By guest blogger Robyn Jasko, cofounder of Grow Indie
Now that my son Ajax has reached 9 months, we've been having a lot of fun getting him to try new foods.
When we first starting giving him baby food, we went the pouch route--it was organic, easy, and he really liked it--but I quickly realized that the pouches are not recyclable, and I really hated giving him anything stored in plastic. Yes, they're BPA free, but what about all the other chemicals that we don't know the acronyms for yet? Plus, they were pricey--$1.50 to $2 a pop--so I knew we could make our own organic baby food for a fraction of the cost.
Making your own baby food is so easy, plus you'll know exactly what you're feeding your baby because you made it yourself (no preservatives, fillers, or GMOs!). And, if you plan ahead even just a little, it can be just as convenient as those store-bought pouches.
Here's my easy system for DIY organic baby food that will save you money, reduce waste, and help you make the freshest food possible for your little tyke!
What you'll need:
4-ounce glass mason jars for storage
Blender and/or Food Mill
Organic vegetables and fruits (bananas, avocados, sweet potatoes, carrots, for example)
Step 1: Get Your Veggies Ready
I love making my own veggie concoctions for Ajax to try (and babies make the funniest faces when they're trying a new food!). For tougher vegetables like carrots, sweet potatoes, and broccoli, you'll need to steam them first before placing them in the blender or food mill. This is as simple as cutting apples, broccoli, sweet potatoes, carrots, or kale and steaming them in a pot until soft (this usually only takes 5 minutes or so).
Soft foods like bananas or avocados can simply go right in the blender or mill.
Step 2: Mix It Up
There's no need to spend hundreds on a baby-food-making system--you probably have everything you need at home already. A blender is a great way to make quick work of larger amounts of veggies, so you'll have plenty to store and freeze. Just add fruits and veggies to a blender with enough water to mix well.
Or, if you have a food mill, even better! It's one of the best tools around for making baby food--basically, you can put almost any leftovers you have and turn them into your baby's lunch! These are also extremely affordable! I use the Munchkin, available at Target or Amazon for about $6, to mash up bananas, avocados, cooked vegetables, oatmeal, and even pasta to give my baby a taste of whatever I'm making.
It's quick, easy, and super fast.
Step 3: Serve or Store
Glass 4-ounce mason jars are the perfect single-serving, BPA-free way to store and serve your homemade baby food. They are easy to stack in the freezer or fridge, and become their own little bowl (so less cleanup!). Just defrost the night before, and the next day you'll be ready to go--just add a spoon! No plastic, less mess, and an airtight way to keep your baby food fresher and completely sealed on the go.
Baby food freezes beautifully in the mason jars, so I usually just make a large batch, label it, and throw it in the freezer. Note: Mason jars can break if overfilled (the food inside expands), so do not fill to the top--leave an inch of "head" room at the top to be on the safe side (though these 4-ounce jars are pretty sturdy; I've never broken one!).
Recipes to Get You Started
Here are a few of my favorites!
- ½ banana
- ¼ avocado
Put through a food mill and serve immediately.
If you have extra oatmeal in the morning, share some with your baby by running it through a food mill with half a banana.
Sweet Potato Pear
Steam sweet potatoes until soft. Run through mill or blender with equal parts sliced pear.
Steam equal parts kale and apple. Run through mill or blender.
Broccoli, Peas, and Pear
Steam equal parts broccoli, peas, and pear. Run through mill or blender.
Tip: To add protein and healthy omegas, add a tablespoon of hempseed or cooked lentils to your baby-food creations. They won't add a lot of flavor, but will help give your tyke a nutrient boost.
Happy baby-food making! Feel free to share your own favorite recipes in the comments below.
Robyn Jasko, creative services director at Runner"s World magazine at Rodale, is a local-foods activist, community garden starter, and cofounder of Grow Indie, a site promoting sustainable lifestyles, homesteading, eating well, and living local. Her first book, Homesweet Homegrown: How to Grow, Make and Store Food, No Matter Where You Live, was released May 2012.
For more from Maria Rodale, visit www.mariasfarmcountrykitchen.com