Homemade Yumminess

I like to prepare my own baby food.
It's fun.
It requires no brain power.
Somehow the whir of the food processor is oddly relaxing to me.
It's empowering to see a freezer full of baby food.
It's convenient - I do it on my own schedule, in my spare minutes (ha ha), & only have to make one grocery store run.
It's done.  I have all the baby food I will need (& likely will have extra.)
Ultimately, it's cheaper than buying store bought... it's more of an upfront cost to purchase the food but in the long run comes out cheaper.
I like knowing exactly what my baby is eating... it's a control thing.
It's yummy & fresh... no preservatives!

So, how do I do it?

With Will, I bought a cookbook.  That was dumb.  It's pretty simple.  I do like www.wholesomebabyfoods.org for ideas/recipes although I didn't consult them this time.
Also with Will, my mom flew into town one week & we spent about a day and a half making baby food.  That was fun.  Now that Ellie is here & I'm chasing a three year old & doing cast care, I kind of crammed the baby food making into a nap time one afternoon and a few nights while staying up for her 11:30pm cast care.
My point?  It can be done whenever.  Some people probably do it as they go - just making whatever food they are introducing when they need it.  I prefer to not have to think later so I do all my thinking at once, buy all the food I plan on introducing in the next few months, & then make it all at once.  It's easier on my brain & also on cleanup.
Now, I will go all Pioneer Woman except without the fabulous pictures.  Also, I wouldn't recommend serving this to guests.  Also, it's only one course.  Actually, it's nothing like Pioneer Woman except that she cooks with vegetables and fruits.  Sigh.

Step One:
Buy the food.  I learned from a friend recently which fruits and veggies to buy organic & so I bought those in organic but some I bought regular style.  I bought maybe half a dozen each of smaller fruits like apples (organic), pears (organic),  squash (organic), zucchini (organic), peaches, & nectarines.  I bought a bunch of bananas.  I bought about 3 sweet potatoes.  I bought a bag of organic baby carrots.  I bought a cantaloupe.  I bought some mangoes (champagne version- yum!)  I bought organic green beans and peas.  I also bought organic blueberries but I forgot to make them & only just now realized that when I saw the picture below & realized we ate them.  Oops.  I'll make those in a few months probably.
I may have bought some other foods but it's been about a week and I've slept (barely) since then.
You get the idea.
Pretty much anything you eat can be turned into baby food.
(Except no strawberries.  And no corn - it does bad things to their tummies.)
Super soft fruits & veggies like bananas, avocados, & kiwis can just be mashed as needed & served.  No prep needed there.

Some fruits & veggies require milk to make them really smooth.  You can use formula or old breastmilk.  I go the breastmilk that is about to expire because it was pumped 4-5 months ago route.  See?
I have maybe 300 oz of this liquid gold stored up & I saved it just for this purpose.
(Another reason why you won't be serving this to any visitors.)
Step 2:
thaw out some milk if it's frozen (no cow's milk, of course.)

Step 3: Prepare the food
Cut into smallish chunks/slices/halves.  Peel carrots (or use pre-packaged peeled ones like I did.)  Green beans need their ends snapped off (or use pre-snaped ones in a bag like I did.   Efficiency. :))
Sweet potatoes need to be peeled.  Squash & zucchini do not.

Fruits:  apples and pears don't need to be peeled (lots of nutrients in those skins.)  Mangoes do.  Nectarines & peaches do & you can easily do this by placing the fruit (skin on) in boiling water for about 4 seconds, then removing it & peeling it.  (Then you will put it back in the water in a moment.)  Cantaloupe obviously needs to be cut and chunks removed (avoid using seeds.)
Cut the fruit into chunks/slices.

While you are prepping the food, boil some water in a double broiler.

Then, put the chunks of food in the top pot over the double broiler.  (I have no idea what you call that thing but you know what I mean - don't put the food in the water... you want it steaming in the pot with the holes on the bottom that fits into your double broiler.)
Don't have a double broiler?  No problem!  Use a steamer basket over boiling water.

It helps if you have a lid that fits on your pot.  I couldn't find the match for this one.
I am clearly not a professional.

Cook until it is soft & pierces easily with a fork or knife.  
(maybe 5ish minutes depending on how full the pot is)
Doesn't this squash look yummy?

and here's another view of squash in a pot.
When it is soft, transfer it to a food processor fitted with a steel blade.  You could also use a blender.
You could also pay a fortune for the baby food makers available now but then you wouldn't be able to send your child to college.  (Personally, I think those are a rip off since a food processor or blender work just fine.  Of course, I've never actually used one so what do I know.  If you plan on selling your homemade baby food (is that legal?  I have no idea.  If you do - please don't use breastmilk) - maybe then you would want the big baby food making machine.
Otherwise, use what you have in your kitchen!

(Fyi - I don't steam sweet potatoes, I bake them (yum) & then scoop out the good stuff & put it in the food processor.  Bake at 400 for about 1- 1.5 hr (until nice & soft.))  Thanks, Shae, for reminding me of this!

Turn the food processor on & enjoy the whir.
Check the food.  If it is chunky, add a little breastmilk or formula.  You want the consistency to be soft and smooth.
Also, use a spatula and clean the sides of the food processor.
(* Please note that I have mentioned before using a spatula to reach inside of Ellie's cast when she has had blowouts to clean her.  I would like to make it public record that said spatula is now a permanent part of the cast care supplies and will never be used in a kitchen again.  In fact, I will throw it away in 2 weeks when she is "cast off."  No such spatulas were used in the making of Ellie's baby food.)
pour the baby food (or use a spoon - less messy) into ice cube trays.  I also used some breastmilk storage bags and filled them up with 1-2 oz each when I ran out of ice cube spots.
Aren't these heart shaped ones cute?
I know Ellie will appreciate her heart shaped veggies.
Cover with saran wrap & freeze.

When it is sufficiently frozen, remove each cube & store in a giant ziploc in your freezer.  If you forget that you have made frozen baby food & don't put it in a ziploc for a few days, it may be difficult to remember which colored cubes belong to which fruit or veggie.  This may result in labeling several ziplocs full of pretty cubes as "mystery fruit" or "mystery veggie."  You can taste them but it is still very difficult to discern.
Hypothetically speaking of course.  I always label everything and would never forget that I had 4 trays of frozen food in the freezer.

This is what the outdoor freezer looks like now:
Lots & lots of yummy fruits & veggies ready to go!

Tips for Doing This the Easy Way:
Clean up - because I do so many foods in one big chunk of time, I don't wash the food processor blade and bowl & lid every time.  I just rinse & reuse.  Same for the cutting board, knife, pots, pans, spatula, and ice cube trays.  This saves a lot of time & is just fine for baby if there is a trace of green beans in their apples.
Thawing - I just pull out whatever I plan on serving her later in the day & let it thaw in a little bowl.  If I forget until the last minute, I stick the frozen cube in a bowl inside a pyrex of hot water.  

Bananas:  Can be peeled & cut into spears & frozen.  I'm trying this for the first time today with Ellie.  Supposedly, it's a good, natural teething ring.  Ellie looks like corn on the cob kernels got stuck in her gums so hopefully this will bring her some relief.

Making homemade baby food also makes it easy to mix combinations.  You can easily thaw two or three different fruits or veggies and mix them.  You can also later add spices (oregano, basil, rosemary, cinnamon, etc) to better prepare your baby for eating the foods you prepare for the rest of the family.  When adding spices, just thaw your cube, add a dash of a ground spice, stir, & serve.

The whole point (in my opinion) of baby food is to prepare the baby to join the family at the table.  Socially, they are learning skills as they learn to eat with a spoon, to sit up to eat, & to even sit at the table in a high chair (or in Ellie's case in a spica, straddling my leg.)  They are also learning to eat the kinds of foods your family eats.  I don't believe in playing the role of short order cook for the children so I think it is important to introduce them to a variety of foods like what they will eat as they mature and eat what the family eats.  

In a few months, after I have introduced these basic foods, Ellie will be ready for table foods.  At that point, I will expand her diet to include other foods that I forgot to buy & make into baby food but that I want her to eat (asparagus, papaya, etc.)  These can also be prepared as baby food.  I just will wait & do them as table foods.

Enjoy & happy cooking!

If you homemake baby food, what's your favorite to prepare?  Do you have any ideas/tips to share?

7 thoughts:

kelly said...

THANKS for the post!! i'm actually headed to the groc now & am all inspired!! i've made some baby food, but it didn't all turn out well, so i'm trying again.
my kids HATE chunks, even @ 14 months, so it has to be perfectly smooth - does yours end up smooth? even with peels??

Katie - a Blessed Mommy! said...

Hey Kelly! Yep, I use a steel blade and it's chunkless.:) i think because you cook the foods, the peel is soft and purees easily.
happy cooking

Scott & Shelby Peschel said...

Made it for all 3 kids! (didn't know if I would have time but turns out I enjoy it, so made time). My boys are such good fruit and veggies eaters too I think b/c of it. Leah is moving onto table food these days (with zero teeth)so I have a whopping 3 cubes left in my freezer. :) I'm sure Ellie will love your cooking! way to go!

Suzanne said...

What a great and easy how-to post! Researching how to make your own baby food online is sooo overwhelming! It's looking alot more doable now. Thanks!

Cindy said...

I loved making baby food for my little girl too. I used one of those hand/stick blender things for pureeing. She was eating purees in the fall so we had lots of roasted butternut squash, pumpkin...and of course apples and pears with cinnamon. She also loved mangos and peaches! I'm expecting a new baby later this year and I can't wait to cook for him/her too!

shae said...

hi katie b.--i bake some my sweet potatoes and apples instead of steaming them which makes them ohhhh so yummy and brings out the natural sugar. however, when you do this...you may have to add more breast milk, water and/or apples juice (for apples) because it is a bit more dry. BUT, the taste is delish!

Sara said...

We also bake/roast just about everything! The flavor is wonderful and I find it to be less work if you need to remove peels. I tend to bake stuff when I already have the oven on for dinner.

Have fun with seasonings and combining flavors! I just made roasted vanilla pears. They smelled divine and my husband was a little disappointed, as he thought he was coming home to a yummy dessert! haha

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