Friday, May 1, 2009

Let The Peas Whirl

I'm back in the baby food making business with my second these days and thought I'd do a post on homemade baby puree. I'm a huge fan of making baby food yourself. It saves money, doesn't require a lot of time or effort, and allows you to introduce your baby to a much greater variety of foods than you can find jarred on your supermarket shelves. Not to mention the fresh factor. Have you ever compared homemade pureed peas to the jarred peas? The difference in color is reason enough to persuade you towards homemade.

Bare with me for this rather lengthy step-by-step and some shocking cost comparisons.

First, gather up your favorite fruits and veggies and have your food processor (or blender) handy. And if you haven't used her lately, give her a pep talk because she's in for a mighty workout. Another helpful tool for making baby food is a microwave steam pot. I have these two from Pampered Chef.

I love them. We use them to cook veggies for dinner almost nightly.

Back to the food. Now this is about double the amount of food I normally tackle at a time. But when I went grocery shopping this week I couldn't pass up the great sales on vegetables. So this is a very big batch.

But just look at all of those delicious foods: eggplant, zucchini, asparagus, banana, potatoes, yams, chicken, organic brown rice, pears, mango, broccoli, and butternut squash. What a spread!
I start by prepping the food: washing, peeling and cutting them into uniform chunks.

Here is the butternut squash. This one had an oddly long neck, so I cut that off before slicing the bottom in half. Then I scooped out the seeds with a spoon.

I pour about 1/2 cup of water into the steam pot with them and pop them in the microwave until they're very tender.

For potatoes and yams, I bake them in the microwave - no peeling or cutting required.

With the chicken, I pull out my circa 1997 George Foreman grill, hit it with some Pam cooking spray and grill for 8 to 10 minutes.

There are some fads in life worth buying into. The Foreman is one of them. It's great for grilling up super bland chicken to puree in baby food, but also knocks out (pardon the pun) awesome paninis. Who needs those fancy-schmancy panini presses from Williams Sonoma when you have a George Foreman grill? Not that I have anything against Williams Sonoma. Quite the opposite in fact.
To cook the rice, use a 2-t0-1 ratio of water to rice. Combine in a pot, bring to a boil, turn it down to low and let it cook covered about 30 minutes.
Now on to the noisy part: pureeing. Once your foods are steamed, let them take turns getting pulverized in the food processor. As they blend, add in remaining cooking liquid to get the desired consistency.

Potatoes need a considerable amount of water but veggies like zucchinis and most fruits already have a lot of water in them. They blend up well without any help. Just look at the gorgeous color of this zucchini!

I spoon my purees into ice cube trays, cover with plastic wrap, and freeze them.

Once frozen, I pop the cubes out and organize them into labeled bags.

Three frozen ice cubes is about the equivalent of a typical jar of purchased baby food. And that's about how much my 8 month old eats for a meal. I just nuke them in the microwave for about a minute and breakfast (or lunch or dinner) is served! You can combine different cubes to make your own veggie medley.

All of the food you saw pictured at the top of this post cost less than $18. And get this, it made over 65 meals! Not cubes, meals. (That's assuming three cubes per meal.) That means each meal (equivalent to a jar of baby food) cost less than 30 cents. "Yowsa!", as my mother-in-law would say. Now, I don't know how much Gerber goes for but I glanced at the market today and jars of Earth's Best baby food were on sale for 89 cents each.
As for the time aspect, this amount of food took me nearly 2 hours to make. Normally I make half and it only takes, well...half the time. So the time investment isn't daunting considering this is enough food for three weeks.
So, there you have it: Homemade Baby Food 101. Hopefully I haven't bored you to tears or made you gag from images of mushy food.

5 comments:

Dirk & Christina Dunlap said...

i am totally going to try this if i have a little one! thanks for the lesson!

Kate said...

Love the recipes! Thanks for sharing.

Elizabeth (blue clear sky) said...

I will be passing this info. on to friends! Thanks for the tips.

Sarah said...

I have made homemade baby food for all of our babies For Abigail I did the ice tray thing but have gotten more laxed with each and now I just make one veggie and fruit at a time and keep it in the fridge in an air tight container. They are much smaller batches this way so that it stays fresh. So, my food processor has a permanent spot on the counter. :). Thanks for the cost comparisionI never knew how much money I was saving :)

Kate said...

Hi Em,

What kind of food processor do you recommend for attempting to make baby food?

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