Making your own baby food is like training for a marathon: great in theory; “OMG, why did I sign up for this?” in practice. So we were intrigued when we heard about Raised Real, a new subscription service that sends pre-portioned, flash-frozen baby meals (all whole, organic ingredients) for parents to steam and puree in the company's proprietary “Meal Maker” machine. We took a test run with our own discerning eight-month-old at the helm. Here are our findings.

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How does it work? At first, we were slightly intimidated when a little white machine and box filled with dry ice arrived at our door. But the process of making the food is pretty damn easy. Basically, you fill the top of the Meal Maker with water (like a coffee maker) and empty the contents of a single pre-portioned baggie into the blender part of the machine. With the twist of a dial, you steam the veggies or fruit for 20 minutes, then blend everything up in a matter of seconds. Piece of cake.

Wait, it takes 20 minutes to steam? Yeah, that part is kind of a bummer if you’ve got a hungry baby. But on the plus side, you don’t have to shop, slice or portion anything—that part’s all done for you.

What are the flavors? We were sent “sweet potato and cinnamon,” “chickpeas, cauliflower, turmeric and tahini,” “cauliflower, kale, quinoa, avocado oil and garlic” and “green beans, quinoa, avocado oil and rosemary.”

And how do they taste? To us? Delicious. To the eight-month-old? Not sweet enough. Maybe we’re raising a total sugar fiend, but the only flavor she would eat without the addition of some smushed banana was the “sweet potato and cinnamon.” (That said, it’s pretty easy to add a little banana.)

What are the health benefits? Here’s where it gets interesting. Because the (organic, plant-based) meals are flash frozen at the peak of ripeness, they retain all their goodness until you’re ready to serve them. By contrast, other jarred or pouched purees typically lose some of their original nutrients.

And how much does it cost? $95 a month for 20 meals. The Meal Maker is $99, but for a limited time it comes free with a subscription.

So what’s the verdict? If you’re in the market to make your own baby food and can justify the steep cost, we would definitely recommend. It’s way easier than doing the whole thing from scratch and pretty fun to boot. But pretty-please, Raised Real people, can you add some fruits to the mixture?

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