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Coupon Abbreviations
  • SC = Store Coupon
  • MC = Manufacturer Coupon
  • SS = Smart Source
  • RP = Red Plum
  • PG = Proctor and Gamble
Coupon Terms
  • WYB = When You Buy
  • B1G1 = Buy One Get One Free
  • .75/1 = 75 cents off one item
  • .75/3 = 75 cents off three items
  • EXP = Expiration Date

Going Nuts? I can help you understand coupon terms and abbreviations

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Saving on baby food.

“Having a baby costs so much money!”

How many times have you heard this statement? Some may answer that a newborn baby needs very little aside from loving parents. But some of the simplest necessities cost the most: diapers, clothing, a car seat, and food. Welcome to week two as we share some ideas for saving money on baby basics. (Week one was diapers).

Spend Less on Baby Food

Until I had a baby, I had no idea how much time mothers spend feeding their children. In fact I’d really like to see a calculation of average time spent feeding in the first year of life. It is amazing that without some planning a family could spend the same amount on an infant as they many spend for two or three people! However, there are ways to save in each stage.


Breastfeed as Long as Possible

It is perfectly formulated to meet all of baby’s calorie needs. It has just the right amount of vitamins and nutrients. It contains antibodies to keep baby from illness. It is always the right temperature and requires no preparation. And best of all it is absolutely free! With the exception of a few accessories (which are merely helpful, not actually necessary) you won’t spend a dime to feed your baby. Pediatricians recommend breastfeeding for at least six months, but those who continue until baby’s first birthday may never need to purchase a bottle of formula. See here for more information about the health benefits of continued breastfeeding.

Formulate a Plan for Bottle Feeding

While there is no denying that breast is best in terms of cost and nutrition some women are unable to do so for one reason or another. Also, some babies give up nursing before they are able to drink regular milk at one year and so mom must resort to formula for a few months. Formula can cost up to $40 per week or anywhere from $1000 to $2300 over a year according to Sure Baby. Many moms feel that they have to pay top dollar in order to provide baby with the best nutrition, but this isn’t always the case. Here are a few ideas for cutting the cost without giving up quality.

  • Use coupons and formula checks – The best source for coupons is the manufacturers. You can sign up for rewards programs, newsletters, samples, and checks for various amounts (these can be used like coupons toward a purchase). Use these in combination with store sales and coupons at grocery and drug stores to get the best price.

Example: Nestle Good Start reg. priced at $26.99 ($1.05/oz) at Harris Teeter
on sale this week for $23.25
-$5 manufacturer’s check

Total= $18.25 ($0.71/oz)

  • Buy in bulk – Like most other products, the bigger packages are cheaper per ounce. If you are a member of a wholesale club, you will be able to find the lowest price per ounce at regular price. You can also buy multi-packs, saving you even more money. The best thing about the above mentioned manufacturer’s checks is that while they can be used like coupons, there is no restriction on the size container you can buy. Also, they can be used even at stores that do not take regular coupons.

Example: Nestle Good Start reg. priced at $25.26 ($0.79/oz) at Sam’s Club
-$5 manufacturer’s check

Total= $20.26 ($.63/oz)

  • Buy house brand – All manufacturers are under the same strict FDA regulations. Unless your baby is struggling nutritionally or has difficulty digesting certain formulas, your baby should receive adequate nutrition even with a house brand. Please consult with your pediatrician if you have concerns.

Example: Member’s Mark (Sam’s house brand) is regularly priced at $19.38 ($0.38/oz)

  • Ask for samples – As mentioned before manufacturers offer samples packages to expectant mommas through their websites, but you can often get these from you OB/GYN as well. Be sure to ask when you go in for your check up.

Transitioning to Solids

Those pretty, multi-colored jars of food don’t seem all that expensive. But when you start thinking about how much you are paying per serving, it really adds up! One simple way to save money is to wait! While most pediatricians will still give you the go ahead at 4-6 months, but most experts are now saying that baby will be just fine with breastmilk until six months. It can actually be better for baby’s digestion and exposure to possible allergens.

Make your own

This is really not as scary as it sounds. It also does not require any special equipment. All you need is a decent blender or food processor and some ice cube trays. There are some extra tools that can make the task easier (a food mill, a steamer, a crockpot, etc.), but they aren’t really necessary. There are several foods that don’t require cooking or processing at all like banana, avocado, mango, and pears. Making your own version of popular baby foods (i.e. apples, carrots, peas, sweet potatoes, etc.) can save you up to $.26 per serving.

Cooking your own baby food is very nutritious and often provides a greater variety of flavors for your baby. Oftentimes you can just use foods that you are already purchasing for the rest of your family. Simply steam fruits and vegetables until tender. Cool, blend, and freeze into cubes (ice cube trays work great). Defrost them in the microwave when it is time to feed baby. Mix and match them, or add breastmilk, formula, or baby cereal.

For More Information:

Compare the cost of jar food to homemade
Stage one baby food recipes
Annabel Karmel’s Recipes for babies 6-9 months (I also recommend her book First Meals )

Use coupons at the grocery store

This shouldn’t be rocket science for you since you already do this when you shop for the rest of your family. If you are new to Southern Savers, take a look at our Getting Started Guides. Again, don’t forget to sign up with manufacturers for their newsletters as they often come with valuable coupons for their product. Printable coupons can often be found on manufacturer’s websites. Parenting magazines are also a great source of baby food coupons, and you can often sign up to receive these for free if you are an expectant momma.

Or do both!

There are times when making your own baby food can be difficult. I will warn you that sometimes texture can be an issue, especially when it comes to peas and green beans. Most recipes recommend the use of a food mill for veggies with a tough hull which would add to your overall costs. I made most of my own food, but purchased these two veggies in the store when they went on sale. I found this particularly helpful as I started to transition to more textured foods. For example, I took some left over pasta, ran it through the food processor, and then mixed it with some tomato and carrot from Earth’s Best.

It can also be difficult to travel with those frozen cubes of fruit and veggies. Grab a few jars on sale to use when you are eating out or going on vacation.

Transitioning to Table Food

As your baby gets older he will eat less of the soupy cereal, fruits, and veggies, and start experimenting with feeding himself. He will also start consuming more food at more regular times and even join the family. My advice here is simple: give your kid the good stuff. While you may not always feed your baby or toddler exactly the same meal you have, you can gradually transition them real food. Avoid buying special “baby” or “toddler” foods as you get very little for your money (unless of course you can get it free with a coupon). Also, they often contain a lot of fillers and are highly processed (not a good way to start your baby on the path to nutrition).

If you cook healthy food for your family it should be very easy to begin sharing with your baby or toddler. Continue to give baby lots of fruit and veggies, make your own teething biscuits, make homemade broth for soups, and share some of your dinner with your little one. As you adapt recipes for baby watch out for salt and sugar. Too much isn’t good for baby (or for you), so make sure to take out his portion before you add these ingredients. Many parents give their children a lot of juice thinking that it is healthy because it comes from fruit, but juice can be an unnecessary cost to your baby’s health and your wallet! Juice is a sure way to give your baby a sugar high. Water down juice for your toddler or save it for special occasions. Better to save your money (and baby’s health) and go with water or milk.

More Information on Solid Foods:
Stage 2 baby foods
Wholesome Finger Foods
Wholesome Toddler Foods
More recipe ideas from Annabel Karmel

See more on buying frugal for baby:

Buying Frugal For Baby: Gear

Buying Frugal For Baby: Diapers

    • crystal1214

      At our Publix this week is BOGO baby food, what I do is try to save my WIC voucher as long as I can til they have BOGO, then use it and get 2 times as much. If your WIC says 16 jars, with BOGO you can get 32. Hope this helps those in need of a way to get more for less.

      • Valerie

        Seriously? I can use the BOGO? I was going to ask tomorrow but will seriously be stocking up on this since my checks just say for may! :) 31 cans = 62 for meat and 16 cans = 32 for fruits and veggies!!!!!! yay!!!!! you totally made my day crystal!

        • melissakeeton

          Ladies, Check your store's policies, as many Publix' stores simply give you the discounted price per item when they're bogo free. Meaning you don't have to buy two. If this is true, you can still only get the amt listed on the WIC check, since wic doesn't go by a value amt but on the actual quantity number. :( sorry, and hope this isn't the case with your publix!

          • crystal1214

            Most Publix do full price for the one and on the BOGO it shows up as a negative. Yes, its always wise to ask your store, chances are they do. If your a regular shopper there, then you know how their policy is and how it shows up on your reciept. Thanks for mentioning they should ask first.

        • Lucy

          Yes, you can! I went with my friend, she got 32 jars, and the nice cashier told her that since they are BOGO, she should go get 32 more! She was so happy.

        • crystal1214

          No problem, glad I could help. We are stocked up. Our 9 month old eats more baby food now and less formula since I wait and do the BOGO. Also, nice name, thats my daughters name!

    • Jessica

      We skipped baby food all together and just went with large pieces of food that the kids could pick up and gnaw on. Apples without skins, peaches, bread, all sorts of things. It worked great and they transitioned to table food with no problems! Plus no baby food costs. There are a lot of good websites with information on starting with whole foods instead of baby food.

    • Erin

      Thank you for posting this series of helpful baby hints! I'm pregnant with my first child and these hints have been so helpful!

    • RobinB78

      When I had my first, it was impossible to breastfeed. My body just didn't want to cooperate, so formula it was. We were like most parents and assumed we had to buy the pricey stuff. It really cut a huge hole in our budget. The free samples and formula checks were lifesavers! The second time around though, the first thing I asked the doc was if the Sam's Club formula was good. He said he gives it to his own baby. That's all I needed. The can has almost twice as much formula in it for half the price. The membership to the club paid for itself in our first month's supply of formula!! It can't be beat!

    • JL

      Don't forget that people can make thier own baby food for a fraction of the price. Super Baby Food by Ruth Yaron is a great books. Plus there are tons of websites available. Put it this way you can get a 2lb bag of carrots at Aldi or other discount grocery stores and make a few weeks of carrots for your baby for .99 cents or spend that much on 1 or 2 servings.

      • melissakeeton

        My pediatirician advised everything was fine to make homemade except for carrots. Something about nitrate levels too high and no way to monitor when made homemade. This still a worry…my girls are 5 and 7 yrs!

      • melissakeeton

        “The most likely sources are beets, carrots, green beans, spinach, and squash.”
        This is from the American academy of Ped's website… :)
        Google search “safe to make baby food carrots homemade”

    • Megan_A

      My husband just finished his PhD and I'm a SAHM, so our budget has been really tight. Both of my daughters wore cloth diapers, potty trained early, were breastfed, and started solids (homemade) fairly late. We never bought the baby or toddler snacks and just mixed real fruit with plain whole milk yogurt instead of buying the baby yogurt. We were blessed with tons of hand-me-down clothes and generous grandparents, so we've only had to buy a few items of clothing for them. I never dreamed that kids could cost as little as ours have.

      • Lucy

        Good job! I wish I could do that. I am always so tempted to buy new clothes for the kids (“oh, that's so cute!”), and then sometimes they will wear it once or twice and that's it.

    • artmommy222

      I agree that sometimes making your own babyfood can be money-saving, if the raw food is cheap. Like sweet potatoes. But I personally found that all of the peeling, chopping, cooking, grinding, straining, packaging, freezing, thawing and reaheating to be too costly of my time.
      The link to the chart of price comparisons had some bizarre math errors on all of the homemade baby food costs. Just one example, peas at .99 per pound…they are somehow assuming this makes 20 oz of babyfood. Um, no, a pound is 16 oz. And you have to throw away the hulls, which probably makes it 13 oz or something. So that makes it 7.6 cents per ounce, not 5 cents. Also, the prices listed for the jarred babyfood were crazy! 79 cents for a 2.5 oz BeechNut? I have almost never seen it for more than 50 cents for a 4 oz. I buy it at 33 cents at Super Dollar. That's 8.2 cents per ounce, with no work involved.

      • There are a few things that might account for this “strange math.” 1) They state that their prices are regional, specifically in the Northeast, and 2) don't forget that water (or breastmilk) is often added to homemade baby food to achieve the desired consistency (especially with peas!) adding to the overall volume.

        You are right though. Sometimes you can find great prices on the jars and the convenience is priceless. However, I always felt better about making my own food because I knew all of the nutrients weren't boiled out of it in the process of pasteurization. I ended up using both homemade and jarred depending on how much time I had and the sale prices.

        • artmommy222

          Good point, Kim; I forgot about the addition of water that can increase the total amount of homemade food. In response to Susanne, the hulls I was straining were the skin of each pea; my son would not eat that texture. So assuming that I really could get 20-24 oz from a pound of peas, it was still taking me like an hour start to finish to prepare the equivalent of 5-6 4oz jars. Which would save me a dollar. I totally understand the desire to have higher quality homemade food, but my time was just worth more than $1/hour to me and just had to give up the pureeing. Plus, my son could tell the difference, and turned up his nose at the homemade!!

      • suzannecarl

        Actually, the cost for peas is for a FROZEN bag of peas and NOT for a pound of fresh peas so there is no waste in the hulls. And, you are pureeing the bag of peas so that makes even more. I have been able to get 2 ice cube trays full of pea puree from this. That's about 24 ounces of peas at .99 cents divided by 24 ounces is about .04 cents an ounce – half the cost of the jars and remember, you need to multiply that buy oodles of jars. Jars in my town are .60 for a 2.5 oz!

    • Lucy

      If you have only one person working in the family, or if the income is tight, you should see if you qualify for WIC (women, infants, and children). They provide pregnant women, women who had a baby, and babies and children up to age 5 with food such as formula, baby food, and regular food. Although I didn't qualify, a couple of families I know did, and they love WIC!

      I did give baby food to my son, and then slowly he transitioned to table food. With my daughter, I bought the “Magic Bullet” blender, and it has done wonders. She started “table food” right away :) I never knew how easy it was to make baby food until I tried this blender. Now, anything I make for my toddler, I put in a blender for the baby to eat as well – saves time and money. Now I only buy baby food if we are going out for the whole day and I'm out of time, plus it's more convenient; I also buy baby food fruits for desert as a special treat for my baby.

      As much as I would like to live without toddler snacks, my just-started-talking-2-year-old specifically requests them :( Especially those puffed Gerber snacks that cost $$$ and are eaten within minutes… There are not many coupons for those, but I found Sams club has the best price. I also use my CVS extra bucks and $/$$ coupons if I run out.

    • Kevin

      For the last 6 months that my daughter was on formula, I bought ALL of her formula off of ebay. I could usually buy a case for approximately half of what I would pay in a store. The expiration dates are always listed, and I never had a problem not receiving what I had bid and paid for.

      • Mmmmm1

        Formula is a high pice item that is stolen both by petit retail theft suspects that are part of a bigger ring and by the truckload. It is sold on line and in other places like flea markets. Just becareful what you are encouraging. If it seems a little too good to be true it probly is, especially if it i a high price item.

        • lacey

          i have never heard of this before. I do know that many people on welfare or wic who have leftover cans of formula sell it on ebay. We have a friend who breastfed but she got wic coupons for the cans of formula, got the formula and sold it to make money. I image it is FAR more likely that this is what is happening with people selling it on ebay than petty theft rings stealing random baby formula by the truckload.

    • RaeBerry

      We've been using the house brand formula from Target (baby does actually better than on Similac) and it's something like 16.89 for a huge can of formula (it has to something like 2 cans worth) or 11.89 for one can. I'm in Atlanta and certain stores have higher prices for formula than others (one the closest to me has the same can for 19.49)…So even with house brands (at least at target) pays to comparison shop.

      Also if breastfeeding isn't going well, you can always invest in a good pump (or rent one) and it will eventually save money.

    • I just got this email from Enfamil! Enter “MomsDay” promotion code at checkout to receive a discount of $10 off your purchase of $75+. Offer expires May 31, 2010 and is a limit of one per household. For those who are formula feeding but don’t have any manufacturer’s checks, this could be a good deal! I don’t know if Enfamil.com accepts their own manufacturer’s checks to combine with this offer??

    • Hyrum

      Keep your eyes open.

      A couple weeks ago at Walmart, there was a shopping cart full of baby food on sale for $.10.
      Most of it was the Gerber Organic stage 2 2 pack. When I checked the sell by date, it was farther away than that of the baby food on the shelf. For less than $15 I purchase all the baby food our 8 month old will ever need.

      Simply keep your eyes open. Other great deals recieved by keeping my eyes open:

      I was given $.76 for taking 38 lbs of cheese.

      I was given $1.00 for taking 16 4 packs of yogurt.

      I purchased large quantities of Prego speghetti sauce for 3.5 cents a piece.

      I purchased many boxes of Betty Crocker Supreme brownie mixes for 34.5 cents (and I didn't even have a coupon when I walked into the store).

      I am not a super couponer. I don't have the time. However, sometimes keeping ones eyes open is all it takes.

    • Caroline

      The easiest and most affordable way I find to make baby food with child #2 is buying the frozen foods when they're on sale (@ $1 Birdseye, Green Giant, etc) and use the MFCs that are for $1 off. Making it FREE. Most often it is the Steam Fresh that is on sale so I can microwave it, blend it, and then freeze it. I use this in addition to black eyed peas that I buy dry or I add meat to it. If you are a follower of Dr. Denmark, there is a good menu of % of what to add to each meal ex. Lunch: 3 ice cubes of veg. 2 of fruit, 1 banana, and 3 protein.

    • Ask for formula samples at every pediatrician appointment. They are given samples by the formula companies and love to give it to moms who ask. I always leave with one or two powders! I am not supplementing yet, but when I do I am STOCKED! If I never use formula (my 2nd child had an anaphylactic allergy to dairy) then I can give someone a really wonderful surprise gift.

    • Lauren

      You stated that pediatricians recommend breastfeeding for the first six months & I wasn't sure what pediatricians you were referring to. Some pediatricians are, unfortunately, well behind on current recommendations from the American Academy of Pediatrics. The AAP recommends delaying solids for the first six months and states: “Breastfeeding should be continued for at least the first year of life and beyond for as long as mutually desired by mother and child.”

      I just wanted to note that any pediatrician who only recommends 6 months is not giving giving anyone the best information. It's wonderful that you can help provide information on how to help families afford formula when it's medically needed. I'm sure it would be greatly appreciated if you could correct the statement about 6 months being a current recommendation. Thanks again for a great post! You should do one on cloth diapers too! I spent $48 for all the diapers I need through potty-training & you can spend even less if you have sewing skills!

      • shannon

        I think what Jenny is saying that at least six months is best for breastfeeding. The longer the better but at least 6 months:)

    • CoachKaterina

      I nursed six babies until they were eating from the table and drinking from cups. None of my 6 children, 5 of them are grown up now, and we have a little 7 year old, ever saw or had formula. Not even an ounce. Not one of them ever had a bottle or a pacifier. I was their pacifier! I allowed each one of them to wean on their own. Some weaned at 18 months but some did not wean until the next baby came along and one tandum nursed. My last one who was born 14 years after the next youngest nursed until he was 3.5 years old. Nursing was the best part of my life with my children and the best part is that not one of them had any ear problems or runny noses or smelly poop. They are all still healthy and thin as grown adults, not one of them is obese.

    • dwaynejenn46

      Baby Food Jars don't expire for a good year, so stock up a few months early…my baby won't start solids for another month or two, but I nabbed a chance to buy baby food for 16 cents a jar just this morning (Publix sale + Coupons).

    • lacey

      i have never heard of this before. I do know that many people on welfare or wic who have leftover cans of formula sell it on ebay. We have a friend who breastfed but she got wic coupons for the cans of formula, got the formula and sold it to make money. I image it is FAR more likely that this is what is happening with people selling it on ebay than petty theft rings stealing random baby formula by the truckload.