Saturday, January 1

Homemade Baby Food

Miss A is almost a year old.  Like most parents, when the doctor gave us the go-ahead to start giving her solids, we made our way to the grocery store and bought jars of baby food.  What other option did we have?  I knew other Moms who made their own baby food, but that seemed way too hard and time consuming.  Besides, wasn't manufactured baby food safe and nutritious?  What did I know about making baby food?  As it turns out, making baby food is not time-consuming or difficult!  It just takes a little bit of planning and shopping, and a small time of prep work. 
I am by no means an expert, but this is what I did to get this much food for my Baby Girl.  One day while talking to my friend (The Coupon Queen, as I like to call her!) I mentioned that I wanted coupons for those steamer vegetables you can buy.  I buy those for Sweet Hubby and I. She had coupons in her stack so I got coupons for 50 cents off one package of steamer veggies.  She gave me 4 coupons.

At my local grocery store, those veggies were on sale that week for 98 cents per bag.  I came home with 4 bags of steamer vegetables, 1 pound of fresh carrots, an acorn squash and a butternut squash.  The store gave me the coupon value on the steamer vegetables plus an extra 30 cents off per bag as a "store bonus", something I hadn't expected.  I spent $7 total for all of those veggies.


At home, I cut each squash in half and placed them in baking dishes; I baked them for about 50 minutes, until the flesh was tender.  While that was baking, I steamed each of the vegetable packs, one at a time, in the microwave, according to package directions.  After each bag steamed, I put in my single-serving blender with some goat's milk (more on this in another post) and pureed until thick, but soft.  When the squash was baked and cooled, I scraped it out of the skin and did the same process.  The carrots were peeled and steamed on the stove top and pureed the same way. 

The veggies were all spooned into ice cube trays (about 1 Tbsp. per cube) and placed in the freezer.  (They sell specialty trays for this, but I think it's probably a waste of money.  Cheap dollar-store ice cube trays will do the trick!) Once frozen solid, I popped them out of the tray and placed them in labeled zipper bags and back into the freezer they went.  A meal for Miss A is 4 cubes, plus some finger foods (steamed carrots, banana pieces, avocado, kiwi, etc.) and only takes 30-40 seconds to heat up in the microwave (just to warm, not hot!)  The bonus:  she honestly seems to like what I've prepared better than the store-bought varieties.  It makes perfect sense, too...I've tried everything I've ever given her and this stuff (steamed or baked at home) tastes SO much better!  You can even add herbs and spices to the purees once they've been warmed in the microwave.  Miss A loves a little cinnamon in her squash.  She's even had finely minced cilantro in her avocado!  Just remember the four day rule!


4- 12 oz. steamer bags of peas yielded 16 servings; 15 cents per serving
1 pound of carrots yielded 8 servings; 8 cents per serving
Acorn Squash (I can't remember the weight) yielded 6 servings; 21 cents per serving
Butternut Squash (I can't remember the weight) yielded 5 servings; 21 cents per serving

I got 35 total servings out of one evening's worth of work!  It certainly wasn't complicated and really only took about 1-1/2 hours from start to finish, not including my shopping time.

Cost Comparison:

To compare cost, I'm using this as a guide.  I cannot remember the cost if I buy them at my local Wal-Mart. At our house, 4 Tablespoons is a serving size for Miss A (that's about what she can eat in one meal). If I did my math correctly (and I'm not making any promises here!) my homemade version of pureed peas comes to 15 cents per serving (4 Tablespoons) while the name-brand pureed peas (purchased from Amazon for 11.99 per 16-pack) comes to 40 cents per serving (again, 4 Tablespoons, NOT the entire tub).  That's significant savings, in my book!   So on top of giving her what I consider superior nutrition and monetary savings for our family, I just feel better knowing that I personally prepared the food that she's eating.

I know that not everyone has time to do this.  There are Moms who work full-time outside the home.  For this season of our life, I am blessed to not do that.  It seems that the seasons of our life result in us having more time or money, but rarely both at the same time.  Right now I have more time, so this is my way of contributing to our little family. I can't wait until summertime when I'll be able to hit the farmer's market for fruits and veggies to serve to our family.  And hopefully our home garden will do well, too! So, if you have some extra time, think about making your own baby's quick, easy and nutritious for your little one!


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