This kid loves her food!
I started Sawyer on solid food when she was exactly 5 months old. She was showing very clear signs of being ready (drooling when we ate in front of her, watching our food all the time, being able to sit up).
I knew I wanted to make her food, but nothing confirmed it for me more than seeing how expensive pre-made organic baby food is! At almost $1.50 a package (3.5 oz) we would be spending over $30 a week on just 3 meals a day. That is crazy to me. I make her food all organic and it's pennies on the dollar.
Also, when we went to the beach in May, I bought organic packs of food to make vacation easier on myself. She didn't poop for 5 days. She's never had that problem before, and as soon as we got home and back to our homemade food, she never had it again.
We never did baby cereal. You can read why we decided against it HERE
regular pots and baking sheets
vitamix (food processor works just fine)
These ice cube trays
big ziplock bags
As far as meal planning, my friend Natalie recommended the book by Tyler Florence. I ordered it used on Amazon for 3 bucks. He has awesome recipes and tips, and I highly recommend it. I also went to the baby food aisle and looked at the combinations they offer. That was a great way to figure out recipes.
Here is my secret to making this process easier for myself. I buy almost everything I use at Whole Foods in the frozen section. I can buy bags of frozen peas, fruit, mixed veggies, etc for usually $2.49 a bag. Two bags makes about 3 trays full of food--which fills up a gallon freezer bag. That is roughly 15 meals if she's eating 3 cubes a meal. When we first started, she only ate 2 cubes at a time. Each cube is a little less than 2 ounces.
When we first started out, I did single foods at a time. I had blocks of mango, sweet potatoes, peas, avocado, etc.
At about 6 months, I started combining flavors. I'd make sweet potatoes with apples and prunes. I'd buy bags of mixed veggies (peas, beans, carrots, corn) and steam and blend them all together. Now at 9 months, we're in advanced recipes with texture like squash, apples, prunes and then I'll mix in quinoa after the veggies are blended. At 6 months I also started adding seasonings. I add cinnamon to squash, cumin to turkey, thyme to sweet potatoes, etc. Just have fun and experiment. Babies like flavors--they had them when you were pregnant and they get them from breast milk.
I always have, at a minimum, a stash of:
-root veggies (squash, sweet potatoes) with a grain (quinoa, couscous, brown rice)
-cool veggies (greens, corn, carrots) with a protein (chick peas, ground turkey, beans)
-fruits (strawberries, bananas, mangos, blueberries) with oatmeal or yogurt when she was younger
With the frozen produce, I follow the directions on the bag to cook them. This usually involves boiling 1/2 cup of water, then adding the produce. It steams for about 7 minutes and that's it. I wait for it to cool, then put it in the vitamix.
I also roast a LOT of her veggies and fruits. My favorites to roast are sweet potatoes, apples, prunes, and any kind of squash. You just put them on a baking sheet at 425 degrees for 40-50 minutes until tender. I don't peel any of it before baking--just wait for it to cool then scoop out the potatoes or squash. Apples I keep the skins on (only if they're organic). I now make a batch with ground turkey also. I just cook it on the stove, then I pulse it in the food processor or vitamix to make it more fine texture. I stir it into whatever veggies I'm adding it to.
Once I have everything cooked-I put it in the vitamix. Sometimes I don't need additional liquid because the steaming caused the veggies to retain moisture, so they blend fine. When she was really small, I added breast milk to thin it out if needed, but now I just add a little water if it needs. If you don't have a vitamix, throw it in your food processor or blender. A blender might need less at a time to make sure it blends evenly, but the food processor can take more at a time. When my veggies or fruits are blended, I add the grains or oatmeal and stir by hand. This way she's getting texture as well. I now make a batch with ground turkey. I just cook it on the stove, then I pulse it in the food processor or vitamix to make it more fine texture. I stir it into whatever veggies I'm adding it to.
Once it's the consistency your baby likes, start pouring into the ice cube trays and spreading it out with your spatula. Stick the trays in the freezer and wait. Once they're frozen, pop them out and store in large ziplock bags.
Sawyer eats the fruit and oatmeal for breakfast. The night before, I take out three cubes and leave them on the counter covered over night. In the morning, they're defrosted and ready for her to eat. I then take out her lunch and dinner (three cubes-usually two green and one orange) and cover them and leave the on the counter. This way I'm not microwaving her food all the time. I do it if I forget to take her food out, but not too often.
We also bought this spoon made by boon. It was SO handy when she was eating smooth food and we wanted to go somewhere. I would just defrost the food at home, then pour it into the spoon. It's one of my favorite handy tools.
Here are a few resources I used when I started:
My favorite one: StyleBerryBlog1 and StyleBerryBlog2
Wholesome Baby Food
SO I think that covers it! Feel free to ask me any questions if I didn't answer something for you. I feel so passionate about making our own baby food. It's healthier and cheaper, easy and it's fun!