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52 Different Ways to Save $100 Per Year: Don’t Pay For Pre-Made Baby Food {Week 46}

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Homemade Ginger shows you how to make your own wholegrain baby food.

Each week for 52 weeks, I’m sharing a different way you can save $100 this year. If you do all of these things, you’ll be able to save over $5,000 this year alone! Many of these things will likely be things you’re already doing, but hopefully all of you will pick up at least a few new ideas or some inspiration from this series.

Store-bought baby food can be very expensive. Knowing this, I decided from the get-go when I had my first child that this was an area that I’d wanted to try to really save money on.

Three children later, we’ve survived without basically ever paying for pre-made baby food — and have saved hundreds of dollars in the process! Here are some things that worked for us (Remember: each child and family is different so please do what works best for your family!):

1. Start Slowly

I was blessed to be able to nurse all three of my babies almost exclusively until six months old. (I know some women would love to be able to nurse and have been unable to do so, so I don’t take it for granted that I never had difficulty with nursing.)

At around six months old, I would slowly start introducing solid foods — normally just giving the child a couple of tastes of banana or vegetables a few times per week. I would usually mash up something that we’re already eating and offer a few bites.

We stuck with fruits, vegetables, and whole grains first and then gradually added in other foods. We’d just offer the child whatever fruit or veggies we’re eating at a meal plus some homemade bread or other wholegrain finger foods. As our children caught on to eating more, I’d gradually reduce nursing and replace it more and more by table food. (I weaned all my children around 18-19 months.)

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2. Make & Freeze Homemade Baby Food

I did this some — and it worked well. Erin wrote a guest post a few years back on how she does this efficiently:

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.

Read Erin’s post here on How to Make Homemade Baby Food for the Freezer.

Helpful Resources: If you are interested in making your own baby food, you might check out this post here or see if you can check out Feed Me I’m Yours or check out some of the books listed here from your local library.

3. Use a Baby Food Grinder

If you’re wanting to make your own baby food, but the thought of making big batches for the freezer does not appeal to you, I highly recommend that you invest in a simple baby food grinder. I like the Kidco Baby Food Mill. It runs about $15 and is really compact so you can just mash up whatever fruits and/or veggies (or even the main dish!) you’re eating at the meal.

If it’s something that can’t just be easily mashed with a fork, stick a small bit in the grinder when you sit down at the table, grind it up, and you’re good to go! It makes very little mess and requires almost zero forethought!

reusable-baby-food-pouches
Like the Baby Food Pouch idea but don’t want to spend money on Baby Food Pouches? Check out How to Make Your Own Reusable Baby Food Pouches.

What are your best tips and ideas for saving on baby food?

Other posts in the 52 Different Ways to Save $100 Per Year series

  1. 52 Different Ways to Save at Least $100 This Year: Bake Your Own Bread (Week #1)
  2. 52 Ways to Save at Least $100 This Year: Make Your Own Coffee at Home (Week #2)
  3. 52 Different Ways to Save $100 This Year: Ditch Your Cable Package {Week 3}
  4. 52 Different Ways to Save $100 Per Year: Order Prescription Glasses Online {Week 4}
  5. 52 Different Ways to Save $100 Per Year: Make Your Own Homemade Cleaners {Week 5}
  6. 52 Different Ways to Save $100 Per Year: Make Your Own Homemade Mixes {Week 6}
  7. 52 Different Ways to Save $100 Per Year: Become a One-Car Family {Week 7}
  8. 52 Different Ways to Save $100 Per Year: Surround Yourself With Frugal Friends {Week 8}
  9. 52 Different Ways to Save $100 a Year: Eliminate Disposable Products {Week 9}
  10. 52 Different Ways to Save $100 a Year: Cut Your Own Hair {Week 10}
  11. 52 Different Ways to Save at Least $100 Per Year: Use Cloth Diapers {Week 11}
  12. 52 Different Ways to Save $100 Per Year: Become Best Friends With Your Freezer {Week 12}
  13. 52 Different Ways to Save $100 Per Year: Rent Movies for FREE {Week 13}
  14. 52 Different Ways to Save at Least $100 Per Year: Ask for a Discount {Week 14}
  15. 52 Ways to Save $100 Per Year: Cancel Your Gym Membership {Week 15}
  16. 52 Ways to Save at Least $100 Per Year: Get the Best Bang for Your Buck at Yard Sales {Week 16}
  17. 52 Different Ways to Save $100 Per Year: Grow Some Of Your Food {Week 17}
  18. 52 Different Ways to Save $100 Per Year: Cut Back on the Soda Pop Habit {Week 18}
  19. 52 Different Ways to Save $100 This Year: Buy in Bulk {Week 19}
  20. 52 Different Ways to Save $100 Per Year: Price-Match at Walmart {Week 20}
  21. 52 Different Ways to Save $100 This Year: Ditch Your Landline {Week 21}
  22. 52 Different Ways to Save $100 This Year: Refinance Your Mortgage {Week 22}
  23. 52 Different Ways to Save $100 Per Year: Follow a Local Deal Blogger {Week 23}
  24. 52 Different Ways to Save $100 Per Year: Use a Coupon Database {Week 24}
  25. 52 Different Ways to Save $100 Per Year: Plan a Weekly Menu {Week 25}
  26. 52 Ways to Save $100 Per Year: Strategically Use Daily Deal Sites {Week 26}
  27. 52 Different Ways to Save At Least $100 Per Year: Shop at Aldi {Week 27}
  28. 52 Different Ways to Save $100 Per Year: Buy Used Books {Week 28)
  29. 52 Different Ways to Save $100 Per Year: Buy Used Clothing {Week 29}
  30. 52 Different Ways to Save $100 Per Year: Shop With Cash {Week 30}
  31. 52 Different Ways to Save $100 Per Year: Eat Less Meat {Week 31}
  32. 52 Different Ways to Save at Least $100 Per Year: Is this really a good deal? {Week 32}
  33. 52 Ways to Save $100 Per Year: 3 Ways to Save on Online Orders {Week 33}
  34. 52 Different Ways to Save $100 Per Year: Turn Your Clutter Into Cash {Week 34}
  35. 52 Ways to Save $100 Per Year: Get Organized {Week 35}
  36. 52 Ways to Save $100 Per Year: Have an All-Cash Christmas {Week 36}
  37. 52 Different Ways to Save $100 Per Year: Sign Up for Swagbucks {Week 37}
  38. 52 Different Ways to Save at Least $100 Per Year: Cut Your Fuel Costs {Week 38}
  39. 52 Different Ways to Save $100 Per Year: Frequent the Library {Week 39}
  40. 52 Different Ways to Save $100 Per Year: Simplify Birthday Parties {Week 40}
  41. 52 Different Ways to Save $100 Per Year: Brown Bag It {Week 41}
  42. 52 Different Ways to Save $100 Per Year: Make Your Own Snacks {Week 42}
  43. 52 Different Ways to Save $100 Per Year: Use a Programmable Thermostat {Week 43}
  44. 52 Different Ways to Save $100 Per Year: Limit Eating Out {Week 44}
  45. 52 Different Ways to Save $100 Per Year: Get a Bang for Your Buck on Travel Expenses {Week 45}
  46. 52 Different Ways to Save $100 Per Year: Don't Pay For Pre-Made Baby Food {Week 46}
  47. 52 Different Ways to Save $100 Per Year: Eat More Beans {Week 47}
  48. 52 Different Ways to Save $100 Per Year: Make Homemade Cards {Week 48}
  49. 52 Different Ways to Save $100 Per Year: Shop At More Than One Store {Week 49}
  50. 52 Different Ways to Save $100 Per Year: Eat From the Pantry {Week 50}
  51. 52 Different Ways to Save $100 Per Year: Stay Home More {Week 51}
  52. 52 Different Ways to Save $100 Per Year: Develop Contentment {Week 52}

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20 Comments

  • Elise says:

    I haven’t bought baby food either except for the occasional packet of something like Go-Go Squeeze for a treat.

    Baby H just turned 7 months and finally got her first tooth :). I’ve found it really simple to mash up a bit of egg yolk at breakfast, or avocado from my salad or burrito for the baby.

    We did a lot of banana with our first, but I’m trying to stay a little more away for sweet stuff for a while with baby H.

  • Amanda says:

    Crystal, I’m having troubles with these links. The pages are loading blank. I’m excited to learn how to make the reusable baby food pouches!

    I’ve been using my food processor to puree quinoa and veggies to make a more filling baby food. My little 7 mo old LOVES it, and the protein in it makes him sleep better through the night! Love making my own baby food. He would literally eat 3 of those little jars in one sitting, I bet.

  • Melanie says:

    One thing I did buy was applesauce, but not “baby” applesauce. It’s the same thing as “grown-up” applesauce, except at an inflated unit price. I found regular jarred plain applesauce was actually cheaper than cooking down an equivalent number of apples most of the year, and the rest of us could eat it too!

    • Ashley P says:

      I love making homemade applesauce in my crock pot. I always liked chunky-style applesauce but had a hard time finding it. So I decided to make my own, that way I can make it as chunky as I like. I core and peel the apples, put them in the crock pot with some cinnamon and a cup of water, and set it on high for a couple of hours. Depending on what kind of apples I use (because some are sweeter than others) I might add a tablespoon of sugar.

      For baby’s applesauce, I do things a bit differently. I steam the apples instead of simmering them. Then, I just dump them in a blender with a little bit of water, and puree. Super easy and no added sugar or preservatives! 🙂

  • Jill says:

    My daughter just started eating baby food a couple weeks ago and during her nap time one day I made peas, avocado, sweet potatoes, apples and carrots. A friend gave me the idea of putting the food in condiment cups (like they bring salad dressing out in at restaurants) and freezing them in those. They are perfect size and easy to travel with!

    • sdr says:

      I used to use silicone muffin liners for my son–they’re four ounces, so the same size as a stage two jar of food. My son was a huge eater (around four jars at each meal) so the “ice cube trays” thing got kind of tedious!

  • shannon says:

    I would love to suggest “Baby led weaning” for any moms interested in whole foods and saving money. Making homemade baby food is great but baby led weaning is time saving as well as very nutritious. I would encourage anyone to just google it. Basically, you give your baby, around aged 6 months or so, small amounts of soft whole foods such as ground beef, egg yolk, blueberries, whatever. There are some helpful guidelines online if people are interested and it certainly saves $ compared to jarred baby food.

    • Brooke says:

      Yes! Baby-Led Weaning is an outstanding, money-saving, nutritious method that we’ve loved with both of our children (now almost 2 and almost 4). The motto is, “Food is for fun until they’re one.” Eating becomes more of a science lesson for the baby than anything, because as long as a baby is breastfeeding, he’s guaranteed to get the proper nutrients — so there’s no need to measure, forcefeed, freak out about how much the baby is eating, etc. You simply offer a few healthy options from what the rest of the family is eating at every meal time and see what the baby does with it. Some evidence suggests BLW also decreases future picky eating habits, especially over “weird” textures, because children are given a variety of textures from the beginning. There’s an excellent book by Gil Rapley on BLW: https://moneysavingmom.com/2014/02/52-different-ways-save-100-per-year-dont-pay-pre-made-baby-food-week-46.html#comments Couldn’t recommend it more! I enjoyed my babys’ toddlerhood so much because of BLW!

  • Lisa says:

    I did the same thing with my girls, nursing for their main nutrition for the first year, and supplementing with baby-appropriate table food as they got closer to 12 months. I never bought baby food, nor did I bother making it. Canned vegetables were plenty soft for my older babies, and they had fun trying to pick them up. Oatmeal, yogurt, applesauce, grated apple, pasta, mashed sweet potato, french toast sticks – the options were so numerous I never felt the need to figure out “real baby food.”

  • Charlotte says:

    I’ll go out on a limb and suggest skipping the tedious and time consuming work of prepaing baby food in advance, altogether.
    I live in Asia and the idea of giving babies food that differs from what the adults eat is virtually unheard of. There are far fewery “picky eaters” and kids don’t have nearly the allergies that American kids have (though I’m not sure that’s realted, just stating an observance). My kids, five and one, eat all sorts of cooked greens, veggies and organ meats.
    I’m certainly not judging; I was fed baby food and my sister feeds it to her daughter. Just throwing out something else to consider.

    • Roxanne says:

      I was the same way with my children.

      I cut the soft food we were eating into small pieces, and only gave them foods that were age appropriate (no nuts, honey, etc). Pureeing foods seemed like so much work!

      My kids never choked on peas or other tiny bits of food. And I didn’t have to spoon feed them. They finger fed themselves.

  • Ashley P says:

    We got a Baby Bullet as a shower gift, but it’s just as easy to use any blender. We either use the steam-in-a-bag veggies, or steam fresh fruit and veggies in a steamer basket over a pot of boiling water. It takes like 10-20 minutes depending on what you’re steaming.

    Then I dump them in the blender, add a little water, and puree. Pour it into ice cube trays, muffin pans, or those little snack size Tupperware containers and freeze. For about 30 minutes worth of work, I get enough baby food for a week. I even found some frozen pre-sliced yam patties at Wal-Mart. My little man LOVES yams, and they steam super quick! Six patties will usually get me enough for the week.

    We make all of baby’s food separately, but it would be just as easy to puree leftovers. 🙂

  • Stephanie B says:

    I agree about the baby led weaning. We haven’t had to make a bunch of special purees. He just eats regular food! For example, I made a lentil dish one night and just put some on his tray and he ate it. You just have to watch the salt content of ingredients then but I figure it’s healthier for all of us.

  • Heather says:

    I save lots of time and money but skipping baby food completely. I nurse exclusively for the first year and then just offer then whatever the rest of us are eating for our meal after that.

  • Becky says:

    We did this too with our first and I will likely do the same with our 2nd. We started with avocados and bananas, and slowly added things like squash, pumpkin (it was fall) and other fruits and veggies, then meats. We had the baby food mill and loved it – brought it along with us to Thanksgiving dinner and was easy peasy! One site we used for recipes was http://wholesomebabyfood.momtastic.com/. One tip was to freeze everything without diluting in ice cube trays. After the food is frozen, transfer to a plastic bag in the freezer. Then, when it was time to eat you could thin it with breastmilk/water/formula to the consistency that your baby was eating at the time. That way you don’t have a large batch of too thin food as your baby grows.

  • Jessica says:

    I also did baby led weaning. It was so easy! Additionally, as mentioned in the original post, wait until your baby is 6 months to feed solids. This is the current AAP recommendations and will save you a few months food even if you do use purées.

  • April says:

    WIC gives our baby around 50-60 jars of veggies and fruits every month. Meat too but I don’t get it because of the antibiotics and hormones. Instead I give her Sprout or Earths Best organic meat meals. The small cost is worth the time right now. I still breastfeed her about as often as before because they say solids are for fun the first year. Our 4 yr old is a wonderful eater and we did the same with her. They have the rest of their lives for big people food, I am not in a hurry. If I did’t get WIC I would probably make it too! Hubby will have his BSN very soon, so life will be getting back to normal for us. God provides!!

  • Tracy R says:

    I did this with my boys, too. It saved so much money and I knew exactly what they were actually eating. You really don’t need a specific baby food mill though. I got one of those little 1 or 2 cup food processors that are almost always on sale for dirt cheap somewhere and threw a few spoonfulls of what we were eating in that. Super easy, and it has a much longer shelf life. As for pureed stuff, a blender, food processor, or even a mixer works. Whatever you have can work. I’ve even ground brown rice in a coffee grinder for rice cereal to thicken up other baby food.

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