January 5, 2011

The Adventure of Baby Food

When my daughter was born 5 1/2 years ago, I worked 80 hours a week in our family's bookstore. My only day off was Sunday. I got to take her to work with me, so we had plenty of bonding time, but time for making baby food was hard to find. I tried it once, avocados and sweet potatoes, but both were a miserable failure and I gave up. Little jars filled our lives for a few months.

With my son, I was determined to try again and get it right. I knew making baby food would give me great control over how my son ate (have you seen the choices in stage 1 jars? Not many.) and I knew it could be a money saver. As a work-at-home-mom, I am always looking to save money.

This time, I had more support and I asked the right questions, namely "Where do I go to find out about making baby food?"

Overwhelmingly, the answer I got was WholesomeBabyFood.com. What a fantastic (and FREE!) resource! They have recipes both by Stage and by food group. It's easy to find what you want to make and how to do it. Making Stage 1 foods? Click Stage 1 and you'll find a list of appropriate foods, how to make the plain versions of each, and a few recipes for when your baby is ready for more of a meal (mixed foods).

Next was how to make the food. I already had a simple steam basket that I use inside pots for steaming veggies. Turns out that's pretty much all I need. Water in the pot, then the basket, then veggies or fruits inside the basket. Steam gently for a few minutes until soft, then lift out basket. Cool food and blend smooth. EASY! Why wasn't it this easy 5 years ago?

Enjoying his first meal...mama-made apples.  Yum!

I've been making food for a couple of months now and our son happily enjoys 100% mama-made meals, most of which are organic. I've saved lots of money...I added up the savings from one shopping trip. Fresh produce vs. tiny jars and I saved $23. On ONE trip. That's fabulous!

I use my regular blender most of the time. I already had a 1-cup mini food processor that I find handy for small batches. And I bought a food mill for fixing meals one at a time.

I use regular ice cube trays to freeze freshly made food, then I package it into ziplock freezer bags.  Label them with food and date, then back into the freezer they go!  Right now I'm using up breastmilk storage bags.  They only hold about 6 cubes each, but they work well and the food doesn't get freezer burned the way it can in regular ziplock freezer bags. 

Here's a photo of today's freezer stash.  Included here are Stage 1 beets, green beans, peas, sweet potatoes, and butternut squash.  Also Stage 2 sweet potatoes/turkey, peas/turkey, and cauliflower.  And freezing in trays at the moment is a huge batch of apples.  Yum!

Real life example...
I bought 12 golden delicious apples for $4.69 = 0.39 per apple
I peeled and steamed 7 apples = $2.74 (0.39*7)
I made 48 ounces of baby apples.  At 2 oz per jar, this equals 24 jars.
24 jars of Earth's Best organic baby food apples, Stage 1 = $0.69 per jar *24= $16.56
$16.56 - $2.74 = $13.82 savings just yesterday making a single food
Time spent = about 20 minutes, mostly while I was already making dinner


I love making homemade baby foods too. I cant believe how much I have saved! I made WAY too much though because this is my first baby so I didnt know better. But I will still use them in soups and smoothies and things like that :)