Sunday, May 27, 2012

Baby Food at Trader Joe's

Trader Joe's is not known for its baby food.  Perhaps this is because its employees believe they do not sell any.  But owning a nice blender makes Trader Joe's a great place to shop for what to feed you baby.

Gallant has never eaten any baby food from a jar.  (Smiley did, but only during his train trip.)  It is too expensive!  Here is most of what Gallant eats instead.

Green Stuff

Trader Joe's sells nice pesticide-free frozen spinach.  Raw spinach is dangerous for babies because the leaves are loved by E. coli and salmonella, but freezing it has killed any bacteria.  Pesticide-free is also nice for baby food.

Trader Joe's also sells yummy frozen mango chunks.  Mango is a very nutritious fruit of the "yellow/green" category.  The frozen chunks are much less messy than raw mango, and not any more expensive.

Gallant's "green stuff" is mostly half spinach and half mango.  Microwave these frozen items a bit so they will blend better.

We also add a little of my wife's applesauce to help it blend.  (Trader Joe's does sell healthy applesauce with no added sweeteners: beware how some major brands add high fructose corn syrup, which is not good for babies.  However, my wife likes making applesauce during the chilly days of early Winter, so our freezer has many bags of it.)

Orange Stuff

Trader Joe's is the only store I know that sells full-fat yogurt.  Fat is important for a baby's brain development--in general (although ask your pediatrician) babies should not be fed lowfat or nonfat yogurt or cheese.

Gallant's "orange stuff" is half full-fat yogurt and half baked sweet potato.  (Trader Joe's does sell sweet potatoes, but we use Costco.)

Pink Stuff

Trader Joe's sells nice tomatoes.  (CostCo does too.  Where we buy them depends upon which store we're at when we need them.)

We used to buy a lot of canned beans from Trader Joe's before my wife was hit by adult-onset Celiac.  Unfortunately, she is now so extremely gluten-sensitive that we had to stop buying canned beans of any brand.  They were too frequently gluten contaminated.  Now we buy big bags of dry beans that we pick through, soak, and pressure cook.

(We know why roasted nuts and oats are usually gluten contaminated.  Why canned beans?  We have no idea.)

Gallant's third staple food mix is half Great Northern beans and half tomatoes.


Fat does more than help brain development.  Since it is digested slowly it also helps a baby sleep longer.

For most of his life we fed Gallant one-quarter of an avocado before bedtime.  Hooray for fatty fruit that is soft enough to eat even before teeth!  But for some unknown reason Gallant has not wanted avocado much for about a month.  Strange.

Trader Joe's is one of the few stores that often sells organic avocados.  We did not worry about this because avocados are part of the Clean 15.  So we buy our avocados at Costco where they are not bruised by customers who falsely think squeezing them helps test ripeness (the skins become dark when ripe, so there is no need to squeeze!).  But if you want your baby to eat organic, Trader Joe's helps with this food item too.


Unfortunately Trader Joe's only sells nice organic canned pumpkin seasonally.  The rest of the year we order it from Azure Standard.

This is wonderful, healthy baby food straight from the can.  Great for picnics!  Remember that food stored in open cans leeches small amounts of BPA into the food: perhaps not enough to trouble an adult but as baby food it should be moved into another container once opened.

Sunflower Butter

Researchers and pediatricians disagree about the age when children should first eat peanuts.  But this issue can be sidestepped with Trader Joe's sunflower butter.  It is a nice high-protein and high-fat food.

Finger Foods

None of Gallant's finger foods are as nutritious as those three blends.  But he does enjoy feeding himself.

Rice Chex are now gluten-free.  Those are the finger food we give him most often because they are the least messy.  No Trader Joe's connection with those.

Trader Joe's sells freeze-dried mango slices.  Gallant likes those a lot.  Since they are freeze-dried they keep most of their Vitamin C (unlike dried fruit) and are easy to eat even before teeth.  These are so sweet we save them for special treats on stroller walks.

Trader Joe's also sells rice cakes.  These are nothing special, except that where we live they are usually intact whereas the rice cakes sold at other stores are more often broken.  I am not sure if the difference is due to shipping, shelf stocking staff, or clumsy customers.

Trader Joe's also sells dried pineapple circles.  These pieces are difficult but fun to chew, and not too messy.  When we want to keep a fussy Gallant happily occupied for a while we use these.  Every parent needs an "emergency plan" for when chores need to be done but the baby is acting fussy and difficult to please.

(We also tried the Trader Joe's "just mango slices" but found that sucking on those turns them into a sticky paste.  Two or three pieces allows Gallant to create for himself gloves and a helmet made from a layer of slime.)

 Finally, organic banana.  Many stores sell these, but I think Trader Joe's has the least expensive ones in Eugene.  Of course, bananas are not only a finger food but also a shirt and face and hair food.


Melissa Moschitto said...

Thanks so much for this post! My daughter has just started solids and I'm planning a trip to Trader Joe's tomorrow. Great ideas here. Also, appreciated the tip on raw spinach vs frozen - hadn't even thought of that! Thanks again.

Unknown said...

Just to clarify- freezing doesn't kill bacteria it just stops it from growing while frozen. You still need to be careful with your spinach.