Thursday, February 21, 2013

Easy DIY Baby Food / Pouches

We are currently past (or in between, I guess) the baby food stage since Carsen is now 2.5, but she is a huge fan of the organic fruit & vegetable pouches. We love to use them when we're on-the-go as an easy, but still nutritious, snack. Sometimes if we're going somewhere fun and I know she's unlikely to to stop and eat a meal, I'll bring one of those pouches so that I know she at least got some kind of nutrition. If you've ever bought these pouches though, you know that they aren't cheap as every variety I've ever found is around $1.50 per pouch. If I buy 10 or so at a time to have on hand, I'm spending roughly $15 on pouches.

Since whole fruits and vegetables are much cheaper by quantity than the pouches, why not just buy the fruits and vegetables and skip the pouches? There are a couple of reasons. First, pouches are much more portable. They take up significantly less space in your bag than individual servings of different fruits and vegetables. They don't need to be cooked or refrigerated. They aren't at risk for squashing or bruising since they're already pureed - though if you tried really hard, they could potentially burst. AND they are suitable for eating in the car (if your child is able to handle a squeeze pouch with minimal supervision) whereas you might not hand your toddler a carrot or spinach leaf to munch on while in a moving vehicle.

What's a mom to do? Lucky for me our local eco-friendly, baby/mama-centered consignment boutique (that's what they call themselves) has started selling re-useable pouches that can be filled with your own food. Wait, let me clarify that. The store also sells NEW items, these are not re-usable as in "consigned" food pouches. {Ick.} They offer the best of both worlds - I get to buy my own organic produce for a fraction of the cost per quantity than pre-pouched food, and I can still serve it easily on-the-go in the convenient pouch form.

Originally I thought it seemed too time-consuming to make my own pureed fruits and vegetables, but I'm here to tell you that it's easy. Really. I already had everything in my kitchen that was needed, and in one 2-hour nap time I was able to make a variety of purees for weeks worth of pouches.

Here's my how-to...

What you need:
-Vegetable peeler (a knife will also do, but may be trickier)
-Mixing bowl
-Blender/food processor/hand blender/potato masher
-Ice cube trays
-Freezer bags
-Reusable pouches

1) Peel the fruit or vegetable if needed. I'll use apples as my example.

2) Chop into chunks

3) Place in a sauce pan or pot (depending on quantity) with 1/4-1/2" water

4) Cover and steam until soft

5) Place chunks and some of the steam water if desired into a mixing bowl. If you're using a food processor or blender you don't need the mixing bowl.

6) Use your implement of choice (I used a hand-blender which I really love) to puree the food.

7) Spoon small amounts of puree into ice cube trays and freeze until solid

8) Place frozen cubes into freezer bags, label, and return to freezer until needed. The individual cubes make it easy to pull a little bit of this and a little bit of that to make your own mixtures.

Some foods don't require peeling, like broccoli or spinach, and some foods don't require cooking like pears or blueberries. Other foods require nothing but scooping & freezing like Greek yogurt or canned pumpkin. You can also use frozen options which often eliminate the peeling and chopping steps - just thaw, steam and puree! If you have a baby who needs pureed food you can take small portions of your family dinners and puree them for later. So it's a slightly different process depending on what you're making, but the bottom line is that once the food is soft enough to be pureed then you just use your preferred method and you're all but done. It would be easy to do a big batch on a Sunday while your babes nap, or you could do smaller batches one night each week. 

For $5.99 a 3 lb. bag of organic apples made enough apple sauce to create 10+ pouches depending on how I mix them with other fruits and vegetables. The same number of store-bought pouches would cost me 2-3x that amount. As a one-income household, we'll be even happier about the savings once Reagan is ready for baby food in another 7-8 months and we're going through even more of it. 

For anyone who's interested, here are a few DIY baby food resources that I've found helpful:
- Top 100 Baby Purees by Annabel Karmel A great book that not only offers basic information and instructions for making baby food, but breaks down food recommendations by age and offers creative, baby-friendly mixtures and recipes. 
- Wholesome Homemade Baby Food A website that also gives great tips and advice for making baby food broken down by age.
- The Peaceful Mom blog A DIY baby food plan and free printable menu planner. Also an overall great blog for parenting and saving money and keeping an organized household.
- Pinterest as always :)

Leave me a comment if you have any questions or DIY baby food making advice!

No comments:

Post a Comment

I love hearing from you!