Motherhood brings with it lots of questions. Breast or bottle? Cloth or disposable? Vaccinate or not? As I eased into motherhood, I answered these questions, one at a time, in the best way I knew how, and with the well being of my family in mind. One that didn’t require much thought was the question of baby food: Homemade or store-bought jars? From day one, I fully planned to make my own baby food from scratch. I strive to eat homemade foods myself, so it only seemed natural that I would feed my baby that way, too.
But I have to be realistic. I work just shy of 45 hours a week, I do freelance work, I blog, I have a house to take care of, a husband I like spending time with, and I like to shower once in a while. It keeps me hopping, to say the least. So, while I do advocate for feeding babies real, whole, natural foods, I also think that sometimes, those foods can come, premade, from a store. Here’s why:
There are lots of variables with home gardens. The weather ruins some crops, some don’t produce much, and some things have a short season. Pick what you can, puree it up, and freeze it, but you may end up with a very limited variety. Storebought baby foods can make up the difference so your baby can develop a more varied palate.
When I first started out making purees, I made peaches, peas, and a few others, but I really had trouble finding some of the items I wanted in an organic option. And sometimes, when I did, the prices were sky high. This is where the jarred baby food comes in handy. Depending on the season, you may find the organic jars at a cheaper price per ounce than the fresh versions.
As for grains, I like to buy these in bulk. Brown rice, oats, millet and quinoa are favorites. They can add fiber and nutrients, along with bulk, to stretch out your more pricey fruits and veggies (don’t stretch too much, of course.)
It’s all about using what you have, adding what’s in season and what you can afford, and planning your meals and your baby’s meals so that they synch up.
And when the day gets away from you, as it inevitably will on occasion, you will always have a few jars of organic baby food on hand, and maybe a few servings of one of your recipes in the freezer, so you’ll never have to say, “Oh, I’m too busy, I’ll just give him ________.” and feel badly about it later.
And, as anyone who eats local, seasonal foods will tell you, you do sacrifice variety when you choose to eat this way. When a certain fruit or veggie is in season, you eat it–lots of it–until it’s gone, and then you move on to the next. So, actually, keeping in mind my quest to provide my son with as much colorful, flavorful variety as possible, I could actually be doing him a disservice by relying solely on whatever happens to be plentiful in my local area. By incorporating some organic jarred foods, I can round out his diet in a way that would otherwise be nearly impossible, or at the very least, quite expensive.
I find making baby food to be just as rewarding as breastfeeding, cloth diapering, and all the other things that I feel are best, even though they consume a little more time. But I allow myself to bend a little, without ever having to bend so far as to give my precious boy anything processed or full of pesticides and who knows what else. I can say with certainty that I feel good about every bite that goes into that happy little mouth!
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