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save money making your own baby food, southern savers

Making baby food from scratch might sound like a lot of work, but when you consider that most babies have a small diet, it’s not too hard. Making several batches of baby food to put up in the freezer can be a big time and money saver. It will never be free like some of the jarred baby foods, but one of the main benefits is that you know exactly what baby is eating. It can be really inexpensive if you have a plan!

What are some good baby foods to make?
Sweet potatoes, avocados, bananas, pears, peaches, carrots and peas are all simple foods to start making at home. If you find a good price on something, buy a little extra and make a batch of baby food! This is something you can start before they are eating, so that by the time they are ready for solids, you have produce from a variety of seasons! You can even just take a little of what your family is eating and puree or mash it.

Organic or Not?
There are some fruits and veggies that you may want to focus on buying organic for baby. A good rule of thumb is for anything that has an edible skin. On the other hand sweet potatoes, avocados and bananas have low pesticide levels no matter how they are grown, so don’t throw your money away unnecessarily. For more specific ideas on how to save on organic produce and which foods to focus on, check out this earlier post.

Don’t I need fancy equipment?
The number one way to overspend on making baby food is to go out and buy a bunch of expensive appliances to do it. My goal is to focus on simple foods I can make at home with a steamer basket, oven and a blender or food processor. For storage – freezing them into ice trays and popping them into freezer bags or square containers is the easiest way I’ve found.

A lot of my mom friends love this square Tovolo ice cube tray because each cube is about 1 oz and they stack really tightly in the freezer. Really any ice cube tray will do.

What about recipes?
You might think you need a recipe for making baby food, but it’s really straightforward: Wash your produce and steam, boil or bake the fruit or vegetable until it’s soft. Remove pits, skins and seeds and then puree in a food processor or blender. You can add small amounts of water until you get the desired consistency. A major benefit of making your own baby food is being able to mix up the textures.  Make completely pureed food for younger babies and leave some chunky or cubed for when they are older all at the same time! Just freeze separately and you have baby food to last a while.

Here is one example:
Publix has organic peaches on sale this week for $1.99 a pound. Wash the peaches, slice them in half, remove the pit and place the halves face down on a baking sheet.

Baking Peaches for Baby Food

Bake at 400 degrees until soft and the skin to pulls away from the flesh (about 15-20 minutes). Allow the fruit to cool, then peel and puree in a food processor or blender. Add water until you achieve the texture you want! One pound of peaches will make approximately (14) 1 oz cubes of baby food. That is the equivalent of (4) Stage 2 jars of baby food, making it about 50¢ each.

Do you have any tips or recipes to share for making your own baby food?

    • Megan D

      I finally decided to start making baby food with my third son & I am wishing I had done it with the first two!!!  It is so easy and incredibly affordable.  I buy bulk organic veggies at Costco and look for good deals on the clearance produce rack at the grocery store.  Most meals for him are less than 25 cents and he eats A LOT!

      • vicki

         Both of my kids really love their veggies and I am convinced it was because I made most of their baby food.  It is so easy and taking frozen food cubes with you on an outing can make lunch time wonderful.  Don’t try red beets, the yellow ones work well.  I did cauliflower and broccoli as well as squash.  Love the peach recipe.  I didn’t do fruit.

    • Megan D

      I finally decided to start making baby food with my third son & I am wishing I had done it with the first two!!!  It is so easy and incredibly affordable.  I buy bulk organic veggies at Costco and look for good deals on the clearance produce rack at the grocery store.  Most meals for him are less than 25 cents and he eats A LOT!

    • Danae

      I make at least 4 kinds at a time. That way I just peel, cut up, and pop in pans with a little water on my stove. It takes maybe an hour and most of it is hands off. I do the ice cube method and label ziplock bags to freeze. You can also use some of the the pureed fruits to make healthy popsicles for you or your older children. I would recommend not making too much of something your little one hasn’t tried, however. Because you may end up with a huge bag full of frozen pureed green beans that will never get eaten. Not that that has ever happened to me. ;)

    • Danae

      I make at least 4 kinds at a time. That way I just peel, cut up, and pop in pans with a little water on my stove. It takes maybe an hour and most of it is hands off. I do the ice cube method and label ziplock bags to freeze. You can also use some of the the pureed fruits to make healthy popsicles for you or your older children. I would recommend not making too much of something your little one hasn’t tried, however. Because you may end up with a huge bag full of frozen pureed green beans that will never get eaten. Not that that has ever happened to me. ;)

    • Triciamartin1981

      I also made my own baby food with my third and wish I had done it with the other two. I made everything from rice cereal to fruits and veggies and blending meats later. The only tip I can think of is to get a good food processor. You don’t have to buy one new – I received mine from a family member and there are plenty of used appliances out there on the cheap. But then, there isn’t anything you can’t turn into baby food! My son had quinoa, every kind of fruit or veggie you can imagine and by 8 months was eating what the rest of the family ate at every meal. Not having a separate shopping list for just him really saved us a ton :-)

    • Triciamartin1981

      I also made my own baby food with my third and wish I had done it with the other two. I made everything from rice cereal to fruits and veggies and blending meats later. The only tip I can think of is to get a good food processor. You don’t have to buy one new – I received mine from a family member and there are plenty of used appliances out there on the cheap. But then, there isn’t anything you can’t turn into baby food! My son had quinoa, every kind of fruit or veggie you can imagine and by 8 months was eating what the rest of the family ate at every meal. Not having a separate shopping list for just him really saved us a ton :-)

    • einaej

      SO GLAD to finally see post about eating organic, unprocessed foods on THIS web sight!!!!!!!! About alI i have seen are for using coupons for HIGHLY PROCESSED foods that are on sale.

    • einaej

      SO GLAD to finally see post about eating organic, unprocessed foods on THIS web sight!!!!!!!! About alI i have seen are for using coupons for HIGHLY PROCESSED foods that are on sale.

    • llllllllllllllllllll

      i had the baby bullet, and i really enjoyed making my first and only sons food. he enjoyed it, and i knew what was in it, as far as cheaper or not it depended on what kind of produce you buy, like with jarred foods they are all pretty much at one price, but when you buy your own produce the prices can vary greatly. i only did for about 3 or four months because there was a time before he turned one that he didnt want to eat at that consistency any more, then it got harder trying to figure out what to feed him but i got the hang of it!! now hes 18 m. still with only 6 teeth.

      • Krista

        I love my baby bullet.  Its worked out really well for us because my son has a metabolic disorder and we’re really picky about what we feed him; he’s also 15 months and still eating baby food because of it.  I feed him only organic produce, and even though I buy some pouch baby food, I feel better feeding him what I cook.  I’ve found its easiest to throw 1 fruit or vegetable in the steamer 4-5 nights a week, so I’ve always got a variety.

    • KMH

      I always pick one day to just get all my baby food made. It seems easier for me to do it all at one. Usually it just takes about a half a day or so to do it. Also, I try to use the “rainbow theory” I keep at least one or two fruits and vegetables of each color of the rainbow in my freezer at all times and just rotate them out.

    • Something I wish I had discovered sooner is that you will have more freezer space if you don’t add water/milk to the baby food before freezing. Instead, add the liquid AFTER you have thawed it, and just before use!!! :) Not only will you be able to fit more food into your ice cube trays, but each time you will also be able to adjust the consistency of it as your baby grows older and can eat thicker textures. Hope that helps!

    • Something I wish I had discovered sooner is that you will have more freezer space if you don’t add water/milk to the baby food before freezing. Instead, add the liquid AFTER you have thawed it, and just before use!!! :) Not only will you be able to fit more food into your ice cube trays, but each time you will also be able to adjust the consistency of it as your baby grows older and can eat thicker textures. Hope that helps!

    • Noahcat25

      I made baby food for all three of my little ones, including a rice porridge.  So inexpensive and so much better for my little ones.  I would take one morning every two weeks and make a variety of veggies and fruits using the ice cube method. I made the rice porridge once a week and then stored it in individual containers.  You don’t need anything fancy.  I preferred the blender over the food processor for those early months and then switched once they could handle a chunkier texture.  My third liked baby food the least-she went almost straight to table food.  I got really creative using all of the puree that I had made in advance.  A great way to add veggies to a meal for a pickier eater…although I never could really disguise the pea puree!  

    • sweeterthancupcakes

      http://sweeterthancupcakes.blogspot.com/2012/09/spinach-and-sweet-potato-quiche-cups.html
      These make a great finger food for bigger babies. My 10 month old loves them!

    • Even if you take a steamer bag of frozen veggies and throw it in the microwave, you can be done super quick and it makes tons of ice cube size portions.  My son also loved canned pumpkin and frozen squash which you didn’t even need to blend.  I still bought some food that was already pre-packaged but I didn’t have to buy nearly as much with just an afternoon of effort to get ready for the next few weeks.

    • Betsyc06

      I did this for 2 of my children and it was so easy and we saved a lot of money.  I just used a small food blender (to puree the cook veggies/fruits) and ice cube trays.  I would highly recommend making your own baby food!

    • Kylie

      I had to make my own baby for my son. When he saw me cooking he would have nothing to do with his food if it did not come from one of the pots on the stove and trust me he could tell the difference and would not eat it. To this day he would rather me cook than go out to eat.

    • Yollies

      My second child did not like jarred baby food so I tried cooking food at home.  She loved it and it was really easy and not very time consuming. I also used ice cube trays for freezing and then transferred to freezer zip lock bags.  This made it easy to combine foods/ flavors after initial introduction of the single food.  You just take a cube of food from different bags and mix together before serving.  My daughter is now 4 years old and still love the apple sauce I make.  Just steam peeled and quartered apples in a little water over medium low heat.  Pour off excess liquid after the have turned soft and then puree or fork mash.  The excess liquid can be used to thin some other vegetables like butternut.

    • Stephanieaminton

      I use my crockpot a lot. Last weekend I made carrot & nectarine puree. 1 bag organic baby carrots, 2 nectarines, sliced up a little water in the bottom and cooked on high until the carrots were soft. Then I used my immersion blender to purree it.

    • Sue

      How long are the veggies good for frozen in a baggie?

      • Rian

        I think about 2 months…I got that from “Super Baby Food” which is a great resource for making good, wholesome food for babies through toddlers.  She’s a little nutty about some things, but it really has all the information you would want plus lots of fun recipes!

    • megan

      I wish I’d had the time and energy to do it with my 2nd.  I pureed everything with my first… I steamed and pureed brocolli and tons of other veggies and fruits.  He likes most fruits still and many veggies.  My 2nd ate mostly jarred, some pureed.  He refuses to eat most fruits even though he liked most of the jarred foods and typically will eat corns, many beans, and potatoes.  

    • Amie

      I learned that I could make my own baby food when my first child was a few mos into eating baby food. It saved so much money and was so easy that we did it again with my second child. I have a steamer that was given to me as a gift and I just steamed fruits and veggies, put them in a blender, froze in ice cube trays and then stored in freezer bags. I baked sweet potatoes and then blended and froze them. When I told people that I made my own food, they thought I was a super-mom, but it was so easy.

    • Mandy

      http://www.wholesomebabyfood.com has some great info/recipes for making homemade baby food! :)  I did this with my first two children and will be doing it with number 3 as well! 

    • Jill 9999

      why waste time making purees?  just feed regular foods like avocado, roast sweet potato fries, sliced pears, etc.  Babies don’t need purees and are perfectly capable self feeding if you don’t try to force food on them prior to when they are ready.

    • Tcgoodlet

      When my kiddos were babies many years ago, I made my own babyfood and used icecube trays to freeze it.  I’d pop out  2 or 3 “cubes” when feeding time came.

      • Diane

         I did the same thing many years ago. After my ice cubes were frozen i would pop them out and put the into a freezer bag.

      • Diane

         I did the same thing many years ago. After my ice cubes were frozen i would pop them out and put the into a freezer bag.

    • Brishopper

      I made my DS’s baby food when he was small.  Froze it in the ice cube trays and then transferred to a ziploc.  I also found a food mill- I think it was in the baby section at a big box store- so that once he got older I just smushed up whatever we were eating for dinner.  I ALWAYS under-salt, so everybody just adds seasoning to their own plate. (Hey, it’s better that over-salting, right?)
      There is also a mesh bag on a ring that you can stick soft foods into so that your little one doesn’t bite off a big chunk of stuff like melon or pear.  That little doo-dad was awesome, too!  I think the mill and the mesh bag were each around $5 or $6.  
      I think the food mill made the transition from baby food to ‘real’ food much easier.  I just adjusted the texture as he got older.  Now he’s 6 and LOVES his veggies!

    • Jessica

      I decided to make baby food for my second child to avoid all the preservatives that are found in the processed baby foods. I wish I had done it with my first. The thing I love most is that he is getting exposure to fruits and veggies that you don’t find in the jarred baby food. I have never seen avocado baby food at the store. I am not convinced that is cheapier to make the fruits as I have to buy organic for so many of them. But I like knowing he is getting the best quality of food possible. I too use the ice cube method. Making my sons baby food has turned out to be much simplier than I anticipated and extremely rewarding.

    • Melissa Ward

      My favorite website to visit when making homemade baby food:  http://wholesomebabyfood.momtastic.com/