Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Adventures in Baby Food - Simple Homemade Baby Food

Forgive the poor quality of my photos! This post includes baby food in the beginning and homemade sauce pouches for older kids at the end. I was so excited for my Amazon order to arrive today!  I got this awesome Infantino Baby Squeeze Station and some extra pouches:

$22 for the squeeze station, comes with 10 pouches, (a one-time purchase) and $16 for 50 additional pouches (not reusable).  Those baby food pouches in the store sell for $1 to $3 each! So this is a great way to go - make my own food!! Great to have for baby to feed self when old enough, great for travel - since it is spill proof. Just pour into bowl and spoon up or drink from pouch! The older kids use them too.

I love knowing what ingredients are going into my kids foods.  I can buy organic when I can, wash in a vinegar bath, cook, puree to my desired thickness based on what baby is eating now, and add pumped breastmilk to thin it and add nutrients!

I cooked up a ton of fruits and veggies.

-Nectarines and Peaches: Boil and cool, makes peeling the skin off easier and cooks the fruit.

-Blueberries: wash, cook in microwave in a steamer (I use a Pampered Chef veggie steamer for smaller portions and a Tupperware rice cooker for larger items)

-Butternut Squash: Slice in half, remove seeds. Cook with water in microwave 10 minutes per half. Obviously can be baked in oven as well. Cut off the peel before blending.

-Acorn Squash: same

-Apples: peel, core, slice, microwave 8 minutes, let sit another 4 minutes

-Carrots: I used baby carrots, microwaved for 15 minutes

-Pears: wash, peel, remove core, cook 6 mns 2-3 at a time, sliced

-Peas: I used frozen peas in steamable microwave bag

-Banana: pushed half of ripe banana through food mill, stirred in some breastmilk to thin

For each item I used a regular blender and the water it was cooked in or juice it produced when cooked and some breastmilk to thin for younger baby. I like to make cubes in ice cube trays because I can later mix foods this way - by defrosting one carrot and one apple and stirring together in a bowl, for example.  I blended some very thin but left some chunkier to use later when he is eating thicker foods. (He did not react well to rice cereal so I don't want to use that as a thickener, but you can do this.)

Squash before adding milk - with the bottle of freshly pumped mama milk next to it, waiting to be dumped in. Water works as well.

Perfectly thinned apples (about 2 oz of milk for an apple and a half) for my 5 1/2 month old.

Now, there are a ton of ways to store and serve these purees.  Since food keeps fresh in fridge for only 2 days, I need to freeze most of it.  I put some in the Infantino baby food pouches, some in a baby popsicle mold (Nuk and Munchkin, ordered on Amazon), and the rest in ice cube trays.  I can defrost a few cubes per day and they last for 4 months.

These are Nuk Brand's version of baby pops - smaller molds, easy hold bottom.  I filled this tray of 4 with breastmilk.  Breastmilk popsicles for my teething baby!! I also filled the 6-mold Munchkin brand tray with different baby food purees.  These are also great for teething baby on a hot day!

I labeled empty Infantino pouches with the date and type of puree - and I added Bruce's name b/c I also made food for the whole family.

You can attach 3 pouches at a time but it's messy anyway, so I just did it one by one and rinsed them clean.
 Push down to fill pouches.

Blueberries go well with other foods, so I chose to freeze these as cubes, to be thawed later and mixed with other items.

Cover tray with foil to avoid freezer burn! I also have the Fresh Baby trays with nice lids on them. I bought ice cube trays that had one ounce molds to make it easy to know how much I am serving.

When foods are done freezing the next day you can label a freezer bag and dump the cubes in it.  My kids always ate about 2 cubes per meal, can be same item or, later, after allergy testing, one each of 2 different kinds.

Here's a bin full of the baby food pouches to freeze.  They freeze flat/thin so take up minimal space.

Tips for serving: Remove from freezer the night before, as they need several hours in fridge to defrost. A little warm water is fine but microwaving is not allowed on the pouches and not recommended for the cubes, unless you do NOT have breastmilk or formula in them.

So now I've got all these fresh strawberries and kiwis (didn't make for baby as they are more likely to cause allergic reaction, holding off on them for now), tons of leftover apples and peaches,etc. Brilliant idea!! Those awesome Dole Fruit Squishers or Go-Go-Squeeze applesauce in a pouch? My kids LOVE them and they are great for picnic lunches and meals on the go.  But they are flippin expensive! Why not make a bunch of these for my older kiddos?

I used the same concept, but the puree is much thicker.  I made applesauce as a base and then to one batch added strawberries and to another added peaches.  I labeled and tossed in freezer.  Just defrost night before like baby food (I can pull it out with their Uncrustables sandwiches!).  The kids LOVED the sauce I made and loved this idea!! Pardon the mess in the photos, the kitchen was a craze at this point.

I still had bananas, peaches, kiwi, and frozen mango leftover.  After making a couple smoothies (using apple juice to thin) I poured the rest in popsicle molds.  Dessert for kids that is simply the sugar naturally in the fruit.  Score!

Note, I didn't add breastmilk to the big kid stuff!  I can just picture them gagging at the thought right now! LOL!

So I went a little crazy and have made way too many cubes of food, since my little man has food allergies (for example I cannot feed him anything I added pears or carrots to) and doesn't enjoy being spoon fed.  I've been tossing the ice cube purees into TONS of other meals:

Spaghetti sauce and homemade Spaghetti-O's
They work great to add to smoothies (fruit tastes great and a good way to add a small amount of veggies to the smoothies)
Crock pot meals (like tator tot hot dish)