Saturday, June 9, 2012

Homemade baby food

I try really hard not to take being an at-home mom for granted.  I was blessed to have my grandmother live next door when I was growing up, so I had her home all the time. My mother-in-law stayed home. My husband and I were very lucky, and I feel very blessed to be able to stay home with my kids.  I believe it's a privileged, one that we make sacrifices for.

Since we only have one income, I assigned myself the designated money-saver of the family.  I do things as cheaply as I can, as long as I can make healthy decisions for the family that way.  You may or may not have read my ramblings about coupons and my 5% off at Target (which, by the way, I need to move the $22 I saved today over to savings, whoop!).  I breastfeed primarily because I believe it's best, but a side bonus is that we don't have to buy formula.  We never go out to dinner without coupons these days too!

One of my tricks to save money is making my own baby food.  When RJ started solids, a good friend sent me to check out, a great website devoted to making and introducing solids to your baby.  I did about half and half with RJ, I am hoping to do mostly homemade for T. gives instructions, but I decided to take photos and write up a step-by-step for any of my friends and family that might want to try out making baby food for their little ones.

I bought two sweet potatoes.  I totally spaced on writing down how much I spent for them, but, according to my friend Google, they average 2/3 a lb apiece. I *believe* I got them for $1.98/lb. So 1&1/3 lb would be $2.63.

This might be tedious to you if you've baked potatoes before, but I actually never had before baby food making, so I am going to include the instructions.  First I washed the potatoes really well.  Then I stabbed them all over with a fork to poke lots of holes.
In case that didn't make sense (haha).

I wrapped both in foil and baked them in my convection oven at 400 degrees (425 for a regular oven) for 45 minutes. When they cooled off enough, I split them open down the middle and made sure they were cooked through.
 I scooped out the cooked "meat" of the potatoes and put them into the food processor.  I didn't have this wonderful invention when RJ was a baby, I had a 20 year old blender and it worked just fine. I did one potato at a time.

I added freshly pumped breast milk to the potatoes. Note - if you are making baby food in big batches, which is what these instructions are for, you cannot use milk from your frozen stash.  It isn't safe to defrost and then re-freeze breast milk!  Also, if you aren't nursing, you can use freshly prepared formula or just water to thin your puree. For my whole batch I used about 3.5 ounces. Run the food processor until the potatoes are a smooth consistency.

mmmm, tasty!

That's it!  All that's left to do is store it.  There are containers out there specially made for storing homemade baby food.  I use ice trays. I got them 2 for $1 at Dollar Tree. They stack well in the freezer, so they don't take up a bunch of space, and the cubes of food pop right out.  Even better, one cube is roughly one ounce, so you know exactly how much you've got and exactly how much to defrost. I spooned the potatoes in, making sure not to overfill.

I double wrap  my ice cube trays with plastic wrap.  First I wrap from the top, then I take a second sheet and lay it on the counter, set the tray on the sheet, and wrap from the bottom. Stack them in the freezer and they're good to go!

Gerber 1st foods sweet potatoes are 99 cents for 5 ounces (2, 2.5 oz containers).  That is 19.8 cents per ounce. I made 24 ounces for that $2.63 we estimated at the beginning of the post.  That is 10.9 cents per ounce. And the taters were super yummy, according to somebody:

Only a taste to start with
Mmmmm! Yummy taters!
T isn't quite ready for even a whole ounce at a time, but he ate up the little taste I gave him.  I'm keeping a few little tastes in the fridge for the next couple of days, and the rest is going into a freezer stash.  I recommend using up your baby food within one month, although the "maximum" storage time is about three months.