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If you want to buy your baby's food, do yo thang. Despite the whole "know what's in your baby's food" argument, most ingredient lists are "the food + water." Nobody's trying to poison your baby.
Clearly, the convenience of store-bought baby food is what you're paying for, but if you have a little time on your hands, you can save a mess of dollah dollah bills, y'all. Buuuut you can also start to drown if you jump in too fast. Luckily, I drowned with my first two kids and have finally learned to swim with my third. Here's what I've learned.
1. Don't make too much.
I started out by steaming, pureeing, and packaging a dozen giant sweet potatoes. Babies eat like a teardrop a day, so in order to get through said sweet potatoes in the six months before they spontaneously combusted in my freezer, my baby had to eat them for every meal. You can't introduce variety with one food. I actually tried; blame it on first-time-mom brain, but it doesn't work. A couple of sweet potatoes. One winter squash. One package of peas. A few peaches. Don't go overboard.
2. Tiny changes make a big difference.
We all want our kids to be adventurous eaters, i.e. try a green bean without a death scream. The way to get a good start on that is to expose your baby to different flavors every. single. day. But how do you do that if your baby can only eat, like, five foods?
It's all about ratios.
Two spoonfuls of applesauce and one piece of banana tastes different than one spoonful of applesauce and two pieces of banana. Now add some oat cereal! Now a pinch of cinnamon! Making tiny changes makes a big difference in flavor.
3. Make individual foods, not blends.
If you Google "baby food recipes," prepare to read until your baby has her own babies. It's fun that there are so many, but it's the worst that there are so many. Then you're stuck with a month's worth of chicken-barley-prune-carrot-sassafrass blend which takes the place of other palate-pushing recipes, and you're drowning again. Plus your baby might not dig sassafras. (I don't know what sassafras it.)
Don't make blends.
As you get started, mix to order. Pear + pea. Banana + applesauce. Butternut squash + chickpeas. Peach + prune. Pull out a couple of cubes, mix them with or without cereal, add a pinch of spice or not, thin with breastmilk or not... you'll have more fun "cooking" for your baby every day and won't be bogged down with one recipe a million times.
4. Don't freeze everything.
You can mash a banana in three seconds. Jarred applesauce is always ready. Same for avocado. There are some foods that are easily made when you need them. Don't waste your time freezing them.
Bonus: Cocktail muddlers are THE BEST way to mash baby foods to order.
5. Don't make everything.
You can make your own of anything, but please don't make your own of everything. I buy cereal, prunes, and anything else that just feels like too much work for the money I might save. Don't overthink it. If it sounds too complicated to make it, buy it. You can always make it later once you find your baby food rhythm.
(And this way you don't have to blend your own meat. Let's all just throw up together, shall we?)
Have any baby food tips? Share in the comments!
P.S. These are my favorite baby food freezer trays. I've tried half a dozen over the years, and these blow the rest away.