When it comes to food, I'm all about efficiency. I love meals that can be made quickly, without laborious stirring/standing/keeping watch, and still taste delicious while being healthy and homemade. I take the same approach with baby food. "But why would you need to meal prep baby food Sumaiya?" you may ask. "Because you have better things to do than make little spoonful amounts of mush twelve times a day," I say sagely. Also, meal prepping baby food is way easier than meal prepping regular-people food, as its just a matter of peeling, dumping, and blending.
All of my babies began eating solids when they were a little over four months old, starting first on squash and sweet potatoes and moving swiftly on to peas, carrots, and spinach. I've always made homemade baby food because it's so easy that there never seemed to be a reason not to. However, here's a rundown of some very good reasons in case you need convincing:
1. It's pure - no unknown ingredients, i.e. preservatives/pesticides
2. It's more nutritionally dense - whole, healthy ingredients
3. It's cheap - one sweet potato = 10 oz. of pureed sweet potato
4. It's better for the environment - no waste from disposable packaging
5. It lasts forever (or at least a very long time) - the freezer is our friend
6. It's versatile - use leftover baby food in smoothies, baking, or cooking... no one has to know!
I usually make a big batch of baby food once a month and all at once to store in the freezer. Just like meal prepping for the rest of my family, I start by making a list of everything I want to make. I make sure to include several fruits, veggies, and 1-2 proteins, in addition to add-ins I may have on hand.
Here's this month's list:
- Sweet potato
- Chicken breast
- Peanut butter
- Plain whole milk yogurt/kefir/lebneh
- Chicken stock
Herbs & Spices
- Vanilla extract (non-alcoholic)
- Fresh cilantro/mint/parsley
- Lemon/lemon zest
Things you'll need:
- Steamer basket (or just a pot)
- Ice cube tray for portioning
- Freezer bags for storing
On meal prep day:
Start by peeling all the items that need peeling such as sweet potato, squash, and carrots. I don't ever peel apples, pears or any fruit that has a thin skin because that's where all the fiber is.
Steam, bake and boil at once to save time. In the oven I'll bake the apples, pears, squash, and sweet potatoes. And in the steamer baskets I'll cook peas, carrots, and broccoli. Most items cook at different times so it's a good idea to stagger your blending times accordingly. No need to cook the berries, as they can just be pureed whole.
As items are done cooking, I throw them into the blender and whir until very, very smooth. While that's happening I will also begin labeling my freezer bags and setting out the ice cube trays.
Ice cube trays are wonderful because they make portioning so, so easy. After each item is frozen completely, I pop it out, toss into it's bag and store it in the freezer. When I'm ready to prepare a meal, I just take out a few cubes into a microwave-safe bowl and heat. Mix the fruits with the veggies and add some protein and your baby has a delicious and wholesome meal.
For the protein: Boil or bake the item of choice. This time, I'm just making a batch of pureed chicken. Break up the protein slightly and throw it into a blender with a little stock and puree until smooth. I store some in a mason jar in the fridge and freeze the rest.
All done! That wasn't so bad, right?
Here's a few of our favorite combos for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Get creative and make your own mixes for an oh-so-happy tummy.