No, I’m not recommending NOT feeding your baby, but rather making your own infant slop. Making your own will save you some serious cash. Not to mention you’ll cut down on trips to the store and the waste that comes with tiny glass jars or plastic tubs. And there is peace of mind that comes with knowing exactly what your kid is eating.
J bone never ate a jar of baby food as far as I can tell. My mother in law may have slipped him something, but it was never on my watch. I realize there is convenience in premade food, but with some proper planning and research, making your own is pretty easy. Store bought baby food is a fairly recent invention. That means, for thousands of years, kids have survived without Gerber Graduates and all that jazz.
First, the resources:
1) wholesomebabyfood.com is a fantastic and free website. It provides you with sample menus, loads of information, and great ideas. We were also gifted a great book that I can’t seem to find anymore. Head to the library for a few resources!
2) stroll the baby food aisle. I used to do this when I was bored with what I was making for Jack. A nice walk down this aisle is a great reminder of WHY it’s great to make your own food. Those little sausages in the jars? No thanks.
3) containers. You can use whatever works for you, but I found a wicked deal when I was knocked up on Baby Cubes and I LOVED these. They’re convenient, easy to use, and BPA free. My sis is currently using these, and they’ll be around for more kid(s) at some point. 1 kid for me, and who knows how many for my sis! Ice cube trays are also a great storage tool! Freeze, then remove from tray and put into freezer-proof storage.
4) get your hands on a blender, foodmill, immersion blender, or fancy system. We were gifted the Beaba Cook from one of Jack’s godmothers and it was wonderful. It’s not necessary to go that fancy, but we did enjoy having it…for free! If you use a blender, foodmill, or immersion blender, you’ll also want some way to steam food. A metal insert works great, or you can use a bamboo steamer, or even a rice cooker if you already have one.
I think Jack’s first foods were yams or sweet potatoes. We skipped the rice cereal because a) if I were a baby I would think it’s gross and 2) there are zero nutrients in there. Jack hit 6 months in the fall, so sweet potatoes were in season and therefore, cheap! I could get organic sweet potatoes that would make enough food for weeks for around $3.
To make the food, simply peel the veggies or fruit, chunk, and steam. Once it’s soft, drain, and throw in to the blender/foodmill/etc., add a little of the cooking water, and blend. Check out wholesomebabyfoods to learn which foods you shouldn’t reuse the cooking water from! Then, portion in to your storage container of choice, and freeze. The baby cubes would thaw overnight in the fridge, so I would remove his food for the next day the night before.
I found out the hard way that cherries are NOT worth the work it takes to turn in to baby food. You pit, you put through the foodmill and you get a few tblsp of cherries for your efforts. I’ll pass.
Once we moved to food with more texture, Jack’s favorite was “Thanksgiving dinner”. I would steam a few slices of organic turkey deli meat, carrots, peas, beans, sweet potatoes, apples, pears, cranberries, and whatever else I had on hand. Troy tried some once and proclaimed it “really delicious”.
When we moved on to just finger foods, I stopped making his food to freeze. Because he was allergic to wheat and dairy (still allergic to dairy), his meals were usually prepared separately from us. But, I always kept a big supply of diced and steamed apples sprinkled with cinnamon on hand. Homeboy would gobble these up like apples were about to be made illegal. My aunt jokes that apple pie will always be his comfort food.
I would cook for about 2 hrs over the weekend every few weeks. If I was smart and purchased enough food, the supply would last for two weeks. At the time, I was commuting 2.5 hrs a day while working 50 hrs a week, so I promise you it can be done! With a variety always in my freezer, his palette rarely got bored.
The money savings were off the charts. Even with my initial investment of $40 for the babycubes, we came out way way ahead. Jack’s “thanksgiving dinner” meal would cost about $11 for all organic ingredients and it would make enough for about 3-4 weeks of lunches. To compare a 4 oz jar of organic babyfood without coupons runs between $.69-1.19. I don’t remember how many oz he ate a day, but I know it wasn’t costing me $3-4 a day – that is for damn sure!
If you have a kiddo who is in the baby food stage, I really encourage you to give making their food a try. If it doesn’t work for you, the option to go back to what you’re doing now is always there!