DIY Baby Food

For those of you with new babies, I want to encourage you to think outside the box for ALL the things that society tells you that you "need". Particularly in terms of food. Society often tells us one thing: namely, that your child needs the most expensive, most highly processed food possible, when in fact, you can not only make something else 'work', but you can make it better than they can do it!

For all three kiddos so far, I've been able to make their "baby food" until they're old enough to eat table food. There are many benefits to doing this:
  • It's WAY cheaper than purchasing baby food off the store shelves. As in, pennies on the dollar cheaper. For example, let's say you purchase Gerber baby food off the shelf. A decent price may be $1.00 for 2 jars. But if you made it yourself, the same serving of bananas, sweet potatoes, or carrots would cost anywhere from 2-10 cents per jar/serving.
  • It's healthier than using the preservative-filled, salted and sugared versions you'll find in your supermarket (with a shelf life that extends until your baby is two or three years old). When you've personally purchased, cooked, and served up the baby food you're feeding your baby, you'll realize how much more confidence you'll have, knowing so much more about what you're putting in that sweet little mouth.
  • It's very easy to do. It takes me about one afternoon a month to prepare all the veggies and fruit my baby will eat for an entire month.
Here's how I do it, in FIVE EASY STEPS:
  1. Purchase great produce- the best you can find. For some people, this will be locally grown, organic, fresh-from-the-farm veggies. For others, it will be choosing the best of the offerings at the local supermarket. Whatever the case, purchase good veggies and fruit and watch for sales.
  2. Cook it, if required to get to a mushy consistency. For example, sweet potatoes, carrots, and broccoli will need to be cooked in some way (usually baked or steamed). Bananas and avocadoes don't.
  3. Once cooked, use blender, food processor, or fork to mash the produce into desired consistency. For early foods, you may need to add water to get to a finely pureed texture. As baby grows, a fork will be sufficient to mash into small bits.
  4. Spoon into ice cube trays and freeze. You can cover with foil or plastic wrap. Once the cubes are hardened, empty them out into labeled Ziplock bags.
  5. Heat and eat! You can either thaw them out in the refrigerator overnight, if you desire the food to be cold, or pull the baby food ice cubes from the freezer and heat them up.
As I mentioned, this is so easy, and it takes me just a few hours one afternoon a month. I gather whatever produce I'm wanting to make up: sweet potatoes, acorn squash, green beans, broccoli, and corn, let's say. I'll cook the sweet potatoes, squash and corn in the oven while steaming the broccoli and cooking the green beans on the stovetop. As each item gets finished, I use the blender or food processor to mash them up (adding water if necessary), and use the same spatula to easily spoon each veggie into the ice cube trays. Within two hours, the whole job could easily be done. One set of dishes, and two hours saves me so much money and gives me much more confidence in the food my babies are eating.

Additionally, I can control what my baby is taking in, and tailor her tastes to what our family actually eats, rather than giving her a huge sweet tooth for apricots, blueberries, and strawberries, when our family is more of a broccoli, rice, and corn sort of family.

FOR MORE INFORMATION:
If you're interested in reading more about specifics of how to do this, or if you want some great recipes and ideas for varieties of food for babies and toddlers, as well as how to introduce baby foods (in what order to avoid allergies, etc.), you'll want to check out this book, called Super Baby Food. Everything I know, I learned from this book. And here's one GREAT website about making your own baby food.

I hope you'll consider this economic and healthy option!
Blessings on your little ones~

10 comments:

The Humble Housewife said...

Excellent post Jess! Amazing how many people don't grasp how simple this is. I worked full time until my first daughter was ten months. At month end I'd be pulling 60+ hours a week and I STILL managed to make her food. There is no substitute and no excuse (ok well, maybe in a pinch!) :-)

Kim said...

Does it really take so little time?I would love to help my sister in law out by making some of my nephew's food, but it seems like it would be so time consuming! Anyway. Thanks for the tips. (I figure the homemade stuff has to smell better, too!)

Also - how do you do meats?

Jennelle said...

Great idea, Jess!

I used to do this when my kids were little and when baby food was way less expensive than it is now.

Of course, my kids are ages 30 and 31 [I know, I'm old, huh? *lol*]

Anyways, reading your post today took me back many years to when my kids were babies. Thanks!

Have a wonderful day. :-)

Love,

Jennelle

Melissa said...

Hi Jess,
I'm really enjoying your blog, and after this post, thought it was time to leave a comment. My daughter is 16 months old and I've been making her food (except for rice and oatmeal cereal) ever since she started on solids at about 9-10 months old. It is so nice not to have to worry about what she is putting in her body. No preservatives, extra salt, sugar, etc. Also, she has a milk (cow & goat) allergy, so when I make all of her food I don't have to wonder if she will break out or get sick because of a milk ingredient that I missed on a label. You're right, it's easy, inexpensive, and doesn't take much time to do this for our little ones. Thanks for encouraging moms!

Jess said...

Kim,
It really IS that easy! :) And what you mention is true: it smells better- AND it actually tastes like real food!

As for meats, you can do it the same way, or as they get older, I just mush up a little off of my plate and feed it to them (spaghetti-- just mash the noodles/sauce/meat, and they can eat it... tacos-- mash it into a little mini taco salad, etc.)... that way they're learning to eat the same things we eat.

But yes- it is easy, and it is so nice to have it custom made-- you can mix them up (get 2 food cubes and heat and stir them together) in your own interesting concoctions.

I would recommend that every mom at least try it!

Natalie said...

This is interesting. I knew it couldn't be hard, but I didn't realize it was so easy either. I'm probably going to try with my first one.

Anonymous said...

Have you read the Tightwad Gazette? I've leant mine out, but what Amy D. says is that baby food is an acquired need. My son didn't eat baby food, my daughter won't either. Instead, I overcook something we're eating anyways or just don't offer anything. So the baby might have mushed-up-overcooked broccoli with dinner or nothing. The real nutrition comes from nursing, anyways, and the baby food is just for expanding tastes until about one year. My aunt with five kids followed this method, too.

Emily

amy said...

I made our own baby food for all three of our children. It was so easy. I used breast milk to thin, steamed veggies and a blender. I didn't have to worry about "what's in there" (BTW we had a friend who worked for the CA Inspection Stations years past, and he had to inspect the trucks carrying the produce to Gerber and other places...'nuf said there). It enabled us to introduce them to the pure flavors of the veggies (with no sweetners), then fruits. We didn't introduce meats or pastas until their first few teeth were in.

Really, this method takes less time than shopping for baby food in the store.

Stephanie said...

The book, "Mommy Made, and Daddy, Too" has really good and easy recipes to follow as well!

Empress said...

I second Amy. No child needs baby food! It was invented in the US by a company to create a need to get your money. Our rule was they don't need solid food until they are old enough to grab it off your plate. Nursing longer is best for health and allergies. By the time you should begin weaning almost every child can chew and swallow. Not only are early solids unhealthy, but messy and a time wasting production as well. It sets kids up to eat too much, as we naturally tend to push them to eat a whole serving rather than stopping when they lose interest. The most frugal way to feed a baby is breastmilk, period. The most frugal way to wean a baby to real food is to offer it from your plate. They don't eat much, you won't miss it.
Caroline