Saturday, July 16, 2011

Homemade Baby Food!

Wholesome Homemade Baby Food!! -Introduction

I wanted to share my experience of making my own baby food with you!
It is so easy and rewarding (economical & eco-friendly too!) to make your baby, fresh homemade food!
I've always made my own Baby Food. Its a decision I made long before having kids and its something I knew I would always want to do. I've always hated store bought baby food such as Gerber. Now don't get me wrong, I don't hate Gerber in general, just the baby food. I DO like the Gerber snacks for my daughter though. She really enjoys the Freeze-Dried Yogurt melts, the actual cups of Strawberry yogurt, the Snack Puffs and Crunchies and the Biter Biscuits. She also enjoys their new drink mix "Graduates Fruit Splashers".



I just really hate the actual food. I think it tastes horrible and it stinks! I don't like the added preservatives or lack of texture. And Why would I pay $1-2 dollars for a 2 pack of watered down yuck that wouldn't even make a full 2 meals for "DD", when I can buy a whole bag of fresh, frozen food for half that cost and get 10 times the meals out of it!!??
One bag of frozen peas cost under $2.00, actually its much cheaper than that and when on sale, can be under $1.00. That one small bag of peas will make 16 servings after I've made it!! You can buy the bigger bags of peas for a tiny bit more cost wise, and its usually cheaper to buy the bigger bags when you consider the size/weight compared to prices.

I will start keeping a record of the prices for all my baby food and compare it to the store bought ready made baby food to give you an idea of the cost per month. I think you will be surprised at how little it cost to feed your baby with homemade baby food and if you decide to make the switch, you will save hundreds!! It's done wonders for us financially and is one of the contributing factors in allowing me to continue staying home with my daughter by saving so much money.

I buy Organic when its available and I take advantage of the Farmers Market in the Summer. I love Farmers Market because most of the produce is Organic, fresh and much better quality than store bought and for a better price. I don't mind buying frozen from the store either. After learning that frozen fruit and veggies are picked at the peak of freshness and immediately frozen to maintain freshness with no added preservatives, sugar or juices, I feel confident in feeding it to my baby and myself as well. Frozen food is actually sometimes much better than buying fresh produce, depending on if that particular item is in season or not. And I also take into consideration the prices. For example, Frozen strawberries were on sale for 0.40 cents cheaper than the fresh strawberries and the fresh ones weren't looking too great. So I was happy to pay less for better quality berries! And the size/weight was the same for both. But the store bought Strawberries can't compete with the berries at Farmers Market! So I take advantage of it while I can, until winter and then will buy from the store.

I always have a Veggie garden at home, but this is the first year not having one. There have been too many factors with the crazy weather this year and changes in our life going on right now that have made it impossible for me to do my garden unfortunately. But normally I would be growing as many things as possible with our short growing season (High Altitude above 6000 ft) and definitely making baby food from it.

I've really enjoyed making my own baby food, and even though I am home and have plenty of time to make it, I feel that anyone can make time for it even if you have a day job away from home. It can be overwhelming at first, but I would suggest starting off slow with one or two items and see how you like it. The easiest foods to start off with are the fruits because they don't require any cooking or baking. Its easy enough to rinse and throw in the blender, then freeze and wah-la! You have your own baby food! I've made the mistake of letting my baby food supply run so low that I had to dedicate an entire 3 day weekend to preparing every single food item so I could stock up again. Never will I do that again! It was exhausting and time consuming. The best way for me to make it work, is to make one or two items a day throughout the week, taking my time. Yesterday, I Mashed up the banana's in the morning, let them freeze, and in the evening did the peaches and let them freeze overnight. Easy enough. I would recommend doing some of the veggies on your weekend because foods like Sweet Potato, Butternut Squash etc.. need to bake for at least an hour and have a couple hours after that to cool, be skinned and blended and frozen. Those seem to be more time consuming than the rest.

But after you start making your own baby food, you will feel confident that you are giving your baby wholesome, delicious food at a fraction of the cost of buying ready made food. Making my own baby food has been wonderful and its something I really enjoy. But don't get me wrong..I don't have anything against anyone buying ready made food. It all works the same in the end, as long as your baby is getting the nutrition they need, that's what's important. And I understand that many people just don't have the time or energy to make their own food and that's just fine, there is nothing wrong with that. This is just my personal experience with making my own food and this is what works for our family. To each is own!! :)

I'm not completely against store bought baby food though, just certain brands I guess. I've never liked it, but I recently found a brand that I love and would definitely buy their food if we were traveling or in a situation where I couldn't bring my own homemade baby food.
The brand is called "Ella's Kitchen" and it was only available in the U.K. until recently, they finally made it available in the states. They currently sell it at Target and a few other stores. I actually Won a bunch of Ella's baby food from a Giveaway I entered on another Blog last year! I was very excited to try their products after learning about their company and the effort they put into making sure their baby food is safe, organic and tasty! Their food is really good and in my opinion, the next best thing to homemade. I like that they use many unique ingredients, different types of veggies not commonly used in other brands.
You can check out their website here and you can also find them on Facebook:
 http://www.ellaskitchen.com/



Here is a website I really enjoy for Homemade Baby Food! It helped me a lot when I got started and gives you the basics for most fruits and veggies. They provide basic info and cooking times, how to prepare each food and also some baby food recipies!
Please use this site as a guide to help you other than my Blog. I will share with you the way I enjoy preparing my baby food and show you photos, but this site has a TON of nutritional info, health advisories and other important information you will need..
http://wholesomebabyfood.momtastic.com/

One thing I Love about making my own baby food, is that I can make it to the texture and consistency I think is appropriate for my child. I have always preferred to give her "Chunkier" food, so that the transition to heavier foods and snacks is easier and will teach her how to chew better. Except when babies are being introduced to solids for the first time, I recommend starting with a well pureed texture and then after a month or so, you can change it to the texture you think is best.

Please be advised!:

Salt and Sugar are Never needed when making baby food. Omit these items, preferably at ALL times, in your baby's meals. Other spices such as cinnamon, garlic powder, pepper etc. may be introduced as early as 7 months with your pediatricians consult. 
**Remember, always consult with your pediatrician regarding introducing solid foods to your baby and specifically discuss any foods that may pose allergy risks for your baby.
Certain foods such as Strawberries should not be given to babies under the age of 1 year old due to possible allergy risks. As stated above, please consult with your Pediatrician first. *I DID** and now that "DD" is over a year old, I was able to introduce all foods to her and as far as I know, she has no known food allergies. 

**If you want to sweeten your baby food, you can add Applesauce to the mix before serving! Its a great trick I learned when I feel that "DD" is getting bored with the veggies at times.
*Also, Rice Cereal is a great addition to any meal and will help keep your baby satisified longer. It also has some great vitamins and nutrients that are important for baby to have.

*Another great food to add is Oatmeal! I use Quaker Oats. The REAL oats, not the instant. (I learned that the more processed a food is, the less nutrients it has. Plus you definitely don't want to use the instant oatmeal that we as adults like that are the flavored kind. Those are full of artificial flavors, sugars and other stuff that baby shouldn't have) I use a food processor to break down the oats so they are easier for "DD" to eat and they cook faster that way. Doing this doesn't affect the nutrients as far as I know, it just cuts them into smaller pieces because she has a difficult time swallowing the oats. After breaking them down, they are basically instant oats at the point and only take about a 1:20 in the microwave with some water and are then ready to mix with her fruit or veggies. Oatmeal is a great addition mixed in with her meals and keeps her satisfied longer, especially at night which is important so she doesn't wake up hungry in the middle of the night. She is too old for that now and that should not be an issue at her age. You should try and make sure your baby is fully satisfied a couple hours before bedtime so they get the best sleep possible. This will help them sleep though the night as best they can.

**The basics:
*You will need a Blender, or some way of blending your food. There are many different options, so choose which is best for you. Most people already have a Blender, so that makes it easy.
* Freezer Ice Cube Trays! As many as you like. I use 2 of them, but I need to get more. I think having 4 of them would be perfect at least for me, because it would make it less time consuming on waiting for one batch to finish freezing before replacing the next. You can buy trays at most stores. If you want to use the ones you currently have in your freezer, you can, but be forewarned, most food will stain your trays a little bit, even if you soak or run them in the dishwasher. *From personal experience*
*Saran Wrap, Spatula, Cutting Board, Knife, Utensils, etc..the basic kitchen items you will see in my photos.
*And Ziploc Freezer bags to store your food, unless you choose another form of storage.


**I Hope you enjoy me sharing my experiences with this and I hope you like learning about it!
Have Fun!
And you can see both my posts on making it:
They will be Tagged and located in the right hand column of my blog as:
Babyfood Fruit
Babyfood Veggies
**************************

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