How To Store Homemade Baby Food
While making your own baby food is usually a labor-intensive project, storing it can be surprisingly easy. If you're wondering how to store homemade baby food, the good news is that there are a lot of options for safely keeping your homemade creations fresh. Ahead you'll find a few simple things to consider — as well as all of the products you will need — to get started.
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1. Consider Baby Food Storage Guidelines
First things first, you need to decide whether you'll be making a small batch for the refrigerator or a larger batch for the freezer. You can safely store puréed food in the fridge for just 24 to 48 hours, whereas you can keep food in the freezer for up to 3 months.
2. Think Safety & Convenience When It Comes To Fridge Storage
For fridge storage, small BPA-free plastic or glass jars are a convenient option. Look for ones that have airtight lids with containers that store between two and four-ounces. This smaller size is important because once a jar has been dipped into with a spoon to feed your baby, or left out at room temperature for more than two hours, it can't then be restored due to contamination risks.
These cute reusable baby food jars are perfect for fridge storage, but they can also be used in the freezer since they're conveniently microwave-, freezer-, and dishwasher-safe. The set includes 12 high-grade food-safe glass jars, each with a lid that can be screwed on airtight so you can keep those puréed peas fresh. The four-ounce jars come with measurement markings too, so you can choose to fill them to whatever ounce level your baby is currently eating in one meal. Shoppers love that this set comes with a dry-erase marker to label the jars on top. "The fact that you can use a dry erase marker (and one is included with purchase) is great. [...]The last thing I want to continue spending on is labels. I was easily able to clean off the dry erase marker while washing the lid-no extra effort required."
You can also consider reusable food pouches for fridge storage. The upside to using pouches is that they can easily be taken on the go, or squeezed out into other bowls if you're not planning on using the whole serving at once. This option resembles the pouches you can buy at the grocery store but is a more eco- and budget-friendly alternative.
These adorable reusable baby food pouches come in a pack of six different animal designs that hold 3.4 ounces each (although larger pack sizes and combo sets are also available). They feature a wide bottom zipper that lets you fill them with whatever puréed food you've blended, and then you can either have your child squeeze directly from the top spout or you can squeeze some onto a regular spoon for them. To clean, you can either hand wash or pop them on the top shelf of a dishwasher. You can also rest easy knowing they're free of BPA, phthalates, PVC, and lead. One reviewer noted, "Love these! My girls love pouches but they can be pricey, wasteful and full of sugar [...]. These allow me to tailor make the contents. They are fun and appealing. The zip seal was very hard to open at first but has got easier and does mean that they are less likely to leak."
3. Decide On Which Freezer Option Is Best For You
If you're making bulk batches for freezing, you have a fair amount of storage options to choose from. The U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) recommends using either ice cube trays that can be wrapped with plastic wrap, (although these days many trays come with matching lids) or small jars, noting that you should leave about 1/2 inch of space at the top of the jar since food expands when it freezes.
To help determine which option is best for you, consider the amount of freezer space you have available and the number of steps you want to take to access the food. With ice cube trays, most people pop out the frozen food cubes and transfer them into a freezer-safe bag. Jars are a more "one and done" solution — and I speak from personal experience when I say that seeing a rainbow of homemade baby food jars lined up in the freezer is immensely satisfying in a Pinterest-y way — but they do take up a good amount of key real estate.
If you decide that ice cube tray storage makes the most sense for you, you're not going to find a better option than this four-pack set from OMORC. The trays are made with a sturdy plastic frame for easy carrying, but the 14 cubes in each are made of silicone so you can easily pop out the food without having to wrestle with the whole tray. They come with matching lids so you can keep odors out and also easily stack them for maximizing storage space. You can choose from either green or blue hues, and they're dishwasher safe for easy cleanup. One fan noted, "I make my own babyfood and these hold one tablespoon each and they make it so much easier to pop out the cube once you figure out to push only on the blue part at the bottom not like a traditional ice tray."
For storing your food cubes fresh out of the ice cube tray, these reusable gallon freezer bags are a smart choice. Not only are they eco-friendly (the brand says that one of these bags can save 350 plastic bags from landfills), but they are also leakproof and easy to clean (just rinse out with warm water and soap). They're made with freezer-safe PEVA (which is lead-, phtalate-, chlorine-, and BPA-free material), with zip closures that seal tight to prevent freezer burn. One shopper commented, "Even after being in the freezer.. easy to open and close! WOW! Easy to clean, zip and use. Out of the box was able to zip them closed with one hand (while holding the camera with the other hand). I like that I can see thru them."
These BPA-free plastic baby food jars come from the same brand as my top refrigerator storage pick above, although they're a little more affordable (note: both jar sets can actually be used in either the fridge or freezer). These dishwasher-safe jars also come backed by a near-perfect Amazon rating, boasting a 4.8-star rating after almost 1,000 reviews. The four-ounce jars lack the measurement markings as their glass counterparts but they nest easily for compact storage. They come with screw-on lids that can be labeled and dated with the included dry erase marker. The one caveat: they're not microwave safe. One parent noted, "These are great containers for storing homemade baby food. I like the different color tops I can color code the different foods I put it. Though I can also label them with the marker they do thoughtfully included in the box!"
4. Consider The Baking Sheet Method If You Have A Large Freezer
If you're into meal prep — and you have the freezer space for it — then you'll want to consider this option since it's an efficient way to make a ton of baby food at once. Use a baking sheet lined with wax paper or a silicone baking mat and create dollops of baby food like you would balls of cookie dough, and then cover the sheets in plastic wrap and pop the sheet(s) in the freezer. Similar to the ice cube tray method, you then place the frozen food clumps into a freezer bag for storage.
These high-quality half-sheet baking sheets from Nordic Ware come backed by more than 7,000 Amazon reviews. They're made of aluminum for long-lasting use and while they're a little more expensive than your average pan, they come with reinforced rims so you can use them for all kinds of kitchen tasks, from roasting vegetables to baking granola (and of course for freezing your baby food creations). It's recommended that you hand wash these pans for keeping them in mint condition, though several reviewers noted that they cleaned up well in the dishwasher. One fan commented, "Very pleased with the performance. Used extensive in the oven (up to 500 degrees) and the freezer and not experienced any warping."
5. Don't Forget About A Cookbook For Recipe Inspiration
One-ingredient purées can get a little boring both for your little one to eat and for you to make. That's where this comprehensive baby food cookbook comes in. It includes 230 organic recipes that can see you through years of use since it includes both baby and toddler food inspiration (for reference, the breakdown of recipes is: 115 purée recipes, more than 40 smoothie and finger food recipes, and 70+ meals for the whole family to eat). Reviewers love that the book includes tons of helpful content beyond just recipes, like a list of the "Dirty Dozen" and the "Clean Fifteen." One shopper noted, "About 1/8 of the book is helpful info, such as; how to properly buy organic, buying food in season, how to store and freeze foods, allergies, how to start baby on solids, etc." The same reviewer went on to list the many "pros" of the book, which included that each recipe is labeled vegan, vegetarian or gluten-free.