Here’s a question for you: would you pay $6 per pound for carrots? How about peas? Apples? Bananas?
If you are buying commercially prepared baby food, that is exactly what you are doing. Prices vary among brands and regions but on average, you can expect to spend 32 cents per ounce for baby food. This means that over the course of six months, your baby will eat over $500 worth of food.
Talk about eating you out of house and home.
If, on the other hand, you make your own baby food, you can spend $100 or less during the same time period.
Believe me; I know you have your hands full. I know there is laundry that needs to be done and your baby wants to be held and this morning’s oatmeal has cemented itself to the bowls still in the sink. Nevertheless, you can do this! Homemade baby food does not require much time, effort, or fancy equipment. Best of all, the ingredients are fresh and natural for your baby.
There are a couple of easy methods for making homemade baby food. One is for parents who like to plan ahead and the other is for parents who fly by the seat of their pants. I’ll share them both with you but since the seat-of-their-pants parents probably outnumber the planners, I’ll start with that method.
Homemade Baby Food Method 1
While you are cooking a meal, try to leave salt and spicy flavorings out of the dish until the end. This way, you can scoop out a couple of tablespoons of food and drop it into the blender or food processor. Puree until you get the consistency you want. You can add water, breast milk, or formula for added smoothness. This is the easiest and most cost-effective way to feed your baby. In fact, you probably will not notice a difference in your grocery budget at all. I found that I could cook the same amount of food as usual but my husband and I would simply eat a few bites less than we used to. It’s a win-win.
Younger infants should be introduced to one new food at a time to make sure they are not allergic. So in the beginning, you may only puree a vegetable or two from your meal.
Older infants can eat a variety of food combinations so feel free to toss the pot roast, potatoes, carrots, and green beans into the blender all together.
I try to puree enough food so that I can freeze some for another meal. The frozen food is great for those nights when you go out to eat or serve something that your baby just can’t handle yet. To freeze it, just pour the food into ice-cube trays. When it’s frozen, pop the cubes out and seal them in freezer bags labeled with the date. When you’re ready to use them, stick a cube or two into the microwave until melted.
Homemade Baby Food Method 2
If you want to prepare your baby’s food in advance, I still recommend doing so while you are already in the kitchen cooking dinner. So while you’re waiting for the water to boil/oven to preheat/meat to brown/etc., cook some fresh or frozen fruits or vegetables in a scant amount of boiling of water (a tablespoon or two of water per cup of veggies is sufficient). Keep the pot covered as this will result in a steamed effect. You could also do the same thing in the microwave.
Pour the cooked fruits or vegetables into a blender or food processor along with the water they were cooked in. Puree until smooth. You can add breast milk, formula, or water to thin as needed.
By the time your dinner is cooked, you will have whipped up a batch of baby food that will last two or three months. As mentioned above, you can freeze the puree in ice-cube trays and then store the cubes in freezer bags.
If you do this for a few nights, you’ll be well stocked on baby food and won’t need to make more for several weeks.
Avoid using salt in your baby’s food but older infants may enjoy some spices such as oregano, rosemary, garlic, cinnamon, or nutmeg.
For a really simple batch of baby food, puree bananas, avocados, peaches, or melons as these foods do not need to be cooked first.
Be sure to talk to your pediatrician about the time-table for introducing new foods to your baby.