There are all sorts of products out there for people who want to make their own baby food at home, and for each of them, a legion of parents who swear by them. If you’ve found a system that you love — be it a Beaba, Wean Machine, Baby Cubes or special containers — by all means, use what you’ve got.
However, as someone who already has an adequately stocked kitchen, serious space limitations, who sees this whole “baby food” thing as a phase we’ll probably be out of before we know it (i.e. my goal is to get the baby eating what we are, and not separate meals, as soon as is healthy to) and a bit of a cheap streak, I have little interest in investing in “extras”. I’d rather put to use things we already own. When I have purchased items, I focused on thing with purposes that will hopefully extend beyond the time we’ll be enlisting them to cook, process and store “goo” food.
Pot and pans: Yup, those things. At least in the early stages, I’m making almost all of my purées in stockpots and saucepans. Sometimes I’ll use a steamer basket (or an ad-hoc-ed one, from a mesh colander), but most of the time I’m just simmering foods until they get soft enough not to offend a certain 7 month old’s sensibilities. (I am joking, of course. This baby gleefully eats his shag carpet.) Down the road, I expect to be doing more roasting, on old baking sheets and roasting pans. And even further down the road, I plan to use my slow-cooker like it’s going out of style to get all of those stewy, flavorful dishes that will easily purée.
Food processor: One of my initial worries about making my own baby food was how I’d get those early purées as silky smooth as the stuff you could buy in jars. What if I needed factory machinery or I was doomed? I imagined I’d be blending, sieving or cheesecloth-ing for hours upon hours. As usual, my melodrama was misplaced as my good old Cuisinart whizzes cooked baby food into velvety purées in just seconds.
Don’t have a food processor and not sure you feel like dropping $125 or $160 on one? I’m a huge fan of this blender/food processor I used before I had my full-sized one; it does a little of both effectively, and is space-efficient to boot. Don’t feel like buying that either? I know many people that swear by using their upright or stick blenders for baby food and imagine that they’d do almost as smooth of a job.
Storage: I’ve never been a big freezer person; aside from a few bagels, a pint of Ben & Jerrys, a bottle of vodka for the Russians and ice cube trays, it has always been a sparse place. That quickly changed when we started down the baby food path. (See above.)
Once again, I have attempted to circumvent buying a baby food-specific storage system, opting instead to buy four more of my favorite ice cube trays. I figure we’ll always be able to use them down the road. For cocktail parties. I miss those things, don’t you?
I fill each tray with fresh purée, cover them with a small piece of plastic wrap until they freeze, then transfer the cubes to freezer bags (which I try, but often forget, to mark leading to many rounds of the “Is this squash or carrots? Pears or apples?” game). Each night, I take out what we’ll want for the next day, letting it defrost in the fridge overnight.
For day-to-day storage and feeding, I’m stubborn and again wanted to avoid buying containers we’d have little use for down the road. We already use wonderful dishwasher, oven and microwave-safe Pyrex containers for food storage so I picked up additional 1-cup containers (psst, they’re much cheaper at the outlet when and if their transaction system is working). Before we go to bed, I plop a cube or two in each, and let them defrost in the fridge overnight. If you, like me, often forget to take food out of the freezer the night before, leaving it out on the counter for an hour in the morning also does the trick.