From scratch, healthy and cost efficient.
To cook, or not to cook. Store-bought or not store-bought. This is just another question added to the never ending dilemmas of motherhood. Recent moms are tired, sleep deprived and constantly being judged, let´s not add more expressions to the equation.
It is true that store bought baby food is getting better and meeting more strict safety guidelines. Nevertheless, and as far as I am concerned, I do prefer to feed my baby with fresh ingredients rather than a mix of ingredients that were probably cooked and assembled even before my baby was born. Actually cooking baby food, it’s not difficult nor takes that much time, at all.
Let me share with you what has been working for my family, and helped me keeping my sanity, but also my confidence about my baby nutrition (for the first stage, usually beginning at 6 months, and regarding all foods approved by her pediatrician).
- Each week, while I’m planning the weekly meals (ok, let’s be honest sometimes I don’t plan, I just think of it when I’m already at the grocery store, but one day I’ll be that organized!), I figure out what vegetables/fruits I can cook for the entire family, so I don’t have to add extra products to my shopping cart. Sweet potatoes, carrots, green beans work for all, right?
- I cook baby food about 2 to 3 times a week (and enjoy the remaining cooking baby food time days, with some extra time for myself, usually hidden in the bathroom with a piece of chocolate on each hand!);
- I use a 3 tray steamer (life changing tool, ladies!) that allows me to steam three batches of different veggies/fruits at a time in less than 30 minutes.
- Then I blend, each veggie/fruit separately until I get a really smooth puree and I adjust the consistency by adding some breastmilk or water;
- Once I get the puree ready, I store it by filling a freezer cube tray with 1.5 ounce portions. Freeze it overnight and then transfer the portions to a sealed zip-top bag (where I write the date and name of the food);
- To serve, I just thaw and warm, add some healthy fat with a little bit of organic olive oil, and extra deliciousness with some herbs;
- This way I get 3 different flavors that I can serve simply, or mix and match for extra flavors, and works for an entire week.
Here are some suggestions that have been working successfully for us:
- Sweet potato and carrot puree with cinnamon
- Cauliflower and pear puree with nutmeg
- Sweet potato and spinach puree with cumin
- Oat and apple puree with cinnamon
- Black beans and mango puree with cumin
- Avocado and brown rice cereal puree with mint
I truly rely on the quote “We are what we eat”, so having a method that nourishes my baby with fresh and nutrient packed whole foods with no added salt, sugar or strange ingredients, and still easy and even cheaper than store-bought food, is certainly a win-win scenario for me. Nevertheless, whenever we need, we surely use store-bought food (I have just used it for about 2 weeks during our last vacations). Just carefully read the labels, try to make it organic and go guilt free.
You are the mom, your baby’s super hero, Chef or not that much, whatever you decide, nourish it with love and that will certainly be the best.