How To: DIY Instant Baby Food Is Easier Than You Think

DIY Instant Baby Food Is Easier Than You Think

DIY Instant Baby Food Is Easier Than You Think

When it comes to your baby and your time, nothing but the best and most efficient will do. These high standards carry through every aspect of your life as a new parent, from diapers to strollers and especially to food.

Luckily, making your own baby food isn't as complicated as it sounds. It's also a great way to keep prepared vegetables on hand so mom and dad (whichever you may be) can easily add a healthy and quick boost to your smoothies, soups, and more.

Most parents are put off from making their own food for their babies because making puréed veggies from scratch is quite time-consuming. The solution to this problem is to freeze your baby food into ice cube trays, then defrost and use when needed.

Use Sealed Ice Cube Trays

I recommend using sealed ice trays, which keeps the puréed food from absorbing odors and flavors that may be lingering in the freezer. (As for me, I use extra large Joie ice cube trays at home, but there are other lidded brands and sizes available that you can use.)

Image via Kitchen Stuff Plus

However, don't fret if sealable ice cube trays aren't in your budget. You can just as easily wrap a regular ice cube tray in plastic wrap or use a large, resealable plastic bag. If you are environmentally-conscious and dislike using disposable plastic, you can also use reusable plastic containers.

Why Puréed Vegetables?

When your baby's taste buds are learning about the wonderful world of food and textures at four to six months, it's best to stay away from salt and sugar, according to Catherine McCord, the trained chef that publishes the popular cooking blog Weelicious.

The goal is for your baby to not just eat nutritious, wholesome foods, but to taste them as well. That way, you can truly figure out what your child's preferences are. She recommends experimenting with pinches of spices and/or herbs (think cinnamon, not cayenne) to get your baby eating fruits and vegetables they might not initially enjoy.

Take note that while honey is an all-natural ingredient, it's not recommended for babies under the age of one. It can cause a form of botulism that's harmful to your wee one. You can read more about it here.

As far as pairing fruits and vegetables, the sky's the limit; again, it's all up to your individual tastes. The two recipes below feature fruits and vegetables that are cheap, chock-full of nutrients and easy on the palate.

Roasted Carrot & Butternut Squash Purée

Ingredients:

  • 1 small butternut squash (about 1 lb.)
  • 3 large carrots
  • 1 Tbsp. of olive oil
  • ¼ cup of orange juice or liquid of your choice

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 425°F.
  2. Scrub the carrots with a little water but don't peel them, as they'll be roasted whole.
  3. With a sharp knife and a steady grip, slice the ends off the squash. Use a vegetable peeler to peel the skin. Slice the squash in half and scoop out the seeds. Here is a tutorial if you are hesitant, but don't worry. It's not as complicated as it looks.
  1. Place the prepared squash and carrots on a baking sheet and drizzle with olive oil.
  2. Bake for 40 minutes to one hour. While the goal is to soften them, it's not necessary to caramelize the vegetables.
  3. Remove the vegetables from the oven and let them cool.
  4. Place the carrots and squash into a food processor or a blender and purée them on high until they are smooth, about two minutes.
  5. Use a spatula to remove the purée, being sure to scrape up all the bits from the bottom and sides of the blender.
  6. Place the purée into a bowl and spoon out the purée into empty, clean ice cube trays.
  7. Cover the ice cube tray (or not, depending on what method of storage you've chosen), and freeze overnight.
  8. When you are ready to use the cubes, just pop them out and place them into a bowl and let them thaw. If you're in a time pinch, microwave them on the defrost setting until the cube has melted.

Roasted Beet Purée

Ingredients:

  • 4 small beets
  • 1 tsp. olive oil
  • ¼ cup of orange juice or liquid of your choice

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 425°F.
  2. Line a baking dish or sheet pan with aluminum foil and place the beets on the pan.
  3. Drizzle with olive oil and then cover the beets with another sheet of aluminum foil.
  1. Roast the beets for 1-2 hours or until they are tender. (You can pierce them with a fork to test their softness.)
  2. Let the beets cool for half an hour, then cut them into even chunks.
  3. Place them in a food processor or a blender, then purée them on high until they are smooth, about two minutes.
  4. Use a spatula to remove the beets, being sure to scrape up all the bits from the bottom and sides of the blender.
  5. Place the purée into a bowl and spoon out the purée into empty, clean ice cube trays.
  6. Cover the ice cube tray (or not, depending on what method of storage you've chosen), and freeze overnight.
  7. When you are ready to use the cubes, just pop them out and place them into a bowl and let them thaw. If you're in a time pinch, microwave them on the defrost setting until the cube has melted.

Note: The purée can be served warm or cool. For a sweet variation, try adding 1 cup of fresh pineapple to the beet mixture before processing. The flavors pair well together, and the pineapple adds an always-welcome dose of everyone's favorite: Vitamin C.

Puréed Veggies for Everyone!

As I mentioned above, these frozen nuggets of nutrition aren't just an easy way to feed your baby—they're great for adults, too. For example, you can pop them into a blender with some almond milk and yogurt for a smoothie that's fresh, delicious, and packed full of the nutrients both you and your baby need to stay healthy and active.

Save your hard-earned money on spending toward things that you can't make yourself (unless you're really set on making cloth diapers—and if so, good for you, that's a lot of work!) and make baby food at home. Less waste, less money, less trips to the store... sounds like a win-win situation to me!

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Photos by JH Daniel/Food Hacks (unless otherwise stated)

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