Everybody loves good food, even folks who can’t say so for themselves quite yet. For the following 101, we reached out to parents on HOMEGROWN’s Facebook page and asked for their—or, really, their bundles of joys’—favorite homemade baby food recipes. Below are their collected responses, with some great tips from HOMEGROWN members added in.
INGREDIENT COMBOS THAT GET TWO (TINY) THUMBS UP
• Sarah says: “My LO loved steamed kale and carrots together.”
• Virginia says: “Banana and avocado was a favorite mix of my youngest. He loved pumpkin, too! I roasted all the veggies and some of the fruits and then just pureed them. No special anything needed. I never did a super smooth puree, either, and he got a lot of things we ate as well.”
PREPARATION TIPS FROM BUSY PARENTS
• Danielle says: “I give my LO some things we are eating. I also use an ice cube tray and do bananas and sweet potatoes alone, so when we eat something she can’t eat, we can still get her something in her size portion, too. Makes it very easy to grab a block of some puree and heat it up then feed. I do pop them out of the tray and put them into a freezer bag.”
• Christine goes the ice cube route, too, and adds: “When frozen, I pop the cubes out and place into labeled containers. It's easy to take out three to four cubes each evening for the following day and defrost in the fridge. It is ready to go by breakfast time. You may want to leave some foods in larger chunks for when the baby gets a bit older and is ready for texture and finger food.”
• Amy says: “I'd blanch things that needed it, like green beans. Then just freeze. This seemed to soften the veggies enough that all I had to do was squash them with a fork. The ice cube trays are a great idea, but I had trouble cleaning them up afterward. I used little plastic containers instead.”
• Kate says: “Each Sunday night, I would make a batch of different types of fresh and frozen vegetables and fruits by steaming them in the microwave in a glass container, blending them right in the container with an immersion blender, and then doling them out into ice cube trays to pop into the freezer. The next day, I would label a plastic freezer bag with the vegetable’s name and cook date, add the frozen food cubes, and I had fresh food ready to go for my little girl every night when I got home. And breakfast was even easier. All I had to do was peel half of a banana and mash it up with a fork!" Read her full blog post here.
• Monica says: “With a toddler who begs me to play with her (even when I am playing with her), an infant who seems to need diaper changes every hour (what am I feeding him, anyway?), a house full of stuff to do (I need not mention all those little things that keep parents busy), etc., etc., etc., when am I taking the time to steam, boil, roast, mash, and puree? When I make everyone else's dinner. I'm going to be keeping my food processor on the counter, right next to the coffeemaker, so that if it's mango we're having for dessert tonight, it's mango the kid is getting for breakfast tomorrow. And as he gets older, he'll be able to add blended pasta, tomatoes, ground turkey, and the like, to his ever-growing palate.” Read her full blog post here.
THE I’M-ONLY-MAKING-ONE-DINNER CAMP
• Cheryl says: “I gave our baby what we were having, mashed with a fork.”
• Jeanne says: “Never premade meals. The meal was on the table. I used a baby food grinder to grind up whatever we were eating. I received the grinder as a baby shower gift, the most-used gift ever. Now, the grinder was a hand crank—nothing fancy 33 years ago. A friend tried to feed baby food to my daughter at 7 months, and she did not want anything to do with Gerber.”
MORE IDEAS FROM THE HOMEGROWN FLOCK
• Charlotte says: “When the kids were little chicks, I made their baby food at home, at first out of necessity, then by choice. My mom taught me how to can tomatoes and peaches, and she was the best bread baker you'd ever want to meet! I've taught all the kids to cook and fend for themselves, and one is going to culinary school in the fall.” Get to know Charlotte a little better.
• Want to can your own peaches? Matthew shows you how in his 101.
• Want to get your little ones in on the fun? Take your kids on a picking expedition, like the HOMEGROWN members below. (Thanks, Jon and Frank!) Learn more in the Agritourism 101 and locate farms near you using the Find Good Food page.
• For an even more hands-on project, the wonderfully named Lola Bloom, of DC's City Blossoms, walks you through what to plant with pint-sized farmers in her Edible Gardens for Kids 101.
• HOMEGROWN's own big sibling, Farm Aid, has put together a top-notch toolkit on transforming school cafeterias. Download the PDF and get started.
Got an ingredient combo to suggest? Post it below and keep the conversation rolling! You might also be interested in 101s on community building or seed starting, and you might consider joining the Earth Mamas and Papas: HOMEGROWN Parenting group. You can always find more things to plant, grow, cook, preserve, make, craft, and purée in the HOMEGROWN 101 library.
PHOTOS: [SHY BABY] CLARKMAXWELL/FLICKR CREATIVE COMMONS; [FOUR BABY FOODS] THE DABBLIST/FLICKR CREATIVE COMMONS; [ICE CUBE TRAY] SELBE B/FLICKR CREATIVE COMMONS; [GREEN FOOD] THE DABBLIST/FLICKR CREATIVE COMMONS; [GRINDER] ADAM HILLIKER/FLICKR CREATIVE COMMONS; [BLUEBERRY PICKING] JONATHAN SPEE; [APPLE PICKING] FRANK GIGLIO