When our daughter Lydia started being ready for solids, I read Super Baby Food by Ruth Yaron. It was intimidating at first, but I got tons of great ideas from it (not just for baby food but cooking from scratch in general). Yaron teaches about the now very popular method of freezing large batches of homemade baby food in ice trays. I eventually realized that though Super Baby Food goes into a lot of detail about how to make and store food and many other things, the basic concepts are not complicated. I gleaned from it a very simple regimen that has really worked for my daughter and I.
1. Whole Grain Cereal ("Super Porridge") every morning.
2. Yogurt every day at lunch.
3. Veggies or any other food baby is ready for in the evening.
This is a big over-simplification of what the book recommends, but it really helped me step back and see the big picture in order to not be overwhelmed by the details.
As Lydia had problems with constipation at first, and Yaron believed that the fact that her kids never had constipation or diarrhea was a result of their diet, I decided to give it a try.
I tried grinding the uncooked brown rice in the blender as the book recommended at first, but just couldn't get the right consistency and having to use the blender so much and so long for so little yield was stressful as the blender always upset Lydia, so I tried the other method suggested, which was just saving extra whole grain rice already cooked and blending that with a little water. This worked great but I had to make A LOT of rice to have enough left over, and we have so many recipes that call for leftover rice it was hard to make enough. It's great to do from time to time, but not as an every day thing.
Finally I realized that our overnight oatmeal in the crock pot pureed would make a GREAT whole grain cereal for Lydia, and we make a lot at a time so it was very easy to take some of that, blend it up, and store it in containers for the week. This became Lydia's breakfast and the base of her diet. As time has gone on I've started added things to it, like mashed up banana, apple sauce, pureed blueberries, or pureed mango (whatever fruit is one sale). Sometimes I give it to her plain. I often add a little commercial rice cereal because it's fortified with iron.
For lunch, Lydia has plain yogurt. Sometimes I mix in the same types of things like apple sauce or fresh pureed fruit. If she still seems hungry I'll give her some veggies or some more oatmeal. I've made her yogurt once, but for some reason I can't seem to get it together to do that consistently yet. I'm trying so many new things that I can't put but so many into regular practice at a time! We have mom's old yogurt maker to make it easy though, so I have no excuse!
For dinner for the past few months Lydia has had some sort of veggie that we've pureed and frozen in ice trays. This is so easy...just a can or two a week thrown in the blender with a touch of water and frozen in ice trays. The most common are peas, green beans, and sweet potato. We also tried mixed veggies lately (corn, carrots, peas, and green beans). I usually add commercial rice cereal to this to thicken it up and because it is fortified with iron.For the sweet potato, I usually buy 3 every week or so and bake them all one evening for a side dish for Tom and I and one to be pureed and frozen for Lydia. Usually, a couple times of week I smash up a perfectly ripe avocado and feed that to her for dinner. She loves it! Because I use the whole grain cereal and yogurt as the base of her other two meals, the amount of veggies I have to prepare is very minimal and not too time consuming. I probably puree things on an average of 2-3 times a week.
Dinners for Lydia have begun to get much more exciting in the past weeks! She can now eat almost all foods, so thanks to the Food Mill by Kid Co., she has been able to share new and exciting foods with us!The first thing we shared this way was basic curry! Then she had some Chow Mein, complete with home grown bean sprouts! Among other things we've shared Lentil Barley Stew, and this week she had some Yakisoba. I love it that my baby is already eating foods inspired by cultures all over the world! I hope it helps her appreciate a variety of foods and flavors as she grows older. My good friend Shanna makes a delicious Turkish dish that I think would be great for baby food too, so I'm hoping to try it soon!
This is basically what I have come to in my endeavor to make my own baby food, but keep it simple. None of these things are time consuming, and flow naturally with what I'm already doing. The most work outside of cooking our oatmeal, which we would do anyway, is smashing a banana or avocado, dipping out some applesauce, or pureeing a few veggies or fruits in the blender.
As for the effects on the digestive system, so far the only time Lydia has not been regular since I started this regimen is when I'd run out of yogurt and had to give her something else for lunch. The only time she's had loose stool is when I ran out of oatmeal, and fed her probably too much yogurt. So I'm with Ruth Yaron! Things seem to go along smoothly as I stick to this! ;)
The challenge has been having food to take when we go out and what to do when we run out. We haven't been buying jars, and I have had issues with getting in a pinch. I did discover that oatmeal travels great and is not messy and great for taking in the diaper bag. However, we finally decided to buy a couple of jars each week to have for back up.