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I never thought I would be a mom who decided to make her own baby food. Like, never. I thought, “Sure, in a perfect world, but that’s not my reality.” It just seemed like a daunting task, one I absolutely wouldn’t have time to do as a working mom.
But, then Landon hit the age for baby food, and I realized that yes, I’m a working mom, but my income isn’t going to support buying his food. He would go through several containers in ONE feeding, costing us between $3-$5 a day in baby food.
Still not convinced how I would do it, one day my mom found an article online that showed how to make baby food, and it was the most genius thing ever: ice cube trays. Mind. Blown.
So, off I went to start my baby-food-making journey, hoping it wouldn’t be a major flop and/or avenue for poisoning my child. Turns out, it’s super super easy, way more cost effective than those little jars of baby food, and Landon loves the homemade food better than the jars. Not to mention, it’s also healthier and way more flavorful. You don’t even need all the special equipment they tell you you’ll need (a.k.a. The Baby Bullet).
Tools You Will Need:
- Blender (or food processor, but I recommend a blender). We were gifted a small blender for our wedding, and it works better than my food processor in creating a smoother texture. However, it’s so small and not convenient for making larger batches of purees. This is the one we have, but I would recommend a bigger one like this.
- Ice cube trays. I thought I’d try a bigger cube, but I hated it and always used my cheap, 1 oz trays like this instead. This makes it easier to mix different flavors together. One of Landon’s favorite combinations is mango, pineapple, and peach. I’d do one, 1 oz cube of each. I found it easier to just do this than to try and make combination purees. I’d recommend having at least three trays, especially if you plan to dedicate an afternoon to making several week’s worth of baby food.
- Quart-sized freezer-safe bags
- Permanent marker
- Freezer space – quite a bit, actually, especially if you want to make a bunch in advance. We have a great little chest freezer we keep in the spare bedroom (would be garage if we had one!) that we really love. It’s quiet, doesn’t take up much space, yet it holds quite a bit. I freeze about anything I can, so I definitely rely on this freezer.
At first, Landon was fairly picky, so often I would buy a cheap jar of baby food in new flavors I was going to introduce before making a lot of that kind, just in case he didn’t like it. Now, though, the kid eats anything…except eggs. He’s still not a fan of those no matter how hard I push them. Tell me how he can suddenly accept avocado but not eggs? I don’t understand. (Sigh) Oh, well.
You can essentially make any kind of fruit or vegetable. I found that it wasn’t worth the time and effort to peel peaches and pears, especially when they aren’t in season. I did cave and buy canned pears in 100% juice with no sugar added and slices of frozen peaches instead. I also went the frozen route with pineapple, mango, blueberries, green beans, peas, broccoli, and cauliflower, all of which he LOVES. Just steam or boil until tender, blend, pour into ice cube trays, freeze, and then store in freezer safe, labeled Ziploc baggies.
Other items I had great luck with include:
- Sweet potatoes (wrap in foil and bake until tender, usually 4-5 per batch)
- Butternut squash (cut in half and lay flesh side down in about ½ inch of water in baking dish, baking at 350 degrees for 45 minutes to an hour)
- Zucchini and Yellow Squash (wash, chop into pieces with skins still on, boil or steam until tender)
- Carrots (steam until tender)
- Apples (peel and then steam until tender)
- Grapes (wash, blend, and then strain to take out the bigger chunks. This will be a runnier puree. Don’t add any water and thicken with baby cereal if needed.)
Avocado and banana can easily be peeled and mashed on their own. However, Landon will not eat a whole avocado in one sitting, so I’ll peel and mash several at a time and then freeze in cubes for later.
When you get to the puree step, add water as needed to reach the desired consistency. Start off with runnier purees when first introducing baby food and work your way to thicker purees as your baby becomes a more skilled eater. You can thicken any puree with baby cereal, which is a great way for baby to get in the grains and iron he/she needs.
I did also try pureeing chicken and turkey (if you think it sounds gross, you’re not wrong…). This was a really thick puree no matter how much water I added, and it didn’t have a smooth texture. It might have been due to overcooking the meat, but I wanted to make sure it was thoroughly cooked. I cooked chicken and turkey breasts in a slow cooker on low all day until done, then pureed. Since it was thicker, I always fed it to him with a vegetable of some kind and that really helped even out the consistency and balance out the flavor.
Be sure to label all your bags so you can remember what’s in it. But, other than that, this really is a very simple process, and I could usually make 1-2 month’s worth in a Saturday afternoon. Frozen baby cubes should be safe in the freezer for up to three months.
When it came time to feed Landon, we would pull out several cubes and microwave them in a bowl for 30-60 seconds, stir well, and go.
I have no regrets about making my own food, except for purchasing the food processor I never use (I always choose my blender over the processor) and had it not been so simple, I don’t think I would have stuck with it. Now I tell every baby mom I know how easy it actually is. I know you can do it, too. Happy cooking!
Any other tips you’ve found that have worked for you? Share them in the comments below! I’d love to learn how you make your own baby food.