- Plan ahead. Freezing large quantities takes more planning than making just a couple days worth. How will you store the baby food? If you're using cube trays, do you have enough to cube out all the food you're making? Are you using other baby food jars or tubs? Are they clean, do you have enough lids? What foods do you already have stockpiled, and what do you need? Do you have room in your freezer!?
- If you can buy it pre-peeled, cut, and frozen DO IT! Peeling 5 lbs of potatoes for Thanksgiving is a whole other animal compared to 5 lbs of slippery juicy ripe pears. Let the produce factories do the work for you. For foods like peas, and green beans, the prices of frozen are often lower than fresh too!
- Keep the burner on low. A stock pot full of deliciously ripe peaches simmering away on medium high will soon start to bubble over, and you'll have a super yummy smelling - but very sticky - mess on your stove top. If you need to set and forget (which, if you're making baby food, you've probably got your hands full!), just put it on low and it can take an extra 10 min to get going.
- Pace yourself. It's easy to underestimate the amount of work that 5 lbs of fresh food can be to process. Going to a bulk commodity store and buying 5 lbs of each fruit and veggie you want will probably be too much to do in a weekend. Unless your other half can watch the child/ren, you're a stay at home mom with a baby that takes awesome naps, or grandparents are there to help, it's probably not going to get done before all that fresh food will spoil. For me, one or two foods a weekend is usually enough to keep me quite busy. Of course, frozen will save you time. But don't forget about all the blending, dishing up, and freezing too.
- If Baby doesn't love the food, don't buy in bulk. If you're unsure whether or not your little eater will eat a certain food on a regular basis... don't go to a bulk store and buy a ton of it, yet. I know that's probably common sense, but it skipped my mind. It's a better idea to buy the small quantities of a food, and keep exposing baby to it until they like it (or maybe they won't at all). Let me share a story.... Baby C seemed to like the store bought peas. So off I went to Sam's to buy a 5lb bag of frozen peas, cooked, blended, froze. Turns out, the home-made peas have a much different texture, since I didn't strain out the skins. We've discovered that Baby C will only eat completely smooth purees, and that those little skins of the peas makes him gag and eventually puke. Joy. I could strain them... or be lazy and let them sit in the freezer until he's old enough to handle textures ... I pick being lazy...
Hopefully making your own baby food isn't seen as a nasty chore, but that you can enjoy it, and take pride in that you're keeping a few bucks in your wallet, and feeding baby food that has a whole lot of love mixed in :)
Any tips you've learned that I haven't mentioned? Leave a comment, I'd love to hear!