Sunday, July 25, 2010

My First Attempt at Homemade Baby Food

Before I even start, I just want you guys to know that I am damn proud of myself. Because really, who would have thought a year ago that I would willingly be slaving away (ok, not exactly "slaving") in my kitchen making homemade baby food for my child? Nodamnbody, that's who.


There are a couple of reasons why I decided to try out this homemade baby food business:
1. It's cheap. 4 oz of Gerber's Stage 1 carrots cost 97 cents on sale at Kroger. An entire bag of whole organic carrots costs $2.50. (And hey, on WIC, it's free!)
2. I wanted to know what it would feel like to make food for my child and know that everything he's eating is good for him and fresh and wonderful and awesome.

And there's also a tiny part of me that did it because some people thought it was a stupid idea. But that's not important.

So! I decided to start with carrots, since Wyatt loves them so. (See my profile pic.)

If not for, I would have been completely lost. I would have been left standing in my kitchen with a bag of carrots in my hand, willing it to puree itself into something my son can manage. Lucky for me, I did happen to find this site (thanks to, which has tons of information ranging from what types of equipment to use, age ranges for certain foods, recipes, and how to cook the damn stuff. (Well, they didn't call it that, but that was the question on my mind at the time.) Apparently, the best way to cook most fruits and veggies (carrots included) is to steam them. Steaming retains the most nutrients. This is where I ran into my first problem: I don't own a steamer.

I own a lot of kitchen gadgets; I have a crock pot, a toaster oven, a hand mixer, and about 20 or so little scoops and spoons to measure things out with. No steamer. So I got crafty. I put one of my many coffee mugs in the bottom of my biggest pot, upside down. Then I found the biggest tupperware lid that I had that would fit inside the pot while still leaving enough room for the steam to rise. Voila, Ghetto Steamer. Poured in some water, started heating it to a boil. Then I began peeling the carrots.

I realized almost immediately that they sell already-peeled carrots for a reason... convenience! Who has time to stand around peeling carrots all day? No one! Hence the prebagged baby carrots - already peeled and cut up into manageable pieces. Hooray 21st century! I made it through six carrots before my arm began to scream at me (thanks for the tendinitis and nerve damage, Starbucks!) I cut the carrots into little chunks and put them on top of the tupperware lid. Once the water started to boil, I turned the temperature down a bit and put the lid on it.

The recommended cook time was "until carrots are tender," which is helpfully specific. I let them steam for about 20 minutes, which was probably a little longer than necessary. But hey, they were cooked. And now this is the part where I put on my Momma pants and tell you what you guys already know - steam can burn you! Lift the lid away from you! Use a friggin' pot holder! Your hands will thank you. (Mine currently hate me, both for this reason and because of a previous injury involving a very hot sandwich oven at work.)

After hopping up and down and cursing, I took the lid o' carrots out of the pot and let them cool. And here is where I ran into my second problem.

My parents had given me a food processor/blender combo that had been given to them umpteen years ago by my nana, who is notorious for giving people gifts they don't want. This is one of those gifts. It sat in the attic, still in the box, for years. When Kenny and I moved in together, my parents gave us a bunch of stuff - vacuum cleaner, kitchen table and chairs, and a bunch of other awesome, useful things. They also gave us this blender which, granted, they have never used. I'm sure if they had, it would have been in appliance heaven by now. This thing has one setting. One. It has a lever that you push down on to make it go. That's it. No crush ice button, no puree button. Nothing. I burned up the motor in five minutes. I then spent another five minutes trying to mash up the carrots with a fork before putting them in a bowl, covering it with Saran wrap, and sticking it in the fridge.

At this point, carrots were my least favorite food ever.

So today, I ventured to Walmart and purchased a new food processor/blender combo that has all the things the last food processor/blender combo did not. Granted, it could have had two settings and it would have been more, but no, I bought a nice food processor/blender with lots of settings. I was very happy. So happy in fact that while washing my new food processor/blender, I got a little overzealous and cut open the palm of my hand with the very, very, very sharp blade.

Did you know that I am squeamish about blood? You do now.

After not passing out while hunting for the Band-Aids, I managed to reassemble my sharp, shiny new appliance and puree the most beautiful carrots I have ever seen. It was so wonderful. I pushed the puree button which - guess what! - purees! I simply added a little nursery water as needed to achieve the right consistency. Once everything was blended, I scooped my masterpiece into an ice cube tray. As it turns out, six carrots is exactly the right amount to fill one whole tray. I totally knew that. (No I didn't.)

Here's the part where I do a little math. (I heard your gasp from here!)
As I said before, 4 oz of Gerber carrots is 97 cents on sale. For the sake of ease, we'll say that's 25 cents per ounce.
The bag of carrots that I bought had about 20 whole carrots. At $2.50 a bag, each carrot cost 13 cents, so six carrots cost 78 cents.
Six carrots filled up one ice cube tray, which has 14 individual cubes. Each cube is one ounce. (I measured this beforehand.) So, one tray is 14 ounces. That equals out to 6 cents an ounce.


And since Wyatt typically eats 2 oz at a time, one tray is seven servings.

So yes. Making your own baby food is extremely easy on the pocket. And I'm sure next time I'll be much more prepared and careful. While it was kind of a pain in the butt this time, it really is so simple and easy. I swear!

Lessons Learned:
Buy carrots that are already peeled next time!!!
Test equipment before use to ensure it's worth a damn.
Wear leather gloves at all times. (Kidding, sort of.)
Don't listen to the haters.

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