Homemade Baby Food: Starter Recipes, Freezing Instructions, and Cost Comparison
Both Organic and Cost Effective?
Is it truly possible for a product to be organic and cheap? This sounds like a grave impossibility to many Americans, who face the daily choice of buying inferior products for less money or buying pesticide-free organic products as a splurge. If you are willing to put in just a bit of work, I'll show you how feeding your baby (approximate age 5 months to 1 year) can be the healthiest possible alternative to baby food in jars while saving precious pennies in the process.
We all want happy heahty babies. But with the cost of many regular houshold products, fresh or otherwise, skyrocketing, it seems near impossible to feed them the best. We encountered this problem when our baby, born premature, was not growing properly. By 3 months old, we knew he needed supplemental nutrition, given in th form of formula.
My husband and I were shocked at the prices of high-end formula such as Similac or Enfamil. Both are valuable products for women who cannot or choose not to breastfeed, but everyone knows that means sacrificing a lot of money.
By the time our son reached the baby food stage, we decided there had to be a cheaper way to feed such a small human! That's when we researched homemade baby food. I have decided that if something is cheaper to make than buy, I should do it. I don't always adhere to this commitment, but I know it is for the best that I try.
The How-To: Recipes
First, all of these recipes require a food processor of some sort, but actually a blender on "puree" or "liquefy" setting works just fine.
BABY'S FIRST FOODS
Below is a list of recipes that babies can have as young as five months, but as always, check with your health care provider before attempting solids for the first time, just to make sure your baby's digestive system is ready to handle the new challenge.
Bananas: Mush then puree. Easy as 1-2-3. Actually there are only two steps there so it would be easy as 1-2. Just proving to you all that I can count. And I do it well. All the way to three. Anyways, Rylan loves them-- he sucks bananas RIGHT off the spoon. Hilarious!
Squash: Some of babies' first foods can be butternut squash. It must be cooked first (in the microwave is fine), and it can then be put in the food processor, sans the seeds and skins. Squash doesn't go very far though because it becomes very thick, so it will be one of the more expensive ones you may try. Although, on serving day, you have the option of adding formula or breastmilk to the squash to thin it out and make it go further.
Sweet Potatoes: Bake. Deskin. Puree. Vwala!
Avocado: Scoop out the insides and mash well. Serve within a few days.
Peaches: These require a little more work, as you will need to pit and deskin all peaches before blending. They turn out extremely thin, so I have used them for a few different purposes: mixing with thicker foods like squash or sweet potatoes, adding baby rice cereal and serving for breakfast, or actually using as juice to introduce the sippy cup arond six months.
Resources for Effective Freezing
You might be thinking, "OK, great, but I'm not going to bake my baby sweet potatoes for every meal for a week straight" or "That sounds like a lot of work." You would be right, except that all of these foods can be frozen, with the exception of the avocados. Apparently you need to freeze avocado WITH other things in it to prevent it from going bad, like lemon juice, which the little ones should not have yet. But you can just scoop and mash the day of and keep the remainder in an airtight jar-- the top may go brown, but you can remove it with a spoon and still serve what's underneath.
*Never freeze formula. If you need to thin out your baby food, you can freeze it thick and add formula later.
There are two freezing methods I would like to promote:
- Small airtight containers, even baby food jars. The use of these small containers prevents freezer burn and maintains freshness, quality of food, and taste for baby. Just be sure to label using masking tape and a permanent marker so you're sure which food you're giving to the little one.
- Ice cube trays. This method is actually called "flash freezing." Pour your pureed baby food into ice cube trays. Stick them in the freezer, leaving for a few hours. When the food is actually frozen, you can pop them out like ice cubes and put them all together in a large plastic freezer bag. Label the bag, and you've got yourself a quick option when you're in a fix. Simply remove a few of the cubes and microwave in a plastic microwavable bowl for about 20 seconds. Test the temperature before serving!
I use both methods. It depends on my mood!
Let's just cover the basics.
Now, one 4-oz. jar of baby food can actually cost anywhere from $.50 to $.85 as I have found at our local grocery store.
However, I can buy 5 organic bananas at $0.60 per pound. This is a general rate, excluding sale costs. That adds up to be less than $1.80. I mash these bananas and puree them, to find that these 5 fruits actually produce over 30 ounces of pureed baby food. Divide the cost by the total number of ounces produced, and you get your answer. In this case, these bananas cost about $0.06 per ounce. Put them in a 4-oz. baby food jar, and you have yourself a jar of organic, homemade, quick-and-easy baby food at less than half the cost of the cheapest baby food on the market.
The same concept applies with many of the other fruits and vegetables that offer excellent nutrition to your baby for a fraction of the cost of jarred baby food! It is definitely worth it.