Not only am I one of these moms, I'm also one of those moms.
Those homemade-baby-food-making moms.
After this experience with Turkish rice cereal, I decided to be done with buying pre-made baby food. I mean really, how hard could it be to make some baby food?
Turns out, it's not that hard at all! We got the book Super Baby Food by Ruth Yaron before leaving the States, so I decided to consult it and figure out just how to make my own baby food. It's a great book; it gives a breakdown of how to make your own baby cereals, at which age babies can have certain foods, how to cook them, and a whole lot of other stuff. I haven't even had time to look at a lot of the book, but what I have looked at, I like!
So, for the last three months I have been a baby food making machine! Well, not really, but I have made everything that Lane has eaten, with the exception of some baby cookies that I bought one day while we were out, and some baby toast that she likes smeared with cream cheese.
Now that Lane is able to eat a lot of the same foods that we eat, I make less puréed baby food than I used to. I used to make zucchini, green beans, pumpkin, apples, pears, potatoes, and a lot of other things. Now I pretty much stick to apples (she eats them every morning for breakfast, either on top of pancakes or mixed with oatmeal), pumpkin, and zucchini. I like to have pumpkin and zucchini in the freezer for those occasions where we are eating something that Lane can't have yet.
You may think that making your own baby food is difficult or extremely time consuming. But...it's not! Here's how I do it:
First, chop up whatever you're making: zucchini, green beans, fruit, etc.
Apples, ready to be chopped.
All chopped up!
Next, if you're doing a veggie, steam (you retain more nutrients this way, but some things, like carrots, take forever to soften if you steam them) or boil it until it's very soft. If you're doing a fruit, I personally never cooked any of them for Lane...I just made sure they were puréed until pretty smooth.
When your veggie is done cooking, purée it in either a food processor or a blender, or use an immersion blender. In my experience, the regular blender works best for things like peas or green beans that have skins which don't get very soft even when cooked to death. Add some water (use the water you cooked the veggies with to add nutrients lost in the water) and purée until smooth. The immersion blender works best for things like zucchini or pumpkin, which get pretty soft when cooked and probably don't need added water. And the food processor works best for things like apples or pears, which have a high water content already but would not purée well in a blender.
Just toss your fruit in and pulse until puréed!
After your fruit or veggie is sufficiently puréed, spoon it into ice cube trays.
Three apples (two large and one small) got Lane 11 "portions"(two cubes) of apples.
Put your fruit or veggie in the freezer and freeze until solid. Run water on the bottom of the trays to loosen the cubes up. Crack them and put them in freezer bags and store for up to two months.
A picture from when we had a large variety of frozen food cubes.
So, there you go! It's really not been that difficult, and not that time consuming, either. It takes me an average of about 30 minutes (not including cooking time) per food, including the washing, chopping, puréeing, putting into the ice cube trays, and so on. As long as you do a large quantity, you could spend just 30 minutes to an hour per week and get between four and eight different foods for a month.
There are a few things I really like about making my own baby food:
1) I know exactly what's in it. I know that I washed the vegetables, that the potatoes weren't squishy and covered in eyes (that is what you call the black spots where sprouts grow, right?), and that the produce actually tasted good when I froze it.
2) It's nice to have a portion size of one cube, because then I can either mix three or four different things together (like sneaking in a small avocado cube, since Lane doesn't really like avocado) or I can just give her one kind of food. I don't have to keep up with lots of different baby food jars sitting around my refrigerator, and I don't have to worry about Lane getting a balanced diet, since I can mix-and-match as I see fit.
3) It's cheaper! I don't know how much jars of baby food cost in the US, but here they're about $.50 each, at least. I'm not for sure on the math, but I'm pretty sure that three apples, which equals 11 servings of apples, is cheaper than $5, which is about what it would cost to buy it pre-made.
4) This stage really only lasts for 4-5 months. Making homemade rice or oatmeal cereal is a piece of cake and not time-consuming in the slightest. Making purées is a bit more of a commitment. However, since babies don't start eating anything besides cereal until six months of age and then by 9-10 months of age they can gum a plum or a cooked carrot or potato, you really only need to purée food for them for a few months. Looking at it as a short-term commitment makes it seem more doable!
I'd like to encourage all of my pregnant or new-mom friends to try out making your own baby food when the time comes. When Shannon and I have another baby one day we'll see if I still think that making my own baby food is worth it (since I know I'll be keeping up with two kids and not just one!), but for now...it's totally worth it!