Why buy jarred baby foods when it is so simple and fast to prepare your own? Homemade tastes much better anyway!
Little Littles loves to take part in each meal with us. For the most part, we mash up table foods for our babies, but we don't always have something that would be good for a baby at each meal, so I like to have something ready in the freezer that is quick to prepare. I hardly spend any extra time preparing baby food. Usually, I buy fruits and veggies that are on sale and fix them for our family meals either roasting or steaming them. I make extra and puree it later for the baby. With Big Littles, I probably spent time making one baby food item per week, plus a weekly batch of oatmeal. Little Littles was slower taking to solids, so he does more mashed table food. He eats old fashioned oatmeal the same as the rest of us.
Helpful Equipment -
- a blender, food processor, and/or food mill is helpful for purees
- ice cube trays
- freezer bags
Freezer Cube Method -
Spoon the puree into ice cube trays and freeze. Once frozen solid, transfer the cubes to a ziploc freezer bag and label. When you want to heat up a cube, just zap it in the microwave for about 30-45 seconds. You can freeze most anything.
Oatmeal - (or most any grain cereal for that matter including brown rice and barley) I used organic steel cut oats. (These are cheapest in the bulk section of a Whole Foods Market.) I find that it works best to grind them in my food processor. (For a finer grind for a younger baby try a dry blender to get a powder consistency.) I eyeball it, adding about ¼ c. or so to my food processor and let it whirl for a good two minutes or so. I don’t actually time it, I listen for the sound to change – you can tell when everything is ground up. I put it in a stainless steel pot, eyeballing again covering with about ½” water and let it soak overnight. (Soaking helps it become more easily digestible.) The next morning, cook it on very low heat, frequently stirring with a whisk until it reaches a good consistency. If it is thick, but not soft enough, add more water and keep cooking. If it cooks too quickly, you have the heat on too high. It should take at least 15 minutes. Stir it often while it cooks. Store in the fridge and reheat as needed. I like to mix it with a cube of apple or pear puree. When baby can have spices, a sprinkle of cinnamon is nice too.
Baby food that doesn't require any prep -
- Bananas are the best for their portability factor. These are nice when we are out and about - mama eats some, baby eats some. When we have a bunch that start getting spotty, I slice them up and freeze the slices in ice cube trays, then transfer them to a freezer bag.
- Unsalted veggies like canned green beans and frozen peas
- Yogurt - plain is best, though we like to add a peach cube
- Plain, unsweetened applesauce is pretty cheap, but if possible, stock up on apples in the fall, make a huge batch and can it yourself.
- I buy "non-fat refried beans" at Wal-mart. They are not actually fried and have no oil or lard in them. The only ingredients are prepared dried beans, water, salt and onion powder. They cost $.80 per can up here. The salt may be a bit high, but we eat them frequently as an at-home fast-food and our babies love them. While homemade would definitely be better, these are very nice in a pinch.
- plain canned pumpkin (not pumpkin pie filling, just plain pumpkin!)
- Avacados - have wonderful, healthy fats!
I’d love to read what other moms do too!
Some good resources:
"Super Baby Food" by Ruth Yaron - I do not follow everything in her book (personally I find it a little neurotic), but she's got many great tips and recipes for baby food and other homemade things like toys and baby safe cleaners. It's a great resource. One other thing - she is a vegetarian and formula fed her babies. I think that perspective is worth noting.