Busy Philipps is the internet's best friend. The actress — and now author — has had a lot going on this year (a movie! A book! A podcast!), but she manages to remain refreshingly honest and vulnerable on her Instagram. When she talks about her kids or the new diet she's trying on Instagram stories, it feels like she's talking to her real-life BFF, Michelle Williams, instead of her massive 1.1 million followers.
As a mom of two girls, Birdie (9) and Cricket (5), Busy navigates the same things many parents struggle with. She worries about Birdie at sleepaway camp and she attempts to make Pinterest-inspired cakes for Cricket's birthday. She's a cool mom, sure, but she's also just a regular mom.
When Busy was in New York this week to talk about back-to-school season in partnership with Tropicana Kids, I sat down with her to talk about the challenges she faces with feeding her kids, her go-to snacks for Birdie and Cricket, and what an average family dinner looks like (sometimes the Instant Pot is involved).
Who does the majority of the cooking in your family?
I would say it's pretty evenly distributed. Our nanny makes a lot of food that takes time. She makes these black beans that are so good, and lentils. And then Mark and I have an Instant Pot. We really do take turns.
What's your favorite Instant Pot Recipe?
My favorite recipe is something I actually learned on Whole30. There's a Whole30 Indian saag recipe that you can make in the Instant Pot, and it's so delicious. You can add chicken to it or tofu, whatever you like.
Try a similar recipe: Paleo Instant Pot Saag Paneer
What's the biggest challenge in feeding your kids?
Getting my little one to try new things; she so frequently digs her heels in and doesn't want to try anything. Things like chocolate — she refuses to try chocolate! She has very plain taste. I always thought my older daughter being an adventurous eater had something to do with me, but now I know that's not true.
What are your go-to snacks for your girls?
I love Tropicana Kids because there's no added sweeteners and no artificial colors or flavors. It's 45 percent juice and filtered water. It gives them a sweet drink, which they love, and it's healthy, which I love.
And then Cricket loves Goldfish still, and I don't blame her. And Birdie likes those packs of roasted seaweed.
What does a typical school lunch look like for your girls?
For Birdie it's meats and cheeses and crackers — separate with little toothpicks. And we'll pack it in a little box with some mustard to dip. And then Cricket likes hot food, so I'll do rice and beans or lentils, or macaroni and cheese in a Thermos.
How do you handle breakfast?
I don't force the girls to eat breakfast if they don't feel like it. They have to be at school so early, and they have a snack pretty early in the day. But if they do eat, it's like half a mini bagel with cream cheese and fruit. Cricket will go for a glass of milk sometimes.
Every day is different — especially because our schedules are all over the place. We eat out a couple nights a week as a family. Mark and I go out a lot. We all eat pretty early, which is good. We eat at 5 to 5:30 p.m.
Do Cricket and Birdie like being involved with cooking and shopping?
Yes. The more I involve my kids, the more invested they are and willing to eat.
What's your favorite grocery store?
In LA we go to Whole Foods, and then this grocery store called Gelson's. It's like one of those local, LA gourmet grocery stores. Cricket loves Gelson's because it carries a mix of the big and small brands. She straight-up just wants vanilla Oreos.
Interview has been edited for clarity.