I would like to start off by saying this blog is not educational. If you came here to learn anything, you're in the wrong place. However, I do occasionally like to share something I've learned, and during the process if you happen to learn something too, so be it.
When I had my first baby I was excited for every new stage we entered. I couldn't wait until I got to peruse the baby food aisle and pick out a rainbow of little jars for my guy. After all, didn't the Gerber baby look fat and healthy? Good moms must feed their baby from those little jars. So when he was old enough I excitedly picked out the pre-requisite green jars and orange jars and of course a couple of applesauce jars. I quickly realized that the green jars were not so popular as the applesauce jars. I didn't blame him much… those jars of canned peas were STINKY. I didn't even like touching it to my tongue to test the temperature. SO, being the good 21-year-old mama that I was, I combined the peas and applesauce thinking this would solve all our problems. After a while, I realized that we were adding apple juice to all his food just so he would eat it and he had developed a pronounced sweet tooth. And that little guy, to this day, is still my pickiest eater. He gets weirded out by strange colors and textures and likes to stick to what he knows. He's the kid who turned down rice krispie treats and cheesecake because they looked weird.
When Haydn was about two I finally realized I needed some help learning how to feed this kid, so I huffed and puffed my way into the bookstore looking for a book entitled "Teach your picky kid to eat ANYTHING." I didn't find that book, but I did find a book full of colorful pictures of healthy appetizing toddler food and lots of recipes. Wowzahs– this looked do-able! And he actually liked the stuff inside it.
When baby boy #2 came along, Mama was older and wiser and determined not to make the same mistake twice. She pulled that same book out, the one that helped with picky pants Haydn, and started from the beginning. And low and behold– making baby food from scratch was EASY! And quick! And convenient! And holy cow, she didn't have to clear a section of her pantry for a precarious baby food tower either. And she learned what a rutebaga looked like. And, the best part of all, the food was yummy. Now when she went to test the temperature, she found herself sneaking bites of those peas because they were GOOD. And the benefits of homemade food were quickly revealed both in the budget, and in the boy who would eat anything.
So I'm a firm believer in the merits of homemade food. Make up a few different flavors, freeze em and bag em and you've got a meal ready to go. Just as easy as popping the lid off a jar. And it doesn't cost $1 or more per meal either.
So what's the secret of quick convenient homemade baby food? Well, the the right tools certainly help. This little food mill is a gem. Great for blending up a single serving of stew straight from the crockpot, or whirling together an avocado and banana for a quick no-cook breakfast.
For bigger batches of food, I throw some carrots, potatoes, parsnips, and maybe some peas in a pot and steam or boil them until their nice and soft. Then I use my blender or cuisinart to get them to the right consistency. If I have some cooked chicken, I throw that in too for some extra protein. Then to freeze, you've got a couple of options. If it's a thinner consistency, use ice cube trays.
This was a batch of parsnip, tomato, ground beef with a little carrot. The flavor was a little strong for him so when I reheated the cubes I diluted it with rice cereal, and then it was just right.
The second option for freezing (and my personal favorite when working with a thicker puree) is to just use a spring-handle scoop and plop it on a tray. Easy peasy lemon squeezie!
When the cubes or plops are frozen, just bag 'em and tag 'em.
Then reheat as necessary, either in the microwave or in a small saucepan on the stove.
And enjoy the fruits of you labor with your baby, cuz that stuff is yummy.
I have several baby food cookbooks, but the one referenced above by Annabel Karmel is one of my favorites. I think its because of the pictures. Some of the stuff is a little over-the-top, because I definitely don't have time to create animals with faces out of all my children's food, but the babyfood section is worth the purchase. And maybe for my son's birthday I could get around to making jello boats out of oranges too.
So I guess the whole point of this is: If you have been intimidated by making your own food because it seems like a lot of work and those little jars are easier, I encourage you to give it a try because it really does save time, money, and in my opinion it gives your child a much more varied palate. They get used to eating what YOU eat from infancy, which leaves less room for pickiness later.