26 August 2015

Freezer cooking for baby

If you asked me if I’d be the sort of person who makes my own baby food, I’d have said absolutely not. Did you know that you can just buy baby food pre-made, overachiever moms? Yeah. And I’m not particularly into organic foods, partly because I don’t have the time nor energy to care about them. Regular baby food is just fine by me. I figured I’d throw a bunch of purees in my shopping cart each week with the rest of the groceries.

But while that seemed simpler at first, buying a bunch of special baby food started to seem wasteful and silly considering we already had a kitchen full of food. Couldn’t Baby P just eat that? And besides, I like saving money. Once I realized that bag of regular frozen veggies costs a dollar and makes a lot more meals than a dollar’s worth of baby food, I started rethinking my stance on homemade baby food. As I read a bit more, I discovered that baby food... is a whole lot like regular adult food. Just in smaller bits, with less salt.

As a matter of fact, Baby P’s first solid foods were banana (like... just a banana, not fancy baby food banana) and oatmeal. They sell fancy baby cereals, and rice cereal is a common first food – but why buy special baby cereal if Baby P can just eat regular oats, processed a bit in the food processor?

I even wrote the directions to cook them right on the jar.

Once Baby P started eating thicker fruits and veggie mixes, I could just mash up the same veggies we eat, like baked sweet potato or avocado, and puree whatever fruits happened to be on sale, like pears or cantaloupe. But there were a lot of frozen veggies, too.

He’s had frozen spinach (as you can see), green beans, green peas, and carrots. Frozen fruits like raspberries and blueberries are tasty, too (if mixed with a bit of sweet fruits like banana or peach to counteract the sour)!

Canned foods can work, too, if packaged properly. I look for fruit packed in water, not syrup, and buy the lowest sodium beans (and soak them anyway, to leech out as much salt as possible). It felt a little nuts to manually peel a whole can of garbanzo beans, but dang it, the kid really likes pureed garbanzos.

He’s also a fan of pureed black beans and pumpkin, the latter being my favorite because already a puree!

Of course, I don’t make all of these foods for him every single day. I’m trying to make it easy, right?! So that means, as you might expect, that I freezer cook. Fruits, veggies, grains, they all get frozen! These trays are perfect 3/4-ounce portions, and the shape means the frozen food cubes pop right out.

I actually use these to freeze store-bought baby food too – because there are some things that are more trouble to make than they’re worth (I’m looking at you, prunes). So once I open a container, the remainder gets frozen away.

Now that Baby P’s appetite for solids has skyrocketed, he obviously eats more than 3/4 ounce at a time. Fortunately I’ve got quite the stockpile:

(Note the absurd milk stockpile, too. Baby P’s food has taken oven my freezer!)

So now I’m having fun combining different flavors for his meals. There are obvious combinations like spinach with sweet potato or fruit with oatmeal, but then he’s also fond of pears with peas, apples with garbanzos, even blueberries with black beans! I taste-test everything to make sure it’s something I’d eat, and it always pleases me when it tastes like normal, real food.

The freezer cooking system has also worked great for going to daycare, too. I just put a few cubes in these reusable containers every day (the day-of-week labels are another organizational quirk of mine):

Considering that I am that mom unloading my homemade purees into the fridge at daycare, I suppose I am officially a homemade baby food mom. Which still seems odd and hilarious to me because I don’t feel like my mental caricature of a mom who makes homemade baby food. But then again, I don’t really feel like Baby P eats baby food. He just eats food – whether the purees I mentioned above, or bits of Mr. P’s waffles, or mashed spaghetti with marinara sauce, or even, God bless him, veggies and rice with Thai curry sauce.

Once I got over Baby P needing special food, everything became so much easier – and cheaper! So far he’s been a good eater and seems to like eating whatever Mr. P and I are eating. Here’s hoping he stays that way so that I can always keep it simple by cooking the same food for the whole family!


Rebecca said...

Holy moly! Look at all that milk! Go youa!!! Your purees and baby food plan in general sound awesome. I took a similar approach...and eventually purchased some too for convenience. You're smart to freeze anything leftover. I always tried it again at another session, and there was always waste with that method. :/