Sunday, August 26, 2012

Homemade Baby Food

This kid loves her food! 

After posting a picture on facebook of my recent baby food stash, I got some requests to do an informative blog post about it.  So here we go!

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

My tools-
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!


Unknown said...

Awesome post! So helpful & inspirational. Such a great mama!

Erin said...

How long are you able to keep foods in the freezer for? My LO is too young yet for solids but would like to take advantage of our local farmer's markets produce. How long would some of these keep?

Brittany said...

I've kept mine in the freezer with no issue for up to 4 months. There is some freezer burn after a few months, but it's still safe to eat.

Ally and Matt said...

I use those same ice cube trays! I tell my friends how easy it is to make baby food and how much money you save, but no one believes me.

a mom's diet said...

well, i am expecting at this moment. but i am sure i would want to try this once my baby is ready to eat :)
thanks for the share

nielsen photos. said...

when you use the quinoa are you milling it first? then cooking and then adding to your mixture in the blender? or cooking it regularly and then adding it?

Brittany said...

I do not mill the quinoa, no. I cooked it regularly and then added it to my pureed mixture.

Unknown said...

Hi - did you use equal parts vegetable and quinoa or turkey? What were the measurements when you did this?

MrsRubyC said...

Can you use a regular blender with a puree setting? I don't have a vitamix but I do have a blender with a puree setting and an immersion blender that I use to make brown rice cereal for my twins.

Myssi H said...

When I used to make my oldest sons baby food, he's 15y/o now, I used a regular blender. I just streamed or roasted what I was making and then threw it in the blender. Super easy. I used ice cube trays as well.

Jenskaroo said...

Thanks so much for posting these tips! I'm looking forward to making my own organic baby food at home.

I tried to follow the link to check out the ice cube trays you used, but it says that they're not available online anymore. Do you remember the brand or type? I'd like to look for them.

Thanks! :-)

Choo Choo! said...

No dangers in thawing the food on the counter like that?

tschm88 said...

To answer your question, yes. There Is definitely danger in thawing out food on the counter. There is danger when food gets between the temperature 40 and 140 degrees. This zone is called the danger zone and is prime for bacteria to grow. I urge you to thaw it out using either a refrigerator, microwave, or oven.

Unknown said...

So you said you would buy frozen veggies steam them anf freeze them again. Does this proccess reduce the amount of nutrients the food has?

Andrew Carter said...

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Kay said...

Hi, can you tell me the type of ice cube trays you used? I tried the link listed but it's no longer working.

Unknown said...

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Anonymous said...

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