When my son started solids, I decided that I would try to make his food for him. Not because of any personal diet restrictions (I cannot afford to buy all organic food, nor do I feel the need to), but because I love to cook and I thought it would be a rewarding process. It worked out great…until I got bored. And lazy. And reached the meats stage. The thought of pureeing my own meat gave me the heebie jeebies, so I pretty much said uncle at that point. Have you SEEN the hot pink jar of “ham?” Ew.
And then came the surprise twins and their surprise bills. HA! I realized this time around that in order to keep our grocery bill manageable, I would have to make ALL of their food with a few exceptions. I started off doing weekly batches, but I felt like I was wasting my weekend and dirtying too many dishes. A couple of weeks ago, I half devised a plan and dove in.
We can also call this “the lazy mom’s guide to a boatload of homemade baby food.” I’m not embarrassed by some of the shortcuts I took, because they allowed me to pull this whole thing off.
Materials needed: pots, giant cookie sheets, aluminum foil, steamer basket (not necessary) a blender of some sort (I have a Baby Bullet and a Margaritaville Margarita Machine) spatulas, a zillion ice cube trays (more on that later) Ziplock type bags, Press-n-Seal type wrap and a Sharpie.
What I bought
Fresh: pears, plums, avocados, bananas, butternut squash, sweet potatoes, blueberries, carrots
Frozen: peaches, cherries, strawberries, green beans, mango, pineapple concentrate, corn/carrot/peas mix, broccoli
Containerized: case of unsweetened apple sauce, bag of brown rice, bag of rolled oats
Disclaimer: this requires major multitasking, a napping preschooler, and a patient person who can simultaneously hold babies and watch football games, i.e., my husband. I preheated the oven to 350 while I cut my sweet potatoes, pears, and squash in half. I laid them all out on giant cookie sheets and put them all in the oven together.
While I did that, I boiled the water to steam the carrots and blanch my first batches of frozen fruits and veggies. Each time I was finished blanching, I would set the blanched food in a bowl on the side and repeat the blanching process after a quick rinse of the pots.
As things blanched, I cut the plums in half to prep them for baking, and then I peeled bananas and squeezed the avocado into the processor jar to make the girls’ favorite banana-cado puree. It’s a great way to get the healthy fats in while disguising the taste of avocado for potential picky eaters.
About this time, the pears were ready to be removed from the oven, so I threw them in a bowl and put the plums in to bake while the sweet potatoes and squash finished up.
After I got everything blanched, I started to puree all of my foods. After each puree, I’d fill the ice cube trays with food and toss them in the freezer. This is where I ran into trouble. I only had four ice cube trays to work with, which held up the freezing process.
Once the sweet potatoes, squash, and plums were finished, I pulled them from the oven and started to peel them. The good stuff went in a bowl so they were ready to be tossed in the processor with water.
I used the milling blade on my Baby Bullet to turn the brown rice and oatmeal into cereals to quickly be boiled and added into purees. I store these grains in the fridge in Ziplocks.
After everything is frozen, store it in labeled freezer bags. Each ice cube is one ounce, so you can defrost whatever amount you need. My exception is the jarred applesauce, which I keep in the fridge and dish out accordingly.
If you think about it, most fruit baby foods are based on three things: apples, bananas, and pears. I made small batches of things like cherries, mangoes, and blueberries to instantly jazz up these otherwise boring fruits. I add in some oatmeal for breakfast or a serving of complex carbs. Examples: Cherry Pear Oatmeal, Blueberry Banana Apple, Pineapple Mango Banana. Need some inspiration? The major baby food companies have a listing of all of their flavors on their websites!
My girls eat about five ounces of food per feeding each, so right now I need 20 ounces of food per day. For comparison’s sake, I took the major brand food, which comes in 2.5 and 3.5 and ounce containers (x2) used the prices on Amazon because they’re the same across the country versus regional grocery stores, and I determined the following:
The cheapest price I could find at the time of my research was $1.05 per package at five oz = $0.21/ounce. Prices ranged from $0.21/ounce to $0.38/ounce.
So in theory, right now my girls would eat $4.20 worth of packaged food per day.
That may not seem like much, but over time that adds up to $30 per week, and $180 for the six weeks worth of food that I ended up making for $75. That $100 we saved is more than a week’s worth of groceries for the big people in the house!
Get more ice cube trays. Period.
Give the blenders breaks. I nearly burned up my Baby Bullet by overheating it. I ended up using my margarita machine for the big batches of pears, sweet potatoes, and squash.
Do not even attempt this if the preschooler is awake and wants to “help.” Nope.
Additions and Exceptions
I buy fresh bananas every week and I incorporate these into the girls meals. I have also started to introduce some of our food to them, such as whole wheat spaghetti and broccoli that we are already eating put in the baby bullet with a cube of peas, a cube of carrots, and a teeninesy hint of chicken bullion concentrate for “pasta primavera.”
So now that I’ve shared my adventure, are you willing to give it a go, or are you ready to run to the store to stock up on pre-made food?
Great resource (not sponsored, I just love them): Wholesome Baby Food
Please note: I am aware that baby led weaning was an option. I did some research and checked out the policies of our daycare, and purees were the best route for us to take.
Great article! Thanks! I made some baby food with my son 2 years ago and will be within the next few months for my daughter. You wrote a lot about blanching. What is that and why is it necessary? I have a bebé baby food cooker that steams everything then purées it. Does that do the same trick? Thanks again!
Its a quick way to flash cook-throw the stuff into a pot of already boiling water, leave for three or so minutes, and then remove! Your Bebe steamer should do the trick just fine!
This is great! I made all of Jude’s food and just started with Eli. I forgot how to tackle it, so this is a big help!
Glad I could help out a bit!