You buy pouches! Obviously.
We are in the thick of baby feeding! It's so much fun. I realize not everyone gives a hoot about baby food, but I've all of a sudden been inundated with targeted baby food ads for some company that charges OVER FOUR DOLLARS for a jar of baby food.
No, just no. I buy a good amount of baby food to supplement what I make for Will, but I do find that making it myself is cheap and takes hardly any time at all with the tiniest bit of planning. I also don't use recipes because HE'S A BABY but I want him to BE AN ADULT at some point, so I puree regular food with enough water to make it a puree and that is literally the recipe.
Some specifics! Let's get to it.
How to Save Time Making Baby Food
This is the most important one! How can we make this not take much more time than driving to the store. My biggest thing here is that I always puree some things that we or Beck are already eating AND I try to do two or more things at a time at the same time I'm using the blender for something else.
So let's say that we are having some raw carrots for a snack. And I'll roast some cubed carrots with olive oil, salt, and curry powder for Beck. Just sprinkles of each, lightly seasoned. Then I put half in a container for her in the fridge and puree the other half, 2/3 cup carrots at this point, with enough water to just thin out the mixture so the blender actually blends.
Beck has some prepped food, Will has a few little containers of carrots, and then I'll rinse out the blender and make blender tomato soup, THEN wash it and put it away. Takes less than an hour for those three things, and I get dinner out of it.
Fruit is another easy one, I'll just puree about a cup of whatever I'm prepping for us and for Beck. Pineapple chunks puree perfectly with nothing at all and turn into a great consistency.
Strawberries and watermelon get a little watery, so I puree them and fill containers about halfway. Then when I feed Will I mix the fruit puree with some baby oatmeal to thicken it up and add some calories. He loves it and it takes all of 30 seconds more right before I'm feeding him.
Pureeing anything raw is a huge timesaver, obviously. We gave Will a cucumber a few weeks ago and he loved gnawing on it, so I pureed some for him yesterday with a drizzle of olive oil and 2 teaspoons of pesto that I had in the fridge from something else. He was weird about the cuke puree on the first day and then gobbled it up on the second day!
In that same instance Beck ate a bunch of cucumbers for dinner, I cut some more up and stored it in the fridge for her to have for snacks, and then rinsed the blender and made a batch of our absolute favorite peanut sauce. THEN I used some of those prepped cucumbers on a salad for our dinner, so really took it all the way with every single cucumber in the house.
A note on the cucumber example: I put pesto in it! I see a lot of questions about when to add spices and salt and sugar to things, fears of destroying precious little palates. My theory is, we're raising adults. Adults like pesto! If they know what it is. So let's give the kids pesto. And other spices. And salt! In moderation. I don't do any added sugars because these particular foods don't need them, and I don't use anything spicy with HEAT. I'm all about spices for FLAVOR.
Standard Recipe for Homemade Baby Food
I usually make small batches of things for Will so that he has a chance to try new things each day. For the sake of allergies I try not to introduce more than one new food each day, give or take, I definitely don't take it too seriously. Some things say one new food at a time, per day, per week, use your judgement and go for it.
These small batches usually work like this: a cup or so of the food, cut into chunks. Then a little bit of liquid (start with 1/4 cup and work your way up) for things that are thicker, such as cooked carrots, sweet potatoes, green peas. Seasoning if I'm feeling up to it, usually a sprinkle of salt, some kind of spice/herb, and a drizzle of olive oil.
When things get a little too watery, I add some spoonfuls of baby oatmeal right before I feed Will. When things are too thick, a little more water in the blender! I don't taste as I go or anything like I'd do when cooking because the food can be pretty bland and he'll still love it. I work on the texture and that's it.
Ideas for Homemade Baby Food
This is the fun part! To me. Because I like babies. And food. And baby food! But, I do think that making baby food is easier when you have some ideas of things that babies will eat as well as things that you could eat yourself because WE ARE NOT SHORT ORDER COOKS. We are people cooking for our families.
Here's what I like, again, in the 1-cup or so of chunks, a little liquid and spices if needed method:
- mango with water
- watermelon chunks
- strawberries (may need some water to thin them out, just a hint)
- cucumber chunks, olive oil, pesto
- kale, potatoes (or leftover mashed potatoes which are ALREADY BABY FOOD HELLO), parmesan
- roasted carrots with curry powder (more water than you'd think probably with these)
- microwaved apples with cinnamon
- frozen corn kernels with water or milk
- frozen peas with fresh mint and olive oil
- Peaches (skin-on, it gets blended up!)
At this point, I'm working on getting a lot of flavors into Will, not worrying about specific ingredients or quantities. As he gets better able to manage chunks I'll add cheese/dairy/meat, at around 8 months or so.
Best Tips for Making Baby Food
Ok, besides the time saving stuff, the biggest thing, I find, is to just start. Puree something, test it out, freeze half, whatever. I try to give Will a few different foods each day, so if I end up with three little containers of one item I'll throw one or two in the freezer so they don't go to waste.
For going out in public, I generally bring baby food pouches because I can't be bothered. I don't have any reuseable, refillable pouches because I can't be bothered. This is my truth. I buy literally any pouches on sale that are organic, but Plum in particular makes a lot of good flavors. I also have these oatmeal pouches that are a little thicker in texture, and Will GOBBLES them up.
Favorite Baby Feeding Gear
Anyone who has ever spent thirty seconds with me knows that I'm SUPER into baby gear. OXO has a great line of baby feeding gear, but there's tons of stuff on the market that makes things a little more convenient.
Here are our most-used items for baby feeding:
- OXO bibs. I love these for home and restaurants because you can roll a spoon/fork into them. The rolling feature also means that messes don't end up in my bag.
- Aden&Anais Burpy Bibs. We use these as spit-up rags in the early months, bibs and napkins and face-wipers in the puree months. They're cute, go in the wash, and very multi-functional.
- Baby Oatmeal and other grain blends.
- OXO spoons. These have a very pleasing texture for little teethers.
- Blendtec Blender. Not cheap, well worth it. Keep an eye out for a sale and get after it!
- Pyrex glass storage. I use any random teeny containers I can get my hands on, but for larger batches of things (say some oatmeal with applesauce that I know Will eats a ton of), I love smaller versions of these clear containers so that I can see what I have in the fridge.
The Best Baby Food Tip
Here's how we make it work REALLY. I do spend a little bit of time twice each week making these purees. And when I'm at the store I grab on sale pouches. BUT. The kicker is to always have some things that the kid can grab and eat. These are already-soft foods, human purees or dips that babies can eat, or foods that can be mashed quickly with a fork.
The oh-shit definitely meant to blend some stuff last night drank too much wine and watched six episodes of Veep stuff.
Our immediately-useable favorites are:
- Leftover mashed potatoes
- Carrot puree (for diva babies omg this is so good)
So! Puree things you're already going to eat. Keep baby food pouches, a little bit of useful gear, and some soft foods on hand. Feed your kid! They're going to be an adult some day!
I feel very strongly about this topic, OBVIOUSLY. It is work, yes, but it's not impossible to help your baby know what lots of foods taste like, and it certainly doesn't have to cost nearly $5 for a jar of baby food.
A word on taste, we know that kids don't always love things on the first go, or they'll like some things sometimes, not like them other times. I always start with new foods or things that Will is medium on, green foods, things I really want him to have, then move on to fruits or things I know he loves to be sure he gets the calories I want him to have.
We made it! We know how to feed babies with some purees. I'd LOVE to know what some of your favorite baby feeding tips, recipes, and products are!