Last December, there was a recall floating around in social media that Gerber baby food was recalled, as there was glass found in their jars of banana. The recall was a hoax based on a tiny truth. In July 2011, Nestlé recalled one batch of baby food made and sold only in France because a consumer reported finding glass in a jar of Nestlé P’tit Pot Recette Banana.
The announcement didn't pertain to any products manufactured or sold outside of France, and the investigation determined that the defective jar was an isolated incident.
But it got me thinking about jarred baby food.
If you’ve checked out the jars of baby food in the supermarket, you may question why you’re paying $0.50 for $0.05 worth of carrots. Or maybe you got a whiff of a jar of baby peas and wondered how companies could make peas and water smell so unappetizing. If so, you may be considering testing your culinary skills by making your own baby food. It might seem daunting, but making your own baby food is quick, cost-effective, and rewarding.
Preparing baby food takes very little time, effort, and money. All you need is a blender or food processor, a steamer basket, and a few ice cube trays. Pick up a few vegetables and fruits—broccoli, carrots, cauliflower, peas, sweet potatoes, apples, mango—anything except citrus fruits will do. Clean and peel the food, steam it in separate batches, and then puree it in a blender or food processor until it is smooth. Add water, if necessary, for a smoother consistency. Spoon the purees into ice cube trays, cover with plastic wrap, and freeze. Once frozen, dump the cubes into labelled freezer bags—they’ll keep for up to three months. In less than two hours, you can make enough food for baby for a month. A small manually-operated food mill can be useful for small portions, or for using at restaurants, especially when travelling.
To prepare food from frozen, remove the required cubes and thaw them overnight in a small container in the fridge. Initially baby may only eat half a cube or less, but will soon move up to a cube or two or more of different foods.
As your baby grows, you can begin serving him or her combination meals. But skip the elaborate baby recipes—simply puree the healthy meals you’ve made for the rest of your family. Beef stew, chicken casserole, lasagna—a few servings from your balanced family meals can make weeks worth of meals for your older baby.
Making your own baby food will trim between $10 to $15 a month off your food budget, or more as baby consumes more. Quality and taste are also among the reasons most parents give for making their own baby food. Though baby food marketed to young babies has no added sugars and starchy fillers, the foods designed for older babies do contain these items, lowering their nutritional value. By making your own baby food, you’ll also have greater control over what your children eat, and their taste buds can be exposed to foods the rest of the family already enjoys. You’ll also make fewer trips to the grocery store, saving yourself the hassle of lugging home and then recycling all those little jars.
A few tips for making baby food:
Always practice safe food-handling procedures.
Scrub fruits and vegetables very well with a vegetable brush.
Soft fruits like bananas need only be mashed; hard fruits should be cooked first.
Trim excess fat off poultry and meat.
Steam the vegetables, don’t boil them.
Don’t add salt and sugar.