Monday, August 18, 2014

DIY: Homemade Baby Food

So soon as my son began chewing at around 11 - 12 months, we started experimenting with different foods and were buying Gerber and Earth's Best baby food for his age range. I was happy with that for a bit but after awhile decided to try and make his food at home.

Looking at the ingredients on the baby food jars. It seemed really simple. Most were just "peas, water", "carrots, water", "apples", etc. So I figured this was doable and maybe a bit cheaper than spending $.72 to $1.50 per jar, where baby boy was quickly eating 2-3 jars a day.

I started off simple with fresh fruits and veggies: sweet potatoes, apples, peas and corn, green beans and peaches. Many of the very things I was buying in a jar.

The process went like this:
  • skin veggies
  • chop
  • boil (to soften and kill off germs)
  • puree in food processor
  • portion out
  • store in fridge or freezer

The first try was a bit daunting but I quickly got the hang of it. To create the portions, I used the same 6 oz jars of baby food that were saved and used then to measure. Once portioned, my hubby had the great idea of storing them in freezer bags for space-saving. That way they could be flattened and stacked, like pancakes, saving room in our already packed freezer. Once they were frozen hard, they can be set oupright for even more room.

I like to flip through them like a book!

I do have to note that while this may be healthier for the baby, it definitely takes up more time! In fact, I have easily spent 2+ hours just preparing baby food. But I would do it on a weekend and make enough for the entire week. As some time went on, I did found ways to cut some corners, like buying frozen veggies to eliminate the skinning and boiling time and buy already peeled and cut fruit. 

Since my son attends daycare, I pack his meals for the next day, the night before. So I thaw and spoon the food in baby food jars but had added chalkboard stickers to them and label them with a chalkboard marker (available at any craft store like Michael's or Target). It's probably not necessary, but its kinda fun to label your own jar of homemade food. 

For his home meals, I simple pull the frozen portions out the night before and leave them in the fridge and they go right in the bowl to microwave for eating.

Things I Learned
While I originally thought it would save some money, in the end, it didn't really. Fresh foods do cost more and I found what I was spending on them was coming to about the same as the jarred food. But prep and cooking time was obviously a lot longer. Also a lot messier. But there is still a lot of satisfaction in knowing your baby is eating something you created and even better, loving it!

  • To keep food moist, I'd added purified water.
  • Make sure to buy freezer bags as they are meant for this. Others have had success with ice cube trays and other freezer containers.
  • If using a chalkboard marker, make sure its really dry before you write on it and let it dry after. Otherwise, it can smudge right off. It smudges easily in general.
  • Ditalini is a great pasta for babies who are able to chew. Its just their size. 
  • One cup of brown rice (not the instant but real brown rice) can create a lot of food. I've made 4-5 servings of food with it mixed with veggies.

Some of the meals I've created include:
  • brown rice & peas
  • brown rice & zucchini
  • apples
  • peaches
  • spinach
  • creamy spinach from Birds Eye (sooo good)
  • peas & carrots
  • carrots
  • green beans
  • peas & potatoes
  • brown rice & squash
  • artichokes and asparagus (Wegman's)
  • Ditalini pasta & cherry tomatoes

So that's it. Now if only I could put as much effort into my own meal planning! 

Got any other great recipes or meals for toddlers. Leave me a comment!