My son is eating solid food now. I’m excited about this milestone, but at the same time, I’m experiencing sticker shock when I see how much baby food costs. Free breast milk no longer serves as my son’s only source of sustenance, so I decided to give baby-food making a try.
The good news is that I realized making my own baby food is much easier than it seems. Baby food always seemed like this magical thing to me. Sort of like cat food—I don’t know what’s in it, and I really don’t want to, thank you very much.
But baby food is just … pureed food (with a little added water). Really. And the easy method I’ve been using has saved me an average of 20 cents per ounce.
Skip Expensive Tools
Baby food making combo units (like the Smart Planet BRM-1 Baby Oasis Baby Food Maker and the Beaba Babycook Baby Food Maker) can cost up to $100 or more. And if you decide you don’t like making baby food, you’re stuck with something that can’t really be used for anything else.
I use a good, old-fashioned blender—the Oster 4093-008 5-Cup Glass Jar 2-Speed Beehive Blender, Brushed Stainless—but any type of blender will do the trick. Before pureeing, I steam fruits and veggies with a $20 steamer, like the Oster CKSTSTMD5-W 5-Quart Food Steamer, White. We use it for our food, too, so it’s multi-purpose, and we can use it even when our kids are older. Then I put the steamed food in the blender, add water, and puree to the consistency I want.
Count the Cost
While baby food costs an average of 17 cents an ounce even at my local discount store, homemade baby food costs only pennies per ounce. For example, I purchased bananas for 52 cents per pound. Out of two pounds of bananas ($1.04), I got about 50 ounces of “stage 1” homemade baby food. That comes to about 2 cents per ounce vs. 18 cents an ounce for pre-made baby food.
Making my own veggies was cheaper, too. I made 28 ounces of mixed veggies for $2, a savings of 11 cents per ounce. On average, I save about 12 cents per ounce on fruits, veggies, and starches.
Making my own meat saves even more money—pre-made meat runs about 39 cents per ounce in my area, while homemade, pureed chicken only cost me about 6 cents per ounce.
Freeze the Leftovers
The “just grind up what you’re eating for dinner” method doesn’t always work for me. While I usually make a home-cooked meal, sometimes we eat foods that can’t be easily converted to baby food. (Pureed pizza, anyone?)
I like blending a big batch of food and then freezing it in ice cube trays. I use the Rubbermaid Easy Release Ice Cube Tray because they don’t crack easily, but any type of ice cube tray will work. Each “food cube” is 1 oz., so it’s easy to determine how much I’m feeding my son. Having homemade food on hand at all times prevents me from being tempted to buy the pre-made stuff.
And I’m amazed at how I’ve been able to cut costs without cutting into my time.