When I had Baby J, I was determined that I would be not feeding him Cerelac or some other crap you buy in your local grocery that passes as food (especially not after all the food product scares from China). And the ‘organic’ stuff that are available are too expensive to get, and only viable for emergencies.
So I decided to make my own. At first I was tempted to get those baby food devices and realized they were expensive and given the issues with Customs here, if I had ordered my Baby Cook from Amazon, I’d have expected to cost me double. I also lived in a tiny 36.5 sqm apartment and space is premium. So no baby food maker devices for me. Thankfully though, you don’t really need one.
When you look at most baby food recipes, you realize the tools you need them are either things you already own or can easily borrow from your parents (or eventually buy later). It’s not fancy, but it does the job and in the end that’s what matters. Also, baby food makers are notoriously hard to clean, unless you own a dishwasher. In fact, the hardest clean in this whole set is the ice cube tray (or the ziplock bags if you plan to reuse then, which I recommend).
Most baby food recipes usually involve steaming. And since you’re not cooking for adults, you’re not expected to use up the same amount of food in cooking for baby. Hence, sauce pan and steamer. In my case, I’m using a Chef’n Steamer I bought from Howards in Greenbelt a few years back (Howards is gone, but you could try looking at True Value). When I’m not steaming baby food, we steam some of our veggies in it. It’s very handy and easy to clean.
When I shopped for a blender for my new apartment, I knew I was getting an Osterizer. I also knew I was getting *this* particular model of Osterizer. This is the blender of my youth: of summers of having Avocado Milk Shakes and Melon shakes. When my stick blender died due to motor failure, this beauty made my cream soups. It is also so easy to clean. One tip to follow, is that when you clean your blender, make sure to do it right after you’re done transferring the food out. Don’t let the food sit, get cold and be near impossible to clean without getting a scraper. And if it gets too grimy, just bust out the bottle cleaner brush to scrape off the grime.
Now why blender? Because this is the tool you use when you need to puree baby food. You could use the stick blender, it has a small blender option for baby food. Or a mini food processor like the Cuisinart Mini Prep. A 14-cup food processor is way too big for the job and won’t give a smooth puree. Another option to use is a Magic Bullet if you already own one, or one of those blender smoothies maker. Those can work too.
Before I get to discuss storing your baby food, I want to mention the small spatula. If you’re blitzing your baby food in a fine puree, you may want to consider in buying a spatula, particularly a small slender corner spatula made of flexible silicon. You will need this because you are going to be doing a lot of scrapping and you don’t want to use metal or wood on your blender. Using metal means you’ll end up damaging the blades of your blender, plus a scraper is excellent in evening the tops of ice cube trays.
Now why, ice cube trays. When you store baby food, it’s easier to be able to just grab an ice cube sized food to reheat and serve than say a 4 ounce cup. Also it makes it easier to serve your baby different flavored purees during meal times. I was told that a baby with a lot of exposure to different flavors and food, will be less of a picky eater when they’re older.
You can see I’ve got a lot of different ice cube trays. The white trays were from Daiso (Japan Home). So it’s fairly cheap. If you’re feeling whimsical, like I did when my baby first explored solid food, I packed his food in jewel shaped ice trays. They made for pretty instagram ready photos.
When Baby J got older, he needed to eat more food. But sadly my freezer cabinet isn’t big enough to hold his food alongside ours (even gave up the ice cream space for his meals). My bro-in-law sent me a Tovolo Ice tray as a gift, and it was exactly what I needed.
Now what makes this little tray special is the fact they make the perfect cube ice, each cube is 1 ounce. Which makes estimating the size of baby J’s meals much easier. Right now, with Baby J at 1 year old, he’s eating at roughly 3-4 ounces, or roughly 3-4 cubes a meal.
The other benefit of this particular tray is the perfect cube shape. That means you can stack them up like little blocks in your fridge if you want to take advantage of every bit of space in there. It certainly made storing his purees a lot of easier when you know you can play Tetris with his food.
There are also 4 ounce cups I use for food that don’t freeze well in ice cube trays, food like pasta, congee, and even bolognaise sauce for baby. The Glad Quart Freezer bags are for storing your frozen cubed purees.
Cleaning all of this stuff may seem daunting but it’s not any more different had I used a Baby Cook. The knife and cutting board will have to be washed, the device have to be cleaned, but it’s hard to hand wash it since dish washers don’t exist here. As my husband wisely noticed, whenever something says they can take away a step in cooking, it just adds one more step in cleaning.
After six months of making my son’s food, I’ve come to appreciate my set-up: it’s economical and it got the job done. For moms out there, what are your tools for the baby food making trade? If you got suggestions, feel free to leave a comment or a link.