Your DIY guide to cooking and freezing your own baby food

Here’s a step-by-step guide, from a mom who has been there and done that, to cooking and freezing your own baby food.

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Mommy blogger, Dani Silbermann shares advice on how to cook and freeze your own baby food:

ALSO SEE: Freezing and defrosting homemade baby food safely

The Veggie Cooking days and the Protein Cooking days occur on separate occasions.

1. Buy all the veggies that you want your little one to eat. I buy packets of spinach, sweet potato, butternut, carrots, broccoli, apples and pears. I opt for organic where possible, but if you aren’t able to, don’t stress.

2. Wash, peel and prep.

3. Steam. Don’t overcook the veggies as you will kill the nutrients. Just cook until soft enough to puree / blend.

Tip: Reserve the steamed veggie liquid at the bottom of the steamer, in case you need it to thin out the puree. This way, you still get to add back some of the nutrients that are lost during the steaming process.

ALSO SEE: 6 puree recipes for your little one

4. Puree or mash the veggies. This will depend on what stage of eating your baby is at (smooth vs textured). I do this using a stick blender.

5. Spoon into ice trays. (You could also “pipe” the puree using a Ziplock bag with a hole cut into the corner, but this is just an extra step that really isn’t necessary. A spoon works just fine). Tap the trays gently to get rid of any air bubbles. If your ice trays don’t have lids, use wax paper to separate them and prevent freezer burn, and stack them on top of each other.

Click here for Dani’s advice on the best trays to use.

6. Make an ice bath to cool down the trays ASAP. This step is crucial! You need to cool down the trays as quickly as possible. You shouldn’t let the food stand for longer than 2 hours at room temperature as this is a breeding ground for bacteria. Stand the trays in a basin of ice cold water to drop the temperature of the food as quickly as possible. (I didn’t always do this and #babyjake survived just fine. But I have since learnt about how dangerous it can be to allow food to stand at room temperature for longer than 2 hours.).

7. Once frozen, about 24 hours later, pop out the cubes into neatly labelled, date-stamped Ziplock Freezer bags. My freezer literally resembles a filing cabinet. We go shopping in the freezer every morning and afternoon, picking a few cubes of this and a few cubes of that. I have a dedicated freezer drawer for #babyjake’s food bags.

Handy tips:

  • Don’t leave your cubes in the ice-trays, as it’s a pain to pop them out individually each time you need one. To get all the cubes out in one easy shot, run the trays under luke warm water to loosen the cubes. Or stand them in the sink with cool water. Don’t use hot water because the cubes will start to defrost.
  • You can freeze and cook in batches if you don’t have enough ice cube trays to do it all in one shot. You’ll transfer the frozen cubes to Ziplock bags so that you can free up another tray for more cooking / freezing.
  • Woolies has BPA Free Freezer Ziplock bags (again, not sure this is entirely necessary). I’ve seen one mom who freezes her cubes in individual little mini Ziplock bags (which you can buy at Plastic Land or Westpack). But that’s just more plastic to recycle. One large Ziplock bag works just fine.

8. To defrost: It is not recommended to defrost at room temperature. Baby food should always be thawed in a way which prevents bacterial growth. So here’s how to best defrost the cubes:

  • Ideally you want to take out a selection of cubes the night before (which I never remember to do), and defrost in your fridge overnight. Or take out in the morning, to defrost by dinner time. Must be in an airtight container so no bacteria can get in.
  • Or place in a glass bowl inside another bowl of hot water to speed things up (like a double boiler). This can take 30 minutes.
  • Or heat on the stove, on low heat, with a little bit of water to melt / defrost.
  • Or microwave for 30 seconds at a time, on defrost function. Stir and make sure there are no “hot” spots. Use a glass bowl rather than plastic.

Food safety tips

  • Frozen baby food cubes can stay in the freezer for up to 8 weeks. My stash normally runs out around this time anyway.
  • Do not store leftover food from a container that your baby has been eating from. Saliva will contaminate the food and storing leftovers may cause food poisoning. If your baby leaves any food in his bowl after a meal, throw it away. Food that has been in contact with saliva will contain bacteria that will multiply if kept.
  • Never refreeze meals that have already been frozen. The exception to this is that raw frozen food can be returned to the freezer once it is cooked. For example cooked frozen peas can be re-frozen.
  • Do not reheat foods more than once. Repeated reheating kills the nutrients in the food. In some cases constant heating and cooling results in quicker contamination and spoilage of food.
  • Once thawed, the food can be kept in the fridge for up to 72 hours. Ideally less though.
  • Read here for tips on keeping your refrigerated food safe during load shedding.

Click here for Dani’s tips on meal plan guidelines and quantity guidelines. 

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