Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Tutorial: How to Make Baby Food!

Since we got such a positive response to this post last time it was up, and a couple of us on the panel are going to be entering the phase of baby food soon, we thought we would repost this great post on making your own baby food!

One of our readers sent us a complete tutorial on how to make your own baby food. This is something that I've wanted to do for a long time, but was never brave enough to figure it out on my own. Thank you so much! If you have any ideas for tutorials feel free to e-mail us at thevillageformoms@gmail.com


I have loved making my own baby food for my two children. When I first thought about making my own food, I thought it would be so complicated and take so much time, but I am here to tell you how simple it really is!

First, here are the reasons I like making my own baby food:

1. The cost! I did my own cost comparison to see how much money I was really saving by making my own. Gerber baby food comes in two packs costing between $0.75 and $1.00, and each container is 2.5oz. This equals $0.15 to $0.20 per ounce. I bought 2 lbs of carrots for $1.55 which made 31 oz pureed. This equals $0.05 per ounce! The peas were also $0.05 per ounce. Green beans were $0.07 per ounce and butternut squash was $0.14 per ounce. Fruit tends to be more expensive but you may be able to find some good deals depending on the season. You can also buy the fruit on sale, puree it, and freeze it for use when your baby is ready to start solids.

2. It gives me peace of mind to know exactly what is in the food my baby eats. There are no fillers or preservatives. I know how fresh the produce is and when it was made. It smells good, and I have no problem tasting it which makes me feel better about feeding it to my baby.

3. It's really simple! I can make all the food my little girl will need pureed in one day. After she eats all the food I have pureed, she will probably be ready to start more table foods.

The Process
I put together a little tutorial so you can see step by step what to do. Hopefully if you are feeling overwhelmed by the thought of making your own food, this will help ease your mind a little! Please pardon my pictures.. I am not a pro photographer :)

I first made pears. Six pears ended up making 23 oz.

1. Cut your pears in half and scoop out the core. ( I thought I could scoop out the core after I cooked them, but I later regretted it.)

2. Place them cut side down in a baking dish. Pour water into the dish to cover about 1/2 inch of the fruit.

3. Bake the pears at 350 degrees for 25 minutes or until tender. (Your house will smell delicious!) Don't throw away any left over water just yet!

4. When they are baked the skins will be brown and wrinkly. After they cool, peel the skins off. They should come off pretty easily by pinching the skin. ( I cooked mine a little too long so the skin was very soft and harder to get off.)

5. Place your pears into a pureeing device. I use a magic bullet, but a food processor, blender, immersion blender or even a hand food mill (click to see food mill) will work. If your puree is too thick, add some of the water that you saved from baking them. Adding stock water back is good because you get some of the nutrients back that were baked out. You can also add water or thicken it with rice cereal when you want to feed it to your baby.

6. I use a freezer method, so I pour the puree into ice cube trays. Cover with plastic wrap and freeze. Once they are frozen, you can pop them out and into a freezer bag. I find that one cube (approx. one ounce) is the perfect size to start out with. When my kids get a little older I just warm up two cubes instead of one. I had four trays laying around, but if you don't have any, I have seen packs of two at the dollar store.

Make sure to label the bag with the date and type of food.

When I want to warm up the food, I just place it in the microwave for about 30 seconds, stir it, and place it in for 7 more seconds. Make sure to stir it and check that it's not too hot because microwaves can cause hot spots.

And that's it! I made 6 different purees, and it only took me half a day, not including freezing time.

Should I use canned, frozen, or fresh produce?
Canned food should never be used. The biggest reason is loss of nutrients. For more information click HERE. Frozen and fresh foods are a both good option. If you use frozen, be sure to read the labels to make sure there is no added salt, sugar, or syrups.

What are different options to cook the food?
1. Baking with water, like the example of the pears. I also bake butternut squash and peaches this way.
2.Baking without water, like baking a sweet potato.
3. Steaming or boiling - this works well with many vegetables like peas, carrots, green beans.

What if I don't have enough trays?
I put the extra purees into containers in the fridge. When the first cubes froze, I popped them out and froze the purees that I had saved in the fridge. This way I could do all the cooking in one day, even though it took longer to actually freeze them.

Is it necessary to strain vegetables?
I strain the vegetables that have outer skins that are harder to digest (like peas and green beans.) After I puree them, I put them into a strainer over a deep bowl and push it through with a spoon. Scrape off the back of the strainer, and all that will be left in the strainer are tiny bits of outer skin. Some people think this may not make a difference for baby, but I found that my son had a hard time digesting peas until he was over a year old.

What about meats?
A note about meats-- I thought that there was no way pureeing meats would work, but it really did! I just boiled the chicken and pureed it, adding a little liquid. See HERE for information on choosing types of meats that are good for baby. Meats were my least favorite thing about jarred food, so I was so glad that pureeing meats worked so well (and actually smelled good!) Try it!

My favorite resource on making baby food is this: wholesomebabyfood.com. It really can answer almost any question and has great ideas for making your own rice cereal, teething biscuits, and toddler food too.

Thank you very much once again. What a perfect tutorial! So......
What questions do you still have?
Have you made homemade baby food? Do you like it? Give us your success stories!
What are other pros/cons of doing homemade food?
What other advice can you offer about homemade food?


Rebecca said...

I love this tutorial! :)

The only con I can think of for homemade babyfood is that it doesn't really work if you're going on trips or going to be out for a while.

I tried making homemade for my little girl but the mistake I made was making homemade AFTER she already was on jarred babyfood for about a month. She could tell the difference and preferred the jarred. So if you plan on making your own, be sure to make it from the very beginning! :)

The only other advice I have to add is to use BPA-free trays for freezing or if you use regular ice cube trays make sure the puree is cooled first before freezing it (I would put it in a covered glass bowl and put it in the fridge for a couple hours) and then transfer to the ice cube trays.

Tannie Datwyler said...

There are tons of websites online that can help you make your own babyfood, but if you want another resource I have an AWESOME book you might like. It is called Super Baby Foods. It details how to make all types of baby foods (including your own baby cereal) and tells you when to start certain foods. I have only had it for one day and I already love it. I bought it online for $1 (plus shipping of course), so you could get a copy cheap.

Alyssa Harper said...

Holy cow. I loved this post when it first posted, and I'm loving reading through it again. Great tutorial! Love it!