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What To Do With Leftover Baby Food

Aug03

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Advice Smackdown ArchivesHi Amy,

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.

Thank you!
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?

About the author

Amalah

http://www.amalah.com
Amalah is a pseudonym of Amy Corbett Storch. She is the author of the Advice Smackdown and Bounce Back. You can follow Amy's daily mothering adventures at Amalah. Also, it's pronounced AIM-ah-lah.

If there is a question you would like answered on the Advice Smackdown, please submit it to amyadvice@gmail.com.

Amy also documented her second pregnancy (with Ezra) in our wildly popular Weekly Pregnancy Calendar, Zero to Forty.

Amy is mother to rising first-grader Noah, preschooler Ezra, and toddler Ike.


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19 Responses to “What To Do With Leftover Baby Food”

  1. lisa Aug 03 at 1:00 pm Reply Reply

    I love putting broccoli puree/chopped into mac n cheese. Even my veggie fearning hubby will eat that.

  2. Olivia Aug 03 at 1:10 pm Reply Reply

    So far all I’ve done is substitute fruit purees for the oil in pancakes and banana bread. I need to try using the veggie purees and you listed some great ideas.

  3. Clare Aug 03 at 1:42 pm Reply Reply

    You could make muffins.  Swistle has a universal muffin recipe that calls for 2 c of mashed stuff: http://swistle.blogspot.com/2009/01/swistles-favorite-muffin-recipe.html

    Muffins freeze well, and make handy breakfast or snack foods.

    You could add the pureed veggies to chili, or tomato sauce, or season them with garlic, onion, whatever, and have spinach pesto, or orange pesto, or red pesto, and serve it over fun noodle shapes.  You could mix the fruit with plain yogurt or cream cheese and spread it on toast, or use it as a dip for crackers or soft fruit.  

  4. soxley Aug 03 at 1:55 pm Reply Reply

    I gave all my leftover pureed baby food to a friend who’s little one was still eating the pureed stuff. She wasn’t sure about the zillion cubes of rutabaga, but her little one loved it as much as mine did.

  5. Liz Aug 03 at 1:58 pm Reply Reply

    I made toast/English muffin pizzas, using veggie purees as the sauce. What with the bread and the cheese goodness, the sauce part was totally interchangeable for my kid.

  6. Delora Aug 03 at 2:09 pm Reply Reply

    Any kind of sauce, stew or soup can take an assortment of veggie purees. To this day (I have a 9yo), I still use pureed pumpkin (from our jack o lanterns) to thicken chili, and throw things like spinach into beef stew and black bean soup. If you’re a casserole kind of cook, use several veggie purees instead of that disgusting canned condensed soup to bind things together.

  7. Beth Aug 03 at 2:12 pm Reply Reply

    SOUP! My god woman SOUP SOUP SOUP! There are all kinds of pureed soups out there that are divine. Carrot potato, split pea, butternut squash, tomato. I could go on and on and on.

  8. Leigh Aug 03 at 2:32 pm Reply Reply

    I add them to plain yogurt, which is thick enough for my son to self feed with a spoon. It is nice to just buy the plain and make your own flavor

  9. Jessica Aug 03 at 3:24 pm Reply Reply

    I made a TON of zucchini muffins, because I had apparently like 43 cubes of zucchini. I made sweet potato/squash pancakes, pumpkin waffles, blueberry/apricot muffins (decently delicious!). I baked with a lot of mine, and we are still using them up.

    I would LOVE a good meatball recipe. Mine have all turned into some greasy, flat “balls” of doom. Anyone?

  10. Sue Aug 03 at 5:02 pm Reply Reply

    Thanks for the advice, I will pass this onto my son for his daughter. I always tried to make my own baby food whenever possible too. Soup is definitely a great idea.

  11. bari Aug 03 at 7:46 pm Reply Reply

    My son recently turned one and we are still whipping out the blender every other week or so. I think Amy and the other commenters gave plenty of ideas but we add pureed fruit and veggies to plain yogurt just about every day. Squash and apples is a great combo but he doesn’t seem to really care. We also use pureed fruit in his oatmeal, especially fruit he wont normally eat (blueberries? who dislikes blueberries??)

  12. bari Aug 03 at 7:47 pm Reply Reply

    My son recently turned one and we are still whipping out the blender every other week or so. I think Amy and the other commenters gave plenty of ideas but we add pureed fruit and veggies to plain yogurt just about every day. Squash and apples is a great combo but he doesn’t seem to really care. We also use pureed fruit in his oatmeal, especially fruit he wont normally eat (blueberries? who dislikes blueberries??)

  13. Caitlyn Aug 04 at 8:44 am Reply Reply

    or don’t do purees at all, so there’s none to be left over – http://www.babyledweaning.com/  My mom skipped straight to finger foods with us, now I’m doing it with my little one.

  14. Carmen Aug 04 at 3:07 pm Reply Reply

    We made risotto & added either the squash, carrot, or sweet potato purees to that. Very yummy.

  15. ILikePaperCutting Aug 10 at 4:50 am Reply Reply

    I am impressed with the wonderful ideas and tips provided, very useful.

  16. orisha Jan 09 at 7:41 pm Reply Reply

    what can we do w baby food w meat? can the help flavor things up and extend the meals??

  17. Erin Sep 27 at 3:11 pm Reply Reply

    My one year-old LOVES his “smoothies”! One jar of fruit and a couple of scoops of a veggie with his milk. 

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  1. Good things I found for you (or that I wrote for you) - Aug 10

    [...] BABY: What to do with leftover babyfood on Alphamom by Amalah who lists a boatload of good ideas for kids who have started on finger food. [...]

  2. Amy’s Notebook 08.11.10 | The Motherload - Aug 11

    [...] love this post on what to do with leftover baby food (@ alpha [...]

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