Isaac has been eating solids for about three months now and I have been peeling, mashing, baking, and pureeing fruit and vegetables to give our hungry little guy (the boy can eat- our food is going to be seriously in trouble when he is a teenager!). Rich and I choose the route of homemade baby food for two reasons. First, we like knowing exactly what is in his food and how it has been made. We are doing our best to avoid pesticides and GMO products and instead sticking with organic produce. Secondly, making baby food is significantly less expensive than buying jarred food. I am spending about $35 a month on Isaac’s food and estimate I’d be spending around $75 a month if we were buying organic pre-made food.
Initially, I thought making Isaac’s food would be pretty simple. All I needed to do was throw some carrots in a blender and call it a day, right? Well, that presumption proved to be completely wrong. Making baby food is A LOT of work and MUCH more work than I anticipated. I didn’t account for that fact that those carrots would have to be washed, peeled, cooked, and cut before they could go anywhere near a blender. That being said, I still think it’s worth doing! Here are a few things I’ve learned that might be helpful to anyone thinking about making baby food:
- You don’t need to buy a “baby food apparatus” at Babies R Us. We thought about buying a Baby Bullet but decided to hold off and see how thing went with our food processor. So far, the food processor has been sufficient and I’ve been able to mash everything without any problems. Another device might be a little quicker and/or make the final texture smoother (I’ve heard the Vitamix is THE BEST for making baby food) but if you don’t feel like storing and buying another appliance, try what you have first. You can always buy another appliance later if what you have isn’t working out.
- Prepping your fruits and vegetable is simple but time consuming. There isn’t a lot of culinary skill involved in making baby food but there is a lot of prep. Peeling, slicing, cutting, and washing your fruits and vegetables takes awhile and it makes a huge mess. Also, you make have to cook/bake some things before they are able to be puréed. For example, I bake Isaac’s carrots and sweet potato in the oven for about 1 1/2 hours (just long enough for them to get nice and soft). Each step adds up and before you know it, half your day has been devoted to creating brightly colored mush.
- Make a month’s worth of food at a time. I’ve always believed in the principle of go big or go home. If you are going to make a mess, you might as well make a huge mess all at once and then not have to worry about it for awhile. While my baby-food-making-day is certainly not my favorite date on the calendar, it’s been much easier than trying to make food every week. If you are concerned about storage space, let me encourage you. We have a small freezer, buy meat in bulk at Costco, and are still able to store a whole months worth of baby food.
- Use ice cube trays to freeze your baby food. A bunch of moms recommended this to me and it’s genius! Frozen cubes of baby food are easy to store (I keep mine in large Ziplock bags). It is also great for portioning and transporting. The only downside is if you are making baby food in bulk, it’s going to take you awhile as you wait for your cubes to freeze (unless you have 10+ ice cube trays). I found OXO ice cube trays with covers for 4.99 at Bed, Bath, and Beyond.
- If you are going organic, find a retailer that is convenient. The nearest Whole Foods is 30+ minutes away in a direction I never go (#firstworldproblems). I really don’t have time to make another trip to the food store on a regular basis so we really had to look at our options for purchasing organic produce. If you shop at Costco you can buy large bags of organic carrots and peas for about $7.00 per bag. A friend mentioned that I should try Wegmans and I was very happy to find that I could get everything I needed there. Check the food stores in your area and you may be surprised at what you find!
I hope that is helpful to someone on the internet! Best of luck as you make your baby food!