Saturday, July 14, 2012

Cooking for One (Baby)

I have ventured into the task of making my own baby food. I don't go organic and I don't do it because I think it's better for my baby and I don't do it because it seems like more fun than buying it from the grocery store shelves. I do it to save money. Plain and simple. So here is a documentation of the process and the calculation of savings. Maybe it will inspire someone else to do the same! In fact, the only reason I thought I could make my own baby food was because I saw pictures of someone else doing it and they made it seem like a good idea. And it is!

It all started by going to Sprouts, the cheap produce store. I bought:
1 lb bag carrots $0.77
Bunch Spinach (about a pound) $0.99
Green Beans .69 lb $1.17
Red Yams (Eleanor's favorite) 2.7 lb $2.67
Golden Delicious Apples 2.75 lb $2.67
Total $8.27
(tax not included)
Then I started washing, peeling, steaming and blending thanks to this little guy:

He did such a good job I named him Eddy. I know, it's a clever name. That's why I told Vince about it. He didn't get it, so I explained it to him. When you turn on a blender it looks like a whirlpool. A little whirlpool in a river is, ready for it? an Eddy. So there you go.

To be time efficient I started by putting the sweet potatoes in the oven at 400 for a full hour and while they were getting nice and soft I started steaming the other veggies and while I was blending one batch I'd start steaming the next. It's like playing Cake Mania veggie style. I felt like a little baby food factory (which is nothing new. Once you start breastfeeding that's basically your default mode of operation). So anyway, I've been saving and washing the baby food containers from the hand-me-downs that my sister gave me (yup, still getting hand-me-downs) and from the baby food I had bought to get started. I like that they're already the right portions of baby food. So when I got everything poured out I got this:

Eleanor's favorites: Sweet potatoes and Mixed veggie (which in this case is green beans, carrots, and spinach, and some are just carrots and spinach. Note to self, more green beans next time). I like the mixed veggies because they get all swirly when you mix them. See?

So it was a total of 29 containers of vegetable baby food. That's enough for roughly two weeks of eating. A few days later I started the fruit!

The golden delicious apples were on sale for $0.97/lb so that's why I got them. They weren't as ripe as they probably should have been, but I haven't had any complaints yet. To do this job I was very grateful for this contraption:

I haven't named him but maybe I should. He was a nostalgic buy right after I got married and thought I had money for this kind of thing. It might be the second time I've ever used it, but boy was I grateful to have it on baby food making day! It peels, cores, and slices your apples into those cool curly-cue apples in the background. When I was my kid I would help my mom do this for making canned apple pie filling. I would love to eat the long curly apple peels like spaghetti.  Back to the process: I boiled the apples and sent them through my trusty side-kick, Eddy. Then it was into the jars (which I had also saved from store-bought baby food):

I tried to be all clever and reseal the jars by putting them in a hot water bath. They didn't seal. I guess they're not made for that. If anyone has done this successfully let me know your trick! So I just tossed them in the freezer instead. But that was 7 1/2 jars of applesauce/baby food. So here are the stats:

29 containers of baby food usually comes 2 to a pack and at the store the day I bought all my produce they were on sale for 9/$10.00. So 29 (or 14 1/2 packages) would have cost $13.05.
The fruit jars were on sale 10/$10.00 so it would have cost me $7.50
Total $20.55
Subtract my actual cost $8.27
For a total Savings of $12.28

That's a 60% savings!! Even though it's more work than picking out a few flavors from the store shelves it gives me such a sense of accomplishment! Look, world! I can cook food for my baby AND save money doing it! It's also kind of a fun way to spend the evening when Vince is working late. And guess what else? She likes it!

Mission Accomplished.

Friday, July 13, 2012

Panic Leads to Ranting

For date night tonight we watched We Bought a Zoo. I loved it! It was so cute! However, it led to several different emotional realizations 1. Desire: I really do want to buy a zoo. It has been my biggest dream since childhood and they made it seem doable which is dangerous. 2. Betrayal: They led me to believe that the zoo this movie is based on is in California. I looked it up feeling so excited that our living in California is going to get us some serious perks, only to have the rug completely pulled out from under me when I found out that the zoo is in England and there is no chance I can patronize it. And 3 (which is why I am writing). Panic: There's a scene when Matt Damon, (of whom Vince asked "Is he hot?" to which I responded "Matt Damon?! Are you seriously asking that question?" He knows better now), is looking at pictures of his dead wife and the memories come alive and he watches his wife and kids run around as if he's really there. At this point in the movie I moved from small empathic tears for a (somewhat) fictional character to bawling my eyes out like some kind of crazy person because it made me realize one of my biggest fears that has cropped up since becoming a mother, which is what this whole post is about.

I am scared to death of forgetting what it's like to be a mom to my baby. I know I will always be her mom and I know she'll grow up and things will change and a lot of things will even be better. But it is this very particular time of life that has been my goal for so long. Being a stay-at-home mom with my one baby. Just her and me all day long. It's exactly what I wanted and it's exactly what I have. But now I'm scared that it's such a fleeting period of time that it's going to go away in the blink of an eye and I'll miss it and won't be able to remember a thing. That's why I take so many pictures. That's why I use Facebook as my journal to document everything she's doing. That's why I worry that those things won't be enough. I don't trust my own memory to keep track of all these things for me. I know when Eleanor is grown up and changed that I won't have her little two-toothed face to hold in my hands and giggle at me. She's going to change and get old and one day she'll say she hates me and I'll know that she's exaggerating and she'll get over it and that I'll think of these days and wish I could remember more. Since I found out I was having a girl I've been afraid of that day. Probably because I was a girl and I know what it's like being a teenager. I'm sure a lot of this stems from my "mommy issues" too, but that's a different story. I know I can try harder to get more pictures, make more journal entries, get more moments on video, but even with all of that it's just trying to catch moonbeams in a jar and I'll never be able to capture the entire experience to keep with me forever. I guess I'll just have to trust my memory for this lifetime and wait for the next life when we have a perfect remembrance of things so I can enjoy this time again. Until then, I'll just make the most of what I have right now and live by one of my favorite (and becoming more and more favorite) quotes:

"Don't cry because it's over, smile because it happened." - Dr. Seuss

Even though I'm crying now, when I wake up tomorrow it will all seem like silly nonsense and I'll just keep living my days as normal and trying to be a good mom and taking lots of pictures. But these realizations will come again and I think a lot of parents probably have similar thoughts (at least I hope I'm not the only emotionally unstable one) so it feels good to get these feelings out and documented. This is part of the parenthood experience, too, after all. So there's my rant. I hope some of you have learned or remembered something about the burden of motherhood. I love it so much.