I have a confession.
I love the baby food isle.
In fact, I love it maybe just a little too much.
But there is just something about all those perfect little rows of pureed veggies that makes my heart pitter-patter.
Odd... maybe. But I don't think I'm alone! At least I hope I'm not?
Now, before I delve too deeply into this topic, I need to clarify. I bought baby food for my first born, I fed it to him without guilt, it didn't break the bank, and he is a healthy, thriving three year old. I have absolutely NOTHING against prepackaged baby food. You can find amazing quality and the convenience cant be beat! However, the tipping point for me, was when I sat down and actually realized how much I was paying for those suckers! At walmart, I paid around $1.40 for two 3.5 oz packs of food. For about the same price, I could buy 4 whole sweet potatoes and make more than 10x the amount as was in the little packs.
So I dove, head first, into the baby food making pool.
And you know what, it isn't hard and it isn't time consuming. I actually thoroughly enjoy the process!
I staretd out by purchasing a mini food processor for $10 at walmart. Now, I have a blender, and I use that too, but this is very nice and convenient for small batches.
I then bought:
4 sweet potatoes
1 butternut squash
1 bag frozen peas
1 bag frozen green beans
1 bag carrots
When I got home, I laid everything out on the counter and got to work.
I'll start with the peas since that's what my photos are of....
I threw half the bag in a steamer basket and steamed them over a few inches of water for about 30 min. Until they were VERY VERY soft. Then, I threw them into the food prosessor and pulsed it until they were smooth, adding a little water along the way to help move things along.
I always keep my baby food a tad on the thick side (you'll see why a little later)
Once they reached the consistency I was looking for, I poured them into ice cube trays and placed them in the freezer overnight. Then in the morning I popped them out and threw them into a plastic bag.
Sweet potatoes: I wrapped all 4 individually in foil and baked them about 1 hour at 400 until they were soft, then I removed the skins and followed the same procedure as the peas.
Butternut squash: I cut the squash in half, removed the seeds and roasted it for about 40 min at 400. Then... same procedure as the peas.
Pears: I didn't cook these at all because they were already very soft. I just pureed them and poured them into the ice cube trays to freeze.
Green Beans: Okay, no advice here. I steamed them for an hour, and they just turned out gritty and nasty. So I chucked 'em.
Carrots: Peel and steam. blend and freeze. (see the pattern?)
These are the foods I'm starting out with for Quinn. Nothing fancy. I do plan on getting a little more adventurous. Some ideas I have rolling around are:
blueberry banana oatmeal
sweet potatoes and pears
beets and apples
peas and carrots (a classic)
broccoli and cauliflower
and on and on...
Here's how I use the baby food once it's frozen...To reheat:
I remove about 2-3 blocks of baby food from the freezer, and place them in a microwave safe container, then nuke them, stirring often, for about 1 minute. TEST THE FOOD WITH YOUR FINGER!!! DO NOT just stick a spoon in and feed your baby! Microwaves can cause hot spots and even if one spot feels fine, or even cool, there can be burning hot places that can really hurt your little one! So please please please stir it well, and test it!! Ok, so USUALLY the baby food will still be a little cold after I stir it, so I add a bit of hot water. That's the reason I leave it a little thicker when I make the purees, so that the warm water can gently warm the baby food, while thinning it out at the same time. Usually after I thaw the baby food, I add a little rice cereal or baby oatmeal.
Oh, and one more thing... apples. Please don't take the time to do this yourself! Buy the no sugar added applesauce at Walmart! it's the SAME THING! You can even get organic at Trader Joes or somewhere like that. Same goes for pumpkin... the canned 100% pumpkin (not the pie filling) is just pumpkin thats been baked, and pureed. Exactly how you would do it. :)