Food stores are full of tiny crocks and bags of pureed goodness for our little ones. Is there a better alternative? Consider home-made baby food!
- Better for baby – fresh food, no additives or fillers, easily organic
- Better for the Earth – no tiny jars or plastic tubs to dispose of
- Saves money – many baby foods can be made for less than 25 cents a serving
- Great taste – flavors are way better than the processed stuff
- All natural – you can feel good knowing exactly what is going into baby’s food
- Requires a little (not a lot) of time to prepare and serve
- Fresh baby food is perishable. and must be kept refrigerated or frozen until mealtime.
I went into this whole mothering thing with few pre-conceived ideas. I always assumed my little ones would eat the same jarred puree as all the other babies I’d known. It’s funny how things change, isn’t it?
My son had his first bites of solid food a couple of weeks after he turned 6 months old. We started with a multi-grain baby cereal mixed with breast milk. He and I both enjoyed the learning-to-eat experience, and soon it was time to move on to veggies. I bought a couple of jars of sweet potatoes and green beans for his first “real” food. I carefully checked the labeling to ensure that veggies and water were the only ingredients. With great fanfare I opened the sweet potatoes and offered him his first bite. He grimaced and spit it back out. I offered another bite. He spit it out again.
With all the concern a first-time mother can have, I tasted the jarred sweet potatoes myself to make sure they were okay. You know what? They were awful. I didn’t want to swallow them either. Mostly they tasted like sweet potato peels. Also they were cooked to death. I immediately swapped the sweet potatoes for the green beans. Same result! Baby didn’t like them, and neither did mama. The store bought green bean puree tasted nothing like actual green beans. I decided right there that if I didn’t like it, then I wasn’t going to make him eat it.
A quick Internet search for home-made baby food promised that it was easy to make your own baby food. It was better! Healthier! And look at all these books and home-made baby food gadgets you can buy! Being the penny pincher I am, I did not buy the books, or fancy containers, or special freezing trays. The only purchase I made was a hand cranked food mill because I had faint memories of my father using the same type of tool to puree the family meal for my baby siblings at the dinner table.
The first baby food I made was sweet potatoes. I peeled, diced, and steamed in the microwave until soft, then milled the potato into a puree. I portioned most of it in a standard ice cube tray, froze it, and then stored the frozen sweet potato cubes in plastic resealable baggies. The first taste test with my son was a success! He ate up a whole cube’s worth in a minute and asked for more. My first attempt at home-made baby food was a success!!
I slowly started making other veggies, and fruits as my son was ready for new ones to be added to his diet. There are plenty of recipes out there for baby food, but I found that keeping it simple was the easiest. My basic recipe was to clean, dice, steam in microwave and puree fresh veggies. Some veggies I roasted with a little olive oil before pureeing because I thought it would just taste better that way. Most fruits I pureed raw for best flavor.
The the biggest concern I hear from most other mamas is all the extra time it must take to make the baby food. It truly doesn’t! My strategy was to make a different fruit or veggie while I was making the family dinner. Often it was as easy as pureeing some of the veggie I was cooking for the rest of the family (potatoes, peas, green beans, parsnips carrots, etc). I could also mix in a little of the rice, beans, or pasta I was making for dinner. Sometimes I just pureed the entire meal (chili, casseroles, pasta dishes, etc) This took no extra time! Fruit could easily be diced and pureed raw while stirring a different pot on the stove. By making a few servings of one item every couple of days (while I was already in the kitchen), I could quickly develop a nicely rounded freezer pantry of options. To save cleaning and set up time after my second was born, I upgraded the hand mill to a miniature food processor.
When going out and about with the babe, I just had to do a little planning ahead to ensure his meal was ready for him when he was. If we were going out to dinner, I would warm a couple frozen cubes before we left and carry them in a small reusable container. If we would be out for a while before mealtime, I would put a couple frozen cubes in a container, knowing they would be thawed by mealtime. Luckily my little ones weren’t fussy about chilly food. If yours is particular, you can usually find really hot water most anywhere to mix in.
I am SO GLAD my babe spit out those first jarred purees. I have really enjoyed making the food myself, and it feels great to know exactly, exactly the ingredients and how it’s made. My kids seemed to really enjoy the fresh, real flavors of the food. To this day they are very adventurous eaters with broad palettes who rarely turn up their noses at anything! Seriously, my little boy can’t get enough raw onions and peppers, and my baby girl loves blue cheese. It did not seem to take any extra time, and saved us tons of money too.
Here are some products I’ve found helpful on my real food/baby food journey:
Have you ever attempted to make your own baby food? What are your favorite recipes? Please share your tips and tricks below!