How to Make Homemade Baby Food to Save Money (and Your Sanity!)
Let’s face it, babies are expensive. I love the convenience of walking down the baby food aisle and grabbing jars of ready-to-go pureed foods for my little guy, but spending $3-4 a day on top of all of the other added expenses just seems like nonsense in the grand scheme of things. I want to share with you some tips and tricks on how I make homemade food for my baby while keeping it budget-friendly and simple.
Items You Will Need:
- Vegetables and fruits of your choosing
- Blender or food processor
- Rice cooker or vegetable steamer
- BPA-free ice cube trays
- Zip-Lock bags or food storage containers
- A few hours of your time
Make a List
Choosing what fruits and vegetables to buy in accordance with the season is key in saving money and considering what foods to buy in bulk from the produce section or a local farmer’s market. Frozen bagged vegetables work just as efficiently as fresh ones and cut down on time when cooked into microwave. Depending on the weather, I may also grab a few immune-boosting foods packed with vitamin C or nutrient dense vegetables to help combat sickness during the colder weather months. I’ve come to find that fruits don’t offer as much puree as steamed or cooked vegetables, so I always try to add a few more of them into my shopping cart.
I have a few staples that always make it onto my list such including:
Carrots are a great source of vitamin A, C and K while also having a good source of fiber which is great for keeping baby regular. Spinach is a nutrient-dense food that contains high levels of vitamin A and K while also producing a lot of puree. Bananas have a good source of vitamin C and fiber and are great for creating more texture and consistency to your babies’ food. Raspberries are great antioxidants and have a good source of vitamin C, but I opt for them specifically because my little guy loves the taste of them. Oats also have a great amount of fiber in them and can be blended into a fine powder to add to purees to thicken. As you begin your food making journey, you will find out what fruits and vegetables are best for baby and you!
Cooking things down in the order that they will be ready is key to making the process go smoothly – like an assembly line. Larger vegetables like pumpkin or squash need to be cleaned, pitted, and put into the oven to cook thoroughly before blending them. Small berries, like raspberries or blueberries, can be washed and immediately placed into a mixture. This can sometimes be a trial-and-error progression, but eventually you will get the hang of it! I try to utilize my entire kitchen by using my oven, vegetable steamer, blender, and sometimes microwave all at the same time.
As your bigger vegetables are in the oven or steamer, start blending down your softer consistency fruits or vegetables such as a banana. I like to use the entire bundle of banana by cutting them into bite-size pieces and placing them in the blender with a small amount of water. As they start to blend together into a liquid state, feel free to add more water to get it to the texture you are comfortable with. After I have combined them to a consistency I am happy with, I take a spoonful and plop them into my BPA-free ice cube trays until the mix is gone or my ice cube trays are full. I like to tap my trays onto the counter to have the food lay flat to freeze consistently. I then place them into my freezer on a flat surface for an hour until they are solid. I store the cubes of food in a Ziploc bag with a label of what is in them and the date they were created.
Once it’s time to feed your little one, I just pop some frozen foods into a bowl and microwave them for 30 seconds to thaw them out. Using a spoon to break them down, you can gauge if they need to be microwaved more – but usually 30 seconds works perfectly! Since fruits and some vegetables are composed mainly of water, I’ve found that adding a little bit of oat or rice blend into them helps to thicken them when too watery. Since each cube is roughly 1 ounce, you can estimate how much your baby should be getting by comparing them to the standard amount in baby food jars. Stage 1 is around 2.5 ounces, stage 2 are typically 4 ounces, and stage 3 jars are about 6 ounces.
Enjoy creating delicious meals for your baby and enjoy the milestone of solid foods and share some of your baby’s favorite recipes with us!