I hope that this page can become a running list of tasty, simple recipes contributed by members of our group- please email the ingredients, preparations, helpful hints and a photo (if you have it) to email@example.com!
THE BASICSFood Processor or Baby Food Mill?
I was so excited when I found my Beaba BabyCook on Craigslist for $20 because it was missing the steam lid (regular price Amazon $119). You probably think, "ok, but that piece is likely pretty important". Right you would be. However, I found that I could buy a replacement lid for a mere ten bucks, including shipping. I was armed and ready for baby to come so I could whip up tasty delights by the pound.
Baby did come, but one month into starting solid foods I have yet to use my BabyCook. Others may disagree (please comment!), but I have found that using a food processor or blender to create large frozen stocks of baby food is much more efficient. Now, I haven't written the BabyCook off the books yet though. I think that when I want to steam and puree a serving of something my husband and I are eating for dinner is the perfect niche for it. Maybe this just means we need to eat more vegetables...
To Organic or Not to Organic? That IS the Question!
It took me awhile to get on the organic bandwagon, but I have been sufficiently convinced that there are times to buy organic. One rule of thumb, if you don't eat the outside (eg: bananas), you probably don't need to buy organic. Or you can go by the "Dirty Dozen/Clean Fifteen" list:
The Steps in a Nutshell
Some foods require steaming (apples, yams, pears- maybe, maybe not), some require baking (squash) and some no cooking at all (avocado, banana). But the general idea is pretty simple: peel, dice, cook as necessary, puree and freeze. Bam, done. I generally do a whole bag of whatever I am buying and do one or two foods during a weekend day. In a few weekends before baby begins eating solids you will have a nice variety and stock to last awhile. The next issue? Freezer space.
Once you get the food to whatever consistency you desire, its time to freeze. Before we get to that I should note that you CAN mix foods with FRESH breast milk before freezing- just don't thaw and refreeze. Alternatively, you can dilute the food once you thaw it and are ready to serve. I prefer the former since its one step closer to serving to baby, however, you may prefer adding fresh milk.
Now, remember that steamer lid I had to buy for my BabyCook? Well, the company, try as they may, sent me the wrong part not once, not twice, but THREE times! That said, they were beyond gracious and couldn't believe their repeated mistake. To compensate, they sent me a load of freebies, so I won in the end :) In my box of goodies were two silicone freezer molds. I had seen them in stores before, but at $25 a pop I thought it insane to spend that to make baby food. Now, after using them several dozen times, I would say- even at full price- they are well worth it. And really, when you consider the cost of buying baby food, its a drop in the bucket. A cheaper alternative would be to use regular or silicone ice cube trays, just note that the serving sizes will be quite a bit smaller and ice cube trays generally don't come with lids.
|Beaba silicone mold with pears.|
I fill the silicone molds to the level I desire (in the beginning I would fill some higher than others, that way I had smaller portions when baby was just starting into the new world of solid food), stick them in the freezer for a few hours, pop out the frozen food portions and toss them into a labeled Ziplock freezer bag (don't forget the date!). That way the food takes up less room and it frees up your silicone molds for use again immediately.
|Store individual portions in Ziplock freezer bags.|
There are a few methods of thawing depending on how quickly you need the food. If you have had the foresight and brain power to think ahead to tomorrow, just put the frozen chunk into a container in the fridge overnight. Otherwise, as generally is the case for me, I zap them in the microwave for 15, 30 or 45 seconds, depending on the size. I stop in between to mix and ALWAYS test to make sure the food is not too hot before serving to baby. Also note that if I think the serving is too big, or if I want to feed Andy a few different foods, I just split in in portions and put the rest back in the fridge (not the freezer) for the next meal.
To Freeze Store Bought Food:
Why would you want to do this? Well, I got a sample pouch of Ella's Kitchen Organic Baby Food, and though one pouch is supposed to be one serving, it goes a long way with a baby just starting solids. The package clearly states that you can freeze it, so that was my solution: put wax paper on a cutting board, squirt servings of food onto the wax paper, freeze, pop off the paper and into a bag (see small bag in photo above).
Though a lot of "first foods" that used to be recommended for babies were bland and tasteless, we are now learning that this is not necessary. Babies taste many of the different flavors we consume from the time they are in the womb and through consumption of breast milk- so don't be afraid to add flavor to your baby's meal. One easy example, I add cinnamon to pureed apples and pears. Its probably best to first test foods without these additions so that any issues can be more easily identified.
Note: to prevent browning of fruits you can add a few drops of lemon or lime juice (added flavor too!) or dip slices in a water/lemon or lime juice "bath" before freezing (bananas, avocado). If you chose not to do this and get browning, the food is still perfectly safe and nutritious, just not so pretty!
In alphabetical order...
Peel, core, dice (I invested in an inexpensive but highly effective tool for this- bonus: you can use it for potatoes or making apple pie!). Boil in water until you can easily stab with a fork, but not too long they are mushy. Puree, adding a little of the boiling water if necessary to thin. Freeze.
See this link for directions on how to open an avocado. Basics: cut in half by turning around the pit, twist halves apart, hold half containing pit in hand covered by a towel, gently hit the pit with the knife blade, remove pit put by pushing from the backside and it pops easily off, scoop out contents. Slice, dip in 1:3 solution of lemon or lime juice : water. Freeze on a sheet of wax paper on a cutting board. Pop off paper once frozen and toss in a freezer bag. Note: Will brown fairly quickly when defrosted.
|Individually frozen Avocado slices.|
Peel, slice. Dip in 1:3 solution of lemon or lime juice : water Freeze on a sheet of wax paper on a cutting board. Pop off paper once frozen and toss in a freezer bag. Note: Will brown quickly when defrosted.
|Individual frozen banana slices.|
Cook according to package directions. I bought regular barley instead of the kind made for babies so I needed to puree it, and still it was a bit chunky. It took a few attempts to get Andy to eat it, but I found that a spoon of barley followed by a spoon of something else got the barley down. I've heard barley is good for regularity so I really wanted to get some in him! I mixed with breast milk when I pureed and it freezes really nicely.
Peel, core, dice (it was a sad day when I found this fruit was too soft to use my apple "tool"). Since pears are naturally juicy and soft they really don't need much, but I steamed them for a few minutes for good measure. Puree. Freeze. Note: you can add lemon juice to help reduce browning but my kiddo didn't seem to mind!
Squash (Acorn, in this case):
Cut in half, scoop out seeds. Place "meat" side down on a baking pan with a little water to keep from drying out. Bake at 400 degrees for 40-60 minutes (until fork can easily pierce the skin). Scoop out "meat" and puree in blender adding water or breast milk as desired. Freeze.
|Scoop out seeds and bake in pan with water.|
Peel, dice. Boil in water until you can easily stab with a fork, but not too long they are mushy. Puree, adding a little of the boiling water, formula or breast milk to thin. Freeze.
SPICE IT UP!
In many other countries babies are not fed bland food- from the beginning their foods are spiced with curry, garlic, onion, cinnamon, on and on. In fact, baby is already used to different tastes from their time in utero and during breastfeeding, so why discontinue the wonderful world of taste when starting solids? Here is a basic chart I put together because when I am pressed for time I can never remember the amazing varieties of spices and what they go best with! If you have added suggestions please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org!
LOVE this page for everything baby food! From what to serve when to allergy information to recipes to how to puree and store!