Merciful God, You are great in compassion and Your tenderness for us is without measure. We ask You to give us today our daily bread, and also provide for the needs of all of Your hungry children around the world. Through Christ Your Son and Our Lord. Amen.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Homemade Baby Food


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.



Anonymous said...

Thanks so much for this post. I plan on making babyfood for our son. So many of my friends are actually making fun of me about it. I keep telling them it will provide me better control over his diet and my wallet. I'll be sending this link!

scmom (Barbara) said...

Anonymous -- you are so right. And don't let other people make you feel wrong about making baby food. Keep it to yourself if necessary. More than likely your friends feel guilty for not doing it themselves. Marketing is what leads us to believe that baby food is somehow better. Remember that marketing leads to more profit for baby food companies!

LauraSuz said...

I book marked this page. I didn't make homemade baby food with MaryGrace but can see me doing it with baby number two. Thanks for all the links. Great post!

Sara said...

I think I can count the number of jars I bought on one hand----with 6 kids! I bought them for convenience at the beach when others would be cooking, for the first child or two, and the babies didn't like them when they were used to home-cooked babyfood!

There's just no reason to buy that stuff. Frankly, I didn't even make much babyhood because I was nursing and didn't start solids until they were usually old enough to eat the tiny peas whole.

Sara said...

Didn't make much baby Food, not babyhood!

The auto-spellcheck is making us all look stupid.

scmom (Barbara) said...

Thanks, Laura.

I bought a fair share of baby food, but then I got smart. Babies can so often eat what has been prepared for dinner. Marketing has convinced us that they need their own food. What do folks think people did before Gerber?

Jamie Jo said...

This post is too late....Bridget is a big girl now!

I felt really guilty this time for not making "my own baby food" for a while.

SO I'm one of those stupid ones who is fine with buying the jars. Easy. Much easier than making my own, even though it's only a couple steps, it's less those couple steps when you buy it. It's actually more than a couple steps.

I was ready to make my own baby food then, my husband looked at me and said "YOU are going to make your own babyfood?" After that, I decided not to do it and felt the big guilt trip go away!! He didn't want me to add more to my plate, which was already pretty full. Heck, it's hard enough getting a decent meal on the table when baby is little. Then adding the time to feed her food. That always is hard at first, after nursing all the time, to add the time to feed her food.

So, yes, I'm one of those stupid ones, but I'm fine with that.

scmom (Barbara) said...

Not stupid...if you can afford it, then it's not an issue. It's the folks who really can't afford it and are trying to stretch their food budgets so far -- they NEED to make baby food.

Jamie Jo said...

I know, but I do feel like a loser because I buy it, on one hand and on the other, I'm ok with it, it's too much pressure to make it and freeze it, when at that time when baby is littler, I barely have time to pee!!

Oh, Faith cute as a button!

Barb, sfo said...

I didn't use much babyfood with my kids, but I confess that it wasn't an issue of looking for a healthier or cheaper alternative. I was just GROSSED OUT by that baby glop. LOL! Regular applesauce works just as well as baby applesauce. I had one of those cheap food mills and I'd toss ziti (with my homemade sauce, seasoned as it was) in there and grind it up. My mother was scandalized. The pediatrician said, "go for it."
My kids always (and at early ages) preferred table food to Gerber glop.
Cute, cute picture of baby Faith!

Heidi said...

I loved this post! When I had our first baby, my husband was in grad school full-time and we decided for me to stay home with our baby, cutting our income by over 75%. Homemade baby food was such a blessing to us! I don't fault people who use the jarred food but we personally couldn't afford it.