GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — As a parent, you always want to do what’s best for your child. So, when your pediatrician gives you the green light to start baby’s first foods, the options can be overwhelming! Making your own baby food seems time-consuming and as a new parent, there isn’t much more “time” to go around.

Mercy Health Registered Dietitian Kim Meeuwsen joined My West Michigan for "On the Menu" and talked about some of the myths surrounding DIY baby food and shared some easy to recreate recipes.

Myth #1: Store bought baby food is cheap
$1 for 8oz of store-bought may not seem expensive, but when compared to $2 for 2lbs of carrots (which made almost 7x the amount of store bought) or other fruits/veggies you’re buying for the rest of the family, it can be much more cost effective to make it at home. Less food waste as well, thawing 1-2oz at a time vs opening a 4oz container.

Myth #2: I need new equipment and books
No need for crazy contraptions or any lengthy baby cookbooks. A good blender is all you really need. Steam, roast or boil veggies until they are cooked and soft enough to throw in the blender to puree. Most fruit and some vegetables (spinach and zucchini for example) do not need to be cooked prior to puree, with exception of some peeling/seeding if necessary. Save time and money using drained/rinsed canned fruit (in 100% fruit juice, not syrup).

Myth #3: I’ll have to buy fancy storage containers
A standard ice cube tray is perfect! Once pureed, if you’re not immediately serving, fill an ice cube tray to freeze. Once the cubes are frozen, pop into labeled and dated freezer bags. Typical ice cubes are 1oz. You can also use glass containers (or any microwave safe container) to thaw overnight in the fridge or heat briefly in the microwave. 

Fresh, homemade fruit/veggie purees should be eaten within 48hrs if stored in the refrigerator. Frozen can store up to 3-6 months but ideally within 1-3 months. Remember: Do not save any leftover baby food that has come in contact with baby’s spoon, hands, or mouth as this may harbor harmful bacteria. 

Myth #4: The flavor options are better in the store
Once baby has tried single flavors, mix and match cubes from the bags to create mixed flavors! Browse the baby food aisle to get ideas of flavor options ahead of time. If the allergy risk in your family is low, you can even consider adding various spices or herbs such as rosemary with squash, cinnamon with applesauce, green beans and garlic, etc.

Myth #5: It's too time consuming
Don't try to tackle multiple things at once. Choose one or two options per week to serve, freeze, or mix and match later on!

If you're ready to make your baby food, check out these recipes:

Roasted Carrot Puree

  1. Preheat oven to 425℉
  2. Wash and cut carrots in to 1-inch slices. Place on parchment covered baking sheet and roast for 20-30 minutes, until fork tender. 
  3. Once cooled, using an immersion blender, food processor or regular blender, blend carrots until smooth, adding water as necessary. 
  4. If not immediately serving, transfer to ice cube trays to freeze overnight. Once frozen, cubes can be placed in label and dated freezer bags. May be stored in freezer for 3-6 months but ideally used within 1-3 months. 

*Could consider adding a pinch of nutmeg, thyme or other herbs/spices to individual serving for flavor variety/exposure.

Cinnamon Bananas

  1. Peel banana and cut into small chunks. Mash with fork until smooth.
  2. Add dash of cinnamon and stir to combine. 

*Consider mixing into prepared baby cereal for another flavor option.

Pear Puree (great for constipation)

  1. Wash, peel and cut into chunks to avoid seeds. Alternatively, you can use canned pears in 100% fruit juice (drained and rinsed). 
  2. Blend until smooth using immersion blender, food processor or blender. Pears tend to be a bit runny, so there is typically no need to add additional liquid to blend.
  3. If not immediately serving, transfer to ice cube trays to freeze overnight. 
  4. Once frozen, cubes can be placed in label and dated freezer bags. May be stored in freezer for 3-6 months but ideally used within 1-3 months.

Green Beans and Parsley

  •     2 cups green beans, roughly chopped
  •     1 tsp dried Parsley
  1. Bring 2’’ of water to boil in medium saucepan. Place green beans into a steamer basket and sprinkle parsley over beans. Cover and steam for 8 minutes. Let cool slightly.
  2. Place beans, parsley, and ¼ cup water into blender or food processor and puree until smooth. If too thick, add additional ¼ cup water and puree until desired consistency.
  3. If not immediately serving, transfer to ice cube trays to freeze overnight. 
  4. Once frozen, cubes can be placed in label and dated freezer bags. May be stored in freezer for 3-6 months but ideally used within 1-3 months.

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