Sunday, November 22, 2015

Baby Food: The Amazing Make-Ahead Baby Food Book

I'm a mommy to four kids, and with one of them still being under a year old, I've made a lot of baby food over the last several years.  Commercial baby food has its place in a pinch, but I've found that making my own is more economical, healthier, tastier, and offers more natural textures to transition into real food.

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Recently I was given the opportunity to review the book The Amazing Make-Ahead Baby Food Book by Lisa Barrangou, PhD, and I was interested to see what I could learn from it.

The author has previously worked as a food scientist for three different food companies, and she knew that processed food was not fresh, flavorful, or as nutritious as food should be.  She developed a system of preparing her babies a variety of healthy food options in minimal time, and soon branched out into a business, preparing the food and a menu plan for clients.

The Amazing Make-Ahead Baby Food Book was written to help parents implement her plan at home.  It is a plan that can help parents create a "well-balanced, diverse selection of whole food purees and freshly ground grains to feed your baby for up to three months, and to do it within three one-hour blocks of time."

Everything you would need to begin preparing homemade baby food is included in this book.
  • A shopping guide
  • Instructions for three cooking sessions
  • three months of menus (with the 3+ day rule factored in)
  • Information about mix-ins like cheese, yogurt, eggs, herbs, spices, etc
  • Flavor compatibility guide
  • Simple recipes for basic purees
  • Recipes that combine purees
  • Finger foods and advanced meals (many are appropriate for a full meal for the family!)
There's really a lot more information than that, but that's the essentials.  

I'm to the point now where I rarely make baby food ahead of time to freeze, just because I've mastered the art of tweaking what the family eats for the baby.  Dice a banana into oatmeal at breakfast, hard-boil an extra egg, bake an extra sweet potato, smash the steamed veggies . . . you get the point.  I do freeze some things for when we're not eating something baby-friendly (extra-spicy, pizza, etc) but after four kids, I've figured out how to do that based around what I'm already cooking, and I personally don't need marathon baby-food-cooking sessions.

That being said . . . I think this book is a fabulous resource for those new to making baby food, as well as those who need a system to maximize their time in the kitchen.  I would find the schedule very helpful if I still worked full-time outside of the home, and wanted to send wholesome baby food to childcare.  It's very informational, packed full of science and nutrition, but it's written in a very conversational manner and easy to read.  It would be a cute gift for the new mom when paired with some of the supplies needed for baby food (storage containers, spoons, bibs, etc) to give her the confidence to make her own food.  It goes a long way too, with the suggestions for older babies/toddlers.  I sometimes flip through for ideas for advanced meals, as my daughter is now an older baby and prefers "table food" with lots of textures and flavors, so it's nice to get some fresh ideas for the kids.

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