Making Baby Food At Home: The Basics
When I was pregnant, I had big plans for how I would raise a healthy baby – breastfeeding, cloth diapers, BPA-free plastics and homemade baby food were just the beginning. However, when my daughter’s medical needs changed my plans, I tried to hold on to whatever I could from those idealistic early days. Making her food at home became, and has remained, one of my favorite tasks because it gives her healthy food and (most importantly) it’s so easy!
Don’t get me wrong –jars and pouches are tempting, and I have absolutely used them on occasion. However, I learned early in our solid-feeding experience that making our own food was going to be the most cost effective, option-filled way to give her a taste of what the adults are eating. By purchasing seasonal fruits and vegetables from our local Farmer’s Market or grocery stores, we started introducing flavors, textures and colors that just aren’t available in a jar. Luckily, living in Northern California, we have a wonderful selection of produce available year round, but fresh is not the only way! Frozen fruits and veggies are inexpensive, easy to find and store, and are often tastier than their fresh counterparts (If you’ve ever gotten a basket of moldy berries by accident, you know what I mean!)
Think you’re ready to start making your baby fresh, homemade food? Make sure you have the basic hardware on hand before getting started.
- Food: Use fresh or frozen produce. Canned options might have additional sugars, salts, preservatives or the much-maligned BPA, so shop carefully.
- Cooking: Steaming seals in flavors, colors and essential vitamins, and a steamer basket makes it easy. I like my silicone Chef ’n steamer insert, but any similar basket will work. Other foods, like sweet potatoes or apples, work well when simply baked.
- Puree: For young babies, you’ll want to reduce your cooked foods to a smooth puree using some kind of electric appliance – a blender or food processor work fine. My preference: a stick blender, like the Cuisinart Smart Stick – just a rinse between batches, and it gets the food just as smooth as bigger appliances.
- Storage: A small amount of veggies will make a LOT of baby food, so have a plan for storage – freeze, freeze, freeze! Any ice cube tray will work; just remember to cover tightly with plastic, foil or a lid to preserve freshness. Once frozen, move cubes to a larger plastic container to make room for more batches in your trays.
Yes, there are a number of new products on the market that can do the steaming and blending for you, or that store in jar-sized amounts. However, if you’re like me and trying to use what you’ve already got rather than fill the limited cabinet space with “uni-taskers”, try the basics before upgrading.
If you’re ready to start making your little one some tasty homemade foods, keep an eye out for upcoming articles about gadgets and recipes to add to your baby-food making collection!