By Shannen Bayless
Buying commercial baby food can add up in your family’s weekly grocery budget. Especially once your baby is eating a lot more “real” food at each meal. Think you can’t make your own baby food, or you don’t have time to do it? Here are a few ideas to get you started and stretch your grocery budget a bit farther now that baby can eat “real” foods.
Congratulations! Your baby has just reached another milestone! You’ve just left the pediatrician’s office with your 6 month old bouncing baby boy, and at this appointment the doctor has said your son can now start on “real” food. Ahhh, yes, finally. Maybe now you’ll get a little more than a 2 hour stretch between nursing sessions or maybe he’ll start sleeping through the night (did not happen at my house).
So you’re all excited and stop at your favorite supermarket on your way home to buy some of baby’s first “real” foods. You see sweet potatoes, squash, bananas, peaches, carrots etc. You buy one of each, which totals about $10-$12 depending on where you shop. The next week you’re at the store again to buy baby food, and again spend $10-$12. Feeding your baby is going to be expensive, and this is just the start of all the yummy foods he’s going to try for the first time in the next few months.
However, feeding your baby doesn’t have to be expensive. Have you considered making your own food for your baby? When my boys were babies I made almost all of their food. I felt it was healthier for them and also much cheaper. Rather than paying upwards of 60 cents per serving I was spending around 10 cents per serving. This was before I was a coupon shopper, so now I know the per serving price would be a lot less. In the summertime, watch for fresh foods to be less expensive.
Reason to make your own
You know exactly what ingredients are being served to your baby
You can customize foods for your baby based on their likes and dislikes
Your baby is introduced to many different flavors and textures (might help make them be less of a picky eater)
When I told people I was making my own baby food, I often got responses like “I don’t know how to make it myself” or “I don’t have time.”
Well, here are a few ideas to help get you started making your bouncing baby boy (or girl) their own food.
Get yourself a nice food processor or blender (it will pay for itself with all the money you’re saving by not buying store bought baby food)
Buy some small freezer safe containers
Some people use ice cube trays, but I bought the smallest Glad containers I could find
Watch for sales on vegetables and fruit
I bought fresh fruits and veggies when I could, but also bought a lot of bags of frozen foods
Once summer arrives, consider growing some of your own fruits and vegetables
search online for recipes or buy a book to tell you how
Baby and Toddler Foods for Dummies (the book I bought)
Set aside about an hour each week to prepare the food
I usually did this on Sunday afternoons, and I would rotate the foods I prepared each week. I would make enough of one kind of food to last me about a month.
Give it a try
So if your baby is approaching that big milestone of starting “real” foods, or even if they’ve past that point, think about making your own food for them. It’s really not as hard or as time consuming as you might think. By doing a little planning ahead with your grocery list, and spending as little as an hour each week, you can save your family some money and feed your baby the healthiest of foods. No guarantees if it will help your baby sleep through the night or not (One of my boys didn’t figure out how to sleep all night until he was almost 18 months!)