When Bean was a wee lad, he did not like processed baby food at all. Try though we might, we could not get him to eat anything out of a jar. I was working full-time and I was not at all excited about having to make homemade baby food. Turns out, though, making your own baby food is super easy! You can read all about the process I used with Bean here, but basically I’d take a couple hours on Sunday afternoons to make enough food to get us through the next week. It couldn’t have been simpler, and it was so incredibly healthy for him.
With Gracie, we did use regular Gerber baby food and we were all happy with that. It cost a little more, but with two kids running around, I was okay with paying a little for the convenience factor.
But now, Gracie is eating more and more table food. She is about to come off formula altogether here soon, and so table food is becoming a much bigger part of her diet and where she gets her nutrition. Because of that, I’ve gone back to making her food in much the same way that I did for Bean.
At Christmas, my mother-in-law introduced me to these babies… Ziplock Zip ‘n Steam bags. (I should note here that I am in no way being compensated for this blog post. This is simply an awesome kitchen shortcut I’ve found and I wanted to share.)
Not that steaming food the traditional way in a good ol’ pot with water is rocket science or even all that time consuming. But it did require that I pay a minimal amount of attention to what I was doing so that I didn’t burn the food or scald my pot (both of which happened to me quite often. I tend to get distracted when I cook…). With these Zip ‘n Steam bags, I don’t even have to pay a MINIMAL amount of attention!
Here’s how they work:
First, you chop up whatever fruit or veggie (or even meat, but I haven’t tried that yet) into bite size pieces, according to whatever suits your tot. These are zucchinis, which I went back and quartered after the picture was taken.
Then, you dump it into one of the Zip ‘n Steam bags…
…and add about a tablespoon of water. You can also add spices and such to your food at this time, but I keep things pretty bland for Gracie.
This is the part that I love about these bags. They have a microwave time chart right on the bag, so you don’t have to go digging for the cook time. You just check the bag and it tells you exactly how long to cook whatever it is you’re cooking. It just makes it one step easier for me. I like clear, simply instructions that are always at hand. Because I’m a simpleton and simpletons get confused very easily. Especially around kitchen appliances.
(Side note: Oddly, there aren’t fruit times listed on the bags. I guess not enough people are steaming fruit these days. I’ve done apples and peaches myself, and I did both of those on 2 minutes, if you’re interested.)
Then, you just pop the baggie into the microwave for a couple of minutes and – voila! – steamed veggies that are perfect every time! (Pictured here are diced sweet potatoes and apples.)
Another great thing about these bags is that you can reuse them once or twice. It says on the package not to reuse due to cross contamination, but as long as I’m doing all raw fruits and veggies, I don’t worry about that. Now, if I was doing meat or something particularly pungent, I’d definitely just stick with one use. But with what I use them for, I can get away with two or three uses in one bag.
You could do this each time you needed to fix a meal. My mother-in-law throws in lots of different veggies at once for her dinner sometimes. But for me, it’s easier to do a bunch of steamed food at once, and then store it in containers in our fridge for me to use at individual meals throughout the week. Gracie’s daycare provides her meals all day, so I just have to make enough to get us through dinners during the week.
I prefer to make a little bit of a variety of foods so that Gracie gets a selection of different things each night, even if it’s just the same food but in different combinations. Actually, that sounds kind of silly when I write it out, but that’s how my simpleton mind works. This week, Madame Gracie will be dining on a selection that includes steamed sweet potatoes, apples, zucchini, black beans, and green beans. Other popular favorites have included carrots, broccoli, spinach, squash, and eggplant.
(Side note: I try to keep all of Gracie’s food in the same spot in the fridge so that whoever happens to feed her knows that she can have whatever is on that middle shelf. Well, except the salsa in the background. That’s just there by accident. Actually, I better go move it while I’m thinking about it before Chris adds a little fiesta to Gracie’s sweet ‘taters tonight…)
Along with those things, I usually give her small pieces of whatever meat we are having for dinner. Bean has never been too much of a meat eater, but Gracie likes it. I also keep jarred all natural, unsweetened applesauce (organic, if it’s on sale) and Greek yogurt, which she really likes mixed with steamed or fresh fruit. In addition to those staples, she can eat any of the raw fruits that I keep on hand in our fridge for the rest of the family. Usually these include whatever berries are on sale, grapes, avocados, bananas, peaches, or whatever else looks good at the grocery that week. She really loves those little “Cutie” tangerines right now. They are small, easy to peel, and seedless, so they are great for kids. Bean loves those suckers, too. For Gracie, I cut up her pieces into small chunks.
Her absolute favorite food, though, are blueberries. I cut them into halves or quarters, depending on the size, and she just goes to town on them. I have to be careful not to give those to her first, or she won’t eat anything else on her tray! I held off on strawberries for a while because they gave Bean a little rash when he was little and first tried them. I gave them to her for the first time last week, but she broke out in a little rash around her mouth that night, so those are on the back burner for another little bit.
Whether you are going all out and making your own baby food from day one, like I did with Bean, or are using your own steamed food to help your baby transition to table food, it really isn’t hard at all. Like with anything else, it just takes a little time, a little creativity, and a few little short cuts to help.