Friday, August 14, 2009

My Current Approach

I am really having a good time planning the Girl's menu these days. Making our own baby food has been pretty simple with a little planning and I think the cost is about the same (or less) as if I was buying the organic stuff in jars.

The gear:
- Baby Cubes
- ice cube trays
- Magic Bullet
- immersion blender
I've mentioned all these before, but they really are essentials at our house.

The "recipes":
- Baby and Toddler cookbook
- Cooking for Baby
- Babyfood 101
- Nurture Baby
You don't really need "recipes", but more for inspiration. Also, we were lucky enough to get a few cookbooks as gifts. You don't need to buy them, though - there is tons of stuff on the internets.

The process:
If I spend a few hours on a weekend, I can easily make enough food cubes to last the Girl for 2-4 weeks (depends if it is a FAVORITE food or merely a TOLERATED food).

I do buy organic produce when it is "recommended". Usually this is at a farmer's market (makes me feel better about spending the money) or at Whole Foods. Our farmer's markets in the Midwest rarely have a lot of fruit, but do have tons of veggies. (I also shop at our local Price Chopper and on Tuesdays they have 10% off organic produce - ask at your store!). Also, I use some frozen foods (mangos and peas at this time, but probably more during the winter).

I bake in the oven (potatoes, butternut squash), microwave steam (carrots, peas, zucchini) and cook on the stove top (most fruits).

I fill the Baby Cubes or ice cube trays with the pureed food, lay plastic wrap over the top and stack in the freezer for a day or 2 before removing. (Last time I didn't wait long enough and the center cubes weren't totally frozen - a mess!) Then, transfer each food to separate ziploc bags and I stash all of it in the bin in the bottom of my freezer.

I really like the Baby Cubes for the convenience of sending food to school, but if I were home all the time, I think ice cube trays (1 oz. cubes) would work better. A Baby Cube holds a 2oz. portion, and I generally give her about 3oz. of food per meal (3 times a day). It is my preference to mix up the foods - generally giving 2-3 different foods (1oz. each) per meal. I don't think she really cares ...

I find that the Ziploc Snap n'Seal 1 cup containers work great for transport- hold 3 ice cubes of food for a meal. At home, I just pull out the ice cubes and microwave them for about a minute in a ceramic ramekin. Easy!

We stopped rice cereal pretty quickly - too constipating. The Girl now gets 1oz. of juice (prune apple!) each day and 1 oz. of plums each day, which seems to help move things along. Ahem. We do use the oatmeal cereal to thicken fruits and veggies now that she will take more texture.

We added plain whole milk yogurt a few weeks ago and she loves it! I was getting a little lax on introducing foods every 3 days to watch for allergies ... I was vigilant at first, but after she didn't have any issues, I loosened up a bit. (As my pediatrician said - if you wait 3-5 days for every new food, she'll be 3 years old and you will still be checking things off the list!). That being said, I was cautious with things like milk and wheat, just in case. (No problems so far). I like the little portions of yogurt - she only eats about a tablespoon at a time, so it is less wasteful to use a tiny container for a few days than to open one large container and throw it out due to spoilage.

She started eating Ritz crackers at school, so I promptly went and bought the "healthy" version of Ritz in the health food section of our store. I know, I know - my mother thinks I am crazy. Makes me feel better, though. I find that half a graham cracker is easier for her to manage and she doesn't bite off such a large chunk. Puffs and Cheerios are fine, too, but she can't quite get them to her mouth yet, so for now, just pincer practice. Big sticks of cucumber are good for chewing, but certainly require supervision if she bites off a big chunk.

On the horizon ... I am holding off on meats, mainly because I don't want to deal with it yet. I got some quinoa and lentils that I will start adding, along with some whole wheat rotini noodles. I think whole wheat couscous would work well, too. I am loading up on fruits now while they are in season.

While you may be tempted to go hog-wild and fill your freezer with purees, I would advise making smaller batches. I have lots of purees still frozen and she can definitely take chunkier texture, so I am mixing cereal with everything to thicken it up. Also, be wary of freezing larger portions of certain fruits - like plums and blueberries - that might cause a poopy nightmare. I like to mix just 1 oz. of these fruits with a couple of ounces of apples or peaches, you know, just to balance things out!


I'm off ... my blender calls!

1 comment:

Bets said...

Sounds like the little one is about to try some foods this week that I haven't even had before. I don't even know what quinoa is! She's so fancy!