How to Make and Freeze Homemade Baby Food
Frozen Baby Food
The Staples of My Baby Food Preparation Include:
- Mason jars or other containers with lids in which to soak lentils/peas/beans
- Silicone spatula
- Ice cube trays (just regular BPA-free ice cube trays, I never bought any specifically designed for baby food)
- Gallon freezer bags or other containers
- Painter's tape and permanent marker
- Ingredients of choice
- Prepare ingredients (gather, clean, sort, peel, and chop as needed).
- Cook ingredients that require cooking (or steaming, or baking, etc).
- Allow ingredients to cool before transferring to blender.
- Blend until pureed to desired consistency, adding water or reserved "broth" to thin if needed.
- You and baby should taste test the food to know if you need to adjust the recipe before freezing.
- Set some aside for immediate use, and store it in the refrigerator.
- Pour or spoon into cleaned ice cube trays.
- Freeze for 45-60 minutes, until solid.
- Pop baby food out of ice cube trays (set trays in rimmed baking sheet of warm water for a few seconds if they don't want to come out, and they'll slide right out!).
- Transfer to labeled freezer bags or containers, and store in freezer.
- Thaw a few cubes in a container in the fridge for use the next day as needed.
Cooled and Ready to Start Scooping Into Ice Cube Trays to Freeze!
I Soak Dried Beans, Split Peas, or Lentils, Rather Than Using Canned
Ready to Freeze!
What Should I Feed My Four- to Eight-Month-Old Baby?
My husband thinks I’m nuts for taste testing baby food, but I always taste test a batch before I feed it to my son or freeze it. I also feed my son a taste test to make sure he likes it before bothering to freeze it!
While certainly not a complete list, and I have pureed many fruits and veggies on their own, here are some of the food combinations that passed both Mom and Baby's taste testing with flying colors (and at what age he started eating it).
- Green beans and pumpkin
- Peas and carrots
- Peaches and spaghetti squash
- Mango and pumpkin
- Avocado and pears
- Banana, raspberries, and chia seeds
- Apple, prune, and sweet potato
- Red lentils and carrots
- Apple, oatmeal, and blueberries
- Beets and corn
- Sweet potato and red lentils
- Coconut and butternut squash
- Chickpeas, butternut squash, and carrots
- Brown lentils, onion, and carrot
- Peas, basil, and onion
- Butternut squash and spinach
- Acorn squash and asparagus
- Sweet potato, zucchini, and chicken
- Ham, pineapple, and carrot
- Ham, apple, and onion
- Beef stew
- Chicken noodle soup
- Chicken and wild rice soup
- Beets, apple, and a touch of cinnamon
- Yellow split peas, garbanzo beans, and garlic
- Carrots, white beans, and pumpkin
- Ham and pea soup
- Beef barley soup
- Hubbard squash, quinoa, and broccoli
- Carrots, pumpkin, and ginger
- Chicken, carrots, rosemary, thyme, and celery
- Ham, kale, white beans, and carrot soup
- Red potato, butternut squash, and spinach
- Black beans, avocado, and rice
- Sweet potato and cauliflower
- Turkey vegetable soup
- Butternut squash, pear, and ginger
- Pumpkin, pesto, roasted garlic, and sage
- Butternut squash, coconut, ginger, and onion
Might Look Gross Immediately From the Freezer, But Nothing a Quick Stir Won't Fix!
A Few Tips and Tricks for Success
- Rehydrating Your Own Beans Is More Cost Effective: I use dried beans/peas/lentils, and soak them overnight before using. You could use canned instead if you would prefer. I just find it more cost effective to use dried. Dried beans also contain about 10% of the amount of sodium in canned beans. I let them soak overnight in a mason jar or larger container if needed, depending on how much I need for the size batch I’m making.
- I Save the Boiled Veggie Water: When cooking vegetables for baby food, I boil or steam (depending on the vegetable) and allow to cool. I save the water they were cooked in until the blending process (so I can add the now nutritionally dense and flavorful broth to the puree until it reaches the desired consistency, rather than using plain water).
- Sometimes I Cook Separately; Others I Don't: When I prepare a meal for my husband and I, if there are veggies I want to set aside for baby food, I set them aside and cook them separately instead of with whatever spicy ingredients I'm putting in the rest of the meal. Some meals, such as chicken noodle soup, don’t require setting anything aside, just pureeing the soup with just enough of the broth to form a nice puree. I had an abundance of apples once, so I made applesauce with no added sugar in the crock-pot. I then used the applesauce in batches of baby food with beets, or chicken and carrots, or oatmeal and blueberries, or ham and onion.
- I Let the Food Cool Before Processing It: I allow the cooked veggies/beans/meat to cool before adding to the blender. I add some of the liquid and pulse until blended, adding more liquid if needed for a nice puree texture (I gradually added a courser texture as the baby was able to eat it). I scoop out of the blender back into the pot it was cooked in using a silicone spatula, and use a spoon to scoop the puree into ice cube trays. Freeze the trays for about an hour, or until frozen. Pop the baby food out easily into a gallon freezer bag or other container to be stored in the fridge. I label the freezer bags with a permanent marker with the date it was made and the ingredients. When using a container, I put a piece of painter's tape on the lid and write the info with permanent marker on the tape, as it easily peels off when it’s time to wash the container. Each ice cube is about an ounce, so it’s easy to know how much to take out and thaw as needed, and know how much baby is eating.
- I Avoid Fancy Gadgets: No special pouches to fill, no special gadgets to buy/store/clean. Just a happy baby, and a sense of satisfaction knowing that you know and trust what’s in your baby’s food (and a sense of accomplishment for having made the food, as so many things that once were easily scratched off the to-do list are left waiting for another day once you enter the wild world of parenthood)! When preparing to freeze, I set enough food aside to keep in the fridge for immediate use before freezing the rest.
- There Are Some Foods That Should Be Cooked First: When using winter squash in baby food, I always bake the squash before pureeing. Same goes for sweet potato (You can peel a sweet potato by placing in a colander and slipping the skin off under cold water,while the potato is still warm from the oven. It slides right off!). I also cook lentils, split peas, and rice first.
Which of the following best describes you
Ready to Serve!
Here's Why This Arrangement Worked for Us
We Don't Have Any Dietary Restrictions
I am not a pediatrician or dietitian. I am environmentally conscious but am not what one might consider an eco-warrior. I do not write cookbooks. I am, however, a mom who has found the preparations below to work well for her smiley baby’s tiny tummy. I am not a vegan or vegetarian and don’t cook with any gluten or allergy restrictions, but you could apply any of those topics to your cooking and still find these tips handy.
I Wanted Quick, Easy Recipes
While I was pregnant, I read through infinite cookbooks, articles, and websites with baby food information. Hopefully my research will save you some of that hassle (although as a parent, you are likely to want to do your own research anyways!). I am a working mom who needs recipes I can make quickly after work or make in advance on the weekend.
This Is What Worked for Us; Do What Works Best for You
It is overwhelming to become a parent. Everyone has their own opinions and wants to shower you with more helpful advice than you know what to do with. No judgement for anyone who prefers the tiny jars or pouches from the grocery store, or anyone who uses all those nifty gadgets everyone had raved to me about. Below is what worked well for us. I write this to help you if you should want the advice and find it helpful. I also understand if you unashamedly disregard my advice if you find it doesn’t suit your family’s needs.
I Used Tools I Already Had
I didn’t buy anything special to make my baby his food. I already had a blender, ice cube trays, mason jars/lids, and silicone spatulas. Usually, I don’t need to do anything special for a batch of baby food, as it is mostly using ingredients my husband and I are already eating. If I make something for us with sauerkraut or hot peppers, I don’t include that in my baby’s food quiet yet, but otherwise it has been smooth sailing with very little effort. And it's been much more budget-friendly than using store-bought jars of baby food (Honesty corner: I have purchased these on occasion because they're handy to have on hand to just open and serve when traveling, rather than worrying about an ice pack and Tupperware in a cooler).
Here's Why I Decided to Start Making My Baby Food at Home
Thousands of blogs, parenting websites, parenting apps, and specialty cookbooks are filled with baby food recipes, charts of which foods to introduce at what ages, how best to prepare them, and how to preserve them. Many sources contradict one another regarding which foods to feed baby at what stages, and in combination with what other foods, whether made fresh/canned/ frozen, and whether served in a bottle, with a spoon, or from a pouch. When sources agreed on feeding with a spoon, they disagreed whether the spoon should be:
- a silicone one for soft gums,
- a BPA-free plastic one with a color-changing indicator so you know food isn't too hot,
- a wooden one so it's not off-gassing harmful chemicals, or
- whether the spoon should be made of a unicorn horn, carved by dragon's fire, and delivered by a mermaid.
I cook and bake—A LOT. I enjoy it, and my husband enjoys eating it. It came as no surprise to me that while I was pregnant, people were asking things like, “And I’m sure you’ll want to make your own baby food. Do you have a special baby food blender/storage container set/pouch filler/pouches/baby food mashing mortar-pestle/ baby food grinder /<insert infinite other options here>.” I’d say “No, I’m going to use my regular blender” (it works well enough for butternut squash soup or breakfast smoothies, right?) and be met with looks of “But you don’t know how much easier these nifty new gadgets will make your life!” But in my tiny kitchen, in which storage space is already at a premium and I knew I’d have bottles and other baby gadgetry to store, I didn’t have the room.
It is overwhelming to become a parent. I still think of the person who told me “But you NEED a baby food grinder, I’m getting you one anyways” every time I use my blender, instead of that grinder (which I never used and ended up returning). She meant well! But, in the end, you should do what works best for you and your family.
A few times I’ve had a large quantity of something (apples, carrots, beets) that I wanted to use up and made a few batches of baby food to freeze on a weekend, but usually just blending a couple servings of whatever I’m cooking for the adults has worked well.
Let Us Know!
Have you made your own baby food and found yummy combinations not listed above that your little ones (and maybe even you) enjoyed? Let us know in the comments!