Making baby food instead of buying commercial baby food is a huge way to save money. It can be a very simple, painless, and even quick process. Homemade baby food is not for everyone. I am thankful that I have the time to think about baby food and make it since I am home during the day, but I know that is not the case for everyone. I am a firm believer that you have time for what you make time for though, so if homemade baby food sounds like a great way to save money, I bet you can find the time to do it!
I've really enjoyed making baby food for both of my children. I keep things very simple, and I have learned a ton from Super Baby Food. I especially like the index in the back of the book that gives you instructions on how to cook and store pretty much any food for baby.
Commercial v. Homemade
Did you know that store-bought baby food is made up of a TON of water? When I puree something like sweet potatoes, I end up adding as much as a cup of water for one sweet potato. The more water you add, the smoother the consistency of the baby food will be, which also means that commercial baby food is very watered down. This is important, because early on babies need smooth food, but you are also paying a high markup for it. When you make your baby food at home, you have the luxury of using less water as your child grows. Now that I have a nine-month old, I've been gradually decreasing the amount of water as he is able to handle chunkier foods.
I use the "ice cube tray" method for freezing and storing food, so all I have to do is grab something out of the freezer, defrost, and dinner (or breakfast or lunch) is served!
Here's a look at butternut squash puree on the left and carrot slices on the right.
One new thing I've done the second time around making baby food, is to freeze chunks of food in the ice cube trays. I open up a can of veggies, like carrots or peas, and divide them up in the ice cube trays. I use a knife to pop them out after they are frozen and keep the cubes in a storage container in my freezer. A few seconds in the microwave and I have finger food ready for a meal.
Using canned veggies is a big time saver for me. The food is already softer, which is perfect for a baby, and everything is already cooked and cut up for me. While not everyone is going to want to do it this way, it has really worked for our family.
Here's a look at a tray of green beans:
And a cube of green beans:
Think outside the box
I freeze everything! Especially when it comes to baby food, its not going to be changed by spending some time in the freezer. And this is a great way for me to cut down on wasted food!
Bananas get sliced and stuck in the freezer on wax paper. They peel off easily and are ready to go in a smoothie (they blend so much easier than a whole frozen banana!), get thawed and mashed for baby food, or be a cool snack for either of my kids. I just break the slice into a few pieces for the baby.
Avocados are great for babies, but do not keep well at all once they are sliced. I pureed them and froze using the ice cube trays early on, but now I chunk the pieces of avocado and put them in the trays like I would food from a can. After a few seconds in the microwave they are perfect (messy) baby finger food.
Be an Active Consumer
A big part of commercial baby food is the marketing that makes you feel like a good parent for buying a certain kind of baby food. I have made nearly 100% of both my kids' baby food, and yet I still enjoy picking out baby food when I have free coupons for it! I've written before about how I think it is important for us to be active consumers - people who do not just react to marketing, but are pro-actively thinking about how to spend time and money wisely. I don't do this perfectly, but I have found that the more I think about being an active consumer, the more purposeful I am with many different things...like making baby food at home.
Do you have any favorite homemade baby food tips? I'll be writing some more about homemade baby food the rest of this week!