Homemade Baby Food on a Budget
Some opt to make their own baby food because it gives them more control over what their baby is eating. Others believe homemade baby food costs less than store-bought. But is it more economical?
On a recent trip to our local grocery store, we compared apple prices with packaged baby applesauce prices. For homemade conventional, non-organic baby applesauce, it would cost $1.69 per pound. Bought jars: $2.97 for nearly a pound.
For organic homemade baby applesauce, it would cost $1.69 per pound. Store bought jars: $3.87 for nearly a pound.
We also compared the prices of sweet potatoes and jarred sweet potato baby food and found homemade, non-organic sweet potatoes would cost $1.29 per pound. Bought jars end would up costing $2.97 for nearly a pound.
At those prices, it's cheaper to buy the actual food, cook it, mash it up and feed it to your baby.
However, you will need to factor in additional costs when you make your own baby food. Many companies sell food mills, baby food-making blenders and special storage containers. But really, if you have a blender (or even just a fork) and some ice cube trays, you can make and store baby food.
It does take time, though. If you plan, most of the work can be done while you're cooking dinner, and you can make a lot at one time, freeze it in clean ice cube trays and then, once frozen, store the food in a Ziploc or similar freezer bag.
If you are feeding your family fresh vegetables, whole grains, unprocessed meat and dairy products, you can feed your baby the same foods. Just mash them with a fork or puree them in the blender to avoid choking. Also, make sure you're only introducing one new food at a time, and wait three days before introducing another new food just in case there is a food allergy.
Some other ways to keep homemade baby food costs down:
- Go to your local farmer's market or farm stand and ask if they have "seconds." These are fruits or veggies that may have some blemishes. Often, you can get them at a discount. Simply cut off the odd looking parts before cooking.
- As you empty a freezer bag, wash and dry it, then reuse it.
- Before you make a huge batch of a new food, make a small batch and let baby try it a few times. Sometimes a new food will be refused 10 times before a baby decides he likes it, but never force a baby to eat a food he doesn't want. Forcing food can lead to food issues and picky eaters and will just make feeding time unpleasant.
- There are lots of items on the market to freeze your homemade baby food in, but the easiest and cheapest is a simple ice cube tray.
- Check this list for foods you should make sure are organic, and which ones are OK to purchase non-organic. Usually fruits and veggies with thick peels can be conventionally grown, since chemicals don't penetrate the thick skin. Bananas, for instance, don't need to be organic. This will help save some on your grocery bill.
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