Faith was a little too old for baby food in this picture, but she was young, and so sweet. Anyway, she ate plenty in her day..
I know what you're thinking, and no, I'm not pregnant. Sadly, I'm way beyond being able to get pregnant. I'm not making baby food myself, but I certainly have made a lot of it in all my years of babies.
The reason that I started thinking about it again is an article Doug read to me from the newspaper the other day. He said there is a new phenomenon that occurs at grocery stores between 11:30 p.m. and about 1 a.m. on the last day/first day of each month. Apparently if one receives food stamp or WIC money, the money is transferred to ones "account" at midnight on the first of the month. The recent phenomenon, which has been noticed and documented by grocery stores, is that parking lots fill up at around 11:30 p.m. on the last day of the month and are empty again by 1 a.m. on the first day of the month. There are enough folks out their shopping at that hour that grocery stores have altered their stocking patterns and plan ahead for extra employees. Because money is so tight, many families have run so low on groceries that they simply can not wait one more day to fill the cupboards, and so they go grocery shopping at midnight.
The article got me thinking about baby food when the writer noted one particular couple who were shopping at a Wal-Mart with their cart loaded with Gerber baby food and Cream of Wheat. I applaud these folks for spending their allotment on baby as there are plenty out there who would load up on food that is for everyone except baby. But Gerber baby food is convenience food. And Cream of Wheat is top-of-the line breakfast food. Sadly most folks don't know that. They think Gerber is the only way to feed baby.
I got to thinking about how so many people have no idea how to go about making baby food, and they certainly have no idea how easy, or inexpensive it can be. With a couple of sweet potatoes, a butternut squash, a bag of carrots, a bag of frozen peas, and a bag frozen green beans you have vegetables for a couple weeks, depending on how old baby is. A bag of apples, a couple ripe bananas, a jar or two of peaches -- fruit for a couple weeks. And baby can eat regular oatmeal and even cooked white rice if it's made properly -- two choices which are much less expensive than Cream of Wheat.
What people tend to forget is that baby food is just like grown up food without seasoning, pureed to a nice, smooth, swallowable-without-teeth consistency. If mama is making steamed carrots for her family for dinner, she is making baby food minus a few short steps. By peeling and slicing a whole bag of carrots instead of just the five or six her family needs, she can go through the whole process for making baby food without hardly doing any extra work. Once the baby food is made, she can portion it out into plastic ice cube trays (just a few bucks) and freeze them. Once it is frozen solid, she pops the cubes out into a ziploc bag and then can just take out and heat up as may cubes as baby will eat.
I did a quick search on the internet and found this website which gives very good instructions for making homemade baby food. If you have a food processor, or immersion blender, making baby food can't be easier. You can also use a food mill (like this, or even an inexpensive one like this). This page of the website gives detailed recipes for each vegetable or fruit, and even for meats, teething biscuits and finger foods. The same website gives instructions for making inexpensive baby cereal -- so easy to do with a blender or processor.
Looking at all that great information makes me anxious for the day when I can teach my own daughter, or daughters-in-law to make food for their infants. I wish that mothers and fathers using food stamps and other food assistance programs had mentors who could show them alternatives to buying expensive baby food. Sadly, so many were raised with convenience foods and don't know how to cook very basic foods.