IT’S SO EASY. Making baby food is not complicated but it is a little time consuming. Meaning, it takes longer than throwing a fistful of pouches into your grocery cart. And when it comes to buying baby food, there are certainly great options available these days. Organic and full of interesting combinations–carrots, apples and parsnips or banana, rice and quinoa–baby food has never been better off the shelf. But like most everything, it’s less expensive to make yourself and you have much more control over what goes in. That’s why I like making baby food.
When Phoebe was born in Rome, I made almost all of her food. We had this great little baby food gadget that we bought in Paris before she was even born; About half the size of a regular food processor, you steamed the food first then switched a dial to puree. Voila, baby food. I used it all the time.When Estelle arrived, I still used it but it sort of died near the end of her baby food era. Plus, by then I’d discovered organic baby food at a health food store around the corner from our apartment, so I supplemented. (And by toddler-hood, made lots of muffins.)Now we have George. Our baby food machine wouldn’t have worked in America anyway (stupid voltage change) but I do kind of miss that thing. It’s not practical to buy another one since I’m fairly sure we’re done here. But I do have a new blender, a stove and a recurring subscription to Amazon Prime, delivering a box of organic baby food every other month.That’s right. When we’re eating out, or on the go, I always bring a store-bought serving for babies for two reasons: I know it’ll stay closed in the diaper bag (or my purse, ahem), and I can throw it away/recycle the container instead of lugging home a dirty cup. Also, it’s one less thing to worry about packing and preparing ahead of time.But for our day-to-day meals at home, which range anywhere from 2-3 per day, the little guy eats a lot of homemade food. These are my two favorite methods:
- Roasted: Roast any 1-2 vegetables + 1 fruit on a sheet pan with olive oil at 400 for 25 minutes, flipping once halfway through.
- Braised: In a heavy bottom saucepan, combine 1-2 vegetables + 1 fruit along with about 1/2 cup of chicken stock. Bring to a boil and simmer for 10-15 minutes, until everything is tender.
For both options, pour everything in a blender or food processor and blend. Adding water as needed, particularly to the roasted food. It’ll be much drier.
For babies 4-6 months, add organic brown rice cereal to thicken, as needed. Once babies get big enough to gum their food (typically 8 months and up) you can leave it chunkier. You can also add cooked grains or proteins such as quinoa, lentils, brown rice, millet, whole oatmeal and so on.
- Summer squash, carrots, apple (braised in chicken stock) + cooked quinoa
- Zucchini, kale, pear (braised) + cooked lentils
- Butternut squash, pear (roasted) + cooked brown rice
- Banana, avocado << a no-cook option we use all the time for breakfast, just mash it with a fork
- Spinach, apple, blueberry (braised) + cooked millet
The combinations go on and on and… Sometimes I actually look at the stuff on the shelf for inspiration. Or, even better, I’ll grind up what the rest of us are eating for dinner and make a portion for George. He’s 10 months old now and able to eat most anything, as long as it’s pureed or just soft. (You’ll see tons of muffin recipes in my “baby food” category, plus other things that are easy for those with no teeth to gum on down.)