I've never fed G any food out of a jar. When I tell people this, I sometimes get comments like 'wow, you must have a lot of free time' - sha' right! While it does take a wee bit of commitment to get up and running, making your own baby food is super easy, economical (HELLO RECESSION!), and the best way to make sure your kiddo is getting the very best ingredients and a varied diet.
So, I'm going to hop off my soapbox now and actually tell you how to whip up some baby grub.
First, the gear.
ice cube trays
blender or food processor
nice deep pot and a steam basket (this one is cheap and easy to clean)
sieve or fine mesh strainer
Nice to have:
stick (also called immersion) blender - these are great if you have little space and can replace the blender/processor
food mill - good for grinding things like peas where you need to get rid of the skin
Next step - grocery shopping! To be very honest I'm not super vigilant about organic. B works in a nursery and is very knowledgeable on pesticides and the like, so I don't get too worked up about organic vs. regular produce. Especially for things like squash where you're going to discard all of the peel. But that decision is entirely up to the chef - that is the beauty of making your own baby food - you get to decide what goes into it!
Here are a few ideas for some easy, freezable first foods:
Pear - Peel and core, chop and steam. Cool and puree, then pour into ice cube trays and freeze.
Apple - See Pear.
Butternut Squash - Peel, chop and steam OR bake in the oven (pour a little water or orange juice in hollow and cover with foil) and scoop out the flesh. Puree, adding water to bring to the right consistency. Pour into ice cube trays and freeze.
Yams - Bake in the oven (this produces the sweetest taste) and scoop out insides. Puree like the squash. Pour into ice cube trays and freeze.
Peas - I buy frozen, no salt added. Steam the peas, puree and push through a fine mesh strainer or sieve to get rid of the excess skin - the skin is a little tough for beginners. Pour pea puree into ice cube tray and freeze.
You might ask why ice cube trays? I find they freeze just the right portion for a baby just starting solids. Once the food has frozen, I pop the little portions out into marked freezer bags. At mealtime, simply choose your food and pop it in the microwave for about 25-30 seconds. Stir vigorously to get rid of hot spots and check the temperature before feeding to baby.
If you're still skeptical about the time this takes - take heed. It only takes about an hour, max, on a Sunday afternoon to produce enough food for an entire week - or maybe two. So it's really not too much of a time commitment.
Now, for a little inspiration. Once your child is old enough that you've tried a good base lineup of foods and ruled out allergies, you can start using more complicated recipes. I've found a couple of really great cookbooks for ideas:
Top 100 Baby Purees by Annabel Karmel - Easy to read, quick recipes and very tasty. This is a good book to start with, goes over all the basics of preparation and nutrition.
The Petit Appetit Cookbook by Lisa Barnes - This one is fun, creative and especially good if you're going the organic route.
I've gained so much from preparing all of G's food - I'm not home with him all the time, so it's a good feeling to know that when he eats meals while I'm at work, it's something I put time and effort into. I know it benefits his health and saves some money. And who doesn't want to do that these days!