Saving Money on Baby Food
Anyone that has had a baby knows how expensive baby food can be. There are ways to save money on this though. The one that will save you the most money is to breastfeed your baby. This is free and nutritious. Most doctors say that you CAN start solids as early as four months. This is not necessary. If you are breastfeeding, just keep on until six months or so and all the feedings up to that point will be free. Starting solids too soon will just add to the expense of raising your baby and it isn't necessary.
Eventually though, you do need to start solids and this can get pretty expensive. All those cute little jars lined up on the shelves are very appealing. I fell into the trap of buying these with my first child, so I can vouch for the cost being excessive. $.50 - $1.00 per jar is ridiculous, given there are between two and six ounces in each jar. I also found that the taste of baby food jars of green beans was different than actual green beans. This made it harder to transition to table food for my oldest. The best purchase I ever made was a hand held blender for $10 from Walmart. This mixer pureed anything I needed very quickly and it was easy to clean.
The easiest way to make baby food is to purchase fruits or veggies in cans. Drain the contents, reserving the liquid, and blend up. For things such as green beans or peas I would add the liquid back in as I mixed to get it the right consistency. For fruits that were usually packed in some sort of syrup I would not only drain the fruit, but also rinse it with cold water to get off any excess sugar. Then if I needed to add any liquid I would add water. Freeze the blended foods in ice cube trays. One can would usually fill up all the spaces in one tray for me. Freeze these and then pop them out into a ziploc bag and label. As you need food for baby, pull out how much you need and let thaw in a bowl on the counter.
Have you ever noticed the concoctions they come up with at the store? You can do the same at home. Pull out a cube of peaches and mix it with rice cereal or oatmeal. How about a cube of apples and a cube of pears? How about sweet potatoes and apples? The combinations are endless.
A healthier but more time consuming way to make your own baby food is to purchase fresh fruits and veggies. Fruits are usually fine just peeled and pureed. Vegetables generally need to be cooked. I usually steamed my veggies and then pureed them up. It was one extra step, however I believe that the food was better for my child. Especially if I was able to purchase organic to start with. Organic baby food is the most expensive kind and can easily run $1 per jar. One thing all my kids loved was butternut squash. I would peel the squash, dice it and boil it in a little bit of water and then puree.
Once your baby has grown a little and tried many of the foods out there, you can start pureeing whatever you are having for dinner. If we made brown rice I would reserve some and puree it with cooked carrots. Macaroni and cheese or spagetti is also easy to puree. However once you baby is old enough for these types of things, it is also OK to start table foods. Cheerios are a good place to start, but after they get the hang of mushing and swallowing, you can start just putting small amounts of whatever you are having on their trays. Rice, grated cheese, bits of browned ground beef or turkey, any chopped up fruit or veggie, or even crackers.
Making your own baby food is a little bit of work. However every time I took the time to mix something up, I had at least 10 servings, sometimes 20 of each thing I mixed. So a little bit of time goes a long way. Over time the expense of buying all those little jars can really add up and making your own is easy and cheaper and can be better for your baby.
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