Homemade with love
by Karen D. Crowdis
Walk up the baby food aisle in any city grocery store and you are inundated with choices. There are rows and rows of tiny jars filled with a mushy array of foods that promise to tempt baby’s taste buds. There are organic or non-organic veggies, fruit, meat, rice and grain cereals. Many packages show happy cherub faces to reinforce the yum factor of the contents. Many a mom has stressed over the selection and agonized over ingredients, not realizing that she could skip the baby food aisle completely by making her own at home.
Baby food is really easy to make and doesn’t take much time or require fancy equipment. It is simply strained, pureed or mashed adult food, depending on the baby’s age and eating stage.
While prepared baby foods offer a level of convenience, homemade can too. There are other benefits:
- You control the ingredients—NO additives, including preservatives or colours.
- You control the texture based on your own baby’s preference.
- You teach your baby what whole food tastes like starting from day one.
- You provide food that is healthier and fresher.
Cost is another consideration. Commercially prepared foods cost about 70 cents per jar, or 23 cents per ounce, while homemade foods cost only one to four cents per ounce.
Whole grains such as barley, rice or oatmeal can easily be ground up in a blender or food mill until they are fine enough to turn into baby cereal.
To make infant cereal, bring 3/4 to 1 cup of water to a boil in a saucepan.
Add ¼ cup of ground oats, barley or brown rice.
Whisk constantly while simmering for about 10 minutes until liquid is absorbed and grains are soft.
Serve warm plain or mixed with breast milk, juice or pureed fruit.
You can make this infant cereal runny or thick depending on your baby's age and preference.
Vegetables and Fruit
Clean work area and food.
Peel and slice fresh or frozen fruit or vegetables and place in pot or steamer.
Add about 1/4 cup of water to each 1 cup of food.
Do not add salt or sugar.
Cook on low heat or steam until the pieces are soft.
Remove from water and use a fork, potato masher or blender to make a smooth puree.
Poultry, Fish and Beef
Clean work area and food.
Remove fat, bones and skin from food.
Cut into small pieces and put into saucepan. Do not brown the meat.
Add about 1/2 cup of water or homemade stock to each 1 cup of meat.
Do not add salt or seasoning.
Once cooked, remove floating fat.
Cut up and/or mash food with a fork, food mill or blender using cooking water to make it smoother.
Storing and freezing
TO FREEZE: pour pureed food into ice cube trays and freeze. Once frozen, transfer them to freezer bags. For a young baby, one cube is one serving.
STORAGE: leftovers can be kept in the fridge for two days or a fridge freezer for two months or a deep freezer for three months.
Published in Birthing Magazine, Summer 2008.