Here are some things I have learned:
I do NOT make my own beans and peas. I can't get the consistency right without boiling all nutritional value out of them.
I DO have a stock of store bought baby food for times when I can't get to the store for fresh veggies and fruit.
I do NOT use recipes. Never have. Don't feel the need to. Cook the veggies then mush 'em in a food processor...that's how I roll.
I store my baby food in used (washed and sanitized) baby food containers. They're the perfect portion and stack nicely in my freezer! I also write on the lid with a permanent marker what is in the container. The marker wipes off with a rag later so I can reuse them.
I like to experiment with flavors..mad scientist style! Kids don't know if things "go together" or not. Case in point, my 21 month old dipped his grapes in ketchup at lunch today.
I use the leftovers from store-bought rotisserie chickens for meat. Those things feed us for days, so I soak some in boiling water for a bit then puree it up. I usually mix meat with a veggie tho b/c the texture of ground up chicken makes me want to rub my teeth with my finger!
Blueberries, prunes, and mango make kids poop...A LOT! I usually don't serve these alone, but mix them with things.
Apples and pears can be mixed with ANYTHING (fruit or veggie) so I try to keep them in my fridge at all times.
Black beans make a good protein, but also make babies poop a lot, so I use them sparingly!
Give 'em lots of color! I LOVE looking in my freezer and seeing the rainbow of colors in those tiny containers! It makes me feel like I am feeding my child ever vitamin/nutrient possible. And, the stuff I make at home is much more colorful (and flavorful) than the stuff at the store!
When I put them in the freezer, I stack them strategically. I usually give my kiddo a fruit in the am, and a green or orange veggie at lunch then the opposite color veggie for dinner. So, to make my life easier, I stack my fruits and veggies so that the flavors are all mixed up. This way, my kid doesn't have to eat squash for 5 days in a row when there are carrots in there too.
My kids aren't perfect, but so far they'll eat anything! I like to give myself some of the credit for this since I am the one choosing what goes in their teeny tiny bodies :)
Above: a batch of baby food I made this morning using: 2 zucchini, 1 butternut squash, about 6 carrots and about a cup of chicken.
Above: my stock of fruit in the freezer. I think there's apple, pear, apricot, mango and blueberry represented.
I don't want to leave myself out here. I like to freeze a lil somthin' for myself too...Coffee! That's right, coffee...in ice cube form! It's summer after all and this mama's budget does not allow for Starbucks. So, when I've got some coffee left in the pot, I pour it into ice cube trays. Then, in the afternoon, when I need a little pick-me-up, I can pour some coffee (left-over from that morning) over some homemade creamer (recipe below) and coffee cubes. This way my coffee doesn't get diluted, or as I like to say POLLUTED, by melting regular ice cubes. I can also throw them in the blender for a yummy iced coffee drink that, again, doesn't get watered down.
My husband laughs, but let's be honest, it's pretty stinkin' genius!
1 can of sweetened condensed milk
2 cups of milk*
*I like almond milk or coconut milk
**my fave is caramel sauce and almond extract with a little touch of vanilla :)