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Are you interested in making your own baby food? Parents have many different reasons for why they might choose homemade over store bought, and either is fine! After having gone both routes, though, I truly feel that homemade baby food can be easier than store bought! (With one exception, and I’ll get to that later). If you haven’t read my post on why I think it’s easier, you can read it here.
Okay… how do we fit homemade baby food into our already crazy hectic and sleep deprived lives?
Here are my tips and method:
1. The first time you make baby food, make an extra-large batch.
This is to get you started so you always have a variety and backup for those extra-busy weeks. An extra-large batch, could consist of 3 or 5 vegetables and/or fruits. If your little one is just starting out and you’re doing just one or two foods a week, then maybe just prep 3 or 4 foods. You’ll be amazed by how many servings you can get out of a single butternut squash – you really don’t need to buy that much to get your large batch started.
2. Each week, add 1 or 2 more vegetables or fruits to y
This doesn’t need to be a new ingredient that baby hasn’t had before. You should use this to replenish an ingredient you have run out of. The key is to make a small batch of baby food with one or two ingredients each week so that you never run out. Since your first batch was extra big, though, you can definitely miss the occasional week and still be fine!
3. Roast or Steam your foods.
Never boil your ingredients or you will lose nutrients. Since you’re probably pressed for time, putting one or two ingredients in the oven to roast them, and one or two on the stovetop to steam works out great! You’ll be able to work with multiple ingredients at the same time and get done that much faster! (I personally love roasting them, though, as it seems to taste so much better… so I often opted to just roast). Oh… if you roast them, you might need to hide the food from others in your house. I found my older son breaking into the food as I was making it a few times!
4. Puree them in a blender or food processor.
You don’t need any special equipment to make baby food – even for “stage one”. Just pop the pieces of cooked/softened food in a blender or food processor and puree until you get the desired consistency. At first you’ll want it to be somewhat watery and will want to add some water to it. As you baby gets older and used to eating “solids” you can puree it less and less. Towards the end, you’ll be able to mash food with a fork after cooking it.
5. Don’t mix ingredients.
This one is key… Don’t add any spices to your fruits or vegetables, and don’t mix any of the fruits and/or vegetables together! This way you can make mixes later.
6. Freeze the purees you make in freezer trays.
This was a huge help for me. You can freeze your baby food in just about any freezer tray, but I absolutely lovethese (also shown in the picture). They are inexpensive and make small roughly one ounce portions of baby food. Plus since they come with a lid, you can get a few and easily stack them in your freezer. I used two of them plus some other freezer trays I had. Sometimes I’d leave the baby food in the trays until I need to get a cube, but other times, I’d freeze them and then pop all the cubes out and put them in freezer bags. Either way, these trays were absolutely amazing and really made freezing baby food in a practically already full freezer easy. I also put dry erase labels on the tray lids so that I could mark what was in the trays in case I decided to leave the food in there until I needed them. These are the same dry erase labels I mention in my post about labeling bottles for daycare, so you can just reuse those if you bought them.
7. Mix and Match!
If you followed #4, all your frozen cubes of baby food should only contain one ingredient. That means that when you’re ready to combine foods, you can make just about any combination you like, and you can easily adapt based on what your baby likes. So for example, if you made an entire batch of say Apple and Banana but then found out that your little one doesn’t like it – what would you do? This way, you could take one cube of apple, and one cube of banana and try that. If your little one doesn’t like it, make a note, and don’t do that combination again (or at least for a little while). You’ll have so much less waste this way!
8. Get some reusable containers.
You can use the plastic Rubbermaid ones, or the little glass jars and use those for daycare. I would pick out the cubes I wanted to send my son in with, pop them in the little jars, and then send them into daycare. By lunch time they were mostly thawed and the daycare just warmed them up slightly. Sometimes I’d also sprinkle some baby cereal into the jars and they’d mix it in. Personally, my favorite were these little glass jars (regular mouth/4oz) with the plastic lids. I love using mason jars anyway, so after my baby was done with them, I had many other uses for them and still use them today.
The one time I would use store bought baby food is if I knew I’d have to feed my little one outside and I wouldn’t have anywhere to heat them up. Sometimes I could bring a soft banana or avocado with me that I’d be able to mash with a fork outside, but sometimes that wasn’t an option. In those cases, I usually had on or two jars of store bought baby food with me as a backup. They are shelf stable and don’t need to be warmed up… but honestly, I didn’t need those often. Soft “mashable” food was usually available, or my little one would just eat the thawed food that was brought to room temperature. (I did keep 2 as backup though – just in case!)
I hope you give this a try! I found that I was able to feed my little one mostly organic foods that ultimately cost less and it was so much easier than I would have thought! What do you think? Will you be trying it out?