In honor of Earth Day this week, I wanted to start posting some inspiring Green Ideas! Some of the ideas go hand-in-hand with being frugal, but most lend themselves to making less trash, sustaining oneself, being organic, and other various and sundry things that help our beautiful world!
This post is most applicable to people with babies - particularly ones who are still eating Baby Food. If you don't fall into this category, file it away for when you DO have a baby again OR pass it along to friends and family who have (or will be having) babies!
Today, I'd like to share with you how to make:
Homemade Baby Food
I had originally thought of posting this as a Frugal Friday, but found that it wasn't necessarily frugal. Done right, I'm sure it could be. My little girl is almost 9 months old, and would eat us out of house and home if we let her. So, as you can imagine, it takes a LOT of fruits and vegetables to make the amount of baby food she eats. We're going to try to buy produce at the soon-to-be-opening local Farmer's Markets, and I will recalculate the expenses. BUT, while it is not cheaper, it is still absolutely worth it.
First, you can make your own ORGANIC baby food (which, in jars and tubs, can be pretty expensive in it's own right). My husband read a recent study wherein it was found that organic produce actually has MORE NUTRIENTS than regular produce.
Second, you are reduce the amount of waste you generate. Every time my baby eats, she goes through 2 tubs/jars of baby food. I've been cleaning them out and keeping them, hoping to find a use for them (which I recently have, and will post soon enough!). But, imagine how much waste those jars and tubs make in landfills! Some may be recyclable (I've yet to find these), but this assumes that people ARE recycling them (or have resources TO recycle them with).
Third, you can support local agriculture (or create your own!). Buying your fruits and veggies from Farmer's Markets (or, in the off-season, being intentional at your grocery store to search for the locally labeled produce), you are not only helping local farmers, but cutting down on the waste that goes into shipping fruits and veggies nationally (and internationally) to your grocery store. Buy Fresh, Buy Local! Even better, let this be the year you are motivated to create your own garden at home! Healthy, fresh, and HOME GROWN!
You are doing something positive for your children, your community AND your WORLD! Why not, right? :)
It is a little more time-consuming to make baby food rather than just going to the store and picking out several jars and tubs. Like I said, I believe the time is worth it. And, for a 2-weeks supply of food, it only took me 1 hour.
I have the Beaba, which I use for small, quick batches. But when making several weeks worth of food, I use the trusty Hand Blender (an appliance I CANNOT live without) and an easy recipe found in the back of What To Expect The First Year, by Heidi Murkoff.
Steamed Fruit of Any Kind - makes 1 to 2 cups, depending on the fruit used
2 fresh apples, pears, peaches or plums, or 3-5 apricots, well scrubbed, peeled, cored or pitted, and cut into medium-sized chunks.
Water, apple or white grape juice, breast milk or formula (optional)
1) Pour water to a depth of 1 inch into a medium-sized sauce pan and bring to a boil over high heat.
2) Prepare fruit as stated above. Place the fruit of choice in the pan, cover and lower heat to a simmer, and cook the fruit until tender, about 7-10 minutes.
Apples peeled, cored and cut
Water boiling, fruit placed in pan
Pots covered and temp reduced to a simmer for 7-10 minutes
3) For younger babies, puree the fruit in a blender or food processor, adding a few teaspoons of water, juice, breastmilk or formula to thin, if desired. For older babies, mash with a fork, leaving small chunks.
Apples being drained
The trusty Hand Blender!
Pureeing the food, but leaving smaller chunks
(would use liquid to thin if my child were younger)
Voila! Baby food!
4) Baby food can be stored, covered, in the refrigerator for 2 days OR freeze for up to 2 months
Tip: I froze my baby food, as I made a pretty big batch! To freeze into proper portions, I spooned the baby food into ice cube trays (each cube = roughly 1 oz give or take), froze, and then put into ziplock freezer bags (since I made several kinds of fruits and vegetables that day, I put all of the same fruit into one gallon size bag. You could also freeze individual portions into smaller quart sized bags - but I was trying to save bags!)
A great website I came across in my endeavors of baby food making is Wholesome Baby Food. The have a lot of great recipes, and good information about ages/timelines/menus/etc. I really appreciate this resource, and refer to it often!
I did not chronicle my vegetable adventures, as it was getting close to the end of naptime, so I needed to speed up the process. For those who hope to make both kinds of baby food, here is the instructions, as it is slightly different:
Steamed Any-Kind-Of-Vegetable - Makes 1 to 2 cups, depending on the vegetable
1 white potato, sweet potato, or acorn squash; 3-5 carrots; 1 cup green beans or 1 cup shelled peas, well scrubbed or rinsed.
Water, breastmilk or formula (optional)
1) Remove the peel from the potato, squash or carrots and cut into small chunks or slices. Trim the green beans and cut in half. Pour water to a depth of 1 inch in medium-sized saucepan and bring to a boil over high heat.
2) Place the veggies of choice in a steamer basket and place the basket in the pan. The water level should be below the level of the basket (or just peeking through). Cover the saucepan.
3) Lower the heat to simmer, and steam the vegetables until tender, 7-10 minutes for carrots, green beans and peas; 15-20 minutes for potatoes and squash.
4) For younger babies, puree the vegetables in blender or food processor, adding liquid to thin if desired. For older babies, mash with a fork leaving soft, small chunks for baby to chew on.
5) Store in fridge for 2 days or in freezer for 2 months.
Tips: I froze the veggies just like the fruit. I found that, even keeping the chunky, they were more starchy and needed to be slightly thinned with water (I d0 this after I defrost them and right before I serve them). It is good to know that green beans and peas don't get completely smooth, due to their shells. My daughter will eat them as is, but some babies will not (especially not younger ones). I have heard using an actual blender helps make these veggies smoother. Also - instead of boiling the sweet potatoes, I actually baked them in the oven, which worked out well (I could bake them while steaming the others at the same time).
Enjoy! I have other Green Ideas to post - but if you have some you'd like to share, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org!