If I found a 60% off coupon for baby food with no “one per transaction” rule, no “ends by” date, and no “must buy 500 jars and have a storage bunker to get this deal” in the fine print—I would cut that coupon and keep it in my wallet until my youngest baby outgrows baby food. I would be so excited! Wouldn’t you? Well, if you are buying baby food in those pretty little jars or plastic containers, you are overpaying by 60% or more, and that’s money that a lot of young families (like ours) just cannot afford. Instead, we make our own baby food!
How to Make Fruit or Vegetable Puree
It is easier than you think to make baby food at home. I’ll walk you through the steps to making carrot puree, because it is pretty much the same for any fruit and vegetable you would want to make.
First, I peel the carrots and cut off the bits that aren’t good to eat. The essential rule of thumb is that your baby can’t eat anything you can’t eat, so make sure to core your apples and pears and cut the stems off of carrots. Also, if you are feeding a baby younger than one year old, it is a good idea to take a potato peeler and get the skin off sweet potatoes, apples, and pears (and get the stringy stuff off the carrots).
After you have peeled the carrots and chopped off the stems, cut the carrots into pieces that can fit in your food processor and put them into a pot. Cover the carrots with water and boil for 10-15 minutes.
When they are done, toss them into the food processor with a little bit of the water from the pot. For “Stage 1” (smooth puree for younger babies)—puree them for 30 seconds, stir, and puree again for 20 seconds. For “Stage 2” (with a few larger pieces of carrot in the mix)—puree for just 30 seconds.
Storing Baby Food
The best way to store individual servings of baby food is to freeze the puree in ice cube trays. Fill the tray cups with the carrots, and freeze overnight. The next morning, you can pop the cubes of food out easily and store them in a freezer bag. Frozen baby food is good for 3 months after you make it, and this method allows you to have a bunch of freezer bags of different foods handy for your baby without taking up too much space in your freezer. When you are ready to use a serving of the baby food, you can take it out to thaw in the fridge or the counter the day before, or just do what I do and nuke it in the microwave. When your baby is ready, add a few herbs and spices! Don’t be afraid to add a little curry powder to your sweet potato puree, cinnamon to your apples, or some rosemary to your carrots. Your baby was tasting everything you ate for 9 months (longer if you are breast feeding), so there is no reason to make his first experience with solid food a boring one.
If you are trying this method for the first time, be sure to buy flexible ice cube trays. I have 3 trays from Dollar Tree and they work great, but they do make fancier ones with a flexible material across the bottom of each cup to help you pop out the food.
Is it Worth all the Effort?
Yes! You can save an incredible amount of money if you are willing to take the time to make baby food. We buy vegetables at Aldi, because they sell big bags of them for very cheap—I bought 2 lbs of carrots for $1.29! I made 26 oz of baby food with this bag, even though I accidentally dropped a few pieces on the floor (my pug took care of them) and I gave the smallest carrot in the bag to my baby to teethe on while I cooked. So I probably could have gotten even more than 26 oz out of this bag.
At our local Walmart, it costs $1.12 for 8oz of Gerber baby food, and I made 26oz of the same baby food for $1.29! That is 14 cents per oz of Gerber vs. 5 cents per oz of my baby food. In other words…Gerber is 180% more expensive than the simple carrot puree I made this morning. Yikes!
The numbers work out differently for other baby foods, but the end result is the same every time—You save a lot of money making your own baby food!
**Helpful Hint** Bananas and avocados can be smashed with a fork until they are a good consistency for your baby. Talk about easy! For other good first baby foods and how to cook them before you puree, check out the Cheat Sheet below.