Best Types of Baby Food for Freezing

a person spooning pureed baby food in tray for freezing

Ruth Jenkinson / Dorling Kindersley / Getty Images

Making your own homemade, pureed baby food is a wonderful idea. The benefits are threefold: Baby gets fresh, lovingly prepared meals, the cost is significantly less than store-bought jars, and you know exactly what's in your baby's food.

The drawback is that it can be a lot of work, including boiling, steaming, baking, peeling, deseeding, chopping, pureeing, mixing, heating, and cleaning of the blender and other kitchen tools. This is compounded by the fact that you end up with teeny, tiny portions that need to be used in 24 to 48 hours. No wonder many of us stock up on prepared jars of baby food at the grocery store.

If you choose the DIY route, we'll let you in on a little secret: Homemade baby food doesn't have to be a painstaking, daily endeavor. The trick is to make larger batches and freeze them in meal-size containers so they'll be ready-to-go as needed. This way, you can prep many meals at once, considerably reducing daily cooking time—and still have homemade food for your baby each day.

The Secret Is Using Your Freezer

The trick is knowing which baby foods freeze well. We know from experience that baby foods are definitely not all equal when they come out of the icebox. Some freeze perfectly fine, others experience minor discoloration, and yet others are a complete flop.

Not all foods retain quality when defrosted. Solve this problem by selecting the best-freezing foods to make into frozen batches of homemade baby food.

Aim to prepare and serve fresh foods that don't freeze well. For everything else, freezing will save you tons of time (and money) and ensure a ready supply of healthy food for baby is available after a quick defrosting.

Foods That Freeze Well

Which foods work best can vary greatly depending on the variety of food you are using, your storing process, and your personal expectations, but we recommend sticking with the homemade purees. If you're unsure about the potential quality of a specific pureed food, try freezing it in a smaller batch to see if you're happy with the results (and to get a better idea of what to expect). Here is a list of foods that are known to have the greatest success with freezing:

  • Blueberries and other berries
  • Broccoli
  • Cauliflower
  • Carrots
  • Corn
  • Green beans
  • Peaches
  • Peas
  • Squash (such as acorn squash, butternut squash, winter squash, and pumpkin)
  • Sweet potato
  • Meats (including beef, chicken, and fish)

Foods That May Brown or Discolor When Frozen

Browning and discoloring are pretty par for the course with certain pureed foods. Generally, this doesn't affect nutritional value or flavor, and the food will still be safe to eat, so it's up to you whether you want to include foods prone to discoloration among your freezer meals. Foods that tend to discolor include:

  • Apples
  • Strawberries
  • Avocados (best when cut in half and frozen with a splash of lemon juice)
  • Bananas (best when frozen whole with skins on)

The reason why store-bought jarred foods look so pretty is that additives are included to prevent discoloration. A splash of lemon juice can accomplish the same with homemade purees.

Foods That May Have Taste or Texture Issues When Frozen 

Some foods may change in taste and/or texture when frozen. Keep in mind these results are not definitive, and you might experience greater success with them. For foods that freeze best in chunks, puree after thawing for improved results.

  • Apricots (These freeze in a liquidy state so they can be a bit messy but otherwise work well)
  • Citrus fruits
  • Eggs
  • Grapes (freeze whole or in halves)
  • Mangoes (freeze in chunk form)
  • Melons (freeze in chunk form)
  • Nectarines
  • Noodles (freeze whole)
  • Papaya (freeze chunked)
  • Pears (best when frozen in slices)
  • Plums
  • Potatoes
  • Prunes
  • Rice (cook and freeze whole)
  • Tofu
  • Zucchini

Frozen Baby Food Storage and Safety

Frozen vegetables and fruits can be thawed, cooked, and frozen. But, just like frozen breastmilk, never re-freeze baby food once the cooked, previously frozen meal has been thawed once.

Food safety guidelines state that most frozen foods will keep for three to six months. After three months, you're likely to see some quality degradation in terms of taste, texture, and visual appeal. However, according to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), properly handled frozen foods are safe to eat indefinitely—they just might not taste or look very good. Many parents aim to use frozen baby food before three months, while others stick to a more stringent one-month use policy.

Don't be alarmed if you see ice crystals on the surface of your frozen purees. This is just frozen water that will reincorporate when thawed and does not automatically reduce quality. Fast freezing will reduce the number of ice crystals that form. Do watch out for freezer burn, which is a discolored (often whitish, brownish, or grayish) and often textured patch. Freezer burn does degrade food quality and is generally caused by air reaching food and leaching out moisture. Guard against this by sealing food in air-tight containers or plastic wrap.

Common defrosting and reheating methods include thawing food in the fridge, microwaving (being careful to stir well, not overheat, and check that it isn't too hot before serving to your baby), and placing the food in water- and heat-proof container inside a bowl of cool or warm water, similar to the method many use to warm bottles.

Tips for Optimal Freezing Results

Once you've chosen your pureed baby foods to make and freeze, follow these guidelines for optimal results.

  • Be sure to thoroughly cook all vegetables and meats (to medium or more), and ensure the foods acquire a soft texture.
  • Purees can be thinned with your preferred liquid (water, breastmilk, or formula) before or after freezing.
  • Choose a freezing method that creates easily accessible servings, such as ice cube trays, baby food trays, parchment and cookie sheets (place approximately two-ounce dollops of puree and flash freeze), or individual, freezer-safe containers. (Note that most prepared baby food glass jars are not recommended for freezing or heating.)
  • Once purees are frozen, the cubes or chunks of food can be left in their containers, if kept covered, or transferred into freezer-safe plastic bags for easy (and easily visible) storage.
  • Label containers with contents and date prepared.
  • Defrost and reheat in small portions (approximately 2 ounces, depending on how much you expect your baby to eat) at a time to avoid waste. Uneaten portions should be discarded (never re-frozen).

A Word From Verywell

Homemade baby food is a nutritious, cost-effective option for your little one. Cut down on the effort it takes to prepare by making purees in bulk and freezing, so you'll have less time in the kitchen and more time to feed (and enjoy) your baby.

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