I’ve made baby food for both my children from the start. With my first child, it was because, as all parents do, I wanted to be super-mom and give my child every possible advantage, including dietary. I also read an excellent article by Dr. Alan Greene in Parents magazine called, “Make Your Baby a Veggie Lover.” In it, he advocates introducing your baby to something from each of the 21 plant families before age 1. So I copied that Taste List and marked off the plant families as my baby tried them. My first child tried something from 19 of the plant families before her first birthday. With my second child, I was also motivated by the savings–baby food is expensive. I can make 20 servings of butternut squash for the cost of about 6 store-bought servings.
I bought the book “Blender Baby Food” at first because I wasn’t sure how to go about it, and the book was quite helpful to me. I would just take an hour or so on the weekend while my husband watched the baby and do a couple different vegetables. Sometimes I used fresh, but when it made sense, I’d use frozen (like mustard greens, collard greens, broccoli florets, cauliflower, etc.) Veggies are usually frozen at their peak anyway, so it’s not like you’re losing a lot of nutrients. You boil or steam them and then either puree them with the water you boiled them in (so you don’t lose nutrients) or if you steamed them, keep adding water as you puree until the consistency is what you’re looking for. After the puree is cool, transfer to ice cube trays (I like the ones by OXO with a lid so I can stack them in the freezer–see pic). Freeze, then pop them out into labeled Ziploc freezer bags with the date. (Or you can organize the puree cubes in other ways; I got clear plastic containers at the dollar store so I could see at a glance what I had without pulling out a bunch of bags. Anal, I know, but I did like the convenience).
Depending on how big the batch is, the cubes last weeks or even months, so it’s not like I am constantly pureeing sweet potatoes every week. This gives me the flexibility to try out all sorts of veggies. My kids especially like parsnips, which have a creamy, pudding texture when pureed, zucchini/yellow squash, and mustard greens–none of which are available in commercial baby food.
I did use some store-bought fruits, because frankly applesauce is applesauce, and I’m not going to kill myself peeling and coring those things.
So…time commitment is minimal, my kids are WAY better eaters than my buddies that only used commercial baby food, and we saved loads of money!!! Check out how much just ONE jar of baby food costs, and I think you’ll be heading to the produce section. I would also challenge you to try a bite of commercial baby food and then try a bite of the same vegetable in a homemade puree. It’s quite different.