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List: Posted: 11/07/11
If you haven’t realized within the first 6 months of being a parent that having children is expensive, just wait until they start eating solid food. Some of the more trendy organic baby food companies, which I won’t name, expect you to pay upwards of $2 per serving for baby food. When you calculate 3 meals per day, 7 days a week and 4 weeks each month, that could run you $160+ in extra food costs a month!
So if you haven’t already started saving your pennies to pay for diapers, you will in order to put solid food in your child’s mouth... unless however you plan to make it yourself.
How to Prepare Homemade Baby Food
For starters, let's begin with talking about those nice, expensive, fancy baby food making machines that you will find in almost every major department store. They look wonderful, they seem to be the easiest solution for all your baby food making needs, and there is only one thing that you need to know about them - and that is simply that you do not need one. They range in price from $100-$250 and I guarantee they do all the same things that the most mundane kitchen appliances do. So take my advice and don’t buy one.
For this take on homemade baby food, there are only 2 items that you need: a large sturdy cooking pot with a lid, and a blender. Of course there are other items that will come in handy such as a peeler and an apple slicer, but they are not required for most foods.
Baby foods in general are broken into 4 stages. Here is a simple chart that explains the difference stages and the appropriate ages for each stage:
Stage 1: 4-6 months of age: simple single ingredient fruits and vegetables, rice cereal and pureed to a nice thin consistency.
Stage 2: 7-8 months of age: combination foods and pureed to a thicker consistency.
Stage 3: 9-12 months of age: combination fruits and vegetables, pureed meats with a thicker consistency and you can allow for chunks to encourage chewing.
Stage 4: 12+ months of age: at this point, you can begin to feed your child what the rest of the family consumes at each meal.
The Four Stages of Baby Food Preparation
For Stage 1 baby food I will use broccoli as our example. For the broccoli, rinse thoroughly and cut off any long stems. Then place chopped broccoli in a pot with approximately ¼ cup of water for every 1 cup of broccoli. Bring water to a boil and then let it simmer covered for about 15 minutes. Once the water and broccoli have cooled slightly, transfer to a blender and puree on high until smooth.
Repeat the above steps with similar foods such as peeled carrots, apples (peeled and cored), plums, pears, peaches, green beans... and the list goes on.
For Stages 2 and 3-baby food you will follow the same steps as Stage 1, but limit the amount of water you use when cooking each food. This will allow you to control the texture and consistency of the food as its being pureed in the blender. You can always add more water as necessary to thin out the food. You can also start mixing different fruits and vegetables for these stages to introduce a variety of flavors to your little one.
You truly can turn almost any piece of food into homemade baby food straight from your own kitchen, with very little effort. Sometimes, certain fruits and vegetables may not be in season or are harder to find in your local grocers or farmer's market. For items like this its okay to buy pre-made baby food. A great way to make these items go farther is to mix them along with the food you have made at home. This allows you to expose your baby to a variety of different tastes that otherwise may not be available.
So grab your pot and blender, and start creating fresh, inexpensive and healthy baby food right from your own kitchen!
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