January 23, 2008

Making Baby Food: It's Easy!

Boil some water.



Put in some food.
Here: frozen green peas, a pound and a half.



Put in some more food, if desired.
Here: a can of chick peas (also called garbanzo beans). These are canned, so they don't need to be pre-soaked and then cooked for ages. But I did rinse them.



Cook.
If cooking legumes, I've heard it reduces gassy side-effects if you remove some of the thick foam that accumulates in the middle.



Spoon food into the blender.
Or some people use a food processor. See those little chickpea skins? You can pick those out if you feel like it, but I don't bother. They blend up fine.



If your blender is like mine, it will prefer to be no more than half full. (This photo is actually from AFTER adding the water in the next step, but I thought you'd want to know FIRST about not putting too much food in the blender.)



Add some cold water.
This cools off the hot food (duh), and also makes the blending smoother (duh).



First on low speed.



Now on high speed.



Pour into containers.
I use 1-cup Ziploc plastic containers; sometimes I use 1/2-cup containers or ice cube trays if I'm making something fancy/expensive like berries or meats and want smaller portions.



Second half of the food into the blender, and repeat.



Put on lids.



Freeze.



Do the dishes.


Total time: 25 minutes from putting water in pan to drying hands--and during the process there was time to do other things, like doing other dishes while waiting for the food to cook. Yield: 7.5 cups of baby food. Sometimes I'll get two big pots boiling of different foods, so I can do them one after another through the blender: it adds 5-10 minutes to the process, and doubles the yield.

(Also see: Making Baby Food: Encore!)

40 comments:

Jess said...

I am slightly offended by the "duh" about the smooth blending thing. Okay, not really. But now I feel clueless because I DID NOT KNOW THAT. Okay, I admitted it. I'm the opposite of domestic.

Maggie said...

You make your own baby food? I am officially in TOTAL awe of you. Seriously.

Cari said...

You are so smart to mix the beans in with the peas. I have just been doing single foods, unless it's frozen mixed vegetables, so now I have a new idea.

You should do a sample daily menu or something; my kid is in a total food rut because I can't think of more stuff to feed her. We Midwesterners don't have much imagination when it comes to food.

Tessie said...

I am okay with all of this up to the point where your baby food lives IN THE FREEZER. How do you thaw it? Hot water? Microwave? REMEMBERING TO TAKE IT OUT OF THE FREEZER? (please not this one, please not this one)

jen said...

I used to use expressed breast milk instead of water. Hey, gotta use it up somehow.

I kept some in the fridge and some in the freezer and to warm it up I'd take the top off and nuke for 30 seconds to one minute for a container that big.

My favorite was sweet potatoes. And because we made baby food we learned how to make applesauce, and wow.. WE ate it all, never mind the kids!

jen said...

P.S. How is your newborn old enough to eat food already??

Linda said...

I made everything individually so that I could combine it on the spur of the moment: a cube of peas + a cube of carrots or a cube of pear + a cube of plums. Of course, the babies don't care if they eat the same thing day in and day out, but it kept ME from getting bored.

I always tell people that making your own baby food is easy, but no one believes me. I do cheat: buy jarred applesauve, use frozen veggies, etc. It's not an all-or-nothing venture.

Tessie~I take out all babyfood the night before. It thaws in the fridge overnight. If I forget, I use the microwave. I think those "hot spots" we're always warned of are an urban legend. Or it happened ONCE to ONE PERSON so EVERYONE MUST BE WARNED.

Welcome to our World said...

I LOVED making our own baby food. Way cheaper and tastes SO much better. Bleck have you ever tried baby food from a jar? UGH. It is super easy.

We did ice cube trays and I bought little glass Pyrex "bowls" (lack of a better word - 4 for a $1). We heated stuff in the microwave in the little bowls. I am a freak about plastics & microwaves.

Never thought of chick peas and peas together tho so I will have to file that one away for number 2!

Pregnantly Plump said...

we make most of our own, and I use the old plastic containers to refreeze in, as well as ice cube trays. I like the serving size of the ice cube tray. Our blender couldn't handle the baby food, though. So we got a food processor. I've been doing him frozen corn recently and he really, really likes it. I had wondered about canned beans, so I'm glad to know those are ok.

Jana said...

Hurray! I've found other people who make their own baby food! My family thought I was nuts for doing it, but it turned out to be so easy and a heck of a lot cheaper than buying the jarred stuff. I will admit, however, that the jarred stuff is a lot easier when traveling.

Plus, I'm convinced making my own helped my kids move on to table foods fairly quickly. The first few batches of foods I made for them were pureed into very smooth consistencies and then I gradually decreased the amount of smoothness (or increased the amount of tiny chunks, however you want to look at it).

I love the addition of the garbanzo beans; I'm definitely going to do that with baby #3!

CAQuincy said...

Ha! I see you DID manage to eat all your muffins from your nesting phase a while back...!

LoriD said...

Good tutorial, Swistle! I always made my own too, but never as a concentrated effort like this. I would just take whatever the rest of us were eating, make a little extra, blend it up and freeze it in ice cube trays.

Safire said...

Great idea about the little ziplock containers! Will file that away for the twins when they start eating food. And this is so easy to do! :)

desperate housewife said...

You PEOPLE and your DOMESTICITY! (picks jaw up off ground.) I seriously thought only super crunchy type people did this. But now if all the COOL people are doing it too...

Swistle said...

Tessie- I usually remember to take it out of the freezer and put it into the fridge: every time I USE a container, I replace it with one from the freezer. But if I forget, I microwave: Ziploc containers claim not to include whatever it is that's supposed to make us nervous about plastic + heat. But if you're nervous anyway, you can dump the container out (run hot water over the bottom while the lid's still on) into a glass bowl and microwave THAT. And I don't worry about hot spots, because I stir the food with infant cereal anyway.

Linda- I like combining like that, too! Ice cube of chicken + ice cube of peas + ice cube of carrots = surprisingly fun to do. And I totally agree: it doesn't have to be all or nothing. I use jarred applesauce, too.

Jana- I use the jarred stuff for traveling, too--or, even better, the kind in the plastic containers. I once dropped a jar and WHAT A MESS. The plastic bounces.

Saly said...

I am in awe!! I've always just used jarred. WOW.

Making a mental note to ask for another tutorial in about a year when baby will be ready for all of this.

Jessa said...

Wow, I didn't know it was that easy. If I ever get the opportunity for a third, I'll have to remember this. I always thought making your own baby food was this huge chore...and I'm not much of a chef either.

samantha jo campen said...

Thank you!!! Everyone rolls their eyes at me when I say I plan to make our baby's food. Like I'm all idealistic NOW before he's born, but I have no idea just how HARD it will be once he's actually HERE. But dude, it doesn't take that long! It's cheaper! And better for him!

Once again, you are my heroine.

Kristin C. said...

Hmmm....very interesting! I didn't realize something like this was so easy. Do you make ALL of your own baby food? How long have you been doing it for? I don't have any kids yet, but we are an organic household and I've always wonder how labor intensive this would be.

Katie said...

You are totally an inspiration. I made my own baby food about three times. That was enough for me!

I love the idea of adding chick peas to the green peas! That is smart!

Huckdoll said...

Sure wish I tried to make baby food for my little ones. You make it look so easy!

CA said...

OK, stupid question...how about the fruit and the meat cubes? Do you cook the fruit before you blenderize it? Do you blenderize the meat with anything other than water? Give us unexperienced folks ALL the details...

Cherry said...

I made my own with my first but then numbers two and three got the jarred stuff. Im expecting number four now and I totally want to get back into it. Both number two and three are REALLY picky eaters and I have such a hard time with them! Any more tips/conbinations you are willing to share? Oh and how long would you guess the freezer life-span is?

the new girl said...

Swistle, I have about a hundred questions but I, too, would love a food list or a range of food examples if you would be willing to share.

I'm at a loss with what to feed this girl.

How many times a day do you feed H cereal? Do you mix it w/breast milk or water? How much does he eat at once?

See. A hundred questions.

Swistle said...

Okay, another post is in the works!

Woman with a Hatchet said...

Awesome! Now I know what I'll be doing when the twins are old enough.

Nine more weeks and counting!

Nicole said...

I loved making my own baby food. A great website for info is www.wholesomebabyfood.com

I did a little run-down post on my blog about cost comparison with jarred food/homemade food:
http://nbarczak.typepad.com/declared/
2006/08/what_have_i_bec.html

Not sure if that linkwill go through or not... (I put it on two lines so it doesn't get cut off)

Melissa H said...

Yay for making your own baby food. I made all Biscuit's and folks thought I was crazy but it was so fun and so much less disgusting than the jar stuff.

But, I'm a moron and made all of it in an itty bitty hand grinder rather than my giant food processor. Duh! But I was always making itty bitty batches of dinner leftovers and the like and freezing it in ice cube trays.

The Mommy Years said...

Where were you 10 months ago when I told J that I was tired of spending $ on crappy baby food?

Oh wait, I don't think far enough in advance to actually make baby food ... or adult food for that matter. Maybe that's why I was always whining on the last minute wal-hell runs for baby food ....

(BTW: The organic "jarred" baby food tastes SOOO much better than the normal stuff ;) )

Badness Jones said...

I made my own baby food too - but quite often just mashed up what we were eating with a fork or the hand blender. Your pea and chickpea concotiong looks pretty yummy though!

Misty said...

Oy, this makes me feel like such a lazy consumer-y American, because I just bought all the baby's food.

Ug.

I resolve that...Um. I will attempted to do this with the next one. Yeah. Attempt!

Fine For Now said...

I am SO going to make my own baby food too. Yet another point you make showing babies don't have to be all that expensive! Love it.

Jen said...

sometimes, swistle, i think you have a secret link to my brain because when i click on over here, you're talking about what i'm thinking about. it's awesome.

um, anyway, we've been making the monkey's food since she started solids but haven't been combining stuff yet - just soft stuff like half an avocado at lunch, half a sweet potato at dinner or whatever we happen to be eating. i'm totally going to get my blender out this weekend and stock up!

can i ask a quasi-neurotic sort-of-related question though? when did you introduce cow's milk to your kids? i don't know why but i feel funny about it since the babe is all breastmilk, all the time. she won't be drinking it anytime soon but what about yogurt...and cheese...?

Swistle said...

Jen (Monkey's mom Jen)- I'd look it up again to be sure, but if I remember correctly, processed cow's milk (as in yogurt and cheese) is okay earlier than regular cow's milk (as in gallons). I remember feeding the babies yogurt as baby food. I can't remember about cheese. I start offering milk when they're past their first birthday.

Amy said...

I'm SO glad people are asking you for the very thing I was going to ask for...I would love a little list of food ideas from you!

My 10-month-old twins are EXTREMELY HEARTY EATERS. I cannot stress this enough. They really enjoy table food at this point, and I'm running out of ideas. Here's an idea of what I fed them today.
Breakfast: pieces of bagel and cream cheese, warm banana/vanilla pudding. (Heat a pat of butter in a frying pan, add mashed banana and vanilla yogurt, heat through. Delicious!)

Lunch: pieces of grilled cheese with tomato on whole wheat, blueberry pieces

Dinner: pieces of broccoli, mashed potatoes, cooked diced apple

I think I may be a little TOO adventurous; after all, they are only on Level 2 foods, but they just don't seem satisfied with baby food! Today's menu was about as creative as I get, and as I said, I'm running out of ideas!

One excellent resource I found was a book called "One, Two, Three, Cook For Me." Some pretty good recipes in there.

Misguided Mommy said...

i bet you got the containers at target. i'm just wondering how much you think you spend a year at target, how often you go, and does your husband ever comment on it?

Swistle said...

Misguided Mommy- Ha ha! No, I got the containers at our grocery store. For some reason, our Target doesn't carry them, even though they have other sizes of these containers.

I don't even want to THINK how much of my money Target gets! Paul only RARELY comments, and usually it's no more than something mildly rebuking such as, "Oh good. More stuff."

Geologychick said...

Brilliant! I wish i did this with my kid when she ate baby food!

Christi said...

Ok, one word for all you who say you don't have time to make baby food... CROCKPOT! It's been a lifesaver for me! I just dump in the food (some of which needs prep, some doesn't) with some water or broth and turn it on low. Let it cook for 6-8 hours or until mushy and then puree in the food processor. Works great with just about everything. You can get big bags of food from SAMS/COSTCO to save $ as well. I buy things like big bags of baby carrots, apples, pears, frozen green beans, peas, etc. and then just dump them into the crock with some water to cook (peeling and coring the apples and pears first of course). For meats, use boneless/skinless chicken breasts with chicken broth, ground beef with beef broth, etc. and cook then blend into a meat puree. I freeze in ice cube trays most of the time so I can combine my own cubes as someone else mentioned. For example, today my little E had two cubes of sweet potato, one cube of green beans and one cube of chicken for lunch. She loves the different combos and I love the cost and nutrition factors.

Christi said...

Oh and someone asked about thawing... I used to try and remember to thaw overnight but usually forget, so I've found that with the ice cube size I can toss four or five cubes into a dish and microwave it for 1 minute which almost completely thaws it. Then I stir it up, breaking up any icy lumps and microwave for 15 seconds more. At that point it's the perfect temperature and as long as I stir it well it doesn't have any hot or cold spots. Works for us...