This is not a post to tell you what to feed your baby, or to toot my baby food making horn. But I’m in the midst of the pureed food stage with my youngest, and have learned a few things that are making my life easier this time around. So – if you want to make baby food at home, read on!
My main reason for making baby food at home is to have control over the freshness and taste of the food. But also: store-bought baby food is expensive, man. Here’s a quick price comparison on a couple of items.
Squeezy pouch of organic apples (3.5 oz) – $1.39 or $.39/oz
2 lbs of organic apples (yielded 24 oz) – $2.99 or $.12/oz
Gerber container of [not organic] peas (7 oz) – $1.09 or $.15/oz
Bag of [not organic] frozen peas (yielded 16 oz) – $1.29 or $.08/oz
As you can see, whether you choose to do regular or organic fruits and veggies, store-bought food can cost about 2-3 times as much as making it at home. If you have a tight grocery budget, that’s significant savings. If money isn’t an issue, but time is, you can look at buying your baby food as a small monthly investment to make your life less insane. ;o)
The tools you need are simple, and you probably already have them.
1. A pot and a steamer basket. (You probably don’t need anyone to tell you how to steam something, but there are links to lots of recipes below in the Resources section.)
2. A food processor and/or blender. (I use these interchangeably – the food processor is perfect for fruits and veggies that get really tender, like apples, pears, butternut squash, and sweet potatoes. We have a Ninja blender and the single-serve smoothie cup attachment is great for things like peas and green beans because it gets even their skins extra smooth.)
3. Ice cube trays. (Mine are cheapo plastic ones. I freeze the puree for a couple of hours – or let’s be honest, until the next time I open my freezer – then dump the cubes into freezer bags!)
Build up a freezer stash gradually.
Our doctor recommends waiting a few days between introducing new foods, which gives you the perfect opportunity to build up a freezer stash of a variety of foods over a couple of weeks.
- Like when you’re already in the kitchen prepping veggies. My daughter’s first veggie was butternut squash, since I was peeling and cutting one up for this side dish. I used the other half of the squash for her puree. Steaming it and whizzing it up in the food processor was extra dishes, but not really extra time. A couple of days later, I steamed fresh green beans for dinner and put a bunch in the blender for the baby.
- Or when you have help. On a Saturday when Jay was home, I peeled and pureed a huge bag of pears from Costco while he entertained the girls.
- Baby food for everyone! There are even some foods that our whole family enjoys in mashed form, like applesauce, cauliflower, and sweet potatoes. Then it’s just a matter of making a big batch and freezing some for future baby meals (and adding some seasoning to big people portions – I don’t add salt or butter to her food at this point).
I prefer this gradual method over a marathon day of making a bunch of kinds all at once (plus, I only have 3 ice cube trays).
Thaw just what you need.
I like that I can easily adjust portion sizes instead of dealing with a fixed amount in a store-bought container. My ice cube trays make 1-oz cubes, so it’s easy to just pull out a few to thaw. I use these cute glass containers by Innobaby, and try to remember to thaw them the night before in the fridge, but it only takes a few seconds in the microwave even if they’re still partially frozen. (If you do use the microwave, it’s really important to thoroughly stir the puree to eliminate hot spots and to test the temperature before feeding the baby.)
Mix and match your cubes for flavor combinations.
With my older daughter, I got all fancy making combination purees. But…sometimes she just hated them, even if she liked the ingredients separately. This time around, if I want to mix something, I just thaw one cube of apples and one of butternut squash, for example. I use the pouches at the store as inspiration for flavor combinations!
These are some of my favorite web resources for more info and recipes!
Momtastic’s Wholesome Baby Food site. This page gives a great step-by-step for making purees, and I also go here for info about when to introduce various foods.
Weelicious is a great place to find baby food recipes (and ones for the whole family)!
Baby Center’s age-by-age guide to feeding your baby is so helpful to me.
Annabel Karmel‘s books and website were recommended by our pediatrician – here’s a link to her recipes for 6-9 months.
Any questions? Leave me a comment and I’ll help if I can!
Please consult your child’s doctor about how and when to introduce solid foods.
Our doctor recommended that we not make carrots, spinach, or beets at home because of possible exposure to nitrates from the soil these foods are grown in. (Baby food companies test for nitrate levels.) However, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics, infants are at risk when they are 3 months or younger (and they don’t recommend solids at that age, anyway). See the very wordy article here. So I don’t actually heed that advice. :o)
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