There are a lot of things that I said I would do when I became a parent that haven’t panned out. ((Anyone else remember the breastfeeding debacle of 2011?)) But there is one thing that the DreadBrewer and I said we wanted to do that we have actually done: we make all of the Littlest Brewster’s solid foods ourselves. ((Okay, we have yet to figure out how to make the puffs that she, and all other babies, love so much. Dissolvable solids are not my forte.))
I was a little concerned at first as to how much work was involved in making your own baby food, but it’s honestly not that hard or time consuming. The only problem that I can see cropping up now is that, as she eats more and more solids on a daily basis, I have to make batches of food more frequently. But I kind of enjoy it, so it’s not the worst thing in the world.
Where did we find the information on making our own food? Wholesome Baby Food is essentially the online Bible of baby food. We’ve gotten all of our recipes and instructions from there – and we have yet to have a total SNAFU or otherwise unpleasant experience. They have the information broken down not only by food but also by baby’s age, which is helpful. Also helpful is that, for each food, they have multiple recipes and suggestions on making these foods appealing to your little one. They also give you information on which foods store well, how to store them, how long to store them, etc. I’m sure there are other resources out there, but Wholesome Baby Food is our primary information source.
A lot of people have asked me if it is more expensive to make our own food. The short answer is: Not at all! The long answer, while ultimately the same, involves some math. If you go to Harris Teeter, you will find that a 2.5 ounce jar of organic sweet potatoes is $0.99 or 39.6¢/ounce. Whole bulk organic sweet potatoes are $1.99/lb. If I buy 2 lbs of sweet potatoes, it makes roughly 28 ounces of baby food. That works out to a mere 14¢/ounce! ((1.99/lb x 2 lbs = $3.98 ÷ 28 ounces = $0.14/ounce)) And for the produce we grow ourselves, the cost is ZERO!!! And all it takes is a little sweat equity and an hour or less in the kitchen.
So how do we make our baby food? Well, it does depend to some extent on what sort of food you are making, but this is our general method thus far ((This only applies to food that has to be cooked. Things that LB eats raw, i.e. bananas, have a different method, which I will outline later.)):
First, cook the fruit or vegetable to within an inch of its life. Beets, squash, sweet potatoes – all of these get cooked at 400° for an hour or so. Apples, carrots, zucchini – these are steamed on the stovetop.
Once everything is nice and mushy, peel it (if applicable), cut it into chunks, and place it in the food processor. Pulse until desired consistency. At first, we made LB’s stuff pretty smooth; now I’m letting it get progressively thicker and chunkier as she gets better at eating.
Next, parcel out the baby food into clean ice cube trays. Each cube holds approximately 1 ounce of baby food, making it easy to know how much your little one is eating. This is both my favorite and my most hated part. I love transferring things from one container into another, but I’m anal retentive enough that it drives me nuts when each little cube doesn’t have the exact same amount. I could easily spend an hour just filling ice cube trays to perfection, but I’ve learned to get it in there and move on. Then you place the ice cube trays in the freezer.
Within a couple of hours, the food should be hard enough to pop out and put into plastic bags. It does work better if you let them freeze up over night, but some people worry about freezer burn forming on the tops of the cubes. ((Although supposedly you can put Saran Wrap over the tops to protect them; I don’t. I’m anal retentive, but I’m not that anal retentive. And honestly, how much freezer burn can occur in 12 hours?)) Additionally, I usually have to run warm water over the backs of the trays before the cubes of food will release.
I then put the baby food cubes in a Ziploc freezer bag, label with name and date, and voila! The Littlest Brewster has tasty things to eat!
For foods like avocados and bananas that don’t need to be cooked, I simply peel ‘em, slice ‘em, and freeze ‘em. Then they go into a bag in the freezer until we’re ready for them.
They make all sorts of swanky equipment for making your own baby food – the Baby Brezza and the Baby Beaba are two that spring to mind. While undeniably adorable, they are completely unnecessary. A food processor and ice cube trays are the only equipment you need, and they can be used for the rest of the family after the baby food stage has passed. I just can’t see you using your Baby Brezza to whip up a batch of margaritas for the next summer cookout…
The one drawback, if you can call it that, to making our own baby food is that LB refuses to eat commercial baby food. My parents bought her some when we were on vacation and she wouldn’t touch the stuff. Although, who can blame her? Let’s compare ingredients between our food and the type my parents tried to give her. ((Not saying my parents got bad baby food. They were very sweet and bought organic to make us happy. LB just wasn’t having it.))
Our applesauce: Organic Fuji Apples
Gerber Organic SmartNourish 1st Foods Apples: Organic Apples, Water, Tuna Oil (Source of DHA), Ascorbic Acid (Vitamin C), Gelatin, Choline Bitartrate, Alpha Tocopheryl Acetate (Vitamin E)
This means that there is no running up to the store for a few jars of babyfood. There is running up to the store for a few squash or out to the garden for a few beets, then into the kitchen to cook. But we would rather do that anyway.
If you’re hesitant about jumping in, all I can say is: give it a try. Make a single batch, see how it goes. You might be surprised at how easy it is to give your little monkey simple, wholesome, home cooked food.