Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Making Baby Food

Babies are cute, cuddly, hilarious, and EXPENSIVE!  I have posted before about ways to save money using cloth diapers and wipes.  Obviously breastfeeding saves TONS of money, (if you don't count all the food mama has to eat because she's perpetually starving, just me? ok then).  I know these things provide huge savings first hand, as I said before, my older son, Zach, was disposable diapered and formula fed, he was CRAY-ZEE expensive.  My baby, Gavin, is cloth diapered and breastfed, he's a steal!  Eventually though, the babies will start eating solids.  As with everything kid-related there is much debate and shenanigans about how to introduce solids to your kiddos.  This post is NOT to debate how to introduce solids to your baby.  This is about my experience with MY kids introducing solids to them as babies. Ok, now that we have that out of the way..

As I said, Zach was formula fed, he was also a huge kid, and a very hungry huge kid at that.  So around 4 months when he was nearing 50oz of formula a day, we decided solids might be in order, that or a second mortgage.  We started him with rice cereal and then progressed to pureed veggies and fruits.  Gavin just turned 5 months and we decided to skip the cereal and just go straight to veggies.  Gavin is also huge, and he keeps trying to snatch food out of our hands/mouths/plates, wherever and whenever he can.  Those were our reasons for starting when we did, you make the call for yourself and your baby what is best for you.  

Zach, my now 3.5yo, as a baby enjoying his first taste of homemade carrot puree

Any-who, after some research, and talking to friends and family that have also done this, we opted for making our own purees.  Several reasons why, first, obviously, cost.  Those little jars of food are close to $1 each! I can get carrots for $1.50/lb at the farmer's market and make the equivalent of LOTS of jars of food.  Second, ingredients, if you make it yourself you know exactly what is in there, in our case, veggies and water, that's it.  I have heard (through the rumor mill) that some companies add sugar to the baby food to make it more appealing.  I have no idea if this is true or not, but the fact is, there's no way to know, and that's not cool with me.  Third, convenience, every couple of weeks we take an hour or two on a weekend and make a big batch of food.  There are baby food cubes in our freezer ready to go.  And the last one I can think of right now, flexibility.  We can make our own blends on the fly, a cube of this, a cube of that, stir and see if the baby likes it.

Making the food is SUPER easy, basically, you steam, boil, or bake depending on the food.  There are excellent references all over the interwebs, my favorite is, it lists each veggie, how to cook it to maintain the most nutrients, they suggest when to introduce foods, how to store them, basically it answers all your questions :).

This past weekend we made sweet potatoes and carrots for Gavin.  We got the veggies from the farmer's market, so they are organic, local, and fresh, BONUS :).  Four big sweet potatoes made SIX trays of baby food! About 8 carrots made 2 trays of food!  
Mr G thang enjoying his first taste of sweet potatoes

The sweet potatoes were the easiest, I washed them, poked some holes in the skin, wrapped them in foil and baked at 400 degrees for about an hour.  Then, while they were still warm, but not hot, I peeled off the skin with my hands, the skins came right off.  I roughly chopped into cubes and put it in the food processor, we used water until the puree was a thin consistency for a first food, then we put it in ice cube trays and into the freezer.  Each cube is roughly an ounce, so for now, we are just using one cube at a time as he gets used to solids.  He's a big fan so far, he grabs the spoon and giggles while shoving it in his mouth, screams when I take the spoon away.  I said the kid was huge, so he's an eater!

The carrots were a little more work, wash, peel, and chop, then put them in a steamer basket and steam until tender.  Then into the food processor they go, use fresh water (not the steamer water) for pureeing because the steam water is full of nitrates, not good for baby. Puree until they are the consistency you want and then into ice cube trays and the freezer.  Once frozen, I put them in ziploc freezer bags and label them with the veggie and date.

In the morning or the night before I take out a few cubes for the meals, let them defrost in the fridge and then warm in a glass container in the microwave.
It really can't get much easier, save a TON of money, know what your kiddos are eating, and always have food on hand for them!

Any questions?  The one thing we haven't mastered is making pureed meat for baby, any tips?

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