homemade baby food

17 Nov

I’ve been meaning to write a post about this for awhile now. And since it’s 8:37pm and I go to bed at 10:00 and I need to whip off a post and am feeling like a college student with a term paper due tomorrow that hasn’t been started, I guess I’ll go with this hot topic of making your own baby food.

Before I begin, I’d like to reference our about page, in which I state something along the lines of “I’m a more middle-of-the-road foodie.” That applies to my baby food making as well. I know there are cookbooks and movements and probably clubs that celebrate the awesomeness of making one’s own baby food. I’ve never read a baby food cookbook and am a member of no such club, and I do not claim to know all there is to know about making homemade baby food. Here’s just a little description of what I’ve made and why I do it.

Back when Ryan was a baby, I got kind of interested in making purees after seeing Jessica Seinfeld on Oprah. I got her cookbook for Christmas that year, tried a few recipes (which aren’t really anything special, in my opinion), and then thought I’d use the puree idea to make baby food for Ryan. I had never made purees before, and the cookbook was good for explaining how to make them. I also didn’t own a food processor, so I went out to Target and bought the cheapest one they sold. When Ryan was a baby, I made pureed apples, pears, peas, carrots, sweet potatoes, squash and a few meats for him. The apples and pears worked great- I steamed them in a steamer basket and then pureed them smooth. The peas and carrots were a different story. I don’t think I cooked them long enough- and I don’t think my cheapo food processor was powerful enough- to puree those veggies to a nice, smooth consistency. Baby Ryan choked and gagged on my chunky homemade veggie concoctions, so I didn’t puree too many of those veggies for him.

Now with Sam, I’ve been trying to expand my horizons a bit by pureeing things into baby food that I haven’t tried before. I came across this website, Wholesome Baby Food, and it’s a great resource. This one website is really all you need to get started making baby food. So far for Sam I’ve made apples, pears, peaches, peas, green beans, carrots, sweet potatoes, butternut squash, and pumpkin purees. I’ve learned a few things along the way, too. Steaming raw foods in a steamer basket is better than boiling them in water because more of the nutrients are contained within the food when it’s steamed vs. boiled. Also, the ‘chunkier’ veggies like peas, beans, and carrots can be pureed smoother by leaving the food processor on longer (like for 2-3 minutes… I never processed long enough with kid #1), and by adding some liquid. I’ve added the steam-water from the steamer, tap water, or breastmilk to my purees to make them smoother and more palatable for the baby. I’d like to try pureeing prunes and apricots, and would like to do more with meats this time around.

I’ve heard people say things like “doesn’t making your own baby food take up so much time?” and “why would you make your own baby food when you can just go buy it at the grocery store?” Two very valid questions. So why do I even bother making my own baby food? First, I think the homemade stuff is much more flavorful than the jarred food. I’ve tasted everything I’ve ever fed my kids, and that jarred baby food tastes like canned fruit/vegetables that’s been ground up into a watery puree. I HATE canned vegetables, so the thought of giving my babies something more flavorful and closer to being fresh is appealing to me. Also, I feel like if a baby is exposed to more vibrant flavors as an infant then he/she may be more likely to enjoy a wider variety of flavorful foods as his/her palate develops and he/she begins to eat table foods in toddlerhood, which then will hopefully carry on with them becoming ‘good eaters’ throughout their childhoods. Again, I’m no expert on this topic, it’s just a hunch I have with my own kids. In addition, I like knowing how the baby food my kids are eating was made, rather than imagining a vat of third-rate canned green beans being processed in some factory. In regards to the taking up a lot of time question…yes, it is time consuming. But it’s not that bad. And it’s certainly not difficult. Most of the time involves peeling/coring fruits like apples and pears. I use a lot of frozen things, like green beans, peas, peaches, and carrots, so all you have to do with that is throw it in the steamer basket. Once the food is prepped, if it requires any prep at all, the fruits/veggies steam for awhile (or roast in the oven, for sweet potatoes, squash, pumpkin and the like) and you can do something else while they’re cooking. The next step is the pureeing, which I sometimes do later if I’m running short on time. I don’t stick to a schedule or routine for making the baby food…just whenever we start running low I’ll whip up some more.

For storage, I pour the fruit purees into ice cube trays and freeze them. Once they’re frozen, I run the bottoms of the trays under warm water and then dump the frozen fruit cubes into a Ziploc bag to be stored in the freezer. Then you can take the cubes out a few at a time to feed to the baby. They unthaw really quickly and can also be defrosted in the microwave. I also find the Gerber plastic baby food containers great to reuse as containers for the homemade food. Yes, you heard me correctly. While I am a fan of making baby food, I certainly do still buy the jarred food that can be bought at any grocery store. Because, let’s be real here, this is me we’re talking about and I cannot always be counted on to a.) have the proper ingredients on hand for making baby food, b.) always have a nice supply of home made baby food available, c.) have the foresight to actually UNTHAW said baby food in advance of my baby screaming in his high chair ready to eat. It’s times like these when a stash of the store-bought stuff really comes in handy.

Wow, I’ve really babbled on here about this insanely interesting topic of homemade baby food. I’m sure many folks reading have a lot more insight and information on cooking up cuisine for a baby, so please feel free to add your two cents in the comments!

{{Would have loved to have some photos of the colorful purees here, but I’m not that on the ball.}}

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last year: a restaurant review of Bagu sushi

One Response to “homemade baby food”

  1. Jennifer December 8, 2010 at 4:21 pm #

    We just put up a short post about the same thing over at Babyminding.com. Would love to have you read it. It really is more economical than jarred food. Here is a link to the post:
    http://babyminding.com/2010/12/08/homemade-baby-food/

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