One of the most challenging things about being a mother, to me, is having to feed another person. I mean, given what I ate today, I am not so sure I should have this responsibility and I find dinner to be the hardest because by then, I am tired from working all day and I don't want to think, none-the-less cook. And yet, I made the choice to make all my own baby food.
I do this for a lot of reasons but convenience is at the top of the list. Before you think I am crazy--how could cooking be more convenient than opening a jar--hear me out. I have 3 rules and a system that I think can work for you, too.
First, I have some tools. Second, I have a routine. Third, I ignore the tools and the routine if that makes my life less stressful that week.
Here is what I do:
I bought a book, Super Baby Food, not because I wanted recipes but because I wanted rules about freezing, when to introduce foods and how best to get them mushy. I did not follow it as a bible, I used it as a reference and while I didn't make the weird cereal she makes, I did learn that avocado was an amazing food to feed my baby and what is easier than mashing an avocado? Even opening the jar takes more work.
Read more in ¿Qué más?: Why you must feed your baby this Latino superfood
I make as much at once as possible and freeze it, using my oven, stove and baby food cooker all at once. Here is how:
I wake up Saturday morning, feed everyone breakfast and when it is nap time, I get in the kitchen. I put the oven on to 350 degrees and I put 2 or 3 big sweet potatoes and one large butternut squash (halved and seeded) on a sheet pan lined with foil and rub them with a little olive oil. I put them in the oven to roast, which takes about an hour (you know they are done when the house starts to smell sweet and you can stick a fork through them easily).
This is a conventional rule of baby food making I break. The books say that you should steam everything to keep all the nutrients in but if you steam, then you have to peel and chop--who has time for that and squashed can be hard to work with. Just don't boil and you should be fine.
Then I peel and cut apples and pears and put the pears to steam in the baby food cooker (I love my baby-food cooker but if I am going to get this done during nap time I have to use as many pots as possible) and apples to cook down in a pot over medium heat on the stove. (See I have 4 kinds of food going). Then I either make carrots or green beans or Spinach--depending on what I have in the house and what my freezer is short on. (Green beans--ugh--they may not be worth the effort--pounds of green beans gets you very little baby food where as apples and sweet potatoes get you a ton!).
I puree the pears because they are already in the cooker. I pour them in to 2 or 3 ounce containers that I got cheap at the baby store and let them cool.
Next I puree the carrots (or spinach or whatever)--I don't worry too much about getting the food cooker clean because the left over pears add a little sweetness to the veggies and that is exactly what baby food jars do. I portion them out, and then I do clean out the cooker because veggies in the apples don't taste so good.
When the apples are done, you should be ready to take the sweet potatoes and squash out of the oven. The skins will peel right off and you can scoop all the nice soft flesh out in to the baby cooker (again, don't worry about left over apples, they help) and done. About 2 weeks of baby food in about 1.5 hours. I swear!
Now that my son is older, I am no longer pureeing veggies but I am still making and freezing meals for him so that I don't have to cook every night. Now my Saturday routine consists of 2 pots of soup and a pot of beans. My freezer is INSANE!
P.S. I buy prunes in the pouch because, seriously, who is making prunes. And my mom actually cooks the beans but that is neither here nor there. And sometims, especially if we had to go out, we used pre-made baby food. Remember rule three: don't stress yourself out.
Do you make or buy baby food? What do you like? Tell us in the comments section below
Image via Cascadian Farm/flickr