Making baby food: What I’ve learned so far
October 29, 2011 § Leave a comment
Everyone has an opinion about things when you have a baby, and when and what you feed your baby is definitely one of them. This is not a preachy post about why you should choose to make your baby’s food. This is just me, telling you what I’ve learned.
Honestly, I had no intention of going down this bunny trail, but once I started I was really glad I did. For one, I know exactly what this kid is eating; and two, it’s super cheap. The affordable part is mostly due to the incredible Sprouts store close by.
Everything I learned, I’ve learned from the Wholesome Baby Food website. They have easy-to-follow recipes, and once you make a few things, you get the process down pretty quick. On this week’s menu: pears! I started with some beautiful pears and my trusty apple corer from Pampered Chef. It’s a really amazingly handy contraption that makes the prep process fly by. Basically, you start by peeling and slicing the fruit and placing it in a big pot.
To that pot, you add a little water–1/4 to 1/2 a cup depending on how much fruit you have. Then you fire up the burner and bring the water to a boil. Reduce it to a simmer and let it go for about 15 minutes or so. Then you are going to spoon the fruit (minus the liquid) into a food processor or blender and let it run until you have a beautiful puree.
You want your puree to be pretty smooth, but the food will still have a texture–as you can see here, there are some flecks from the fruit skin (which you should wash thoroughly before cutting it up). I use a food processor, but you can use a blender. The blender will be problematic with some foods as you’ll have to stop and stir it to distribute the chunks down to the blades. There are a lot of pricey “baby food maker” machines out there, but I really don’t see a need for one–the food processor has met all of my needs so far, and it’s not a one-trick-pony.
Ice trays are another piece to the puzzle–again, there are tons of food storage items specifically for baby food, but if you’re looking for an economical solution, the ice tray works great. Each cube in my trays holds about 1 ounce of food, so it’s easy to calculate how much our little guy is getting. I fill the tray with the puree, and into the freezer they go for at least four hours or overnight. Then you’re ready to pop out your cubes and store them.
To pop out cubes, like this spinach here or the pears from earlier, you just run a little bit of water on the back of the tray for 10 to 15 seconds and then presto, they should come out easy-peasy. I store the cubes in freezer bags, but you could also go with plastic containers if you wanted to use a dishwasher safe storage system. You can then store the baggies or containers in your freezer, and then at meal time, you just pull out however many cubes you need of whatever variety, and dinner is served.
From start to finish, I spend about 4 hours on the weekend pepping Baby Mac’s food for the week. It’s usually enough for at least a week, with some left over to use for variety in the coming weeks. We date all of the bags so that we use then in a timely manner, and we choose to microwave his food for 30 seconds to thaw it. Some will recommend thawing slowly instead of using a microwave, but we haven’t experienced any problems, and this is really a personal preference. Also on the personal preference list is the order you introduce foods–most recommend starting with veggies and then going to fruit. Our pediatrician recommended a 4-day waiting period between food introductions, and no matter what you decide, you should talk to your pediatrician before choosing a feeding path.
Lessons learned: 1) This is so not hard. It’s actually incredibly easy. When I realized that I could just cut open an avocado or banana, mash it, and feed it to him, it was a huge light bulb moment. 2) It’s fun. I’m having a great time trying out new foods with him and coming up with clever combinations to keep meal-time interesting. 3) It’s way easier to grocery shop this way–no special run down the baby food aisle, just whatever seasonal produce looks good that day that is on his schedule. 4) It’s eased my guilt. I felt guilty for going to just formula at five months, and I’ve even felt the twinge of guilt every now and then about working. This is my guilt relief–it makes me feel like I’m doing something really good for him. 4) Did I mention affordable? Yeah, so, when you read up on baby food and all that goes with this decision, there’s lots of stuff out there, and once you start thinking, “Maybe I should buy XYZ organic brand,” and then you add up how much per day that will run you, four hours in the kitchen on a Saturday morning will seem like nothing!
Happy baby food making!