I am not opposed to a jar of Earth’s Best organic baby food every now and again. They travel well and can get you out of a food jam fast. However, for the bulk of solid feeding under a year old, I prefer to make our own. After all, even if it is jared organic, I don’t know how it was processed. Was it boiled to death, breaking down all that good cell structure and letting the vitamins flow right on out? Was it cooked when it didn’t need to be and kill off live enzymes? Were in season fruits and veggies used? And on top of all the unanswered Qs above, those jars are expensive…feeding my kideos organic, minimally processed foods is a challenge on our grocery budget, but it’s a priority for us and here’s how we make it happen:
The shopping: About 3 weeks before my child turns 6 months old I start bulking up. When organic butternut squash goes on sale, for example, that’s what I’ll stock up and prepare. I try my best to use in season and locally grown produce…and if I stay on top of it, can typically buy these items on sale.
The preparing: Fruits like apricots and apples I won’t cook at all. I’ll just get rid of the seeds and blend in the food processor with some filtered water-just enough to get that texture which will stay on a spoon. Root veggies I prefer to roast, skin on, and the rest I steam. Some combos we love are sweet potatoes with broccoli and cinnamon; carrots and fresh grated ginger; butternut squash with brown rice; peas; apples with oatmeal, cinnamon and flax mill; black beans, olive oil and flax mill; chickpeas and apricots; zucchini and brown rice. I try to add nutrition wherever I can, so I cook the brown rice in organic chicken broth instead of water. When they hit about 8 months old I’ll add yogurt to their morning oatmeal, smashed banana and flax mill for a “one bowl” meal. Of course produce like bananas and avocados are wonderful because the are always ready, no prepping/freezing needed.
The storing: Each produce item is frozen separately so I can combine or go solo on any given day. And when more texture is desired, I keep brown rice cubes around to thicken any mix. I measured some standard white ice cube trays and found them to be 1oz each. The puree goes in the tray, freezes over night and is popped into a gallon ziplock bag–labeled and dated. It’s great to know each cube is an ounce.
The using and modifying: If we’ll be out for a meal, I’ll toss the frozen cubes in the tupperware and they are thawed by lunch time. Otherwise I use one bowl, throw in the desired cube combos and microwave for 30 seconds to 2 min depending. I’ve found wide, shallow bowls to be my favorite for these “one bowl” meals. At 10 months old, we are now moving to table food. But these cubes won’t go to waste-they’ll be mixed with pasta as “sauce”, or with a box of mac and cheese or used as a pita spread.
It’s simple, cost effective and most of all healthy. With how little opportunity I have to get good nutrition into my babes, I want each bite to count!