Feeding little ones their first solid food is a big step in their development journey, full of opportunities and decisions. While there are many approaches for feeding, it’s important to find one that works best for you and your family. For me, it’s a DIY mix-and-match style, with a variety of finger-food and puréed options.
Making your own baby food gives you full control of exactly what is going into your little human’s body, and it costs way less than buying pre-made food.
I recommend cooking in big batches, so that you only have to cook once and be prepared for days, stocking your freezer with ready-to-go meals that can be supplemented with fresh food you have on-hand. On average, most items can be safely frozen for three months.
Step 1: Prep Your Kitchen
Quality ingredients are important. Get the highest quality produce you can afford. If 100% organic isn’t attainable, try to purchase organic versions of items which are on the Environmental Watch Group (EWG) Dirty Dozen list (foods with the highest toxic contamination).
Set aside all the ingredients that require cooking:
- 2 large or 6 small sweet potatoes
- 6 large carrots
- 1 butternut squash
- 1 acorn squash
- 1 head cauliflower
- 1 bunch kale
- 1 head broccoli
- 12 gala apples (or any sweet variety)
- 5 oz package baby spinach
- 1 lb ground chicken (or boneless skinless chicken breast)
These ingredients will need little prep and will not be cooked:
- 4 bananas
- 3 avocados
- 2 mangoes
- 2 navel oranges
- 2 pears
- 1 lb strawberries or raspberries
- 1 zucchini
- 1 pound blueberries
- 1 pound blackberries
- 1 thumb fresh ginger
- ½” fresh turmeric
- 1 bunch fresh parsley
- 1 can chickpeas (400 g/15 oz)
- plain full-fat yogurt (plant-based or dairy)
- 2 cups quinoa
- chicken bone broth (1 frozen container)
- coconut oil
- garlic powder
- nutritional yeast
- baking pan or covered baking dish
- parchment paper
- pot with lid and steamer
- food processor or blender
- ice cube trays
- freezer-safe, sealable containers or bags
- hungry baby
Step 2: Prep Ingredients
Keep each ingredient separate as you prep. This will make mixing in different combinations in step 4 easier!
bananas, avocados, mangoes, strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, blackberries, oranges, pears, zucchini, fresh ginger, fresh turmeric, parsley
- Prep the food for puréeing depending on the item. Peel, trim off stems, remove cores or seeds–you get the idea!
carrots, sweet potatoes, squash
Preheat oven to 350°F.
- Wash, peel, and cut into small chunks.
- Baking pan: cut a piece of parchment paper twice as wide as your baking pan. Baking dish with lid: line the bottom with parchment paper.
- Melt 2 tbsp of coconut oil. Toss each ingredient in a bit of the melted oil and transfer to the parchment-lined pan or dish. For the baking pan, fold the parchment paper over the ingredients and fold the edge together to seal. For the baking dish with lid, simply cover with a lid.
- Bake 30 minutes or until soft.
kale, broccoli, cauliflower, spinach
- Wash, peel, and cut into small chunks.
- Put kale in a steamer over a large saucepan with a small amount of water (about ½ cup). Bring to a light boil, then turn off and cover. Allow kale to steam and wilt.
- Put broccoli and cauliflower in a steamer over large saucepan with a small amount of water (about ½ cup). Bring to a light boil, then turn off and cover. Allow to steam for about 10 minutes or until just about soft. Add spinach, return lid, and steam for 5 minutes longer until soft.
- Rinse quinoa in a fine-mesh strainer.
- Add to a pot with water (two-to-one ratio). Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer, covered for 20 minutes or until all liquid is absorbed and quinoa is tender. Remove from heat and let cool.
Apple sauce is perfect on its own, added to rice or oat cereals, and to combination blends.
- Peel, core, and chop apples.
- Place in a covered pot with one cup of water. Cook over medium-high heat for about 5 minutes, or until soft.
Step 3: Purée & Grate
When starting out, remember that this is first time your baby is tasting something other than breastmilk or formula, so don’t overwhelm their tastebuds. Start with a single ingredient such as sweet potato, squash, apple, carrot, banana, avocado, or sweet berries. Then move on to bolder flavours and combinations. Start with very smooth textures, making it chunkier as your child grows.
If this is the case, you can stop here and use the purées individually at meal time. Pour into serving jars to keep in the fridge or fill ice cube trays for the freezer. Once frozen, unmold into freezer-safe, sealable containers or bags and keep in the freezer until ready to defrost.
Get your food processor or blender ready!
- Grate the zucchini, ginger, and turmeric.
- Roughly chop the parsley.
- Purée the remaining ingredients separately in a food processor until smooth.
Step 4: Mix it up!
Combining foods is a great way to load up on nutrient-dense ingredients that may have a strong flavour.
Hint: apples hide everything!
Banana, Avocado, Mango
2 bananas | 1–2 large mangoes | avocado
Sweet Potato, Quinoa, Apple
2 cups sweet potato | 1 cup quinoa | ½ cup apple sauce
Squash, Carrot, Cauliflower, Apple
2 cups squash | 2 cups cauliflower | ¼ cup apple sauce | 1 cup carrots
Kale, Blueberry, Blackberry, Apple
1 cup kale | 1 cup blueberries |1 cup blackberries | ½ cup apple sauce
Spinach, Broccoli, Cauliflower, Pear
1 cup spinach | 1 cup broccoli | 1 cup cauliflower | 1 pear
Orange, Carrot, Apple, Turmeric, Ginger
1 large orange | 2 cups carrots | 1 cup apple sauce | ½” fresh turmeric | ½” fresh ginger
Strawberry/Raspberry, Banana, Yogurt
2 cups strawberries or raspberries | 2 bananas | ½ cup yogurt (plant-based or dairy)
Chicken, Chickpea, Zucchini
1 pkg ground chicken | 1 cup zucchini| ½ can chickpeas | 1 cup bone broth | 1 tsp garlic powder | 2 tbsp nutritional yeast
Simmer chicken in bone broth for about 10 minutes. Add all other ingredients and simmer for 10 more minutes. Cool slightly and blend until smooth.
Turkey, Chickpea, Carrot
1 pkg ground turkey | 1 cup carrot | ½ can chickpeas | 1 cup bone broth | 1 tsp garlic powder | 2 tbsp nutritional yeast
Simmer chicken in bone broth for about 10 minutes. Add in all other ingredients and simmer for 10 more minutes. Cool slightly and blend until smooth.
Chantelle Nuttley is the marketing manager for Nature’s Fare Markets and new mom. She is passionate about cooking, baking, and natural wellness.
This article was published in The Good Life magazine.