Thursday, March 18, 2010

3 lbs of organic apples for $3.69 = Cheaper than a jar

The contenders?

3lbs of Organic Fuji Apples (which, by the way, smell amazing) for $3.69 at Whole Foods

Earth's Best Organic 12-pack of 2nd Foods Apples - $10.99 (12 4oz containers = 48oz).*
You don't likely need to buy anything to make baby food other than the food itself. I'm starting with apples, because they are so easy and most other baby fruit and veg purees can be made with the same method. Also, at 10 months my son is moving away from purees and this is one he still really loves. I'm pretty sure I will be making applesauce for years to come....

So its easy to get started. If you have a blender, food processor, or food mill, you are set to go. If not, then I was wrong and you will need to get one of those things. But the plus side is that you can use any size food processor - even those little bitty ones - and the results are the same. You may find you prefer smaller batches, or you may find that you just have to puree in batches. Peel your apples and core them. Cut them into whatever size chunks you like, as long as they are roughly the same size.
Place them in a pot and cover with water. Bring to a boil and then simmer until they are nice and mashy. Use a slotted spoon to pull the apples from the water and put them in your food processor or blender with as much of the cooking water as it takes to puree them to your desired consistency.

For "Stage1" foods, you will need to add most if not all, and maybe more water. Personally, I believe that "stages" are something baby food companies made up to make sure you spend as much money on baby food as possible for as long as possible. I don't generally add more than I need to to get the food pureed and instead I look at the texture. Boogie started with very smooth purees and moved slowly to chunkier ones. Apples can be pureed as much as you like forever since you will probably give your baby applesauce for years to come.
Spoon the puree into ice cube trays and if they have covers, cover them and freeze. We have some handy dandy Tupperware trays with lids that my mom bought off Ebay for fairly cheap, but they are currently in the freezer full of kale puree (yes, my baby LOVES kale puree!), so alternatively, you can put them in whatever trays are handy and wrap them in plastic wrap or foil to freeze. Just make sure if they are at all liquidy (as most purees are, no matter how little water you have added) that they are level.

I forgot to take pictures of my ice cube trays. Oops...

When they are solidly frozen (overnight is generally about right), pop them out and fill up a freezer bag, label it with the date and contents, and stick it back in the freezer. A deep freeze is super helpful with this as your collection of baby cubes grows!
I ended up with 32 ounces, or thereabouts, which translated into about 32 ounces of food, or about $.12 per ounce. Earth's Best jars work out to about $.29 per ounce. Not bad. If you ar elooking for a "stage 1" consistancy, you will probably add enough water to bring it to about 40oz or more, making your cost per ounce less than $.10.

*I like Earth's Best. This is for comparison only. Because their products are organic, whole grain, and do not contain (to my knowledge) any added sugar or salt, I believe they are a better alternative to conventional jarred baby food. But I believe that fresh, homemade whole food is best.

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