When I was little, my mom made all of our baby food. I remember growing up and thinking she was so ahead of the curve with her hippy, homemade food preparation. But, James reached the solid food stage, I realized that my mom wasn’t a hippy. (Well, she is kinda and definitely was when she was younger! You should see the pics of her in daisy dukes! I still can’t believe Grandma let her wear those …) My mom was practical. Baby food is hella expensive!
Mom making us our baby food purees from fruits and veggies (many from our own garden) was more about affordability and finances than wanting to provide organic and homemade food. In fact, for most of history, moms and dads made their own baby food for their wee ones. Pre-packaged baby food is an invention of the early 1900s when doctors and food scientists convinced parents that pre-packaged food was safer for their growing babies.
Today, we know different. We know that those little jars adorned with labels featuring adorable chunky babies and pictures of fresh fruits and veggies also have chemicals and preservatives that may or may not show up on the label. Unfortunately, food labeling laws in the United States leave a lot to be desired, and, when compared with the rest of the developed world, we allow many more questionable ingredients into our foods. Whether or not those “extras” are harmful to our little ones’ bodies is up for debate, but, regardless of the possible health implications of pre-packaged baby food, one thing remains true … It’s expensive!
Expensive is a relative term. Ten jars of baby food runs about $10, depending on brand and size. And, depending on your child’s age, that is anywhere between ten and twenty meals which works out to $0.50 to $1 a per meal. That’s not outlandish, but, when you consider you’re feeding your little one 2-3 meals per day, 7 days a week, for months on end, it really adds up. In a given month, the little one will likely have 84 meals. That works out to about $84 in baby food alone. And, when you consider that you can make 20 meals for less than $5, it changes your perspective! Suddenly that $84 becomes more like $20. For our family, that’s a noteworthy difference.
Sure, making baby food at home requires a little more effort than cracking open a cute little glass jar, and, unfortunately, we live in a society where fast and easy outweighs slightly slower. Half of the problem is that we don’t eat at home anymore, and, when we do, it’s take-out or delivery. I want to be more mindful of what I put into my son’s body (as well as his dad’s and my bodies!), so I’ve made the decision to prepare the majority of his foods myself. Does that mean my little guy never eats any prepackaged, processed foods? Not hardly. He loves the Happy Baby Banana & Pumpkin Puffs as well as their Happy Teether cookies. When I buy pre-made food for the little man, I try to make it as natural and organic as possible. I can be sure of what’s in his baby food when I make it, and a USDA Certified Organic seal on the foods I buy for him makes me feel at ease.
Making baby food is easy. All you need is the desired fruits/vegetables, a food processor, some ice cube trays, and a few ziploc bags. When I make baby food, I prepare a large quantity and then keep it in the freezer for quick meals. Our little guy doesn’t like to wait, so the faster we can make his food the better!
I buy frozen or canned fruits and veggies in the grocery store, but I also see what is fresh in the produce aisle. I make every effort to buy organic or local fruits and vegetables, but that’s not always possible. When the choice is between a local NC (or even southestern) farm versus a farm in South America or even California, I’ll buy local. (The reasons why are for an entirely different post!)
I then prepare the veggies appropriately. Fruits usually only need be thawed (if frozen) and processed. I often roast veggies like sweet potatoes and squash because it gives more flavor, and I steam things like peas and carrots. When James was smaller, I would pop the cooked and prepared fruits and veggies into the food processor and make a nice puree. I would portion everything out into ice cube trays, freeze, and — ta da! — individual portions!Now that he’s bigger (with six teeth!), I keep the fruits and veggies in larger chunks and store them in sealed containers in the fridge. It’s easy to portion out his meals, and it’s reassuring knowing that it’s homemade and not loaded with a billion unknown chemicals.