Making Baby Food to Save Money: What You Need + Recipe + Tips
We were six figures in student loans when our daughter was a baby. At that time we were looking for just about any way to save money. But oddly enough, baby food wasn’t something I did only to save money. I wanted to make baby food because I wanted our baby to eat fresh, healthy foods. But what I learned was that making baby food was about 30% cheaper than buying baby food.
Disclaimer: I am not a pediatrician. I am not a doctor. I am not a nutritional expert. I’m a young mom on a budget who cares about the health of her babies. I have walked through what we did for our kiddos with our pediatrician and she was completely on board. But that doesn’t mean yours will be! So if you have question/concerns with anything nutrition related, please consult your pediatrician.
A few quick misconceptions about making baby food
making baby food takes a long time
making baby food requires a specific or fancy blender
making baby food is difficult
None of these three things are true, and by the end of this post you will know exactly why and feel confident in making a batch yourself! As you can see, our little guy likes it 🙂
PRICE COMPARISON: HOW MUCH WILL YOU SAVE?
This example of green beans shows the dramatic cost differences that can be achieved by making homemade baby food. Let’s compare store bought green bean baby food with homemade green bean baby food. This example shows the drastic price difference that can occur with baby making baby food vs. buying it, but on average I’ve found it saves us around 30%. With both of our children, we estimate a combined hundreds of dollars of savings. Some people might worry about the time, but I promise, making this baby food is EASY.
The bigger cost savings comes with more unique vegetables. For instance, I couldn’t even find a store bought acorn squash baby food!And you’ll see how easy that recipe is!
Butternut squash baby food is easy enough to find but the cost per ounce is much higher than what we could make that for too.
Store Bought Baby Food
As you can see, with Walmart Grocery, one container of Parent’s Choice Baby Food is $0.58 for a 4oz container. And that price seems great when compared to some others shown on the Walmart website. But recently, I purchased 1lb (16oz) of green beans at Aldi for $0.59. That was the sale price. The regular price is typically $1.09
You might think this means that I got four times the amount of baby food, but that’s not necessarily true. The baby food is based on ounces by volume, and the green beans are based on ounces by weight. Sorry, the engineer in me has to mention that. They are two different measuring systems. In reality, I did end up with around 16 fl oz, so I’ll get off that soapbox.
Homemade baby food
The price of homemade baby food can drastically change by what produce you buy. Like I mentioned above, I bought sale green beans for $0.59 per pound. What I’ve tried to do is always buy the produce that’s on sale to make baby food. Also, this feels like the right time to mention that I don’t worry about purchasing organic produce. I choose not to purchase organic baby food when it’s jarred, so to me it wasn’t a priority. If it’s an important priority to you, then more power to you!
Shop the produce that is on sale
Shop “seasonally”…for example, squash will be cheapest in fall and winter. Try to buy one in June and store bought food may end up more expensive.
Blend meats with potatoes: the mixture will blend easier, it’s gentler on babies tummy (in my experience), and potatoes cost less.
Use scraps for other things: save the ends/stems of vegetables to make veggie broth (recipe here), roast up pumpkin/squash seeds to have as a snack yourself, use any bones from meat to make bone broth (recipe here)
EQUIPMENT TO MAKE BABY FOOD
You do not need fancy “baby food making equipment.” You do need a few basic kitchen items, but nothing too crazy. I’ve used a $400 blender (though now it’s $260), a $60 blender, and a $25 blender to make baby food, and there wasn’t any detectable difference.
What You NEED
an ice cube tray of some sort
Nice to Have
The right ice cube tray. Two different ways to freeze the baby food that are nice in different ways. 1. An ice cube tray with a cover. This one by OXO is what we use. It made me feel better to know that nothing could get into the baby food while it froze. 2. A silicone ice cube tray – these are what we used to freeze breastmilk after pumping, but also work well for baby food! It’s super easy to pop the cubes out and the silicone is a safe way to store food.
Refillable pouches – I do not know how these freeze! But with bigger babies, pouches are great on the go.
THE EASIEST WAY TO MAKE BABY FOOD
Here is how to make baby food in one sentence. Cook vegetables with a little salt, then blend with water and portion out. That is really all there is to it! You take a vegetable, protein, or combination, then cook them with salt and mild seasoning. Remember, babies have extremely sensitive tastebuds so be lighthanded! Then blend/puree with water as needed. I would simply add enough water to puree. The exact amount will vary with each batch but less is more. You can always add more water, but you can’t take it back! We have done green beans, spinach, kale, carrots, brussel sprouts, potatoes, sweet potatoes, chicken, chicken & sweet potatoes, chicken & rice, beef & potatoes and basically any combination of what we cooked for ourselves.
A few tips:
adding a soft starchy vegetable helps blend chicken and beef
start with vegetables only for their tummies to adjust
RECIPE: Acorn Squash Baby Food
Step 1: Cut Squash in Half & Remove Seeds. A good, sharp knife will help with this. You can save the seeds to roast separately (for big humans, not the baby!), otherwise discard.
Step 2: rub on or spray a bit of olive oil, sprinkle on a dash of salt
Step 3: Roast in the oven at 400 degrees F for one hour.
Step 4: Puree using a blender or food processor until smooth. Add water if needed (for squash this isn’t likely). If any bits stick to the edge of your blender, stop and push down with a spatula, then continue to blend until smooth. Note: for our Ninja blender, I pulse twice, then run on setting 1 until smooth. (Refer to your blender/processor if it is okay to puree warm food.)
Step 5: Storage
To Freeze: pour into ice cube tray. Silicone are the easiest to work with, but use what you’ve got. We also like these trays with the covers so the food won’t get contaminated in the freezer.
To refrigerate: simply pour into a container and save. Use or freeze in 1-2 days.
Step 6: Serve & Enjoy
How long does the fresh baby food last?
1-2 days, but I freeze most of what I make then warm it when needed.
How do you reheat?
I just use the microwave and stir every few seconds until warm
Do I need to use organic foods to make baby food?
The choice is up to you. Personally, I did not worry about it.
How do you serve?
We have some small glass containers that came in our large pyrex set. I use those with a basic baby spoon. Nothing too crazy!
What foods to you recommend?
I personally have chose to introduce vegetables, then vegetables blended with protein, then fruit. My logic was to get baby used to the veggies and less sweet items, and to give the sweeter things (like fruit!) later. We did LOTS of different vegetables. But as mentioned in the beginning, consult your pediatrician if you have questions.
Will a stick blender work?
I *think* it would work but have not tried it. I’ll give it a go with a batch soon!
Hi, my name is Rachel Smith. I’m a personal finance nerd, Aldi connoissuer, book lover, yoga enthusiast, and budgeting wiz. I was born and raised in Anchorage, Alaska but currently call Michigan home. I want to help people with their finances and eating healthy on a tight budget (no matter what your cost-of-living area is!)