by Krista Garcia
All mothers want to feed their children healthy foods. During the early years of life, the food options sometimes seem limited by the minimal selection of processed, pureed baby foods on the supermarket shelves. In addition to worrying about the limited selection, moms are often concerned about the additives, preservatives and allergens these foods might include. Making food decisions for an infant need not be so difficult. With a few simple steps, it is easy to make baby food at home that is nutritious, delicious and cost effective.
If you want to make your own baby food, it is important to invest in a quality food processor. There are many models available on the market, and the simplest ones are small and inexpensive. A high quality knife, a sturdy pot and a strainer will also come in handy as you prepare and cook the ingredients for your child’s meals.
The first step in making baby food is to pick out the ingredients. The easiest way to do this is to visit your local farmers market or grocery store and look for fresh, local and organic fruits and vegetables. Buying in season is a great way to save money. Initially, baby foods should consist of one or two ingredients. Bananas, avocados, peas, sweet potatoes and squash are wonderful first ingredients. Later, you can add finely ground meats or mashed whole grain pastas. Always make sure to cook meats and pastas thoroughly before feeding them to your child.
Once you have the tools and ingredients in place, it is time to start preparing the food. Some ingredients, such as bananas and avocados, will not need cooking. For other ingredients, such as peas and green beans, cooking is a necessity. There are several different methods for cooking vegetables including steaming, boiling or pressure cooking. Always make sure to cut any raw foods with a separate knife and cutting board than the one used for cooked foods. This prevents cross contamination and keep your child from being exposed to harmful bacteria. Once food is cooked and pureed, strain out chunks that are too large for your child. Young children do best with foods that are very smooth and an almost liquid consistency. Older children prefer more texture, and they can handle larger chunks and more noticeable bites in their portions.
Many baby foods can be cooked in larger batches and frozen for a later time. Storing portions in individual ice cube trays is an easy way to have a perfect sized meal available anytime. An individual ice cube can be thawed in warm water or the microwave, and you can even mix two or more cubes to offer your child a unique meal experience.