I recently spent a Saturday afternoon making baby food. I’m currently only 20-some weeks pregnant, so this is some EARLY preparation for my new little one. But I had an itch to do something really productive and I had scored 8 bags of baby carrots from Aldi for only 49 cents each!!!
So I threw the carrots in a pot of water and got started. (Don’t be overwhelmed by the number of steps–I really broke down the process. Most of the steps don’t take that long at all.) I used carrots in this example, but this is the same process you would use for most vegetables.
I boiled those carrots until they were nice and soft. You really want to take the time to do this step all the way because it really aids in the pureeing process. The softer your veggies are cooked, the easier they will be to puree to a smooth consistency.
Next I pulled out my Ninja food processor and got to work! I used a slotted serving spoon to transfer the carrots from the pot of water to the food processor bowl, instead of simply draining the whole pot, because I wanted to retain some of the cooking liquid in the transfer. This extra liquid helps the puree become smooth and not too thick. Alternatively, you could always add some water later if needed, but this was my quick and easy solution.
I really recommend that you have a good-quality food processor if you want to make homemade baby food. With my first child, I used a family member’s food processor and it worked OK for softer veggies like squash, but it just couldn’t cut it with green beans. They turned out mealy no matter how long I let the food processor run. My son wouldn’t eat them and the whole batch ended up being thrown away because my idea of incorporating them into spaghetti sauce instead didn’t really go over well with the hubby!
Next I transferred my carrot puree into silicone ice-cube trays, or containers specifically made for homemade baby food like my square lime green one above, for freezing. Regular ice-cube trays work just as well.
I have several silicone ice-cube trays from Ikea, pictured in the top picture under Step 3. They come in several fun shapes–I have 2 each of stars, flowers, and fish. The flowers are my favorite for freezing baby food because they are the most compact shape and yet hold a decent amount of baby food. The stars don’t lend themselves as well to fitting compactly into a freezer bag, but I can see that the spread-eagle shape will lend itself well to quick defrosting.
All in all, the best thing about the Ikea ice-cube trays is that they make small portions of baby food that both freeze and defrost quickly. The silicone material lends itself to quick removal of the frozen food from the tray. Because of the smaller size making the food defrost quicker and the ease of popping out the frozen food, I actually prefer these trays over my larger baby food freezing tray which cost me $15. The Ikea trays only cost 99 cents each!! You can’t beat that!
I repeated Steps 2 and 3 until I had pureed all the cooked carrots and transferred all the puree into the trays for freezing.
If you run out of space in your ice-cube trays for freezing, like I did, just set aside the remaining puree until your first batch in the freezer has frozen.
Here’s how much I had left over after filling all my trays the first time:
I wrapped all my trays in plastic wrap and stuck them flat in the freezer. Be careful not to stick them in at an angle because if you’ve done a good job pureeing the veggies, you’ll have some run out of the trays. Don’t ask me how I know.
This is the easiest part…I just waited several hours for my freshly made baby food to freeze. This is the part where you can feel free to relax or get something else done during this step. 🙂 I spent that time doing some quick cleanup from the previous steps.
Then I retrieved my frozen carrot puree from the freezer and popped it all out of the trays and put the cubes, stars, fishes, etc., in gallon freezer bags labeled as carrots with the date.
Last, I just had to refill the trays with the remainder of the pureed carrots, freeze them, and pop them out to put into bags like the first frozen batch.
BUT Is it worth it??
You might ask if it was worth it for me to spend an entire afternoon just to make homemade baby food. Let me break down the cost for you:
8 bags of baby carrots, at 49 cents each = $3.92
Each bag of carrots was 1 pound, giving me roughly 8 pounds of carrot puree. One 4 ounce jar of organic, no additive baby food goes for around $1 on sale. You need 4 jars to make one pound. This means I made the same as 32 jars of carrots.
32 4-oz. jars of carrots, at $1 each = $32
I’m no rocket scientist, but that’s a pretty amazing savings of $28.08!!! That’s a whopping 88% saved!!
And on top of the savings, you really can’t beat the satisfaction and peace of knowing that you know exactly what is going into your little one’s food.
Would you let me know what you’ve done to save money on your baby’s food while still giving them something healthy? We can all benefit from each other’s insights and ideas!
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