I do not buy prepared baby food. I simplify cannot justify the cost, or the waste of resources to manufacture all the tiny little jars, bottles, and tubs.
When your baby is ready for solids, you can make your own baby food very easily, and with minimal expense.
I purchased Great Value brand “No Salt Added,” and “No Sugar Added” canned fruits and veggies at Wal-Mart. In my area, they cost 78 cents per 15.5 ounce can. I also purchased mandarin oranges and pineapple packed in their own juice, and generic unsweetened applesauce.
Good foods to start with are applesauce, bananas, pears, carrots and peas. These are non-allergenic, and babies usually like them.
When my babies were first starting solids, I made my purees with a baby food grinder, which I purchased at Wal-Mart for $10. It makes a very fine puree. When they are older and are used to a thicker consistency, you can just use a blender.
To make the baby food purees, just drain and save the liquid from the canned fruits and vegetables. In a typical blender you can fit two cans at a time. The fruits are so soft that you need almost no extra liquid to puree them. I started with 1/2 cup of added liquid for the veggies. Keep adding liquid as you blend them until you have a smooth puree that is the right consistency. Then just pour into ice cube trays, smooth out with a rubber spatula and freeze. After frozen, pop out the cubes, put them in a freezer bag and label.
1 cube is about a tablespoon. I usually made two different fruits and two different veggies at a time, for variety. To serve, simply place cubes in a microwave safe dish and microwave on high, about 30 seconds per cube. Fruits may take less time. Make sure to stir very thoroughly, and ALWAYS test baby’s food before serving to make sure it isn’t too hot! I like Gerber baby feeding spoons because they turn white if the food is too hot for baby.
A typical menu for Baby C at seven months (when she finally ate solids) was this:
Breakfast: 2 cubes peaches mixed with 1/4 cup instant baby rice cereal
Lunch: 2 cubes pears and 2 cubes carrots
Supper: 2 cubes peaches mixed with 1/4 cup instant baby oatmeal and 2 cubes green beans
C was a big eater from the start! The great thing about this system is that you can use as many or as few cubes as your baby will eat, with no waste.
At nine months, I added a meat cube to C’s lunch. I just cooked beef roast or chicken in the crock pot, until it was very tender, and then pureed it in the blender while hot, with its own juices.
By nine months, babies can eat a pretty good variety of foods. You can also mix foods that they like to offer a greater variety of flavors. C loved pear and pineapple cubes mixed together, and also applesauce mixed with mashed banana. Another favorite was a chicken cube and a corn cube, mixed with instant mashed potatoes and a little butter. I also introduced graham crackers, cheerios and raisins at 10 months, for snacks, and 100% juice in a cup. Baby C never accepted a bottle.
To get ideas for different food blends, I used to peruse the baby food aisle to see what kinds of things they mixed together. That’s where I got the idea to mix pear and pineapple, which was a big hit!
Just remember to only introduce one food at a time, and wait 3-4 days in between to watch for allergies. I waited until 9 months to introduce wheat products, and I didn’t give my kids any berries, eggs, or milk products until after age 1, because there is a tendency toward allergies in my family. Also no nuts or nut products until after age 2.
To help you plan your menus, get a detailed “Solid Foods Introduction Chart” here.
Making baby food is fun! Give it a try!