Practical food tips for parents from a RD and mom of three

Friday, April 9, 2010

To Puree or Not To Puree?

When Lila and Deacon were babies, I fed them jarred baby food. At the time, I thought it would be too time-consuming to puree baby food for them. And the simple, single- or two-ingredient foods that I selected for them did not have additives – just carrots (for example) and water. This was a convenient way to feed them, and they seemed to like the food.

Fast forward to this past year, when I contemplated starting 6-month-old Ned on solids. Suddenly I had this overwhelming urge to start pureeing fruits and vegetables for him. I checked a few books out of the library and got to work.

It turned out to be easy. Lila even helped me as I was washing, peeling, chopping, and pureeing. Since Ned was eating purees through the winter months we started with sweet potatoes, squash, and carrots, and added fruits like apples, bananas, and pears. He also got to try cauliflower, broccoli, blueberries, prunes, kale, cantaloupe, peas, and green beans.

I was a little scared to puree meat, but decided to try it, since I had made it so far without buying baby food. I browned some ground turkey, threw it in the blender with water, and gave it a whirl. Suddenly Ned was no longer a vegetarian! I expanded his meat offerings to include chicken and beef.

Along the way, I checked a few books out of the library. The most helpful one was Blender Baby Food: Over 125 Recipes for Healthy Homemade Meals by Nadine Young. Other good books are: Top 100 Baby Purees by Anabel Karmel, and Cooking for Baby by Lisa Barnes. Ned's (and my) favorite recipe was for Cranberry-Apple Mush from Nadine Young's book, a cinnamon-y treat during the holidays.

Here are a couple of tips I would pass on to parents embarking on home pureeing:
  • Make food in the biggest quantity you can freeze and store. Freeze purees in ice-cube trays and pop frozen food cubes into labeled food storage bags. At mealtime you can pop a few cubes in a bowl, microwave, and you're ready to go.
  • I preferred to puree single foods and mix them for meals. For example, I'd pull a couple of carrot cubes, mix them with a couple of chicken cubes, and serve with pears.
  • I found it to be easier to serve Ned store-bought natural applesauce (the kind without added sugar) than to make it homemade. It might have been better homemade, but I decided to take a short cut on this food – and jarred applesauce is inexpensive!
  • I never pureed bananas. They turn brown quickly, so I would just mash them with a fork at mealtime.
  • Once beans were introduced into Ned's diet I found it easy to puree them into meats. The resulting meat/bean puree had a better texture than plain meat puree.
All in all, I was happy serving my older two kids jarred baby food, and they were none the worse for it. I enjoyed pureeing food for Ned, and found it to be less expensive, but more time-consuming.

Today's Tip: If you are buying baby food, try a homemade puree. Check out a book and get cooking!


  1. I have to say that I did the puree thing and LOVED it! I had done it years ago when I was a nanny so it came pretty easily AND it gave me a chance to use my food processor which usually only sees action when I need to make latkes for Hanukkah. I agree...make a TON and freeze as much as you can at once. It takes up tons of space, but it makes the rest of your month so much easier. I am glad that you enjoyed it so much this time around!

  2. Christina P NoceJuly 18, 2010 at 6:16 PM

    Thanks for all of your advice- I have LOVED making food for Franks!! We got the book, and I refer to it constantly! I love the guide with sample "meals"- we just went to 2 meals a day, and the recipes are helpful (right now we are on simple purees, but I am excited to mix foods once we have introduced more). Today we made peas- they freaked her out a little, but I am sure she will get used to them.