Tuesday, April 10, 2007

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~

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