baby inspires a healthy family

My husband and I have always led a healthy lifestyle, eating well and exercising. When I started making solid food for Audrey, I was heavily motivated to save money. It was just a bonus that it was also a healthier option - I just didn't realize how much healthier and how making her food would affect Chris and I to eat even better. 

I knew that making her food was a healthier option. I select the produce and other foods she gets and I cook it. Therefore, I know everything that goes into her food. Moreover, after reading research done by the USDA, I found that Gerber foods contain a huge amount of fillers. All of the sudden, words I never cared too much about like "local" and "organic" were starting to fill up my fridge. 

Since I was working hard at protecting Audrey from hidden sugars, salts, fillers, corn syrups and bad fats, I all of the sudden started looking at the meals I make for Chris and I. Why shouldn't I try to keep the whole family away from those things? 

Now that Audrey is eating pretty much everything, it has given me inspiration to cook food for Chris and I that I would also feed her. I have to ask, "Would I feed this to Audrey?" Dishes that I thought were pretty healthy- and still are- can get healthier. A dish such as my meatloaf: ground beef, instant mashed potatoes, soup mix and cheese, can get better for you by using organic beef, my own mashed potatoes, something with lower salt content to bind and low fat cheese.

The healthiest weight I've ever been at (and most weight dropped) is when I simply worked to eat off the food pyramid. Four servings of vegetables, three servings of fruit, two servings of a starch, a serving of dairy and a serving of a good fat. Audrey has the same menu plan, just in a miniature version.

Making Audrey's food has done a lot for the family - saved us money and changed our eating habits for the better.


baby chow: getting down to details

Once you have your produce and cooking utensils (blender, stove and pots, a mixer, ice cube trays and gallon freezer bags) - you are set to start making some yumm.

Prepare your food: Wash all first.

  • Peel really rough skins that won't liquidy (pears and carrots will...potatoes- unless fingerlings- won't as well). Most of the nutrients are in the skin! This is the longest step.
  • Chop everything up a bit. Carrots (if getting whole carrots) take a long time to boil down/steam.
  • Get water boiling in big pots.
Cooking: Below is for Stage Two foods; Stage One foods just require boiling or steaming everything to completely liquidify it.

Sidenote: I had a lot of food this time around, so I split the cooking up into two days since you have to include freeze time. Each cooking session took about 2-4 hours with no help and going slow. REMINDER: it all depends on how many ice cube trays you have. Each freezing time takes about 1-3 hours.  

So, for an easy look at it...here is what I did this last week for Audrey's Stage Two foods:

  • Peas: frozen peas, steamed until pretty much cooked, blended, poured in ice trays, froze, bagged.
  • Apples: peeled, chopped, boiled until pretty soft, Kitchen Aid mixed, poured in ice trays, froze, bagged.
  • Pears: chopped, blended, poured in ice trays, froze, bagged.
  • Blueberries: blended, poured in ice trays, froze, bagged.
  • Chicken: chopped, grilled, blended, poured in ice trays, froze, bagged.
  • Ground Turkey: cooked, blended, poured in ice trays, froze, bagged.

  • Bananas: chopped, Kitchen Aid mixed, put in ice trays, froze, bagged.
  • Carrots: chopped, boiled until really soft, blended, put in ice trays, froze, bagged.
  • Potatoes: peeled, chopped, boiled, Kitchen Aid mixed, put in ice trays, froze, bagged.
  • Green Beans: steamed, blended, put in ice trays, froze, bagged.

Save me: JUICE! Make sure to use the juice if you steamed or boiled in the mixing or blending. If there is too much juice, save it. Juice is packed with good stuff for baby! Audrey love the carrot juice.

This is really easy gang. You can do it. You just have to soften/cook, puree and freeze.

Email me at myabcsoup@gmail.com or comment here if you have questions!


baby chow time: getting started in the kitchen

Hoping you read my previous post, here is a more direct “how-to” on making baby food, including Stage Two foods. Here is where to start and tomorrow I will post a "how-to" on cooking it and storing it.

1.  Know what stage your baby is in and what foods she/he can eat. This is a fabulous website that will give you monthly food charts, menus and great homemade recipes: http://www.wholesomebabyfood.com/

2. Shop for food. This is so much fun because especially by Stage Two foods, your baby can eat pretty much everything except egg whites, peanut products, cow’s milk (cheese and yogurt are OK), strawberries and other high allergy foods.
·        Make a list of baby food separate to your grocery list. With Stage One foods, I did a separate shop just to make it easy. I went to the local farm, Costco and Fred Meyer to get produce. When it came to Stage Two foods, I included baby on my shopping run. Therefore there were separate items I got just for her, but a lot of the items we would eat as a family – therefore, I had to make sure and count her mouth and buy more. This is great for getting the whole family healthy. Think of most of your meals and make them “baby friendly”
·        Making baby food is economical as long as you are not buying extremely expensive produce. Research and buy what you like, but you may run into a higher bill if you are getting all of your items at a farm or getting them organic.
·        Keep in mind that frozen fruits and vegetables lock in more nutrients unlike fresh foods. Unless you plan on going to the farm or picking from your garden and then cooking right away, your foods will lose at least half of their nutritional value. Frozen is economical and healthy.

My grocery list for one-two months, Stage Two:
  Costco      (for the whole fam)                    
Organic Green Beans (frozen)                     
Organic Peas (frozen)                                  
Organic Broccoli (frozen)                     
Greek Yogurt                                      
Black beans  (less sodium)                     
All Natural Instant Mashed Potatoes                
32 egg pack                                                  
Pasta pack

Local/Fred Meyer
Apples (7-10), pears (6-8), bananas (1 bun.)  
Ground turkey  (3 lbs)
Boneless chicken breasts/strips (2-3 lbs)
Carrots (5 lb bag)
Blueberries (2 cartons: 1 for baby and one for us!)
Sweet Potatoes/Yams and other potatoes
Shredded Cheddar
Cottage Cheese, cream cheese
Essentials: Rice, Wheat & Oatmeal and other cereals 

and just to prove it to you, here is direct from my Excel family budget: (keep in mind that a lot of the food was bought for the whole family and a portion made for Audrey, therefore I calculated the right amount that I made for her) 

food                              $$$ spent on baby

beans 2
pasta 2
yogurt 2.5
green beans 2.5
peas 3
bananas 1.5
pears 2.5
blueberries 1.5
carrots 3
apples 3
sweet potatoes 3
turkey 8
chicken 8
cheese 1.5
total $44

                3. Make sure you have the cooking and storing supplies. All I needed was a blender, pot and mixer. If you have an immersion blender and a steamer- that is a bonus. However, I didn’t need them. I just boiled and steamed in a pot and then blended or mixed. You will also need gallon size freezer bags and as many ice trays as you would like (the most ice trays, the faster the process). I picked up a three pack at the Dollar Tree of ice trays.

Check in tomorrow and we will get started!


Making baby food from scratch is a snap, and a bargain

My bright red KitchenAid mixer taunts me from the corner of my kitchen counter. It is more of a decoration than a baking tool. I am no Suzy Homemaker.

But when my girlfriend told me she would teach me how to make homemade baby food, I took on the challenge. For one, she promised it was easy. Secondly, it was a healthier option. Lastly, it would save money.

If you are a parent, you know how expensive babies are. Having a baby has brought out the budgeter in me. In order to be very economical one has to have time, skill and patience. I struggle with all three.

Economical options such as cloth diapers just means more laundry. Sewing clothes requires skill. Secondhand store shopping takes energy. I barely had the patience to breast-feed.

However, if making baby food were really going to be easy, then why not provide my baby with healthy, organic food and save some pennies? So I put that KitchenAid to use and surprised myself.

First step was grabbing some yummy, organic produce. Filling bag after bag, I got carried away with all the new tastes that Audrey was now, at 6 months old, able to eat. At checkout, the cost was around $40.

That night, my girlfriend came over with her peeler and steamer, and we got to work. The stove was covered with pots of boiling yams, sweet potatoes, apples and pears. The steamer worked away at the green beans, spinach and carrots, and the blender or KitchenAid constantly hummed in the kitchen. It was like Christmas Day.

And what a gift I got — or should I say, Audrey got. After pouring the food into ice cube trays and freezing them, I popped the 1-ounce-serving-size cubes into gallon-size freezer bags and labeled away.

Each mealtime, I take one to two cubes and get adventurous with mixing. Apples, potatoes and rice; carrots, green beans and wheat; or bananas, pears and oatmeal. She has devoured all of it, even the spinach.

Forty dollars' worth lasted a little more than one month, producing three 6- to 10-ounce meals a day. And it took only about three hours to make.

Last week, I conquered Stage 2 foods: chicken, turkey, avocado, cheese, yogurt, pasta and all the good vegetables and fruits. Cost at checkout was about $10 more. In addition to those foods, you can add others on the spot, creating entrees such as puréed turkey with potatoes and cheddar topping or yogurt with blueberries and oatmeal. Take that, Rachael Ray!

I couldn't believe it — it was easy! I gave myself a pat on the back and no longer feel distance between my KitchenAid and me.

If you are interested in learning more or joining me the next time I hit the kitchen for baby goods, please send me an e-mail at the address below. Thank you to Ashley for help and motivation. 

By the numbers:
$40 — My produce bill for a one-month supply of homemade baby food at 6 to 10 ounces per day
$100-$150 —
Cost for one-month supply of store-bought baby food at 6 to 10 ounces per day
90 —
percent of Gerber baby foods containing water, sugar, flour and salt fillers
600 —
Jars of baby food consumed by most infants by the age of 12 months (cost: $600-$1,000)
3 to 5 —
number of hours representing the average time (with a helper) to make a one-month supply of baby food

check here tomorrow for Stage Two food making!

Brittany My ABC Soup is published every third Sunday in The News-Review

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