Homemade Baby Food for the Freezer

Guest Post by Erin from $5 Dinners

A great way to save money when you’ve got a little one crawling under foot is to make your own baby food. The average price at my grocery store for a 1-serving jar of baby food, stage 1, is $0.51. From my rough calculations, you can save an average of 75% by spending a few minutes in the kitchen to make your own food — especially if you buy in season and get the best prices on that fresh produce.

While I prefer cooking in the kitchen each night for our “big people” meals, I’ve found it works really well for me to have a Freezer Cooking Day once a month preparing homemade baby food.

Here are a few tips for making homemade baby food efficiently and cost-effectively:

Planning

Watch the sale prices on produce. If butternut squash or sweet potatoes are on sale, but your Baby Food Freezer Cooking Day isn’t for another 2 weeks, that’s okay. Purchase the vegetables that will last longer when you see them on sale. Then, get other produce, apples, pears, mangoes, that won’t stay fresh as long just before your baby food prep day.

Timing

If it’s not too overwhelming for you, plan your baby food making into your regular Freezer Cooking Day. If that is overwhelming, plan another “1/4 day” to prepare just the baby food.

Execution

The biggest “hang-up” that I’ve experienced is not having enough ice cube trays. I get all my purees made up and then fill up all my ice cube trays, while the next puree “waits in line” for a tray!

Plan to make enough purees for the first set of trays, then busy yourself while those sit in the freezer for 2-3 hours. Put the then-frozen purees into a freezer baggie, wash the trays and pour in the next purees. Freeze, wash, pour, repeat. You can simply work these steps into your Freezer Cooking Day.

Serving

The ideal way to thaw homemade baby food is to remove the number of cubes needed for the next meal and place them in the refrigerator overnight. But I know I have a hard enough time remember where I left my car keys or cell phone, let alone remembering to take out a few baby food cubes.

So when necessary, thaw the cubes on the counter for 30 minutes. Mix in a little warm water and baby cereal to speed up the thawing. And in desperate moments, thaw the cubes in the microwave. But never give baby hot food! Always test temperature by touching the food with clean finger.

A Quick Tutorial on Preparing Homemade Sweet Potatoes for Baby:

1. Slit sweet potatoes. Bake at 350 degrees in a glass baking dish with 1 cup of water, covered with foil, for 50-65 minutes, or until all the sweet potatoes are soft. Remove foil and drain foil. Let cool 10-15 minutes.

2. The sweet potato skins will practically fall off after they are “steam-baked.” Drop the sweet potato flesh into a blender or food processor.

3. Add enough water to form the consistency you wish for your baby food.

4. Puree.

5. Pour into ice cube trays and freeze. Place frozen cubes into freezer baggie.

6. Serve to hungry, growing baby!

Have you successfully made homemade baby food? If so, share what worked. Did you find it difficult or frustrating? We’d love to answer questions.

If you’ve blogged about your experience, leave your link at the $5 Dinners Homemade Baby Food Page.

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Comments

  1. Amy says

    I’ve made all my babies’ food (other than cereal), too… now about a month in on #3! I don’t do one big day, but find it easier to make one big batch of something every few days. I’ll cook a whole bag of peas, puree, and freeze. This way, I don’t have to wash my blender and ice cube trays multiple times in one day. For sweet potatoes, I usually cook, mash by hand with a potato masher and put that straight into the trays, then thin out after thawing. I’m always looking for ways to streamline (and NOT have to wash anything extra! I’d much rather just wash the masher!).

  2. Katie says

    I made baby food for both of my babies, but instead of making it ahead, I would grind up whatever vegetable or fruit we were having with a baby food mill like this http://www.amazon.com/KidCo-Baby-Steps-Food-Carrying/dp/B00006G9LI/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=baby-products&qid=1272935161&sr=8-1

    My kids were eating the same healthy food we were eating, it took only a few seconds to make it for them, and as they got older I could put more “advanced” foods through the mill.

  3. Christy says

    I did this with my son. I used the small lock and lock containers (I bought several). I would take out a few cubes and make several portions each night and send them to day care each day. I labeled each container w/ masking tape so the teacher would know what she was feeding him and be able to talk to him about it. Pureed baby food is good for 3 days in the fridge so I would make food on the weekends and save out 3 portions of each kind in the fridge for the next three days, then freeze the rest of the cubes in larger lock and locks. I did have to run the dishwasher every night–between the lock-and-locks and baby bottles and breast pump parts, the top rack would always be full! We would mash up bananas or do something you can’t freeze like bananas and blueberries or cherries (after a quick flash on stove) at home. When he could start eating meat, we started mashing up lasagna, chicken pot pie, and other casseroles that we ate and sending that to day care for lunch too. A few times when traveling, we bought store bought baby food and he didn’t like it very much! He is 3 now and he doesn’t like Gerber graduates or even frozen prepared dinners. Other than that , he is not a picky eater at all. I guess I’ve spoiled him AND saved lots of money—-he even reminds me to get my coupons when we go shopping! LOL!

  4. says

    You can also use muffin tins as storage if you run out of ice cube trays.

    To defrost the baby food, I would put the baby food in the microwave and heat it on the defrost setting for a few seconds. The food never got hot that way, and it was a quick way to get it ready to serve.

  5. Holli L. says

    My son ate so many sweet potatoes I simply couldn’t keep up with him. I finally found that if I put a good 4-6 sweet potatoes in the crock pot with a little water and let them cook on low, the skins would just slip right off once they were done and all I had to do was puree them. It was so fast and simple! I also put my butternut squash in the crockpot to cook.

  6. Sarah says

    I helped my mom make baby food for my four younger siblings. What I wish I had then and what I plan to get when I have my own family is a Demarle mini-muffin tray, which can be used like an icecube tray. You have to see this product to believe it! People kept telling me how wonderful Demarle products were and when I finally tried them I was so impressed! They’re made with flexible silicone and when they advertize that the food pops right out and the pan only needs rinsing, they really mean it! Check out the products here: http://www.demarleathome.com
    The products are pricey, and though my family doesn’t usually hold cooking parties, we did hold a Demarle party because we could get quite a bit of stuff for free or 50% off. I’m NOT a rep and from my experience these products are worth the investement!

  7. Holly says

    I did this with my second child and WISH I’d done it with my first. The second will eat anything I put in front of her and the first…well, not so much. It was easy to do and I figured that it cost me about $0.11 a meal. What I did was put some fruit or veggies on the steam while I cooked dinner. Then after dinner, I pureed everything I steamed and froze it. It was such an empowering feeling to know I was giving my daughter good food without fillers AND I was saving money!

  8. Heather says

    Well, just to be ornery, I’ll stand up for the other side! I bought jarred food for all 4 of mine, and am proud of it! I did try making some with my first, and found it to be a fair amount of trouble. Can’t imagine now with 4 kids. Jarred food is not all bad, if you stick to just the simple ones (not the “dinners”). I find that the money is worth it for the convenience, especially with the many catalinas that I get. It’s great for travel, and baby gets a lot of variety. How many people are really making raspberries or blueberries for their baby? From what I have observed, when you make your own, baby gets less variety, and then gets put on table food sooner – thereby getting salt and other things he shouldn’t have sooner. Also, homemade food is no guarantee of a non-picky eater. Could cite plenty of examples . . . .

    Now just because I used jarred food, that doesn’t mean that that’s all my babies got! Of course, I was still breastfeeding, and I also gave them appropriate table food, like fresh bananas, peas, plain potato, etc. But when our meal includes things baby is not ready for, it sure is great to just pull out a jar to supplement what ever else he is having.

    Also, to save money, don’t ever buy the Stage 1 jars. No necessary. Less food for about the same money. Just get the single ingredient Stage 2 to start with – or even the single ingredient Stage 3.

    If people want to make it, go for it. But I don’t want anyone to feel guilty for buying the jarred stuff!

  9. Angi says

    Ice cube trays work ok for making baby food, but I liked the silicone muffin tins. The food popped right out and the serving was a little bigger for a baby that has a larger appetite.

  10. says

    I myself have just started venturing into making my own baby food and I find it very relaxing to prepare a homemade meal for my baby. Parents should really try it, it gives you more connection to your baby. Plus it is very economical. Thank you.

  11. says

    I am so excited to try making my own baby food! Thank you for the great article. This is my 3rd baby & I think it’s fair to say that after buying just about every kind of baby food in the stores, I could probably do it myself for a change ;) Thank you again for sharing! Great tips!!