Sunday, April 14, 2013

Making Baby Food is Simple

 
Making baby food is not rocket science. It is easy, gives your little munchkin nutritious foods and costs you much less money! What's not to love! Well it does take a few general pieces of equipment and a few hours a month of time to make.

We started Nolan with solid foods (anything other than breast milk or formula) at just before 6 months old. Your kiddo should be able to sit up unsupported and it is recommended by pediatricians that they be at least 6 months old. We chose Sweet Potatoes as Nolan's first intro to food because it is a vegetable, is easily digested, has lots of great vitamins and bonus, it is actually sweet tasting.
 
He took to it really well and never wastes a drop but some babies are slow to warm up to the idea of food. Tread slowly and don't push them to fast. If you start food too early, some babies will still have the reflex to push things out of their mouth (so as not to choke). This will be a very messy endeavor if baby is still pushing food out. You may want to wait another week or two till baby shows you he/she is ready. We started Nolan at about 5 1/2 months when he was very eager to take food from us, watched us intently when we ate and no longer seemed satisfied after his meal time.
 
So congratulations if you are thinking or making baby food at home! I will tell you I am so happy we decided to do it. I love knowing that he is eating 100% whatever veggie or fruit, without anything added or taken away. My take on making his food is simple...
 
1. Wash the food
2. Heat (steam and baking usually)
3. Puree
4. Then freeze, done!
 
 
See, simple! Now for some photo documentation...

These are my latest creations. I still generally do single ingredients and blend them on his plate if I feel like it. I typically have one bag in the freezer for each fruit of vegetable. At meal time I aim for one veggie and one fruit
 
This is pretty much all I use for making baby food at home. The number one item is the stick blender. A food processor would be great, but I don't have one. A steamer basket, a cutting board, a bowl, shard knife, spatula, peeler, fork, measuring cup and also a baking pan. Aside from the stick blender these are pretty basic kitchen tools. Oh and a set of ice cube trays is very important, man I almost forgot!

Here we have mangos, parsnips, carrots, sweet potato and avocado. I haven't been brave enough to give him mango so we ate those but the rest have been a success. I wash all the raw veggies before doing anything else

I choose to cut up the carrot to reduce my cooking time and hopefully save some nutrients that are lost during extended cooking processes. I peeled the carrot and chopped it up


I steamed the carrots over a steam basket (double boiler) until they were very, very tender. You could also roast you carrots in the oven or heat them on the stove in the water too. I took my trust stick blender are blended it till it was a big blob of orange and had barely any chunks at all. Babies digestive systems need all the help they can get, so blend it up very fine

Parsnips may sound like an odd choice for baby food but they taste almost like a carrot , have a mild sweet, root flavor and puree up nicely. Nolan preferred these to carrots. This one parsnip cost only 20 cents but it only made 6 servings too
 

Here is the finished parsnip. Not much there but it was only one parsnip (think one carrots worth) but he loved it! It has the feel of a white yukon potato with the nutrition of carrots


Here are the finished products from my very first batch of baby food. On the left: Carrot, then sweet potato and on the right parsnips

My next venture was to try pumpkin. For this I chose to buy a can of already pureed pumpkin. I am not interested in peeling and cutting up a whole pumpkin! What are the ingredients in the can you ask? Just pumpkin, not even any water added. Pumpkin is the perfect consistency and is already 100% mushed up. I open the can and potion it off in my ice cube trays! Please make sure it is 100% pure pumpkin and not pie filling.

Peaches were not in season when I wanted to start them for Nolan so I bought a bag of unsweetened peaches. I steamed them with a small amount of water until super tender and then turned on the blender. That's it!
 
 
One bag of peaches made 11 servings and cost around $1.49. It took about 10 minutes to make (mostly waiting for them to get soft on the stove)
 

Peas are a great way to start babies on green veggies .They are packed with vitamins and nutrients but they have a hint of sweet. The trick is steam them in water until very soft but don't over cook them and have all the nutrient slip out in the water. They should squish easily between your fingers and be bright green. I drain them and puree immediately. Pease need a little water added to them to keep them from being too thick. 

It is still winter here in Michigan so many fruits are not in season. When nothing in the produce section looks good, I go frozen. This is the first medley of fruits I have made. I bought a bag of ready cut fruits from Dole, poured them in a microwave safe glass dish, covered the dish so it could steam. I heated it without any added water for 5 minutes. It was perfectly soft, I pureed it with my stick blender and it was done!
 
That one bag cost $1.99 and made 11 servings. He gobbled it up! It is probably the sweetest thing I have every fed him, so of course it was a hit. It only took me 10 minutes to make this (and I ate breakfast while it was heating up!)

Here is a typical meal for Nolan these days: One cube of peas, one of carrot, a small glob of applesauce and leftover sweet potato glob. Some meals he cleans his plate and cries for more, other times he is content with a few cubes.



 
When it is meal time for Nolan, I take 1-3 cubes of food and heat them in the microwave. Some choose to let the food come up to temp in the fridge but I never seem to think that far ahead. Nolan seems to prefer his food warmed up and not room temp ( I suppose I do as well). So the microwave works well for quick heat ups.

My recommendation is to do as much or as little as you want for making your own baby food. I think I take the middle of the road approach with buying some fresh fruits and veggies and some frozen bags. I started Nolan on solids during the late fall and winter when many foods were not in season so going frozen was a great option. Do what feels right and you have the time for.

I find I spend about 2-3 hours a month on making baby food and I save our household easily $80 a month or more. Plus I get the added satisfaction of knowing I made it for him. When he looks at me with a grin and goes "mmmmmm", I know it was the right decision for us.



First bites of food just before 6 months! Sweet Potatoes are a great first food


He loved every last drop!





Recipes to follow on next blog post!
 
I am compiling a list of all the foods we have tried with Nolan, the amounts they make and their cost break down.





2 comments:

  1. Thanks for sharing, great post. I look forward to using your advice when my little one is ready!

    ReplyDelete