You can't put a price on the satisfaction derived from feeding and nurturing your little one with fresh, unprocessed food. Of course, making your own baby food is less expensive than buying commercial baby food, but doubly so when you set aside a portion of a family meal for the purées. Vitamix machines process hard-to-blend-textures, such as celery, chicken and asparagus, with ease. Here are some ideas for transforming meals into fresh baby food purées.
Commercial baby food's convenience comes at a cost: it contains additives and undergoes extensive heating, which decreases nutrients, in order to increase shelf life.
Baby food made from meals you make at home has more nutritional value than commercial products and no additives – you control the ingredients and can increase its shelf life indefinitely by freezing it.
- Steam fruits and vegetables before blending them to make them more digestible.
- Purée and freeze in-season vegetables so you don't have to rely on out-of-season options from the supermarket for a certain flavor your baby likes. For example, if your baby devours puréed squash and yams, purée and freeze them in fall and serve them in spring.
- A few drops of lemon juice in each batch of fruit or vegetable purée prevents browning.
- Adjust the consistency of the purées as needed with purified water.
- To smooth out fibrous or grainy purées, pass them through a mesh strainer lined with cheesecloth or filtration bag.
Food and Flavor Combinations
Babies have simple, undeveloped palates and don't respond well to salty, spicy additions – nor can they appreciate them. But keeping it simple doesn't mean you should settle for boring. Mix and match unseasoned whole foods to entice and develop your little one's burgeoning palate.
Make a homemade vegetable-chicken blend by processing diced chicken, and steamed carrots and kale. Combine carrots, potatoes, tomatoes, celery, beef and parsnips for a nutrient-packed baby beef stew.
To add a little fiber and whole grains to your baby's diet, go with brown rice. A blend of steamed tomatoes and brown rice makes a savory combination that fills your baby's belly without overworking it.
Everyone loves a good smoothie, so why not your little one? Recreate a classic red smoothie by blending 1 part each of apples and bananas with 2 parts each of yogurt, strawberries and raspberries. For a banana-mango version, combine 2 parts each of yogurt, banana and mango with 1 part each of apples and apricots.
Storing Homemade Baby Food
For easy storage, portion puréed leftovers into ice cube trays and freeze. Then pack the individual portions into heavy-duty freezer bags. For refrigerator storage, portion the purées into baby-food containers and keep them up to three days.