Does making your own baby food seem daunting?
I don’t know why it was nerve-wracking for me, but I wanted to make sure that I did everything right when it came to giving my baby solid food. Once I started doing it though it was much simpler than I initially thought (still can’t figure out how I made it complicated…I blame new mom nerves) and it has saved us so much money.
As a parent, I feel like we are always looking for the next cost-saving trick because let’s face it…babies are expensive. That first year you are probably spending more than you would like, especially if it is your first child. One of the easiest ways to save money is by preparing your own baby food.
When my first son was born, I was a bit paranoid with the whole introducing actual food to my kid. I was that parent who bought a book (which I probably only used twice) and read so many other blog posts online. I think I drove my husband a little crazy with how intense I was.
The good news to all you moms who are even a little like me is that the more you feed them the easier it gets. In fact, when it was time to start giving my second son baby food, I jumped right in with no worries.
What are the benefits of making your own food?
In the end, two big benefits encompass all the other benefits you have probably read online.
First, you know exactly what you are feeding your baby. There is none of this concern of what kind of preservatives were used or if it was processed. You know exactly what you are feeding them. If you decide to buy baby food, I would recommend that you look at the ingredients to at least have some idea. The brand we end up choosing and liking is BeechNut.
The second reason is that you will save a lot of money. Most likely you will be feeding your kid 3-5 jars of food a day. While it may not seem like it will cost a lot when you think of just spending a dollar for one jar, over a period of time it does add up.
So what are the cost difference between buying vs. making your own baby food?
I am going to break down each cost for you so you can see the difference. For making your own food let’s start with a variety that you would purchase. If you buy a bunch of bananas for approximately $2.00, a large bag of carrots for approximately $3.00, a bag of frozen broccoli and cauliflower for approximately $2.00 each, and two pounds of sweet potatoes for approximately $5.00, then you would have spent a total of $14.00. With my ice cube trays, I am typically able to approximately 33 cubes per food. This will vary depending on how much food you are blending and how thin you blend it. So the approximate total amount of cubes I will have after creating it all is 165 cubes. Each cube is about an ounce of food. With my son Arthur, we currently are feeding him 3-4 cubes a meal. Assuming he is eating 4 cubes per meal, that means with our 165 cubes of food we will have made approximately 41 meals. With 3 meals a day that means we have about 13 days worth of food for just $14.00.
Now let’s take a look at buying pre-made baby food from the store. Since I use Beech-Nut that is what I am going to base my prices off of. At the moment Beech-Nut is $1.19 when not on sale. So at three meals a day for 13 days you would need to purchase at least 39 jars of food. The total cost for that is about $47.00 not including tax.
When you compare the difference that you could spend about $14.00 instead of $47.00 for food to feed your baby, you can see it is quite a bit of a difference. Buying pre-made baby food is about 3X more expensive than just making it yourself. That extra $33 could go towards so many other things, including treating yourself when you need to.
Here are the Tips and Tricks to Making Your Own Baby Food:
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Tip 1: Buy food that is already pureed.
Like unsweetened applesauce and canned pumpkin (can be found in the baking aisle year-round). These are great backups for if you either forget to make more or just want some easy baby food.
Tip 2: Add spices to create a variety of flavors to the food.
For example, you can add cinnamon/nutmeg to sweet potatoes or you can add your choice of Italian spice to carrots. Just remember to do a taste test before adding it to a whole batch. You never know if your kid will like it. I typically won’t add the spices until I am actually feeding my baby their meal.
Tip 3: Powdered peanut butter is a simple way to add nuts to their diet without making your baby food too thick.
As with all foods that could be a potential allergy, please speak with your pediatrician for the signs you want to look for if they do have an allergic reaction.
Tip 4: When you are ready to introduce meat into your baby’s diet, use ground meats.
They blend so much easier and cook much faster. Plus there is a great variety: ground turkey, ground chicken, ground pork, and of course ground beef. With ground beef, make sure you buy the leaner option. Less grease for your child.
Tip 5: Baby oatmeal is a great way to thicken baby food that is too thin when cooked.
For example, any variety of berries will look like soup when you defrost them. So add a couple tablespoons of baby oatmeal and there you go.
Tip 6: Use frozen vegetables or fruit as a way to cut down on food preparation time.
Now instead of peeling and/or chopping, all you need to do is steam or blend depending on the food.
Tip 7: Use silicone ice cube trays for freezing the food.
It is easy to remove the food cubes and to clean when you are finished. Here are the silicone ice trays that I use. I really like them compared to others, because they come with lids and allow me to stack them if needed.
Tip 8: Buy a good quality blender.
Don’t buy a blender that is solely meant for making baby food like the NutriBullet Baby. A good quality blender, like the NutriBullet, Ninja, or Vitamix, will be a much better long-term investment. I personally love my Ninja.
The bonus with a lot of these more normal blenders is that they have the potential for multiple uses. Like my Ninja has an attachment for dough and I have used it to make cinnamon rolls. And they weren’t too bad in my opinion.
9. Check out the pre-made baby food while you are grocery shopping to get some ideas of good food combos.
This is awesome for when you are at the point of combining food. For example, Beechnut has one that is banana, mango, and sweet potato OR banana, blueberry and green beans. I would have never thought about these combos on my own.
10. Make large batches at a time.
This will cut down on how often you need to make baby food. I recommend buying bulk items at a store like Costco or Sam’s Club.
11. Freeze the pureed food so that it will last longer.
Foodsafety.gov states that frozen homemade baby food is good for about 1-2 months, but your child will most likely consume it within a month.
As a side note, if you decide to not freeze the food then Foodsafety.gov states that the food should be eaten with 1-2 days.
12. Use pre-made baby food to test unique foods.
If you are unsure if your baby will like a certain food, then do a taste test. Buy just one jar of what you want your kid to try. While I still recommend making your own food in the long run, this is a great way to test the waters with unusual vegetables like beets or asparagus.
13. Don’t purchase a baby food book.
I was so worried about making baby food with my first kid that I went out and bought one. In the end, I barely used it and I didn’t need it. You can find all the same stuff between looking online and checking out the baby food you find at the grocery store.
Does it really take that much time?
Yes, it takes time, but not as much as you think. It usually takes me about 10-30 minutes to create some delicious homemade baby food. This includes preparing the food, blending it, putting it in the ice cube trays, and then cleaning the blender. If you are steaming or cooking your food, then it will more than likely take you closer to 30 minutes. My husband and I will usually make the food after we put the kids to bed.
If the noise ends up being too much for your kids, I would boil the veggies while you are eating lunch/dinner and then blend them when you are done. I would also spread out on when you make the food. One night make bananas and then a couple nights later make cauliflower.
Creating homemade baby food is not as scary or complicated as some of us parents tend to make it.
In fact, it is quite easy. There are so many ways to simplifying this process and I know we parents love to save money when we can. I still use pre-made baby food occasionally, but mostly as a back-up or when traveling.
Did any of these tips or tricks help you prepare baby food? Do you have one that I didn’t mention? Let me know in the comments below. I would love to hear from you.
Check out these related blog posts for more information about preparing baby food for your baby:
Happy Days ~
Here is a great list of the essential items you need and those you can live without to build your maternity wardrobe.