baby food

Whether you are a full-on cloth-diapering, organic-onesie eco mom, or more of a super busy, no-drama mama watching your bottom line, making your own baby food can be a lot simpler—and less expensive—than you might think. 

A jar of mushed organic bananas on Amazon will run you $0.81, but fresh, organic bananas at your local store cost around $0.69 per pound. The math adds up in favor of fresh, but if the time it takes is much more than popping open a jar, it might not be worth it.

Thankfully, there are some foods that take almost no effort to prepare for baby, making the choice to go DIY with your baby food a no-brainer. Here are five of the easiest stage one foods to prepare yourself that even the pickiest eater will love.

Bananas

Bananas are the ultimate convenience food. They’re also a natural antacid, making them a perfect choice for babies with reflux. And even better, we’ve never met a baby who didn’t like them!

To prepare: Peel and dice, then mash with a fork. Bananas can be frozen whole, peeled, or mashed bananas can be frozen in individual portions.

Avocados

Silky and creamy, avocados contain folate and good fats that are important for brain development. Some pediatricians are even recommending that parents forgo refined cereals, and are now recommending avocados as a perfect first food alternative.

To prepare: Cut ripe avocado in half and remove the pit; scoop out the flesh and mash with a fork. Avocado slices can be frozen, then thawed and mashed, but avocado puree tends to turn brown when frozen.

Pears

A ripe pear is one of the most easily digestible foods available, making it a perfect stage one food and great for babies who suffer from reflux. A good way to help your pears ripen at home is to store them in a paper bag.

To prepare: Slice a very ripe pear and mash with a fork. Pear skins are easily digestible, so there is no need to peel a pear. Freeze pear chunks or puree in individual portions.

Sweet Potatoes

These are like candy for babies—but with much better nutrition. The Nutrition Action Health Letter rated 58 vegetables and sweet potatoes topped the list, beating their nearest competitors by a mile. And, because of their high fiber, they can help keep baby’s tummy calm as it gets used to eating solid foods.

To prepare: Wash potato and poke several holes in the skin with a fork; wrap in aluminum foil and bake in a 350 degree oven for 30 to 60 minutes or until soft. Allow to cool, then peel and mash with a fork. Freeze sweet potato mash in individual portions.

Apples

Believe it or not, applesauce is super easy to make, and when you make your own, you won’t have to go blind trying to read labels to find out what’s in it. Plus, it’s great to have applesauce on hand to mix with other foods that might need a little sweetening up to appeal to baby’s developing palate.

To prepare: Peel, core, and dice 5–10 apples. Place in a pan with just enough water to cover. Boil until tender, then use a potato masher or food processor to puree. 

According to the Environmental Working Group, bananas, avocados and sweet potatoes are among the 15 foods least contaminated with pesticides, so going organic is your choice. But apples and pears are both in the top 20 most contaminated foods list, so buying organic is a must.

Even if you’re not ready to commit to doing DIY for baby’s every meal, these five foods are so easy to prepare, you’ll be saving money while ensuring that your baby gets the very best nutrition.

image: Ryan Leighty