When my first child was born, I had grand ambitions of making all his food from scratch. I figured that since I cooked meals for my husband and I, of course my son should have homemade food as well. But soon after he began eating solids, the challenges of being a time-strapped working mother set in and he started getting store-bought baby food. Through it all, I always felt like I could be doing better for him, especially after I tasted the food.
With my second child, I decided to give it another go. Maybe it was the three previous years of feeling like a short-order cook for my first child that made me feel like cooking for one more child would be no big deal, but somehow this time I stuck with it. And you know what? It’s super easy. If I can do it, so can you.
I started by doing some pre-planning on the weekends and cooking some basic foods that could last me a few days. Each week, I would make a big batch of applesauce. Just peel a bunch of apples and throw them in a pot, close the lid, and simmer for about a half hour. An immersion blender right in the pot helps puree the applesauce. I did the same thing with sweet potatoes.
Once my daughter had moved onto meats, I’d make a big batch of chicken soup on Sundays. These three staples — applesauce, sweet potatoes, and chicken soup — became the basis for a bunch of meals throughout the week.
In the morning, I would mix the applesauce with some yoghurt and rice cereal. For lunch, she would get sweet potatoes, chicken, and chicken broth with a little applesauce – all mixed together. For dinner, I would steam some spinach, throw in some blueberries, and puree that with any or all of the staples in a mini food processor.
We always kept bananas around. I would add pureed bananas into anything just to give it that added bit of sweetness for her. Peas, green beans, broccoli – you name it. She at it all up! In a nutshell, I would just grab whatever fruits and vegetables I had around and mix them up with whatever else was around.
If we were eating turkey or fish, I would throw that in for her as well. It really doesn’t need to be complicated. Flavor combinations that might seem odd to us (spinach, bananas, chicken and blueberries, anyone?) were a big hit for her. I didn’t struggle for big culinary inspirations – I just served what I had around.
If you are struggling for inspiration, there are a ton of great cookbooks out that make it very easy for you. Give it a shot for a week or two. I promise your baby will thank you for it.