If you’re a new mom or dad, chances are you know how pricey buying endless jars of baby food can be. So how about saving money (and space in your pantry) by making your own instead? The steps to learn how to make your own baby food are really quite simple, and all you need is a household blender or food processor to get started. If you have a high speed blender, great! They’ll make the process much easier and quicker, but certainly aren’t required to make your own baby food.
The best part about making your own baby food is that there’s versatile ingredients in the kitchen for feeding your little one. You can use some of the sweeter items like squash, pumpkin, bananas, and carrots as a base for desserts, muffins, oatmeal, or even in smoothies! Savory options like broccoli and peas also make a fantastic base for homemade soups and stews. The best part? Making your own baby food is much easier than you think! Here’s some steps to get you started:
1. Choose Your Ingredients
Before you make your own baby food, you’ll first need to select which items you want to use. Good ideas to start with are carrots, green beans, green peas, broccoli, winter squash, and sweet potatoes. If you’re making fruit, select items such as bananas, prunes, and apples which are some of the easiest and least expensive. You can make as much or as little as you want depending on how much time and space you have. If you’re not sure, I suggest buying a pound of each item you’re using to see how much it makes and how long it lasts. Then you can go from there to decide what will work best for you and your little one.
2. Consider Add-Ins
It’s usually best to keep your baby food recipes to one ingredient, but if your baby is old enough to digest foods like rice or oats, feel free to use them as add-ins for your baby food to make them more nutritionally sound. Leave out nuts, seeds, beans, and high fat ingredients, along with salt and seasonings. You could use unsweetened almond milk or soy milk as a base, but try to keep most of your add-ins as simple as possible and just use water.
3. Get Cooking
Now all you need to do to make your baby food is lightly cook it, which provides optimal digestion rather than pureeing it raw. It’s also best to steam instead of boil your ingredients. This helps them retain more nutrients and will help keep most of their water content intact. If you’re adding oats or rice to your baby food, cook that up as you normally would and set aside. You could also use your slow-cooker if you’re short on time.
4. Drain and Puree
Next, it’s time to drain all your veggies and fruit. Use a large colander to remove any excess water if you have any and then add the cooked fruits or veggies to your food processor or blender and puree. Since the foods are still warm at this point, they’ll retain a fair amount of water which will help them blend and process easier. If you’d like to mix any cooked grains in with your veggies or fruits, it’s best to do so after you’ve pureed the veggies and fruits first. For instance, if you’re making a breakfast cereal of oats and bananas, then you’ll want to puree your bananas first and add in the cooked oats afterwards for a smoother texture.
5. Can It Up
After you’re done pureeing everything, then can it up! Mason jars make excellent storage containers instead of plastic choices, so it would be a great idea to purchase some before you make your baby food. Whatever you choose, I highly suggest using glass storage and selecting something with a tight seal. This will not only ensure your little one isn’t taking in toxic chemicals from plastic, but will also help preserve the baby food much better too.
6. Storage Smarts
You can typically keep baby food after making it for up to one week in the fridge. Short on time? You can freeze jars of baby food for up to one month. Then all you’ll need to do is remove the jars from the freezer to thaw and warm to room temperature to serve. You can also freeze the freshly cooked baby food into ice cube trays after you puree it to reheat for later. Just be sure to date all your baby food if you choose the freezing method.
Homemade baby food may not last as long as store bought options, but it’s much healthier for your child and less expensive. You can buy a whole pound of organic carrots for less than what it costs to buy 3 small containers of organic baby food! When you compare the costs and health benefits between homemade and store bought baby food, there’s no denying that homemade wins out every single time. Give it a try if you’re on a budget or just trying to get away from buying processed baby food. If you make your own baby food, feel free to comment and share your own tips!
By: Heather McClees