Baby Food Basics

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By The Paula Deen Test Kitchen

Mothers have been making their own baby food for centuries.  However, in today’s culture more parents are buying their baby’s food versus making it themselves. We would like to share with you how making your own baby food can save you money, ensure your baby gets great food and can be EASY.

Before you head to the kitchen we need to discuss some ground rules. Check with your pediatrician as to when he/she thinks you should introduce solid foods. For most babies this will be around 4 to 6 months. Your baby’s first food is typically rice cereal. The first few times you feed your baby, this will likely consist of them spitting or pushing the food out. Have fun and take it slow, eventually they will get the hang of swallowing the food. You should always remember the “3-day Rule” when introducing a new food to your baby. The “3-day Rule” refers to letting 3 days pass before introducing a new food.  If there is an allergic reaction, you can know what food is the culprit. In regards to food allergies avoid the following foods that are the most common allergens among babies: peanuts/nuts, strawberries, eggs and shell fish. For more on food allergies talk with your pediatrician. 

Next, what vegetables and fruits are best? A great rule of thumb to follow is buy what is in season.  Sometimes this means organic, sometimes fresh and often times frozen. Surprisingly, frozen vegetables and fruits can be your best choice since they are frozen immediately after harvest when the nutrient content is at its greatest.

Another misconception is how to prepare baby food. Most people assume this means hours slaving over the stove, however, in our tests we found one of the best methods is the microwave.  For parents in a time crunch the microwave is a huge time saver. Used properly the microwave will allow you to steam your fruits and vegetables while preserving their nutrient content. When you boil vegetables in water you can lose many of the valuable nutrients in the water. By using a minimal amount of water and a microwave safe dish you can effectively steam the food without altering its nutrition.

Lastly, part of the ease of making baby food is making enough food to use throughout the week. When a recipe refers to 2 trays, this amount of food will last about a week. We suggest you prepare a few recipes on the weekend to use throughout a busy week.

Now let’s head to the kitchen!

Simple Applesauce
Yields:  2 trays

5 apples (Golden Delicious, Granny Smith or Gala), peel and chop into 1 inch pieces

Place diced apples in a microwave-safe dish, cover with microwave-safe plastic wrap, leaving a small vent and microwave for 5 minutes. Then let steam for 5 minutes in microwave.  Test with a fork for tenderness.  Place apples and any cooking juices into the food processor or blender.  Blend till smooth.  Spoon applesauce into ice-cube trays.  Let the applesauce cool slightly before placing trays into freezer.  After 8 hours remove ‘cubes’ and transfer to a zip-lock bag.

Note from The Paula Deen Test Kitchen:  At 8 months or older you may begin adding spices to your recipes.  Add a pinch of cinnamon to our Simple Applesauce recipe.

Zucchini Risotto
Yield:  2 trays

3 medium zucchini, washed and small diced
1 cup cooked brown rice (I used Boil-n-Bag, instant long grain brown rice for time savings)
1/2 cup chicken broth, low sodium

Place diced zucchini into microwave-safe dish, add 2 tablespoons of water, cover with microwave-safe plastic wrap, leaving a small vent. 

Microwave for 5 minutes. Let rest in microwave for 5 minutes. 

Cook brown rice according to your package directions, set aside.

Add zucchini, their cooking juices, rice and 1/2 cup of chicken broth to your food processor or blender.

Puree to desired consistency. For a smoother consistency add more chicken broth. 

If your baby is between 5-7 months puree until smooth, at 8 months begin to make the consistency more thick/chunky. 

Spoon the Zucchini Risotto into ice-cube trays, cool slightly, freeze 8 hours before transferring to a zip-lock bag

Note from The Paula Deen Test Kitchen:  Once your baby has mastered single-ingredient foods, you can begin mixing ingredients.  This is where the real fun and creativity begin.

Chicken Surprise
Yield:  2 trays
1 boneless-skinless chicken breast, diced
1 apple (Golden Delicious, Gala, etc), peeled, cored and diced
1 sweet potato, peeled and diced
1 cup chicken broth
1 tablespoon unsalted butter

In a medium sauce pan, melt butter.

Add diced chicken to the pan and cook thoroughly. 

Once chicken is cook through, add diced apple and sweet potato. 

Cook for 1 minute. Add chicken broth. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat, cover and simmer for 20 minutes. 

Test sweet potato for tenderness. If needed add 5 more minutes. 

Remove from heat and let rest for 5 minutes before placing into food processor or blender. Blend to desired consistency. 

Spoon into ice-cube trays, cool slightly, freeze.

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Leave a Comment

Reader Comments:


My daughter is expecting her first child this October. I'm forwarding to her the section on home made baby food. We'll try it and let you know what we think. We both love your recipes and trust your advice. Thanks, Cindy Excited to be a grandma! (Aug. 18, 2011)

By Cindy Markaverich on August 18, 2011


Hi Dorothy, You can find the recipe for cheese biscuits here:

By Jonathan Able on August 17, 2011


Although i whole heartedly agree with making home made preservative free baby food, i offer caution to the use of a microwave!! If you dont believe me, take two cups of water and put a bean in each one... Any kind of bean... Put one cup in microwave for 1 min.... Label it, set both cups side by side and watch what happens to each bean.... Your eyes will give you the answer... And you and your baby's bodies will thank you!!!!

By Mary torregrossa on August 16, 2011


paula i made your apple red wine carmal pie it was very good i add sugar to the recipe because it didnt call for sugar in the apple mix a ten stars

By becky on August 15, 2011


Thanks, I think if you add aloe vera juice to the Zucchini Risotto instead of chicken broth it tastes more like zucchini than chicken. I also think if you add cinnamon to the apple sauce it helps prevent Hepatitis C. I'm working on a way to prevent or treat hepatitis C in children, there is no known treatment or cure. Aloe vera juice and cinnamon are the only 2 things I can remember from when I was a child to help prevent childhood diseases. If you know of any others please let me know, thanks again, Susan.

By Susan Schad on August 15, 2011


I love this! I've been making my own baby food this way for about 5 years, and I currently make it for my sweet little Catie. I even make a "pumpkin pie" with freshly stewed pumpkin, sweet potato, and a little pumpkin pie spice. Yummmmm!

By Nicki on July 31, 2011


Send me the receipt for the Cheese Biscuits , Please ! Thank you

By Dorothy M. Alford on July 31, 2011


Found a pressure cooker is the best flavor saver and time saver.

By Christine on July 31, 2011

I fed my children homemade food exactly the same way. My oldest is now expecting and we’re planning to do the same thing. We live in a small farming/ranching community where groceries are expensive. Anything we can do to help save a buck is well worth it.

By KCFarmer on December 29, 2009

so great!  love these ideas!!

By Andrea Campbell on December 14, 2009

I am expecting my first grandbaby in December. My daughter and I were disussing about the baby food. I told her I saw some receipes on this site. She looked at the receipes and plans on using the receipes.  She and I hope the receipes continue.

By Debra on November 17, 2009

My husband and I have 8 children and I did not buy a bit of processed food for any of them. We did the exact same thing. Just took what we ate at the table, blended it up, put it in ice cube trays and popped it into the freezer!! What a savior!! Yes it was just a tad more time consuming than running to the store and buying a jar of whatever but I KNOW what all my children ate, I TRUSTED the ingredients and to this day there is not a veggie, fruit or meat that our kids won’t eat!!!!

By Trudy on November 06, 2009

Thank you so much, I have a six month old boy who loves to eat and baby food can cost alot after a while so I look forward to trying this out.

By Sabrina Wimmer on November 06, 2009

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Paula, I love watching you and your family. I miss seeing your show, I watched you everyday. My son lives in Charleston S.C. He took me to the Lady & Sons to eat. Oh my goodness! People are always telling me that I look just like the cooking lady Paula Deen. I always tell them that you are my hero. May God Bless You Mary Ann
Mary Ann Tharp in A Summer of Burgers on August 15, 2014 at 10:48 pm

Add a few spoonfuls of parmesan cheese to the flour and cornmeal breading and it kicks the tomatoes up another notch. Bev
in Crispy Fried Green Tomatoes on August 15, 2014 at 10:33 am

I just bought Paula's Peach Salad Dressing and wondered if anyone has a good recipe that they use it in?
Melissa in Taste Testing 101 on August 13, 2014 at 8:36 am

Congrats Bobby. Loved the family picture miss you Paula on TV will be watching online. Jack is getting big. Looks like his mom but Matt aka moose has your face. Your eyes cheeks hair even falls to his face like yours except to the left. Good luck on your next venture. You give us other 60+ yr women strength to move on. Keep up the good work.
Carol Bryant in Love at Last on August 11, 2014 at 6:12 pm