Sunday, October 9, 2011

Making Baby Food

Before Brantley was born, I had full intentions of making all of her baby food. How hard could it be, right? And I was definitely right, it is totally easy. BUT...I was working full time, spending all my free time with her, and I had turned over all cooking dutites over to my husband, though I LOVE cooking. I just didn't want to spend tons of time in the kitchen, when I could be playing with her in the floor! So, Gerber it was. And I never beat myself up about it. My doctor gave me the green light, saying it was pretty much exactly the same as anything I would make at home. Brantley seemed to like it fine, and didn't eat it long before we were feeding her the same thing as us anyway, so I was fine with it.

When Grayson was okayed to eat solid foods about 3 weeks ago, I figured I'd do the same thing. I ran by the store and bought her rice cereal, and got started. She LOVED it. But I started thinking, I have a bit more time at home now (full time stay at home mom now:)), and thought I'd give baby food making another shot. PIECE. OF. CAKE. Seriously. After G mastered the cereal, we started on the yellow veggies, then green veggies, and now we're about to move into fruits. She GOBBLES it down. And after doing a taste test, I know why. It's pretty good! And the store bought stuff isn't terrible, but there is an OBVIOUS difference. Maybe that's why, in comparison, Brantley never ate as well as G does. Or maybe Grayson's just a little porky. :) So, here's what I do:

1. I started with squash. Butternut squash was on sale, so I thought I'd give it a shot first. I peeled the squash (about a 2 pounder), and diced it into (roughly) 1/2" cubes. Laid them onto a baking sheet, and roasted them at 350 degrees for about 20 minutes. You want each cube to be able to be pierced easily with a fork. They should be very soft.

2. Next, puree. Now, you can do this a couple of easy ways. I have a cute little mini food processor that does the trick perfectly. You could also use a blender, which would work just as well. Good too, if you're doubling (or tripling) the batch. I did this in two batches, and added the squash in and about 1/3 cup of water. This can be varied too, depending on your baby. More if you want it runnier, less if you want it chunkier. Also, depending on your baby and how long they have been eating. Runnier baby food is better for younger babies just starting out on solids. You can also add formula or breast milk instead of water, though for reasons you'll see in the next couple of steps, I just use water. Now, you have baby food!

3. This next step is optional, but I freeze what I make. As a shower gift when I was pregnant with Brantley, I got a whole baby food making kit, complete with 2 of what are more or less ice cube trays with lids. These are PERFECT. I scoop the food into each little 1 ounce compartment, and we are set. Also good because you easily know exactly how much your little one is eating. I freeze them for a couple of hours, and then pop them out of the trays and into a labeled ziploc bag (the pic is of carrots and squash). Then, when it's eating time, pop a frozen food cube or two out, nuke it for 30 seconds, add a lovely side of rice ceral for sweet babe, and you're good to go. And that's also why I don't use breastmilk. It loses all it's nutritional and anti-infective properties when microwaved.
You can add it to add a familiar flavor to your baby, but I would rather just use water and save my liquid gold for that extra bottle I may need later on. Plus, Miss Grayson doesn't seem to miss it when she's slurping down her peas and carrots.

And making baby food is as simple as that! I have also made carrots (I steamed them for about 30 minutes instead of roasting), green beans (steamed), sweet peas (steamed) and sweet potatoes (roasted same as squash). I plan on starting fruits this week, peaches, apples, bananas, etc., and hope to try some veggie/veggie and veggie/fruit combinations (apples and sweet potatoes, anyone?) soon too. Easy. And yummy.

And I haven't even mentioned the money you can save! With Brantley I actually only fed her one meal a day, because she was provided one meal of baby food at day care that was included in her tuition. But now I'd have to pay for 2 meals a day, for a baby who's eating tons more than Brantley! One pack of the Stage 1 Gerber Baby Food I was buying was $1.19 at Kroger for 5 ounces. I made 19 ounces of squash for $2! What a deal! And for the peas and green beans, I bought them frozen, 10 for $10 at Kroger. I'm making almost 4 times the amount for 19 cents less. And it would only add up. So my hub is proud. :)

I can TOTALLY relate to those mamas who are too busy to make their own food. I was right there with you, and would be again if I was still working. But if your sweet one takes an extra long nap one day, throw a squash in the oven and make a yummy meal. :)

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