The Frugal Baby: Do-it-Yourself Baby Food
It so annoys me when people insist it costs hundreds of thousands, nearly a million dollars to bring a child to adulthood. That’s a bunch of hooey! If you can be frugal so can your baby and there is no better way to start than to make your own baby food.
Being a health conscious person you realize you are what you eat. For this reason you try your best not to put things into your body which even rocket scientists would have a hard time pronouncing. So, why are you buying those tiny and costly jars of baby food with ingredients better served to robots? It is time you remember your baby needs real food too, the natural stuff, the stuff you grow in your garden and not red food color #53, dextrose-whatever andmonosodium-whozit. What you need to do is make your own baby food. Not only will this give your child a better start in life but it will ease the strain in the pocket. Store bought baby food can be expensive. Hang on for a lesson in do-it-your-self baby food.
The Frugal baby: do-it-yourself baby food
The first foods pediatricians tell you to give to your baby are the single ingredient vegetables and fruits. This is to give the child the chance to show any allergies to food, one at a time. Since you have an abundance of fresh veggies you’ve grown in your garden what could be easier than steaming a washed, peeled and diced carrot, potato, turnip or sweet potato then mashing it with a fork or letting the food processor do its thing? The vegetable will be a smooth consistency after only a few pulses, much like the jarred stuff, and your baby gets the real stuff with no added sugar, starches or anything he shouldn’t have.
Much the same goes for peas, green beans, corn, squash, pumpkin, tomato and virtually any vegetable you may have on hand, growing in your very own garden–or a neighbor who hands them over the fence to you– or you can use the fruits and veggies you bought from a farmer’s stand. Fruits as well could be steamed or cooked in very little water until tender and mashed or processed. There is probably no kid around who would not love homemade apple sauce with a tiny touch of cinnamon. Even if you don’t think he would like it with the cinnamon, have him try it. Cinnamon has been proven to regulate blood sugar levels, always a good thing no matter what age you are. This way you can get the baby used to the taste early.
Mashed banana, pear, peach, blueberries, cantaloupe, grapes and strawberries are all fruits easily mashed and served to baby even without cooking. The best thing is all these would be natural with no added anything. What could be better for baby than fresh and organic homemade baby food?
Make only as much baby food as the child will eat at a sitting. For the very small child this could be as little as a couple of tablespoons. That being the case you can make larger quantities and freeze the baby food in ice cube trays. After the food cubes freeze place them in labeled freezer bags. When hunger strikes baby you only take out one or two cubes for each meal, place in microwave proof dish and nuke for about 30 seconds. Make certain you test for temperature before feeding baby. Keep a ready supply of food cubes in the freezer for quick anytime meals and half the stress of feeding baby is gone. Additionally, in a pinch, these food cubes could be used to add a bit of extra nutrition and taste to soups, rice and/or noodle dishes, casseroles or stews, those meant for adults. The baby need not know.
For the advanced baby who has already mastered the single ingredient, next would come a combination such as chicken and rice or beef and noodle–oldies but goodies. Not only are these nutritious but easy to make. You could use some leftover chicken from your own roast chicken dinner and some already cooked rice. Put these in a blender or food processor with a bit of broth or water until a smooth consistency and that’s all it takes.
To make a chicken and rice dinner from scratch, dice half a chicken breast and stir-fry it in a bit of chicken or vegetable broth until cooked through. Add one cup of broth and allow this to come to a rolling boil. Then add a half cup of rice and cook on low for twenty minutes or until the rice is cooked but still moist. Allow this to cool and process it until the appropriate consistency. Again this makes more than a very young child can eat in one sitting so freeze in ice cube trays for later use. And don’t forget to include a bit of a vegetable for added nutrition.
This same method can be used with virtually any food, beef, liver, veal, lamb, turkey and fish. The second ingredient could easily be switched to potato, regular or sweet, noodles or a vegetable of choice. If you need ideas just look down the baby food aisle at the supermarket. Experiment and have a bit of fun creating new taste sensations your child will surely love better than the fake stuff.
To get the older child used to flavors you and the others in the family are used to, such as seasonings you use to cook family meals, simply add tiny bits of seasoning like basil, oregano, garlic or cilantro to the baby food. The more tastes a baby is exposed to when young the more likely he will be to try new foods as he grows older. Having children who refuse to try new things is one of the biggest complaints parents have about their kids, so start yours off right by having him try everything.
When the child is old enough for sharing whatever you prepare for the rest of the family, and yet before he is capable of chewing properly, you could actually take a bit of the dinner you made for everyone else and process it slightly, leaving it a bit chunky. This way he can get used to “real” dinner with the family and still have it “age appropriate”. Don’t worry about what dinner actually is. Even homemade Beef Stroganoff, baked ziti and mac and cheese can be processed for a baby. Just as long as you cook with good natural ingredients for your whole family, then baby can have it also.
Now that you have the ability to make real, all natural, nutritious baby food using vegetables you’ve grown yourself, not only will your child be delighted with dinner but you will no longer break the bank buying all those jars of chemical ridden, overly processed baby food. Think of all the jars you won’t have to drag down to the recycle center. Or worse, if you don’t recycle, you won’t have to throw any away. See? Even the planet benefits from you making your own baby food, so go on and try it. Baby will be so happy and mommy and daddy, too.
Glory Lennon is a frugal homemaker, avid gardener and accomplished writer on the web and for print media. When she’s not at the keyboard writing a novel, short story or about the plant of the day, you can find her at Glory’s Garden or in the backyard where she loves to spend time with her flowers