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!
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.
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.
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.