Oh hey there, friends! It's been a while, eh? I thought I'd break the silence with something that is not necessarily a go-to easy dinner recipe, but something I have made pretty often for our little guys. I don't often do posts like this, but figured it would be super helpful to those who are in the same boat!
Homemade baby food is super easy to make, and saves A TON of money for our little family. I'll share with you all the tricks I've learned along the way (after doing this method through both my two little boy's puree-feeding stages!), and even a step-by-step tutorial on how to get from those lovely whole veggies, to small lovely cubes of veggie puree; as easy to serve up as opening a jar of baby food (except for a fraction of the cost).
When my husband and I were living in DC/Maryland for the summer a while back for an internship, my first son was barely starting on solids, and I was buying baby food every week. The price was adding up so quickly! I noticed that the price of fresh fruits and veggies was much less - especially those that were in season (and at the peak of their freshness, taste, and nutrition). I knew something needed to change! I started making my own baby food right away, and will never look back. Yes, it takes a little bit of time, but the effort level is low, and the amount of baby food purees you end up with is completely worth it. Easy stuff, I promise!
First off, you need a few essential tools to make sure this process is as simple as possible:
Method of Cooking: A steamer basket and colander have proven the most helpful for me. Depending on the veggie, we usually chop them up and steam them, or if it's a squash or sweet potato, we'll just bake them in the oven whole and then scoop out the goodness to process in a blender. Sometimes to save on time even further, I'll buy some raw veggies from Costco that are already cubed or chopped. I then steam/cook them until they're soft in a steamer basket or boiling water. More on that later. :)
A Good Blender or Food Processor: I was gifted my Ninja from my parents-in-law for my birthday almost 3-4 years ago, and it still has the sharpest blades and quickest blend time of all. I use it all the time, and it has been perfect for quickly pureeing up those veggies for baby food. I can control how fine or chunky I want the purees to be for whatever stage of solids my kiddos are at. A food processor would work well, too.
Ice Cube Trays: I found these for around a dollar, and keep them especially for baby-food-making. Depending on what stage of solids my son is at, he will have either one to 4 cubes per serving, so when I fill up all four of my ice cube trays with purees, it usually lasts quite a while.
Ice Cream Scoop or Large Cookie Scoop with Release: Trust me. This makes things cleaner, quicker, and so much easier when transferring the purees from the blender to the ice cube trays. It also scoops out the perfect amount of baby food for each little cup. Win-win!
Large Freezer Sized Bags: After your baby food has frozen solid in the trays, they pop out easily, and you can store them in a large freezer bag. For each feeding, I place 4 cubes in a small glass dish and microwave them to room temperature or warmer for about 1 minute. That's it! Baby food is ready. If I need to take the baby food with me, I thaw the cubes in a small snack-sized ziploc baggie, throw in a spoon and a bib and we are all ready to go.
That's it! Most people usually already have all these things in their kitchen, so easy peasy!
Let's dive in, shall we?
First, I cook up the veggies (I usually serve up the sweeter foods like avocados & bananas, etc, freshly mashed or blended per feeding). The method of cooking the veggies completely depends on what veggies I'm planning on feeding him that week/month. I usually stick to whatever stage my baby is in, and what's in season at the store. I've learned sweet potatoes, peas, and spaghetti squash are the easiest to serve up, but it all depends on what's the best price. This particular week, broccoli and squash were on sale, so that's what we went with. I steamed up the broccoli, and boiled up the squash (reserving about a cup of the cooking liquid). When they were fork-soft and mostly cooled, I added them to my blender and pureed them until the desired consistency was reached. When he was just starting out on solids, I made sure the purees were very fine, now, I leave them pretty chunky.
Sometimes pureeing the veggies alone isn't enough to blend up perfectly, so I usually add in some of the reserved cooking liquid to thin it out to a more baby-friendly consistency. Broccoli is usually a bit more chunky by nature, so I've waited to introduce this veggie until he was ready for something a little thicker. Sweet potato, for instance, would look much more smooth and creamy-like than this. All depends on the veggie!
This ice cream scoop is a lifesaver. I scoop out the purees from the blender, and easily fill up the trays one by one.
Next, I gently give the ice cube tray a little tap on the counter to make everything as flat and even as possible. Again, the chunkier the veggie, the less flat it will be. It will still freeze up beautifully.
Below, you can see I have broccoli and squash, and then I have a few combined cubes, too.
Finally, freeze them overnight or at least 6 hours to harden. Pop them out, and place them in your large freezer sized baggie.
They pop out so easily, and you can wash & use your trays again and again. :)
When you need to serve some purees to your little love, all you need to do is place 2-3 of these little cubes (depending on how much/little they can eat), and reheat them in the microwave for about a minute (ours is usually a minute & fifteen seconds). Test the temperature, then serve!
Place in Ice Cube Tray
Pop out for Large Freezer Bag
Done and done! See? SUPER easy! And I promise on my life you have saved a ton of money doing this. If you have any questions, let me know. I'd love to hear how making your own baby food went, and answer any and all questions about this. :)
This little lover and I hope you have a lovely day and a happy weekend! xoxo