When Bug was born, I was full of lofty parenting ideas. I thought I would breast feed until he was at least a year old; I thought I would never let a disposable diaper touch his butt; I thought I would make all of his baby food with my own two hands. And so on and so forth. In the end, I did nurse for a little over a year, he wore cloth diapers most of the time, and I made his baby food… that one time. The combination of working full-time and being married to a man who didn’t help out a whole lot just didn’t leave me with enough time or energy to squash up baby food.
But this time, it’s different. While I was on maternity leave with Baby Jupiter, I lost my job. Only working full-time sporadically and/or working very part-time from home leaves me with a lot more time for parenting activities. Also? (And this is really the biggest and bestest change:) I have a man around who actually pulls his weight. Also, also? Making your own baby food is waaaaay easier and less time consuming than you might guess, especially if you make big enough batches to last the month. Plus, it gives you more control over what’s going into your baby’s mouth and it’s considerably cheaper than buying those tiny jars at the supermarket.
Here’s a primer, using apples as an example:
Step One: Prepare the Food
For apples, I core and slice. I don’t usually worry about peeling them because my food mill takes care of that for me. (Actually, the food mill would take care of the core too, but it makes cranking the handle a little harder so I usually opt to core ahead of time.) If you’re using a food processor, you’ll obviously want to remove anything you don’t want ground up into the pulp that ultimately lands in your baby’s gullet.
Step Two: Cook the Food
I generally prefer to steam things because the foods lose less of their nutrients that way. But boiling or baking or whatever you’re into works fine. Reserve the water if you steam or boil. We can use that later.
Step Three: Prepare to Squish
I use a Foley Food Mill set over a bowl unless I’m making a super big batch, in which case the food process comes out. Sometimes. Sometimes I still use the food mill. It’s just less fuss that hauling out the food processor, and it cleans up quicker too. But again, whatever’s clever.
Step Four: Squish
Either turn the crank (food mill) or hit the button (food processor). With a food mill, you’ll be left with this (skins):
…and this (baby food!):
Step Five: Use or Store
Depending on the age and preferences of your baby, you’ll likely need to thin out the food before feeding. If you’ve reserved the cooking water, you can use it to thin out the food while adding back in some of the nutrients that cooked out. (DON’T use the cooking water of foods high in nitrates, like carrots.) Or thin with regular drinking water, breast milk, or formula. You can thin the whole batch or only as much as you’re about to serve. I usually opt to thin individual servings at a time because Jupiter’s thickness tastes change from meal to meal. Store in the fridge the amounts that you’ll use in the next 24 or so hours. Freeze the rest using ice-cube trays.
(Yikes! Those aren’t apples. You caught me. Those are peas and carrots from a different day. I forgot to photograph the apples in the tray.)
It only takes a couple of hours for the food to freeze. Then pop the cubes out of the tray and transfer to a more suitable storage container. I’d recommend something that you can label with the date and contents (those cubes aren’t always so easy to identify later).
Step Six: Pat Back
Et, voila! C’est fini! Congratulate yourself on a job well done.