I have been finding that with my second child I am looking for ways to take shortcuts. How can I do x,y and z quicker/better/not at all… One thing that I have not opted out of for Baby boy is making my own baby food. I did this for my daughter and really liked the process and the results. Now with a preschooler, a baby and a Master’s degree and a blog al competing for the same 24 hours each day it could be quite easy to throw up my hands in defeat and buy it each time I go to the grocery store. But I am not doing that. I enjoy playing with flavour combinations and textures and just knowing what is going into the food I am making (I have no problem whatsoever with the baby food sold in grocery stores and I have bought it a few times for baby boy already, I am not saying that there is any reason not to buy it premade!).
I thought I would give you a run down of my process, my tools and my favourite combinations, in case you might be interested in making your own. I am by no means an expert but I have made quite a bit over the past 3 years, perhaps I have a little insight or experience to share.
For AB’s baby food, I used a Baby Bullet and it worked great, although I did not find it held up to extended use and now it is no longer suitable to use. I now use a regular blender and find the results to be pretty much the same in consistency and texture, but I do have to let it run a bit longer. I also use baby cubes (found here), the 6 baby bullet containers that came with the blender, the frozen batch container and small mason jars (similar to these). (disclaimer: be careful when freezing glass containers!)
The first thing I like to do when preparing to make baby food is to write down what I want to make. I list what combinations and what single-flavour purees I want. I do this for two reasons. One, once water gets boiling and things get blending it can be hard to remember what to do next, so I find having a plan helps me know what to do next. Second, I like to make sure that I am not planning to do combinations that will result in all the same coloured purees (think all orange, or all green). I don’t know if this is true but I heard/read that feeding your child too many orange foods can result in orange skin- who knows!? But it’s good to keep in mind!
Next I cook the foods until they are very soft- I know when they are soft enough when I can cut them open just with a fork. I bake squash in the oven (350 degrees for 90 minutes) but the rest of fruits and vegetables I steam in a steel strainer over a big pot of boiling water. Softer foods like bananas and avocados do not need to be cooked first.
Once all the foods are soft enough I put the steamed/soft food in the blender with a bit of water. It can be tricky to know how much water to add since the water content of different foods vary. I like to err on the side of less is more and always add water if it isn’t blending smooth enough. Avocados require lots of water to get blending. Squash requires little water because it is runny enough. Tip: if your purees come out too runny in the end you can add rice cereal to thicken it up!
Finally, when the puree is smooth (my son is still eating very smooth, texture-free purees- your child might prefer more chunky or thick) I pour it into individual servings while still hot and freeze right away. One exception to freezing right away would be if you planned to use it up quickly.
I like to play around with mixing different fruits, vegetables and grains to get my son the most options possible. Some favourite ‘recipes’ include banana and peanut butter mixed with Gerber oat cereal, pear-carrot, apple-broccoli, pear-broccoli-carrot, sweet potato-apple, squash-pear, avocado-apple. I sometimes look to the pouches (similar to here) in the grocery stores to see what combinations I can try to re-create at home.
And that’s it! It really isn’t too hard and does not take too much time! I find it quite rewarding and because I try to relieve inconveniences in other areas, I just feel really good about doing this!
Do you have any tips for me? Any combinations? Anything I am missing? I would love to hear any suggestions in the comments!