy enough for a nanny. My sister's nanny makes whatever my sister tells her to - my sister plans a menu, shops for the menu, leaves recipes and expects her nanny to follow it, within reason.

I think it's all about expectations - if you want your nanny to cook from scratch, you have to hire someone who is an experienced cook. Otherwise, you're going to have to cook things in batches (perhaps on Sundays) and leave things for her to just finish or heat up. My summer baby-sitters have really only had to serve lunch and as college students, they would tend to stick to things like chicken nuggets, mac and cheese and sandwiches, which are fine for lunch but I know that if I wanted them to cook a real dinner, it probably wasn't happening.

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S.T.

answers from New York on

Who is buying the chicen nuggets and fish sticks? If I was a nanny and saw them in the fridge I'd use them as meals. Frozen veggies have been found to have more nutrients because they are frozen within hours of harvest. If the nanny is also doing the shopping and buying the fish sticks and chicken nuggets she may be doing so because that's all she knows. While I grew up in a home where mom made food from fresh ingredients not all of my friends did. What are your expectations? Does your nanny know? This is usually about un-spoken expectations. It could be that your nanny, at her last job - was told frozen veggies & chicken nuggest are perfect as the kids will eat them.

If you want them to have grilled chicken with asparagus and couscous you will probably have to make up a menu, instructions how to make it and if the nanny does the shopping you'll have to make a shopping list as well.

Consider the background of a typical nanny and yours and realize the difference. Heck my BFF, who also grew up in a white suburban neighborhood has VERY different ideas about a typical meal than I do. She eats her food very plain and well-done meats & fish (which might explain why she's skinny since the food is pretty taste-barren - and why i'm 30 lbs overweight since I like food that's very tasty and medium-rare...) So if your nanny is from a different country expect that her food ideas are starting from a different place.

When my teenagers were babies our nanny was from Poland. She was wonderful with the kids. But if I let her make the meals my kids would be eating perogies, sausage & cabbage much of the time. (My 17 yr old daughter LOVES perogies even 15 years later). When my mom was very ill we had an aide live with us for about 9 months. She was from Jamaica. Her cooking style was very different from ours. When my mom wanted chicken soup lovely Lorraine would start and finish it within 45 minutes. We grew up with a German influence and soup was an all day process begun in the morning with leftover roasted chicken cooking all day for stock. But Germany is in northern Europe where there are long cold winters. Jamaica is in the Caribbean where any use of heat to cook is done quickly to avoid standing over a hot stove. People from Greece use fish, olive oil, capers and lemons - in Italy these use tomatoes & basil, etc. We come from different cultures, different experiences. That all goes into what we make for dinner!

I'm sure if you give your nanny some ideas of what you'd like your kids to eat for dinner and how to make it she'd be happy to try it out for your kids.

Good luck!

6 moms found this helpful

C.T.

answers from Santa Fe on

We don't have a nanny, but we have a 19 year old babysitter who comes all day on Mondays while I work that one day. I write down for her what she is to cook. I show here where things are located. She does exactly what I ask of her. I also write down a daily schedule with activities for the day that she can loosely follow. I give her some options too. I also have the rules written down so my kids don't think they can get away with anything while she is here! Just write down what you want her to make each day and make sure she knows where the ingredients are.

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M.S.

answers from Oklahoma City on

K., I read over all the responses and I am not sure what ruffled your feathers. We have some strong women on this post that are pretty direct but I did not pick up on anyone being mean or hurtful. I don't have a nanny, but I do work and need to plan meals for hubs and kids when I am not home. I am not the best at that yet. I need to be more organized and plan ahead. I have visions of making crockpot meals and freezing meals ahead of time. Hopefully one day I will get it together to do that but for now they eat out quite a bit. Maybe with your nanny you can do one day of crockpot and a couple of meals you prepare ahead of time and freeze. Sometimes I make taco meat ahead of so my hubs and kids can have a
quick meal. Good luck! I know it is stressful working and planning meals!

5 moms found this helpful

J.W.

answers from St. Louis on

Holy angry what happened Batman!! Yikes! Most of us that work full time don't refer to our summer babysitters as nannies, that's all.

Others are right, they make what is on hand so if you have junk easily on hand and no instructions, that is what you get.

Really you need to take off early one day or pay her late and talk to her. You have to start with a discussion as to what she can cook. There is no point in saying you need to make this if she can't make that! ya know? After all you hired her to be a great babysitter, not a great cook, you may not have lucked onto both.

So have that discussion and go from there.

5 moms found this helpful

S.G.

answers from Grand Forks on

You need to make a meal plan, with your nanny, based on what you want your kids to eat, what your kids like to eat, what your nanny knows how to cook and what kinds of foods you will have on hand. I imagine that you want your nanny to spend more time with the children than cooking in the kitchen. I cook a variety of different meals for my kids that require minimum kitchen prep.. They mostly like plain food, meat, starch an veg. Baked fish, chicken breast, roast pork tenderloin, roast beef, steak, pork chops, ham, roast chicken, roast turkey, rice, potatoes, pasta and veggies.

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S.S.

answers from Los Angeles on

Chilli, rice, casseroles, vegetable spring rolls, stews, toasted sandwiches, soups, homemade pizzas, beans - just any normal food. I always keep plenty of fruit and yoghurt too. If i'm too knackered to cook, i serve toast and a plate of cut up fruit. Also, there's nothing wrong with frozen vegies - they are nutritionally sound.

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C.F.

answers from Portland on

I agree with Suz, unless you are putting stuff in the kitchen for her to make that is actually good and healthy, that is what she will make.

At least she wasn't taking them out to Mcrap-Donalds...
Never had a nanny, but I do cook what is in my kitchen, I would assume that is what anyone, nanny or other wise, would cook.

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H.L.

answers from Houston on

Sometimes she brings in something that she thinks he might like. (She always asks me before giving him something new.) I take my toddler with me to buy fresh produce, and we talk about food, and he picks out some things. The nanny will give him what I've already prepared, or she will cook for him. He has his own shelf in the fridge, and she knows that he can have anything from the produce basket. I don't have frozen stuff like you mentioned for her to choose from, but she doesn't pull from the freezer, anyway, unless I tell her about something there or she's put it there herself.

I had a conversation with her early on about what kind of diet I wanted him to have. Of course, I can't force him to eat what he doesn't like, and I don't deny him fully things that he really enjoys. She knows my goals with him and works toward them with me.

4 moms found this helpful
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J.F.

answers from Boston on

I have a sitter that feeds my 4 & 6 year olds dinner approx 2x a week; I always try to plan easy meals for her to serve, for example: turkey meatballs in the crockpot - I make the pasta in the AM for her to just reheat; popcorn chicken, applesauce, and cucumber slices; Elios pizza with fresh steamed broccoli on side; chicken veggie soup with cheese and crackers, with fruit....I leave her a specific menu and directions so I know what my kids are being fed and mealtimes are easy for her...I know how difficult it is to prepare meals with kids underfoot! Good luck!

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F.B.

answers from New York on

Our manny was capable of heating a hot pocket for himself. My parents, who now do pick up and drop offs at day care will give DS some fruit, yogurt, and cereal as a morning or after school snack. Apart from that, the cooking is on us.

You can set broad guidelines for your nanny - i.e. a veg, a protien, a carb, and a fruit at every meal and stock your fridge with fresh, partly prepped (i.e. grilled chicken), or fully cooked foods. you can ask her to go food shopping, you can dictate a daily menu, whatever you want.

My 6 year old god daughter is currently on a soup phase-
she likes carrot ginger soup, gazpacho, clam chowder, potato leek, minestrone, tomato and chicken noodle, she will tolerate, but isn't wild about mushroom bisque, split pea, and beef with barley.
She also likes tacos/ burritos/ fajitas, quessadillas, nachos.
She likes pasta, ravioli, rigatoni, manicotti, pizza, etc.
she adores spinach.
sometimes she eats a vegetable side as a main course, i.e. glazed carrots, creamed spinach, sauteed mushroom, braised brussel sprouts (with bacon).
she likes stir fries whether they are seasoned with teriyaki or soy, or peanut sauce, or marinara.
she like raw veg and ranch
she likes sandwich wraps.

All of these are easily doable, and can be fully prepped by a nanny, or assembled by a nanny.

Good luck to you and yours,
F. B.

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C.P.

answers from San Francisco on

I provide our nanny with some cash for food enough for my kids and her and a delivery menu to a great Italian place down the street occasionally. Or I make something. Sometimes they do get chicken nuggets instead of what I planned for them. Sometimes she cooks for them usually something yea... like your nanny. But I know our nanny works hard all day with our kids. She takes them to the parks, reads to them, cleans around our house, does laundry, baths, and has never ever called in sick or came late. So I figure that if she wants to do a simple meal for them for dinner then I'm grateful... Because at the end of the day... She still worked hard and loved my kids for me and showed them kindness and learning experiences in the time that I could not. :) I'd choose your battles. Maybe your nanny doesn't do a lot of 'other perks.' But if they do I would let the food thing slid. Or give her money and a menu with what you want them to eat, or make it and provide it.

3 moms found this helpful
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G.♣.

answers from Springfield on

I didn't realize meal preparation beyond what you listed was part of the job description for a nanny. I only mention that because it's quite possible your new nanny didn't realize it either.

I try to make a variety of meals for my kids, but it really becomes so much more manageable when I only have to cook 2 or 3 nights a week and do leftovers the other nights. Since I work full-time during the school year, this often means extra cooking on the weekends so that there are enough leftovers to last the week. (Otherwise my husband will probably serve hotdogs or spaghettio's :-)

Just want to encourage you to consider what is a realistic expectation. Maybe the meals you listed aren't something they should have every night, but once or twice a week isn't too bad.

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C.S.

answers from Las Vegas on

My husband and I both work full time and then some. I prefer that our very active daughter eat a proper meal, so when I am at work and she is with dad, I often make a meal, place it in a divider plate, cover it and ask that he be sure she eats that meal.

If it is up to my husband, they will eat filet a fish at McDonalds. I don't mind that they do that sometimes, but not all the time.

You can start a crock pot of chicken, roast, or beans and ask that they eat that. If your children don't mind raw vegetables, that is a good substitute to the frozen, however, I do prefer the frozen vegetables over canned.

Now that it is summer, a pasta salad with some added green beans, garbanzo beans, kidney beans, broccoli, carrots, cauliflower, zucchini, uncooked cucumbers, and uncooked tomatoes will be nice, if the children will enjoy that. My family loves that salad in the summer and it is easy enough to make a big bowl to pick at over a couple of days. I start it with that Classic Suddenly Salad mix. I know it is not the best pasta, but that is what they like. In a separate pot/pan, I toss in the vegetables I have on hand. Add equal parts, Red Wine Vinegar, water, and Olive Oil. I add a little parsley, plenty of oregano, and a pinch of basil, with salt & pepper. I cook it for about 3 minutes on pretty high heat, so that the fluids come to a boil. At that point, the veggies are still pretty hard, but I can push a fork through them. I remove the pan from the heat and mix the drained veggies with the pasta. I let the steam clear and place it in the refrigerator. The veggies should be a little on the crisp crunchy side, yet cooked. Once the salad has sat over night, the pasta will absorb the zest of the dressing, so I just add a little bottled Newman's or Wishbone Italian dressing.

Also, can you ask her to pick up a cooked chicken from the supermarket if she isn't able to cook while tending to the children?

2 moms found this helpful

S.J.

answers from St. Louis on

I will share with you what I do for my sitters and for myself on days I know I need something fast and easy....

- lunch meat from the deli only - not the packaged processed stuff
- Sandwiches on whole wheat with tomato slices
- any kind of fruit and veggie you can imagine, the easier the better. Blueberries and things like that are so easy and healthy
- whole wheat pasta with butter or olive oil
- I like fresh veggies but frozen is actually a great option
- I like freezer meals that you can take out of the freezer and just warm - muffins, homemade breakfast burritos, etc
- Breakfast for dinner is a good option - organic eggs and some nitrate free bacon.
- Also, sometimes my youngest (2.5) will eat "snacks" for dinner. Yogurt, almonds, cheese, green beans. I am OK with that too!

This is really a difficult question to answer, because I know I have to cook ahead of time for anyone watching our little ones or they wouldn't eat the way I would them to either. So do your best, cook as much as you can beforehand, and hope for the best! Just leave instructions as to what NOT to feed if you really cannot tell her what to cook.

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J.H.

answers from New York on

I'm a nanny to a 2 year old girl. Her mom prepares most of her meals in advance, but she keeps other things on hand like veggie chips, cottage cheese, yogurt & fruit that I can slice up, etc. If I were you, I'd give the nanny pretty specific guidelines regarding the foods that you want offered to your children. Good luck!

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C.M.

answers from Chicago on

Sometimes foreign nannies are great cooks and are likely to cook more fancy meals.

American nannies it all depends on who you hire. My friend is a nanny and she does not cook homemade meals and is not expected to. If she needs to feed the kids dinner she will follow the instructions of her employer and cook things like macaroni and hot dogs, pasta, chicken nuggets or heat up leftovers. She says she does not cook and her job is to watch the kids, not make fancy dinners. She also cannot make a fancy dinner while the kids are underfoot!

If you would like your nanny to cook better meals then before you hire one you should make this expectation clear and make sure that it's part of the nanny's skill set. You will then need to work out the grocery shopping list with her.

When I grocery shop I plan the meals ahead of time and buy what I need. I can't imagine doing it any other way. If this is what you do, then you can post your meal plan on the fridge for your nanny. Also, will she be cooking just for the kids or for you and your husband as well?

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S.S.

answers from New York on

I have left chicken breast for her to bread for the kids so at least the chicken is real meat. Also, pork chops with Shake and Bake. These are easy but better quality than the usual "kid" foods. Corn on the cob.

R.X.

answers from Houston on

I do not think that I would ever have a nanny. For my babysitters, I would feed my son before I left home and then leave out nutritious snacks (carrot sticks, popcorn, plums, etc.).

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