What To Do With Leftover Baby Food
Thank you for your very, very helpful advice about my earlier pediatrician switch conundrum; that being resolved, another little dilemma has popped up.
My little guy just turned one, and, all of a sudden, it’s “That puree’d stuff is for BABIES, which I CLEARLY am not, GIMMEE REAL FOOD. NOW. MOAR, WOMAN, MOAR.” Which is wonderful, but now I have a bunch of puree’d baby food hanging around my pantry and hogging space in my freezer. The jars I can happily donate to our local food bank, but what the heck am I supposed to do with all these frozen cubes of food? Melt them and put them in lasagna or pasta sauce or meatloaf? Throw them away and ignore the pangs of guilt for “wasting” all that pricey organic produce? Hide them in a smoothie and hope the sugar will cover up all the veggie goodness? Do you or your readers have any awesome recipes to share? I have a tons of little ice cubes of bananas, broccoli, carrots, cauliflower, and summer squash.
Baby Food Hoarder
Yes! Exactly! What you said there at the end! Pasta sauces! Meatloaf! Smoothies! Stuff like that! I had a literal WARCHEST of frozen pureed food options when Ezra made the abrupt switch to all-self-feeding, all-solids, all-the-time, and I’m happy to report I used up every. single. cube. in some unholy made-up-on-the-fly recipe idea. Noah, in particular, probably benefited during this period even more, because I was spreading pear and apple puree on his peanut-butter sandwiches and stirring cauliflower into his macaroni and cheese.
The good news is that a BABY starting to finger-feed and explore “real” food is easier to trick than a toddler or preschooler, who generally have very strong opinions on what COLOR foods should be, and will sometimes reject things untasted, even if you assure them that the flavor profiles are, in fact, delicious and the texture divine. (They need to watch more Top Chef, I suppose.)
So where to start with the experimentation? Obviously, you can go to the bookstore and peruse those “sneaky” kids’ cookbooks for the basics of What You Can Hide In What, but they aren’t really aimed for toddlers. They may boost your confidence that yes, you CAN put zucchini and white-bean puree in cookies, or butternut squash on grilled cheese, though, but…after a few pages, you should get the idea pretty well on your own. This article from Wholesome Baby Food covers a lot of ground — so much that I’ve probably just rendered myself and my own answers redundant, but I still feel compelled to share what worked for us.
What to do with leftover fruit purees:
- Defrost and spread on strips of bread or baby-safe crackers.
- Pulse in a blender with plain yogurt, additional frozen fruit and a little water (or juice or milk, depending on age).
- Mix with cottage cheese or yogurt.
- Add to baked goods like breads or muffins (banana puree to banana bread, blueberry puree to blueberry muffins, peach puree to pancakes, etc.).
- Use as a dipping sauce for teething biscuits, sliced bananas or other finger foods (Ezra is OBSESSED with dipping sauces and condiments [dip-dips, as he calls them], and demands them at every meal, while Noah despised everything about the dipping concept, so this one depends on the baby).
What to do with leftover veggie purees:
- Add to meatballs (carrots, peas and green beens work especially well).
- Add to pasta sauces (again, smooth green veggies, carrots and squash go best).
- Making hamburgers for you? Make baby-sized patties with veggies or lentils.
- If your baby can grasp macaroni & cheese, add broccoli, cauliflower, or chickpeas.
- Glaze or marinate baby’s chicken in squash or carrot purees before cooking.
- Once your baby has tried eggs, add broccoli and shredded cheese to scrambled eggs, or to a frittata (along with other soft, diced veggies) cut into cubes.
- And oh my lands, I could go on all day — probably way past your stash of food. Let’s see…I remember steaming and braising sliced carrots for Ezra using a modified Julia Child’s recipe (he’s SKINNY. he needs BUTTER.)…and then tossing a couple cubes of carrots to the pan just for the heck of it. I mixed pureed corn into mashed potatoes and dipped bites of turkey into apple puree. I spread mango on the inside of quesadillas and used up an entire tray of sweet potatoes in one Sunday-morning pancake breakfast with a pinch of cinnamon. Ezra’s favorite lamb-and-lentil stew went into meatballs and hamburger patties; asparagus went into spaghetti sauce; pureed zucchini went into a batch of chocolate-chip cookies. I still put frozen (although no longer pureed) peas and spinach into smoothies made with a ton of frozen fruit and a dash of apple juice and even NOAH, the pickiest eater on the planet, is none the wiser.
Okay, everybody else’s turn! Any favorite recipes or tricks for using up leftover baby food…or making sure your baby’s daily count of fruits and veggies didn’t suffer once they moved on to finger foods?