The sweating. The buying of every fresh produce item that you can see. The checking off of the list of ‘what can they and what can’t they consume yet.’ The baby food steamer vs baby food steamer and puree combo machine vs the mega food processor. The budgeting. The stress. The requirement to be a master chef. The sweating.
No. No. NOOO.
You are looking at baby food making all wrong mama. All wrong. Let me enlighten you, says me, the mama who has been out of the baby food making mastery for just over 2 years now.
I conquered this stage of mama-hood with an entirely different view. Besides inheriting the baby food cookbook my mom used in the late 70’s for me and my sister (awww), and utilizing ideas on Pinterest, from other mama-friends, as well as what I could find in the fun little gem titled The Best Homemade Baby Food on the Planet; I looked at baby food making in an entirely different light. It was easy. It was fresh. I knew exactly what my kiddo was going to eat. It was flexible. It had (literally) no limits. It required no overpriced fancy equipment (though props to you mamas who did use some double boiler/puree magic machine. I did envy you at times). It saved me money. It didn’t take up a ton of time. It was fun.
So, without prolonging my ‘how to’ list anymore, I am simply going to provide you with a few tricks of the trade for baby food making. From the mama who hasn’t had to do it in a while – so take it or leave it friends:
1 – K.I.S.S. – keep it simple stupid! Don’t go getting all elaborate with parsnip-rosemary combinations quite yet. Start out simple. Single fruits and veggies. Steam them, boil them, microwave them, or my favorite, roast them. That’s right. Set that oven to 350. Go watch an episode of Sister Wives. Return to find a tray full of beautifully olive oil roasted carrots awaiting their destiny. Peel or not to peel is really the main question, and I usually didn’t peel (gasp). I would just puree the heck out of those gala apples after I steamed them, and the peel (which has such wonderful nutritional value anyways), would just melt right into my little blobs of applesauce glory. And what about the pureeing? I used a blender. A simple ole blender. Or my magic bullet. Yup. I still had one from my wedding. Add water to the veggies/fruits as you puree until you get the desired texture. Done. Keep it simple.
2 – Store it – Ice cube trays were my best friend. As were silicone muffin pans and cups (silicone ones are great, so easy to pop out your purees when you are ready to defrost/reheat). Sometimes baggies as well. How is your freezer set up? Do you have a deep freeze? Are you already storing gallons of breast milk so your storage is limited? Check out the space you have, and don’t have, and then modify your baby food storage that way. Again. Keep it simple.
3 – Day of prep – ok. You have a little one, and maybe five other kids running circles around you simultaneously. I get it. You have no time. Trust me. Have your partner head out with the kids and take an hour or two to do some prepping. Hit the grocery. Go for organic, but if you can’t, go for leafy greens, bright colored fruits and veggies, root and tree based, frozen and fresh. Grab your large latte. Head home and start the roasting, boiling, cooking and pureeing frenzy. Freeze it. Done.
4 – Creativity – when you are ready, get those creative juices flowing. Pinterest has a mecca of fun and creative ideas for baby food. Granted, I am focusing on mainly purees in this post, but trust me, you can get all crazy (I loved that) as your kiddos age. Recipes like avocado egg salad, berry quinoa power muffins, and fun kid friendly finger foods can be incorporated at all different age ranges and stages. Back to purees though. Think about what purees you already have made up that you can mix together? Take that applesauce and mix it with the carrots. Take that squash, and mix it with the plums. Is it summer? Your babe can eat seasonally with you. I used to LOVE to make a few fruit and veggie creations that would include cinnamon, basil, rosemary, cumin (not all together mind you). Like our pediatrician said from day one – ” In India they are feeding babies curry, in Italy they are feeding them garlic, in China they are feeding them hoisin – that is our problem with America !” Of course, food allergies are a whole different ball game, but I always loved his view. Get creative! It is ok! Expand that babies’ palette, and perhaps yours.
This is not the end-all-be-all to baby food making, obviously, just an honest snippet from a mama who has been out of this stage for a while. So I come to you with pure candid-honesty, as well as a thankfulness for being done with this stage. I am sure, though, some of you are master baby food making chefs, preparing citrus infused salmon with a side of mashed cauli for your 9mos old. If that is the case, mama, can you come cook for me? Please and thank you.