January 7, 2013 by Heather
I spent an hour or so Saturday morning making Mr. Parker some more food, and I thought I would share a little bit about how I do it! This is by no means the only way to make baby food, it’s just what I’ve determined works best for me. A website I use a LOT is Momtastic’s Wholesome Baby Food. It has great recipes and sample menus for different stages, as well as tips about what to avoid and how to best dive into the world of solids, because it can be kind of intimidating if you’ve never done it before!
You can find all kinds of other great websites and books on the subject. There are even special steamers and blenders made specifically for making baby food.
A valuable resource for me has been my sister, Hannah, who is a baby food makin’ machine. Not to be confused with a baby makin’ machine, which she happens to be as well.
So, the method to my madness.
First, assemble your ingredients. I kind of like to have it all steamed/defrosted/roasted and ready to go, that way I can just puree away and I don’t have to monitor a bunch of things.
On the menu for Saturday: blueberries, peaches, green beans, peas, sweet potatoes, and bananas.
I also like to make butternut squash, avocado, and pears.
A note about green beans: this was my third attempt to make them homemade. The first two times it was a lot of work trying to get them smooth and not weird, and Parker never seemed to like them anyway. I recently fed him green beans from a jar, and he loved it. I also tried the jarred kind and it tasted way better than what I was doing. I gave it one more shot at making them, but nada. Gerber 1, Heather 0. Same story with carrots.
Another note: making homemade applesauce is expensive and a lot of work, especially if you kind of hate peeling things. I keep a few of these on hand and feed it to him plain and also mixed with other fruits/veggies. He loves it, and it’s cheap and easy. My two favorite things.
A few tools I’ve found to be very useful:
Sometimes, with foods like blueberries and peas, there are a lot of “skins” left over even after they are pureed. I like to use that tiny colander to push those purees through so they are a little smoother. When Parker first started eating solids, I used a fine mesh strainer so that it was super smooth, but now this works just fine and keeps most of the bigger chunks out. You might find that your baby enjoys the chunks, but Parker seemed to be really bothered by them and would cough and be all dramatic. Hmm, wonder where that trait comes from.
Parker’s Favorite Recipes
Blueberries: Dump some frozen blueberries in a bowl and warm them up in the microwave. Puree them to your desired consistency, adding water if needed (wait to add the water, because you might not need it). Tip: Throw in a few banana slices for a better texture.
Peaches: Dump some frozen peaches in a bowl and warm them up in the microwave. Puree them to your desired consistency, adding water if needed (wait to add the water, because you might not need it).
Green beans: Buy the stuff in the jars. Trust me. Same for carrots.
Peas: Get the frozen kind that you can steam in the microwave in the bag they come in (I like the Steamfresh brand). Steam, then allow to cool before pureeing. You will need to add water to them, but do it a little bit at a time so they don’t become too watery. Peas work best in a full size blender, as opposed to a small mixer. If you want them really smooth (for example, if you are just starting solids), push them through a fine mesh strainer into a bowl using a rubber spatula.
Sweet potatoes: Poke holes in freshly scrubbed potatoes with a fork and bake at 350° for 45-60 minutes until soft. Let cool, then slice in half long ways and scoop out the innards, discarding the skins or giving them to your mom who says that is the best part. Puree, adding water slowly, until smooth. Tip: add a little cinnamon, yum.
Bananas: Peel a fully ripened banana, break into chunks, and puree in mixer with a little water until smooth and creamy. Tip: immediately pour into ice cube trays and put them in the freezer so they don’t start to brown.
Butternut squash: Skip roasting a whole one. Buy the steam-able bag of it in the produce section, by the bags of salad. Steam in the microwave, let cool, then puree with some water until smooth. Tip: butternut squash can be kind of expensive to make homemade, and sweet potatoes taste pretty much the same at a fraction of the cost.
Avocados: Scoop out the insides, discarding the seed and skin, and puree with a little water until smooth. Tip: they taste really good mixed with bananas. In fact, that’s the only way Parker will eat them.
Pears: Peel and cut into small pieces. Boil until soft, let cool, then puree with a little water until smooth. They smell like cake when they are cooking, no lie.
Apples: Buy the unsweetened applesauce.
Pumpkin: Get a can of pumpkin puree and call it donesies. I like to mix it with a little apple juice. Parker loves pumpkin, but the smell grosses me out real bad.
In between foods, I just take apart the mixer and rinse it off good and use it again.
Once you finish pureeing a certain food, divide amongst an ice cube tray and pop it in the freezer. If you want to cover the trays with aluminum foil or plastic wrap wait until the purees are hardened. If you cover them right away they will stick to whatever is covering them and it’s a real pain to get off.
As you can see above in my lovely freezer photograph, I also like to put some baby food in those little Glad brand containers for on-the-go moments. A whole frozen cube will also fit in one of those with the lid on. We use those containers for every feeding as well, and just rinse them afterwards and reuse at the next meal so there aren’t 9 of them in the dishwasher at the end of the day. I am just full of tips today, aren’t I? My goodness.
Why do I make baby food instead of buying it? There are a few reasons: 1) I figure since I am staying home then I might as well be as domestic as possible, 2) There is only one of him, so keeping up with his eating needs isn’t that difficult, 3) It costs roughly about half as much as buying baby food, and 4) I enjoy doing it. There is absolutely nothing wrong with the baby food in the jars; it is quality stuff that sometimes tastes better than the homemade stuff (green beans & carrots). But I like making it, and I have the time and freezer space to do it, so why not?
Plus this guy seems to really love it, which makes it well worth my while:
And there you have it…one big giant post about baby food. Hope it was helpful, and feel free to comment with any other tips and tricks you might have!!! Happy pureeing!