I’d love to tell you I’m that mom. You know, the one that seems to have it all together, they make all their own baby food, because “who knows what goes in that other stuff. If you make it yourself you know exactly what goes into it.”
Spoiler alert. That’s not me.
I do make my own baby food, don’t get me wrong. But that’s not the reasoning behind it. I make my own baby food for the same reason I breastfeed; it’s cheaper.
Judge me all you want, but it’s the truth. Babies are expensive and I know how hard my husband works to make his money. I’m not about to spend it frivolously, so this is me doing my part, ya know? Think about it. For $1 you can have a bag full of fresh carrots, or you can have one jar of baby food.
It’s just a no- brainer to me. I can use that bag of carrots in a few recipes to feed my family and make a fair amount of baby food. All for only $1.
Plus my sister-in-law gave me this super cool blender for Christmas so I didn’t have to use my margarita machine to make baby food anymore (stop judging me, I’m a bartender, what do you expect?) Anyway, shout out to Kailey for that one. You’re the best.
So since we all know where my priorities are at (frugal living) let me go on to say I don’t have a fancy-smancy baby food maker. You don’t need one. I don’t have fancy-smancy baby food storage, either. Once again, you don’t need that. I use a regular blender, dollar store ice cube trays, and ziploc bags. Really simple and cost effective. To be honest, it doesn’t take long either. But that’s because I try to utilize my crockpot as much as possible. I’m all about throwing it in a pot and forgetting about it. There are a few things that it doesn’t work with but just hang with me here.
There’s a few things you need to know before diving in to making your own baby food.
1. Everything needs to be cooked. Even if it’s something that’s easy to mash (like bananas). Babies little bellies need as much help breaking down the food as possible and roasting and steaming their food beforehand is a lot easier on their digestive system.
2. Before you start feeding them blends you need to make sure that your baby has tasted every ingredient on its own and you’ve looked for signs of a reaction. When my pediatrician told me that he could begin eating puréed fruits and veggies she made sure that she made it crystal clear. If you feed them a blend and they have a reaction you don’t know exactly what they’re reacting to.
3. You’re going to need a liquid to add to your fruit or veggies in order to be able to purée it. I like to use almond milk, but you could use breast milk or formula if you wanted to, or reserve some of the water you used to cook the fruits and veggies. Do not use cow’s milk. You should not introduce cow’s milk to your baby until they are at least a year old.
Ok, moving on. So what I really like to do with anything that has a high water content is peel it and put it in the crockpot for a few hours until tender. This works well with apples, mangos, blueberries and strawberries. When they’re tender scoop them out and put in a blender with a little bit of your liquid of choice and blend. Slowly add more liquid until you reach the desired consistency. Once it’s done, I grab my dollar store ice cube trays and pour the purée in them. Each cube is about one ounce. Once frozen I pop them out and put them in a ziploc bag labeled with the date made and what it is, and into deep freeze it goes. If you can’t get the cubes out run some hot water over the back for a minute and they’ll pop right out. Then I just grab a few out of deep freeze the day before I want to use them and let them defrost. I have little glass mason jars I use for this (I bought them awhile ago for some jam I made and had a few extras). I also save my plastic Gerber tubs for this purpose (yes, I do buy baby food when it’s on sale or I have a great coupon, I just don’t make a habit out of it). Side note, did you know it’s actually just as expensive to buy those little jars with nothing in them as it is to buy the baby food and reuse the jars? I can’t make this stuff up… anyway, if I need the jars I’d much rather buy them with stuff in them than without if it costs me the same price either way. That’s just me though.
Ok, ok. I’m getting off topic. What I was saying was, if I can get away with it I use my crockpot. I turn it on high for awhile and let it do its thing. It works great for frozen fruit as well as the above mentioned fruits. When they’re soft, put them in the blender and add a little of your liquid of choice until it forms a smooth purée.
For veggies I love those steam in the bag kind. It’s so easy. Just a couple seconds in the microwave, and into the blender it goes with some almond milk (or whatever you chose). If you want to buy fresh veggies I suggest boiling them and then puree. This is also how I make his sweet potato baby food, which he absolutely loves. I was told to stay away from regular potatoes as they don’t really have a whole lot of nutritional value. Just something to keep in mind.
Bananas are a little different because they have to be oven roasted. I’ve heard of people using them raw, but haven’t personally tried it. Sometimes the acidity in fruit gives him belly problems anyway, and I’m just not willing to risk having a grumpy baby. But I just turn the oven on to 350 degrees Fahrenheit, line a cookie sheet with parchment paper, and cut the banana in half length wise (you know- the long way). I put it in the oven for about 10 to 15 minutes until the banana starts to release its juices and the house starts to smell delicious. I remove it from the oven and use the parchment paper to dump the banana (and the water it released) into the blender. You’ll still need to add some sort of liquid until the purée is smooth.
I will admit the one food I serve him raw is avocado. This is by far the easiest baby food to make and probably my favorite because it always turns out luxuriously smooth. I just pit and scoop out the avocado and add it to the blender with some almond milk. He hasn’t seemed to have any trouble digesting it so I don’t plan to change it any. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. Ya know?
Anyway, when it’s all said and done Just pour purees in an ice cube tray and freeze.
Once frozen pop those suckers out and into a labeled plastic bag with what kind and what date. My freezer is literally full of baby food, and I’ve spent next to nothing because I always buy what’s on special that week.
That means instead of one serving for $1 I get at least 6-8 servings per $1 I spend. I’ve got quite the stockpile going. And really, it takes next to no time at all, especially when you can just throw it in the crockpot and forget about it.
Since my son is only 5 months old, we haven’t gotten real creative with blends yet. It’s just one main ingredient (your fruit or veggie) + liquid of choice (almond milk, coconut milk, breast milk, formula) to thin out the purée, added slowly while blending.
But what if you add too much liquid? Easy. Add some oatmeal and keep blending.
I added way too much liquid to the blueberries and it was more like water. I added some oats and continued to blend for a minute so all the large pieces broke up, then continued on with the ice tray routine. It worked great! And I didn’t have to throw out all my hard work. You could also add baby cereal to it if you wanted, but why use the expensive stuff if it’s not necessary, you know?
Side note, I’ve also made my own baby cereal. You just grind up oats into a flour consistency (I use my blender but you could do larger batches in a food processor). I read somewhere on Facebook that rice baby cereal contained formaldehyde so I freaked out about it for awhile (it’s Facebook, who knows if it’s the truth, but just the thought of it scared me). Upon more research rice cereal also causes constipation so we stick with barley, oat, and multigrain cereals.
I know most people start their baby eating cereal with some milk mixed in, but mine was not having any of that. So instead, I mix some cereal in with his serving of fruit in the morning and he gobbles it down. I feel like it keeps him a little more full throughout the day. All babies are different, but this is just what I’ve found that works for us.
Next month after he’s tried all the individual ingredients we will start to mix them. He’s not a fan of broccoli so I’m already trying to figure out how to disguise it and sneak it into his diet. If you have a baby-approved broccoli blend recipe, please let me know! Don’t forget to leave your questions and comments below. I love hearing from you!