Making your own baby food isn’t as expensive or time-consuming as you may think, my friends! Cooking for your tot has come a long way in the past few years, and as our expert makes clear, anyone can do it. Caterer, syndicated food-columnist, founder of Dining by Design and super-mom extraordinaire, Becky McKinley, made the food for all three of her babies from scratch. “Making your own baby food is a great way to save money and control the amount of salt and preservatives your baby is getting. And now that my kiddos are grown, I attribute their diverse palates and lack of food allergies to the different foods they ate as babies.”
“When making your own baby food, it’s important to check out what your baby can eat, and when,” says Becky. Babies can down some soupy-solids starting somewhere between the four and six-month mark. The safest bet is to ask your pediatrician when and how to start your baby on solids and take their advice to heart. When it is time, be sure to begin with non-acidic foods like carrots, green beans, bananas, sweet potatoes, pears and avocados.
Once you have your baby’s entree ingredient of choice, you can either puree the veggies senseless or steam and mash them to a pulp. “Always steam or microwave fruits and vegetables instead of boiling them on top of the stove. When boiling fruits or vegetables you lose most of the nutrients,“ notes Becky. For beginners, you want the food to be lump-free, and as your baby grows so can the number of food-chunks in their meals. If you find your veggie mash is still a little thick, take the time to strain and liquefy it before spooning it to your baby. Becky suggests, “To thin the puree, good choices would be broth from the fruits or vegetables (the broth holds most of the nutrients), milk, breast milk or apple juice.”
From there, “Foods should be introduced to your baby in weekly intervals. Remember it takes a baby two to three weeks to develop a taste or distaste for a particular food,” says Becky. It’s also important to note that you’ll want to make sure your baby doesn’t have any food allergies to a particular fruit or veggie. Experts suggest waiting four days after you’ve let your little one try a new item to check for allergic reaction before introducing any other new foods into his diet.
Since your baby will still be dependent on milk for awhile, chances are that they’ll only be able to eat a small amount of solid food in the beginning; only a few tablespoons to start. The good news—you’ll always have lots of baby leftovers on hand! “Use a plastic ice cube tray to freeze the puree. Each ice cube is equal to about 1 oz of food. Store food cubes in a zip-lock bag and remove on demand, making certain you label the bag with the ingredients and the date. Don’t keep it in the freezer for more than three months, the refrigerator for more than 36 hours and never keep baby food that has been dipped from with a used spoon—saliva carries bacteria that could contaminate the food.”
[tip:] Want the freshest foods without paying grocery prices? Becky suggests, “Consider forming a co-op with several of your friends.
You can buy fresh fruits and vegetables by the case and save money. The best place to buy high quality products is through the food wholesalers in your community. They usually sell to the public and always have what is in season. You can often order organic products as well. A co-op is a lot of fun and is also a great opportunity to meet fellow new moms.”