This isn’t a lecture about making your own baby food. I will only ask this: why wouldn't you? Sure, it takes a bit of time and a bit of freezer room. But other than a blender, food mill, food processor, or a strong arm and a fork there is no special equipment required.
How do I get a load of baby food made and in the freezer with a toddler on hand and a busy schedule? When all is said and done, an hour of work once every week or two will get you loads of food.
One thing that definitely helped was teaching the toddler how to peel veggies. While the little one napped The Monster and I would stand and peel veggies. It was a great activity for both of us. And the pride she had when she had seeing her sister eating the food she made was enough to make a Mama Foodie cry. In the end, I’ve created a future cook. You can’t be a true foodie if you can’t cook.
Baby Food Making Supplies
Pot with tight fitting lid/ Steamer
Food processor/blender/food mill
Ice Cube Trays
Plastic Bags or plastic containers
Wash and peel any vegetables like carrots, parsnips, beets, squash, sweet potatoes. Trim the ends of beans and zucchini. Peel all fruit (except berries).
Chop the veggies into uniform pieces and place them in a small pot with a fitted lid (what I do) or a steamer. Add about a half cup or so of water, not to cover, only to fill the bottom of the pot. Set it on the stove, with a burner turned to high. Don't walk away and watch TV, otherwise you will boil away all the water and burn your veggies (trust me). Steam the veggies until a fork will go through them easily, adding more water if necessary.
All veggies, barring cucumber, should be cooked. I also cook my pears and apples, essentially making an applesauce. But I do not cook berries, mango, papaya, or bananas.
When veggies/fruit are done, drain them of any water. Reserve the cooking liquids. Put your veggies in your blender/food processor/food mill. You may need to add water to get the desired consistency. To start with you may want quite smooth purees. Unless it is a veggie like a sweet potato or cauliflower you might have to add water to do this. If you run out of cooking water I usually take what's left in the kettle after boiling my water for tea that day. Some veggies have a lot of water in them and you won't need to add any, like zucchini.
Do not feel like you are diluting your food if you add water. I'm not a nutritionist, so don't quote me if I say it's okay. But I do know that babies bowels have a hard time with new foods and the little bit of extra water generally helps if they are constipated. It's not like I'm serving her soup!
Once you've reached the desired consistency, pour your puree into clean ice cube trays and freeze. Once frozen you can store in plastic bags or plastic containers. Each cube is essentially one serving. You can defrost the cubes in the microwave or leave a few in the fridge each morning to defrost. They are easy to transport and you can still feed your kid your homemade love when you are out and about.
I want to make a special note about meat here. Generally I will poach the chicken, or keep a tiny piece of red meat or fish aside for her. No seasonings, but broil it or bake it as I do the rest for the family. You need a good blender to really get small pieces, and I generally have to add water (the poaching liquid). When you are feeding the little one, I find it easier to mix it right in with the veggies, you get a better consistency for them. With fish I don't even bother blending it. You can flake it into small enough pieces that are easy for a babe to eat.
The next step is encouraging your child to eat and explore food.
• Let them get messy. It sure isn't pretty and it's hard on cloth bibs and clothes. But I'm thankful we have dogs that have learned that the floor is pretty tasty after the girls eat. And I highly recommend bibs that cover the shoulders to save yourself some laundry headaches.
• Let them decided how much they are going to eat. We should all eat like babies - they get loads of colour in their mostly plant based diet and they stop when they are hungry.
• Let them try new things, even if they didn't like it the first time. I saw some guy on TV once (how's that for a source?) who said kids need to be exposed to something about 10 times before they can truly establish a like or dislike for it. Keep offering it.
• Don't let a lack of teeth stop you from introducing chewy and rough textures. My little one still only has her two bottom front teeth, and that's it. And she regularly eats steak, pizza, and raw peppers.
One final note. Please listen to your public health nurse or health care provider on the recommended way to introduce food. Certain foods should be avoided in the first year, strawberries and egg whites, for example. I'm only a mom, not a nutrition or health care expert.
Thank you for sharing, Cheryl! We actually split Cheryl's introduction to baby foods into two posts, so make sure you check out her first post here too: Family Mealtime: Cooking for Babies.
(Image: Cheryl of Backseat Gourmet)