Think making baby food is too much work? Think again. Not only can it take less time than it does to make dinner, but the benefits spread throughout your family. And when I say less time, trust me I mean it. If anyone is crunched for time it’s this momma. I usually spend one night a week or a Sunday afternoon making baby food. Because of the process you use, you are able to multitask while the food is being cooked, too. And for all the extras, you can freeze them for later.
Ever steamed a vegetable? Then you’ve already got a start on making baby food! When your baby first starts trying solids, all you have to do is steam and puree (it’s a setting on your blender!). Even simpler, foods like bananas that are soft without cooking simply need mashed or blended to create first foods. For some, you may have to add a little water to thin it out, but otherwise you’ll just pour it into individual portioned cups (make sure they are BPA free, too). You can also use ice cube trays that measure 2oz perfectly and make for easy reheating. Once the food is frozen transfer it into freezer-safe bags.
The second stage, where you start to combine flavors, isn’t much more complicated. If you can cut stuff in half and stick it in the oven, you’re all set. “Roasting” may sound like a fancy cooking term, but I’ve come to find out it’s no more than putting something in the oven on a hot temperature for a long period of time. Not to mention, it really brings out the flavors, too. One of my son’s favorite recipes found in the cookbook “Start Fresh” is roasted bananas and blueberries. When he took that first bite, he was practically screaming for more. It’s a simple recipe, too: turn the oven on to 350°, lay the unpeeled bananas on a rimmed metal tray, spread blueberries around it (sometimes I buy frozen and thaw them) and bake for 20-25 minutes. Then, after I’ve carefully peeled the bananas, because they are VERY hot, I throw it all in a blender and freeze. Since these are most likely larger portions than first foods, I use the same individual portioned cups mentioned above or my Pampered Chef 1-Cup Prep Bowls since they’re glass and easy to reheat.
“It’s time to turn over a new leaf and get away from food that is nutritionally bankrupt.”
Besides being super easy to make, having homemade baby food is much more nutritional. “It’s time to turn over a new leaf and get away from food that is nutritionally bankrupt,” says Tyler Florence, chef, co-founder of Sprout Organic Foods, and author of the cookbook “Start Fresh”. By making your own baby food, you know exactly the process that was used, and know that nothing extra was added. This also helps with preventing any cross contamination if your child has a food allergy. Florence’s cookbook is great not only for your children, but for the whole family by giving nutritious meal options that can be served to both adults and children.
Making baby food is easier on the budget, too. Sure, a jar may only cost anywhere from 79¢-$1.09, but compare that to a pound of bananas at 59¢-79¢, which can make multiple meals. A chart found on wholesomebabyfoods.momtastic.com did the grunt work to show the price difference of making your own to the popular baby food brands. It shows Gerber jarred peas cost an average of $1.40, about 28¢ per ounce. A 16-ounce bag of frozen peas costs about 99¢, making about 20 ounces of food, which is about 5¢ per ounce. If you do the math, you save about $40 a month! Even buying organic isn’t as expensive as it sounds. A lot of times, apples cost the same, or cheaper. If you don’t buy organic, just make sure to wash your fruits and vegetables well before making the food.
Why not start your child off on the right path? There’s no rules that say children can only be given chicken nuggets or cheese sticks for food. Let them decide what they like or don’t like, but at least give them the chance to try for themselves.