Now, just so you all know, I have been working on this post for about a week. I didn't want to give bad information and have someone come back and sue me for making their child sick. So let me just say this now: I am NOT a certified nutritionist, I have NO background in the medical field and I am NOT an expert on fruits and veggies. I am just a stay at home mom, trying to save a few dollars, and feed my family healthy meals on an extremely tight budget. There, now that I have cleared the air, take my tips, do your research as I did, consult your pediatrician as I did, talk to your local produce guy as I did and just use your "Mommy Instincts", you know the little voice in your head that says, this may not work for me or my child.
Now this tutorial is pretty basic, but I did two different foods. I made pears and carrots. With summer here, the cost of produce is extremely cheap as everything is in season right now. We were spending anywhere from $40-$80 a month on baby food alone for our little man, (he eats like a horse! I'm a little nervous about what he's going to be like as a teenager!) So all of the food that I have made, I have done so for under $20! I have enough food to last us until the end of September or longer. Most of the food I have made were grown in my mother-in-law's garden, so those were free.
As pears are a fairly tender fruit there was really no preparation with them. Just wash and cut them into chunks and put in the food processor (if you are lucky) or blender (if you aren't.) The blender works fine though, just their little motors give out fast if you put too much in at a time.
*Wash Your Fruit Thoroughly
*Cut into Chunks
*Cut out the centers as they can be tough where the seeds are
*Put in your blender/food processor 2 cups at a time
*Add formula or breast milk an ounce at a time and blend until it is the desired consistency (For Stage 1 babies, you will want it pretty soupy, but for Stage 2 babies, you will want it not as soupy, just work with it and you can always add rice cereal to it when you are preparing for baby to eat to thicken it up.)
*Pour food into ice cube trays, cover and freeze! Its that easy!
(This is 3 pears worth!)
This method works well with soft fruits such as pears, bananas, peaches, plums, blueberries, strawberries (pretty much all the berries, but you don't want to do straight berries as it will be too acidic for babies tummies and might cause issues... the messy kind!)
You don't have to add any kind of sweetener as it is not recommended. Never use things such as molasses or honey as there is this not so fun thing called botulism and babies can get it from both honey and molasses. If your fruit is a little tart, like the peaches, add just a very small amount of baby apple juice to your mix. With applesauce I added a little bit of sugar and cinnamon but not enough for it to cause any problems, but that is not a good idea for Stage 1 babies. As my son is 7 months now, he is ok for a little bit of spices. Check with your pediatrician to see what they recommend for sweetener, especially if your baby has a sensitive stomach.
Rule of thumb: Anything that is crunchy, it needs to be steamed first. The main ones are carrots and apples. I peel my carrots as the outside layer is what makes them a little bitter, but you really don't have to. We got a 10lb bag of carrots at Costco for $3.99!! I have enough carrot baby food to last for months, but my boy would be orange if I let him eat it every day.
*Peel Your Carrots
*Chop into Chunks
*Put in a pot of enough water to just barely cover your carrots.
*Put on Med to Low heat (this way if you have to take care of something else you aren't over cooking them if you are gone for a little while.) Cooking time will vary! It depends on how much is in the pot, what temp you put it on, how much water is in there, lots of things. So just keep an eye on it, once the veggie is tender they are ready.
*Take out, put in blender/food processor 2 cups at a time
*Add an ounce of formula or breast milk at a time until it is the right consistency.
*Put in ice cube trays and cover to freeze.
(This is not even half of the 10lb bag made up! 5 full ice cube trays worth!)
How to Reheat:
1 Cube = 1 Serving for Stage 1 Babies. 2 Cubes= 1 Serving for Stage 2 Babies. Now everything that I read said not to microwave when reheating your food, but honestly, when your child is screaming like he is wasting away, its really your only option. Just make sure to stir a lot. Now again, cooking time will vary as some of you might have a better microwave than I do, but I start off with putting my cubes in microwave safe bowls and heating them for 1 minute, as I do 2 cubes in each bowl it takes a little longer, with Stage 1 babies you will want to start with 30 seconds and then go in 20 second increments after that, stirring constantly. After my one minute I stir it, the fruit usually takes less time to cook so I stir them both and put them in for another 20 seconds. The fruit is done but the veggies need more time, so I do another 20 seconds. Play with it, make sure that it isn't too hot. If it is, add a little cool water to your bowl and a little cereal to thicken it up again. Remember to stir constantly and again, don't over cook because if you scorch your food it will lose all nutrients, so heat it slowly.
Try different variations, we mixed the pears and bananas as my son decided he doesn't like bananas anymore, but he loves them now!
*Don't add butter to your mix, your baby cannot process extra fats like that, and your food doesn't need it.
*Never give unripe fruit or veggies. If your bananas are green, wait a few days. If you are not sure about how ripe your produce is, make friends with your produce guy, mine's name is Joe.
*If your baby is refusing to drink formula/breast milk, add a little extra in with the food.
*Introduce a new food every 3 days to make sure your babies stomach doesn't react to what you are feeding him. (That was from our pediatrician.)
*Do your research. I used every source I could before doing this. Yes, my motivation was to save money, but I didn't want to be giving my child anything that would hurt him. I talked to our pediatrician extensively on this and she told me it was actually better to make the food than to buy it as there are no preservatives.
*Use frozen veggies over canned veggies. They are better for you and not packed with preservatives and water.
*You don't have to go organic, but it is a good idea. If you trust your produce section and they have locally grown stuff then go with that.
I hope this helps and have fun with it. My little boy just loves most of the foods I have made for him. We have a stock pile of squash/zucchini, pears, apples, peaches, green beans, peas, carrots and bananas. It may take a little more time, but knowing that he is eating fresh stuff makes me feel better. Plus, he has always had a very sensitive stomach and gets constipated easily (I know, T.M.I.) but now, he has no issues at all. Makes me happy. And he is happier too! See~