Guest post from Jenni Mullinix
In our home, we have ventured into the realm of solid foods. Now that my daughter is 8 months old, she is exploring a lot of new flavors. (And I’m adding a whole new world of cleaning tasks to my homemaking resume!) While I prefer to give her real food as stated in the baby-led weaning method, it is often more convenient to use pureed baby food.
I still want my baby to eat food as close to it’s natural state as possible, so making homemade baby food was an easy decision. Aside from being healthier, it is an extremely, frugal alternative to store-bought baby food. Not only that, but it is so easy!
How To Make Homemade Baby Food
Buy fresh or frozen fruits and vegetables. Although it’s best to use all organic foods, sometime it’s just not an option financially. I use the EWG’s Shopper’s Guide to Pesticides in Produce to help me determine what I really need buy organic to avoid overloading my little one’s system.
For fruits and vegetables that don’t need to be cooked (i.e. avocado and bananas), you can simply use a fork to mash them up in a bowl just before serving. If the consistency needs to be a little thinner for a younger baby, you can add a little filtered water, breast milk or formula while mixing.
For all other foods, you can steam, bake or boil with a small amount of water until the fruits or vegetables are soft or “mushy” enough to puree. Steaming is the most beneficial as it maintains the most nutrients. After cooking, set aside the cooking liquid to use as a thinner, if you need it. If making carrots or other vegetables that may contain high levels of nitrates, do not use the reserved water. Although the risk is low, it’s always better to be safe than sorry. Filtered water, breast milk, or formula is a sufficient substitute. (For more information on nitrates, read this).
You can blend the cooked fruits or vegetables with any blender, food mill or processor. I like to use my hand/wand blender because it’s quick and easy. Blend or puree, adding reserved liquid if needed, until it is the consistency that you want. Serve immediately or store in the refrigerator for up to 48-72 hours.
How To Freeze Homemade Baby Food
If you make a large batch of baby food, you can easily freeze it to use at a later date. After the pureed food has cooled, spoon into ice-cube trays and cover with plastic wrap. Place in the freezer. After completely frozen, you can transfer the cubes into freezer bags and label them. Each cube is about one ounce of food and can be stored in the freezer for up to one month.
To serve, remove the cube(s) from the freezer and thaw in the refrigerator. If you choose to, you can heat up the baby food immediately on the stove top or in the microwave. It is best to avoid thawing the cubes at room temperature as there is a chance of bacteria growth. We don’t want our babies eating contaminated food.
I have found making and freezing homemade baby food to be both convenient and thrifty. I can make enough food for the entire month in an hour or two and spend just a few dollars. Not only that, but it’s so easy. Anyone can do it.
If you still find the idea a little overwhelming, I encourage you to choose just one fruit or vegetable to make and give it a try. You may find that you appreciate the simplicity of homemade baby food just as much as I do. And I can bet your baby will enjoy eating it too!
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