On Making Your Own Baby Food October 22, 2013 | First, I am guest posting on Sparkling Footsteps today while sweet Lynzy is out on maternity leave and loving on that beautiful new baby girl of hers. Pop on over and check out the “hospital bag essentials” that I put together. You’ll surely want to follow along as well…her style is impeccable! I’m not quite sure how the decision to make LK’s baby food came about, but something about it just felt like the natural thing to do. Especially since we are still nursing, I really like the thought of being able to control what goes into her new, fragile, and rapidly growing little system. I also like that I know where and how it was made and exactly what goes into it…Lord knows the Oreo’s will come one day, so please let me stuff her with goodness while I can, right?! And from those initial thoughts, it has evolved into so much more. It has become something that I really enjoy and, in the end, has saved us quite a bit of money. Um and did I mention that it’s easier than I even imagined?? **These are all my own personal opinions so whether you feed your baby from a bottle, a jar, a pouch, a cube, a boob…whatev’s…so long as you’re feeding your baby. My motto is always do what it takes to make you a better mommy at the end of the day. And, honestly making my own food is the best choice for us. I’m not going to go through the whole she-bang, as I do not claim to be the expert by any means, but will share a few tips, tricks, and ah-ha’s…. What you’ll need: 1. Food Processor. You can get a decent/large one for $50 if you don’t already have one. I actually use the attachment that came with my blender on “puree” mode. Works like a charm. 2. Rice cooker with a steamer basket. Another thing that you can get for around $40 and will save you lots-o-time. I like to have multiple things steaming at once (stove/micro/rice cooker). 3. Steamer Basket. I fill my 3 gallon pot with about 3 cups water, bring to a boil, place basket of fruit/veggies inside, cover and let steam for 5-7 minutes or until tender. 4. Ice cube trays. I would keep 5-7 in use at all times so that you can make large batches. Simply spoon puree into tray. 5. Honest Co. Fruit/Veggie wash. Always wash produce thoroughly before cooking. See tips here. 6. Aluminum Foil. Seal ice cube trays with foil and place in freezer. Of course there are fancy gadgets here that you can use instead. 7. Sharpie to label frozen bags with type of food, date, and de-frosting instructions (for daddies) 8. Heavy duty freezer bags. I always double bag the food and like to convenience of a zipper closure. Steps: 1. Buy produce. I typically stick to organic. If you choose not to go organic all the way, look up the dirty dozen and consider buying those organic. Buy what you can (mainly peas/beans) in steamer bags so that they can be steaming in the microwave while other things are on stove. If things are out of season (ex. berries in the winter), consider buying organic frozen bags. Just as nutritious and frozen at the peak of freshness. This is also much cheaper than trying to buy out of season. Stock up on what IS in season as this is usually on special and very fresh. Shop your local farmers market! 2. Wash produce 3. Peel (although the peels are great additional nutrients, I have always opted to peel my fruit…especially the dirty dozen). 4. Chop. Opt for small to medium chunks as they steam the fastest and are best through the food processor. 5. Steam: Up to you whether you want to steam or simmer. Some people choose to simmer fruit and steam veggies. I have always steamed both. Like I mentioned earlier, if you want to get everything done as quickly as possible, have as many steamers going as you can. This makes it SO much easier. 6. Run through food processor 7. Transfer to trays, seal, and freeze. 8. Serve Take out all food for that day and place it into separate bowls in the fridge to thaw out I usually just pull the food frozen and thaw it out on “defrost” in the microwave before serving. If you are on the go…no worries. Partially thaw and let it continue to thaw out in sealed container. Will be perfect by the time they are ready to eat. BAM! SO EASY! You can easily do an entire MONTHS worth in 3-4 hours. It’s that simple. So, just to give you an idea of the shopping list/cost savings I have broken it all down below. That was one of the hardest things about getting started…I had NO idea what made what or how much we would need. So, along the way I documented everything and how it all worked out for me. When we started on solids, LK was eating 3 cubes per meal and has now worked her way up to 5 cubes per meal, so this would be an example of how you can plan for your month. Obviously, if you are just getting started you can trim down the ratios to meet what you need according to your pediatrician. Also, plan for introduction of foods. You are supposed to wait three days before introducing something else to assure they are not allergic to the food. So, pick something to start with and make the most of that one and create a wedge from there according to how your will introduce each food. ** Side note: I like to give LK something fresh everyday so avocados and bananas are get to have on hand and can easily be mashed up for a fresh addition to any meal. I use one half of an avocado at a time and leave the seed in the other half. It stays nice and green that way and is perfectly good to use the next day. Can you get over the savings?! AND it’s so healthy…WIN, WIN! At first, of course, you start off pretty basic (1 veggie cube/2 fruit cubes or vice versa) but now that LK is older I can really have some fun. Some of our favorite combos are: pumpkin+apple+cinnamon sweet potato+pumpkin+pear kale+apple+strawberry strawberry+apple carrot+sweet potato+pear pear+peas+spinach chicken+spinach+apple mango+raspberry I’ve found that the pouches serve as a great source of inspiration for combinations, so I would encourage you to cruise the aisle to check out some fun combos. Also, before you begin make sure to check out Wholesome Baby. This site will be your best friend and has tips and tricks for every step of the process. Talk about rewarding…when baby girl yums up BEETS of all things! I truly hope that this was helpful and that I was able to convey how EASY, FUN, and cost effective making nutritious, organic baby food is. And all of you mama’s who make your own…please share your tips and tricks in the comments section…I would LOVE to hear what’s working for you!