Thursday, October 16, 2008

Thrifty Thursday

I recently made my own baby food, and I promised to write about it on the blog... so here we go. Making baby food is extremely economical, easy, and great for baby. How can you go wrong with something that saves money and makes both mom and baby happy?

First, let's talk about supplies. You're going to need:

- A food processor, blender, or food mill
- Vegetables, fruits, meats, or alternatives (like lentils and tofu). You can use fresh, frozen, or canned vegetables and fruits as long as they do not have added salt or sugar/syrup
- Zip lock freezer baggies - or containers of your choice
- Sharpie Marker
- Ice cube trays - I started out with 8. The more you have the bigger the batches you can make at one time

Now, let's talk about cost breakdown before we get into the instructions. I'm going to use Butternut Squash as my example. I paid $1 for my squash, which yielded 20 ice cube sized portions (Each portion is roughly 1/2 of a baby food jar). That means each portion of squash cost me $0.05!! Pre-jarred food usually costs anywhere from $0.30 (on sale) to $0.70 - around here anyways. Think of how much money you could be saving... I paid $1 for this squash, and I would have paid roughly $6 to buy pre-made, jarred squash. My six month old baby eats roughly 6-8 iced cube portions a day, so that means I can feed him for less than $1 daily.

OK, onto the instructions. First, you're going to need to cook the item you intend to puree (there are some exceptions, fruits like Bananas do not need to be cooked first and avocado can be served right out of the flesh). Do not boil vegetables on the stove, as most of the nutrients will end up in the water instead of in the food. To save time and retain nutrients, I usually cook my items in the microwave.

Peel and core your fruit, and cut into cubes. Add a small amount of water to a microwave safe bowl, and cook until soft. You could also bake or steam your fruits and vegetables. To cook meat, boil a bit of low sodium broth in a saucepan and add your meat, boiling until cooked through and tender. Thinner cuts of meat with little fat and no bones are best.

I usually add at least some of the leftover water or broth into my puree. To achieve different textures, experiment with how much liquid you add. If your puree is too runny, you could add infant cereal to thicken it. If your puree is too thick, add 100% fruit or vegetable juice, low sodium broth, water, or formula/breast milk. Younger babies typically need smoother puree to start with.

Once you have cooked your items, throw them into your food processor and blend away! If your baby is just starting out on solids, it is best to introduce one food at a time. Once your baby has tried a few things feel free to start mixing!
Once your puree is done, spoon it into ice cube trays and freeze until solid. Once frozen, transfer into labelled zip-lock freezer bags or containers. To serve just take out a few cubes and thaw in the microwave for a few seconds.

Here are a few of my favorite recipes :

Winter Squash Bake
1 acorn squash
2 or 3 Macintosh apples
pinch of cinnamon

Baby Guacamole
1 Avocado
1/2 Tsp Lemon Juice
1/4 of a Tomato - seeded and chopped
1 Tsp Cilantro

Mango Mush
1 dried apricot - soak in orange juice overnight
2 tablespoons pure orange juice
1 small ripe mango
1 small ripe banana

Meat and Potatoes Dinner
1/2 cup ground or cubed cooked meat
1/4 cup cooked vegetable pieces (peas,
carrots, squash, green beans, corn)
1/4 cup cooked rice, potato or enriched pasta
1/4 cup milk or formula

Lentils and Carrots
1/2 pound dry lentils (sorted for stones and rinsed)
1/2 pound raw baby carrots
1 small onion, minced
4 cups water

Mostly everything that you yourself eat can be blended up for baby (with exceptions of course, your baby probably shouldn't eat a hamburger). Try blending up a bit of your dinner for a quick and easy meal.


Apron Thrift Girl said...

These are wonderful recipes for baby food. I am going to forward your link to all the new moms I know. Thank you so much for sharing. It almost makes me want more babies.

danilouwho said...

oh I love this post!
I don't have any kids yet, but I love finding things like this for when I do! I'm gonna bookmark this.

Muthering Heights said...

Great post...I have been thinking about doing this, and you convinced me to give it a try!

Anonymous said...

This is an excellent guide, and those recipes sound great! My baby is now 9 months, and she's never eaten from a jar. I think it's crazy NOT to make your own baby food!


I love making my own baby food. That is the one thing I am super excited about with this pregnancy. That and breastfeeding again.....

Laura said...

I've loved making my own baby food as well. I've had several people comment on how good it smells when I'm heating it up. My dad even said it tasted good and would eat it when he gets old and can't chew! Definitely the way to go.

Amanda said...

super cool! I made/make most of Rissy's food too. For her spaghetti I put in tomatoes, squash, carrots, sweet potatoes, onions, mushrooms & peppers and then blend it and serve it over whole wheat noodles...freezes great too and she never knows about the nasty lurking veggies LOL!!! :D

Chelsea Ling said...

Haha that is cute Amanda :) I hid a bunch of squash puree in the spaghetti sauce I fed my husband tonight - LOL.

terri said...

You go girl! There is nothing like good home made baby food. I made my own 30 years ago for my babies. It wasn't so vogue then and most people thought I was nuts. haha, maybe or maybe NOT. My kids were extremely healthy and they have always been willing to eat a larger variety foods because of it. Keep it up!