Making, Storing, and Freezing Homemade Baby Food
So you've made the decision to make your own baby food. But there is still so much to consider! You'll need to plan and practice on how to implement this new activity into your daily schedule.
What will work best for your family and lifestyle? What kind of equipment might you need for both making and for storing? I want to walk you through some of the options you have for equipment, and how to work cooking and making homemade baby food into the daily or monthly schedule without feeling overwhelmed.
What kinds of tools and equipment might you need for cooking and storing baby food? Here's a breakdown of some useful options for getting started.
Baby Food Processor
A baby food processor is a specialized product created merely for the use of making baby food. It's a very small food processor. These processors are great for making small batches of food, or making on demand meals. I found it to be a very useful item in the household. But if you do not have the time in your schedule to make foods on demand you may want to forgo this product and look into a full size food processor or blender for large batches of food.
A good old blender!
A blender can be a great option for large and small batches of baby food. For one, most of us already have a blender on hand! Do make sure your blender is able to puree foods down to a very smooth consistency for infants. Otherwise you may end up wasting a lot of food when straining the foods down to a smoother consistency.
Regular food processors are an excellent option for large batches of homemade baby food. For my second time around, with baby number two, my schedule was more hectic and I found my large food processor to be a fantastic time saver in making great big batches of baby food. And you'll have it for all sorts of other uses to boot!
Baby Food Storage Systems
There are several products out there that are specifically made to freeze and store baby foods in one to two serving sizes. A great option if you're looking to simply stow and go. Although these will require an investment up front and you may need to buy several kits in order to store monthly batches.
Ice Cube Trays
I found ice cube trays to be the most cost effective and easy solution to storing and freezing homemade baby food. You simply fill the trays with your homemade foods and pop them in the freezer. Once they are frozen you can pop the cubes into a zip lock freezer bag or something similar and simply thaw what you need in a small bowl before meal time. Here's a tip - make sure and buy the stackable trays with covers (and BPA free!).
Instead of freezing you can also decide to can the foods yourself just like regular jarred baby food, minus any preservatives. All you need is a very large pot or pressure cooker for the canning process, and some smaller sized mason jars such as those used for jellies. There is a small investment up front in mason jars, but they really don't cost too much and can be used over and over again.
What Will Work Best For Your Family?
It's really important to figure out a system for making, storing, and/or freezing homemade baby food that works for your family and lifestyle.
Cooking Individual Meals
I started out cooking individual meals when I first started making my own baby food. Each morning I made a fruit based breakfast puree in my baby food processor and fed my infant straight from the processor container. For lunch and dinner, I generally made for my daughter whatever we were having for dinner. I would make a separate packet of foods, sans any sort of seasoning or ingredients that could potentially upset a little one's tummy. I had small oven bowls that I would put veggie and meat mixtures into and poach or roast for making purees. I would make enough for both dinnertime that night and left overs for lunch the next day. At meal time I would simply pop whichever foods were on hand into the baby food processor
and feed from the processor bowl.
Making Large Batches Of Baby Food
For the more time challenged household, your busy schedule would most likely call for large batches of baby food making. This will call for a large blender or food processor and make large portions of foods all at once to store for the coming weeks or months. Freeze or can your foods and label with dates and titles.
Freezing Large Batches Of Baby Food - freezing your homemade baby food is probably the easiest option available, although you'll need some freezer space to hold all of your meals and entrees. And you'll need to remember to take out foods in time for thawing before meal times.
Canning Baby Food - although this option does take a considerable bit more effort, I like canning for the fact that the foods can be stored for up to a year. And there is no need for thawing. Just pop open a can and feed straight from the jar. And you can reuse the jars!
To can baby foods, make your large batches of baby food the way you normally would. First boil your jars and lids to sterilize. Fill your mason jar (I like jelly jar sized or smaller for baby food) with a little bit of space at the top for expansion. about 1/2" to 1/4" from the top lip of the jar. Place the lids back on the jars and put them in your canning pot (could easily use a large soup pot) or pressure cooker and cover with water. Boil the jars for several minutes to create a vacuum seal. Remove the jars from the water and let them sit at room temperature. You will know of the seal has been made if the lid is depressed in the middle. That seal is important for making sure the food stays fresh inside. Keep them stored in your pantry for up to one year.
Happy baby food making! I do hope this helps you decide which method of making and storing baby food will work for you and your baby.
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