Homemade Mama {Making Your Own Baby Food}

Ok mammas, we are talking baby food!  With this post, I want to take you through the ins and outs of my baby food adventures.  The time spent, lessons learned, and the reward at the end of the day.

Homemade Mama

First, a little back story….When I was pregnant with Kade, there were two things I had high hopes for: breastfeeding and making my own baby food.  I wanted to experience the feeling of being able to give my newborn bundle of joy his nutrition, help save a few dollars in our seemingly maxed out budget, and prove to myself that I could actually do it.

A month into Kade’s little life, lots of trips to the lactation consultant, and a stay in the hospital due to a blue baby, my nursing dreams had come to an end.  I fought, I fought really hard to keep things going, but they just wouldn’t.  Maybe it was the stress of almost losing him that was adding to my existing supply issues, or maybe it was his weak little body that couldn’t muster up the strength to latch.  Either way, it was over.  After a case of the baby blues and losing something that I wanted to hold on to so badly, I soon found something that gave me such a feeling of fulfillment.  A few months down the road, I’d finally accepted what wasn’t going to be and moved on with the thought that everything happens for a reason.  At around the 5 month mark I knew that baby food was in our future and boy oh boy how excited I was.  The same full, happy heart that nursing him gave me in his first few weeks had finally made it’s way back.  Not only was I saving our family TONS of money, but there was so so SO much more that I didn’t even realize would come along with it.  It all came with that feeling of validation I had lost months back.  When you lose the opportunity to breastfeed, you can feel deflated to say the least. I felt like a failure.  To be able to provide him with wholesome, homemade food for his growing little body months down the road was more fulfilling than I’d ever imagined.

I started this crazy fun adventure with a little PLANNING AND PREP!  When the day had finally come, the day our pediatrician gave us the go ahead on solids, we knew we would have to start slowly.  I spent the next week or so planning because I mean really, there was only so much time making carrots for his first week was going to take up!  I used that built up excitement to kinda sorta obsess, healthily obsess like the new mom “I want to live and breathe my new baby” type of obsessing. 🙂  Isn’t that what all the moms do?!  Over this period, I came across lots of useful information and products (and some not-so-useful info and products…).

 Absolute Must Haves:

  • OXO Baby Food Freezer Tray – I absolutely love these!  With fourteen 3/4 ounce portions and it’s handy slide on top these trays pack a punch! First, I love love LOVE the slide on top!  Being able to stack multiple trays at once in anything from tiny freezers to large ones makes it super convenient to do large batches of baby food at a time.   I also love its design!  Unlike regular ice cube trays (which I’ve tried using once and only once), these are rounded on the bottoms making popping the frozen portions out really easy.  The fun, modern design adds that extra happy to the baby food process as a whole because, lets face it, cooking with pretties is way better than cooking with not so pretties!
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  • Gallon Size Freezer Bags – And good ones, at that!  Keeping the theme of making bulk baby food batches in mind, a really good freezer bag is key.  I love the Ziploc slider top gallon freezer bags.  The ease of zipping it open, grabbing a few cubes, zipping it closed and throwing it back in the freezer is such a time saver!  Being a busy mamma with a baby on my hip, toddler running around crazy and an eleven year old needing help with homework every little bit of saved time helps!
  • Universal Steamer with Lid – THIS was my most beneficial tool.  A universal steamer is the absolute way to go when making your own baby food.  It’s ability to adapt to 2, 3 and 4 quart sauce pans is the best and the fact that steaming is one of the best ways to prepare baby food makes it well worth the money spent.
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  • WholesomeBabyFood.com – Bottom line is that we don’t come with a sixth sense as to how to prepare baby food the absolute best way, which is why a great place of resource is crucial. This website was an absolute lifesaver for me.  It covers anything and everything for making food for baby.  A one stop site is so much easier than thumbing through cookbooks or that Pinterest board that leads you to tons of separate websites.
  • Food Processor – Great news is that most of us have one of these!  It makes pureeing all that food for baby simple and quick, something any mom can appreciate!

Absolute “Really Don’t Needs”:

  • Baby Food Maker – I’ll be the first to admit, this sucker was the one and only thing I absolutely had to have on my baby registry.  With the excitement of planning on making all of my own baby food I just knew this was my golden ticket to success…not so much ladies.  I can say that it does exactly what it’s supposed to, steams, purees and even boils BUT it only does so in teeny tiny portions.  I’m talking like, maybe make one single meal, possibly two per batch. If you’re like I was with Kade, a working momma with only the weekends to prepare; Or even like I was with Kellan, a stay at home mom with three little ones running around and only nap times to prepare, tiny portions just won’t do.  I’m the type of person that wants to spend one entire Saturday buying, cooking, and freezing and have enough food for the next few months or so, and this wasn’t cutting it.
  • A TON of Free Time – I know the whole making your own baby food thing can be a tad intimidating, especially if you work, but trust me when I say that anyone can do it!  With Kade, I worked a full-time job and was running a photography business on the weekends.  At times it seemed so much easier to just go buy a ton of jarred baby food and call it a day, but all it took was one Saturday a month.  Two half days, if you’d prefer.

Next up is the fun part!  Actually making your baby food!  {I’m going to insert here that planning is key.  Go ahead and get everything together, have it all ready and waiting for all that baby food.  You won’t regret it, promise!} This part is simple! Clean, chop, steam, puree! I started my baby food adventure with Kade, setting aside one day a weekend, once or twice a month shopping, cooking and storing.  With Kellan, life was way more hectic and we fit in making baby food into a few half days.  Don’t let a busy work schedule take this away from you, I promise that no matter how overwhelming it seems it’s totally doable.

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Like I mentioned earlier, we started small with what our doctor recommended, but soon I found myself being chef to baby.   What started out as sweet potato and carrots soon turned into things like chicken and brown rice or apple peach puree (WAY tastier than it sounds)!  Before I knew it, I was cooking things for Kade that I as an adult had never tried.  Butternut squash, avocado, cauliflower….so many things that he as a teeny tiny infant was eating that I’d never imagined tasting.  Our Sunday mornings were spent in the kitchen, whipping up batches of baby food, taste testing for the both of us, and sharing some pretty special moments together.

Now, if you’re doing as I did and cooking in bulk (or in other words cooking for more than one meal at a time), you’ll need something to do with all this food.  Remember that list I gave ya earlier?  This is where the freezer trays and ziplocs come in!  Divvy up your purees into their trays and freeze.  Once everything is all nice and frozen, pop those cubes out and into a good gallon sized freezer bag making sure to label it with the date you prepared it.  And there ya go!  You’ve got your self a pretty good stash of baby food all frozen and ready reheat and serve to baby!

On to my favorite part, the reward!  Y’all theres is SO much reward to making your own baby food!

  • It’s easy on the budget.  Bottom line is, a new baby is expensive.  Why spend the extra money on jarred baby food from the grocery store when you can save TONS by putting in a little extra effort?!  For around $5 I made close to 30, yes THIRTY days worth of meals for Kellan when he was 6 months old.  Carrots, apples and peas…I can remember that batch like it was yesterday (I was pretty proud of my frugality)!
  • You know EXACTLY what is going into your baby’s food.  When making your own baby food, your’e the boss.  You decide what your buying to cook, what is going in and what is staying out of his food.  As a mama of an allergy baby, this alone is worth the extra effort.
  • It’s good for the planet!  Just think about the amount of packaging and jars you’re not throwing out as compared to buying jarred baby food.  In two month’s time, you’ll use a handful of freezer bags that can be reused if you want to be super earth friendly. I’d say you deserve a pat on the back on Earth Day. 😉
  • It gives you the warm and fuzzies.  You know, that feel good feeling.  At the end of the day, when you step back and look at what YOU have done: all the planning and prep, the hours spent steaming and pureeing, the gallons of bags tucked away in your freezer just waiting on dinner time. You’ll have such a full heart.

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My experience is this:  I wouldn’t have it any other way.  As a mama that didn’t get to breastfeed her two, one that was living on a budget that was seemingly maxed out, and who liked a good challenge, I would say this has been one of my favorite, most rewarding things of their first years.  Like that experience of nursing I missed out on, I was able to provide my boys with their nutrition, their strength, and their health.  To know at the end of the day that my boys have not had one bite of baby food out of a jar is selfishly satisfying.  The bottom line is that it just made me happy.  For so many reasons, I loved the feeling it gave me.  I took on the challenge, proved to myself that I could actually do it and also gave my loves the best I possibly could.

Did you make your own baby food? Why or why not?

 

 

 

 

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