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Guest Post: Making Your Own Baby Food

Guest Post by Alisha Hughes from Meal Planning Mommies

If you have itty bittys in your home, there are many great reasons to consider making your own baby food. Not only is it healthy, but I've found that it is much cheaper, and very convenient to do. 

Some of my favorite foods to use are apples, pears, peaches, zucchini, squash, butternut squash, and sweet potatoes. I recommend using what is in season and on sale as much as possible in order to save money. If you buy in bulk and process enough of the baby food to last you for a few months, you should always have an ample supply of a variety of different fruits and veggies at your disposal to feed to your little one.

The steps for making any of these fruits or veggies into baby food are very similar:

1. Peel (if desired) and cut into chunks.

2. Cook in boiling water until very soft (or use a steamer).

3.
Puree in a blender or a food processor with a little water.
If I am
having a hard time blending all the chunks I sometimes add a little
extra water. (Extra tip: I sometimes decide to add a little baby cereal
to the blended food to make it thicker, or more substantial.)


4.
Pour into ice cube trays and allow to freeze.
Put these cubes into freezer bags, labeled with
what is inside and the date you made it. This baby food will be good for up to six months in your freezer.

I've found that three ice cubes are about the amount in an average baby
food jar. When it comes time to
feed my daughter, I just pop a couple of "ice cubes" into a bowl and microwave
them–usually for about 30-40 seconds. If it is a little too warm, I
just let it cool some before feeding her.

Other great foods to start with are bananas
and avocados which are already softened when they are ripe enough. When
the banana is good and brown, mash that thing up with a fork and your
baby will get dessert!

keely%20messy.jpg

There is something very rewarding to me about seeing my
baby enjoy food that I have prepared!

Alisha Hughes is the mother of two vibrant children. She and two of her friends, who are also mommies to itty bittys, have joined hands in
creating a blog for moms to get meal ideas called Meal Planning Mommies. They include pictures and step-by-step instructions–straight from their kitchen to yours!

———————–

Note from Crystal: The beauty of frugality is that different things work for different people. I've only had two little ones so far, but I've escaped ever paying
for a jar of baby food. However, I've found that making my own baby food up in advance like Alisha does hasn't worked very well for us so far. Instead, we have a bit of a different approach. If you're interested, you can read more what we do for baby food at
our home at this post I wrote here.

Do you make your own baby food or have other creative alternatives to paying full-price for the little jars of baby foods? If so, I'd love to hear!

Subscribe for free email updates from Money Saving Mom® and get my Guide to Freezer Cooking for free!

53 Comments

  • Jenny says:

    I have been making baby food for my 8 month-old son. Up until recently, I’ve stuck to fruits and veggies. In this last round (I freeze a month’s worth), I made some brown rice baby food. The trick is to put the dry rice in the blender and make a rice powder–then cook it (I added water a couple of times to get the consistency I wanted). I froze it into ice cubes and stick one in with two of another flavor and it makes it much thicker.

    Also, (I don’t freeze this), on occasion I’ll throw a little bit of cooked meat in the blender. It turns into a powder if you don’t add any liquid, making it great to add to some soupy baby food.

  • Sarah says:

    With my first two I almost always used the jarred baby food, but I got smart with the last one. We only rarely bought the jarred stuff. What works for me is cooking it up and then using my Braun hand blender to quickly mush it up. I’ve never tried freezing it, though.

  • Sheri says:

    I’m a mama of 5 high raw vegan kiddos, and we make our own baby food, too!

    I posted about it here: http://greenandcrunchy.blogspot.com/2008/11/easy-homemade-organic-baby-food.html

    Quite satisfying to make our own food and skip buying those little jars!

  • Rebecca says:

    Love the picture of your little one!

  • Alison Armstrong says:

    It is so great to read this. My first child would not eat baby food. Dr.’s and everyone made us feel like it was a necessary part of being a baby. I just read what you do and that is the exact same thing we did. As soon as she could pick food up and feed herself she would eat it. The only thing she would eat from me is cereal or yo baby. The interesting thing is, she was eating all foods at the same time as her friend who started solids at 4 months. They had been making huge messes trying to feed her, spending lots of time and money on baby food for months. I felt this was a huge waste of time and money. Now, with baby number 2 we are planning on doing the same. I just wish this was more publicly recognized because people and dr.’s make us feel like we are not doing it right. I am glad this approach works for someone else. It seems only natural to me.

  • Jessica says:

    I have 4 kids and have made most of our baby food. I did a cost (and color) comparison here:
    http://momforhim.blogspot.com/2008/12/homemade-baby-food.html
    You can also use frozen veggies and fruits when they are not in season.

  • angela says:

    Hi, we have three children and we have also learned that it is highly beneficial to make our own baby food. Our youngest just turned a year old, So what we did was back in the summer we went to an apple orchard and got 3 bushels of apples and made a lot of apple sauce and canned it. It will store for a good year or more that way. We also used honey in it instead of sugar cause we have bees, babies should not have honey but if it is boiled as it is in canning then the bacteria which causes infant botchalism is killed off. So it is safe. We also do the squash and bananas , like you do, our son has been so healthy, we know it is because of all the fresh foods he gets with no preservatives added into it. It really doesn’t take that much time to do it the right way either.

  • shel says:

    I have 7 children and none of were interested in pureed baby food. I breastfeed for an average of 2 years. I’ve learned to wait until they are ready for some mashed banana or finger foods (usually not till 9-11 months of age) we just start with those and skip the baby food stage. I have pureed things in a blender for them occasionally, but mostly it’s too much work and they don’t eat it anyway, so I wait until they’re ready to feed themselves. They’re all healthy, so it worked out;-)

  • I used jar baby food for my first two kiddos and then for my third made baby food. I have to stay I had so much fun making the baby food and my little one loved it. I recommend making it with another mommy friend. We had a wonderful garden and used our green beans, squash, apples etc to make the baby food…..much cheaper than buying it. I felt so rewarded feeding it to my little one…..knowing what he was eating….where it came from and made with love from mom! I also cooked large quantities, froze them in cubes and stored them in baggies. My favorite was to bake squash, let it cool and then puree. Happy baby food making!

  • Lana says:

    When our children were babies our beloved pediatrician (also the father of lots of kids like us) said that they just always let their kids sit on their laps at the table and when they were ready for solid food they would just begin to eat from the parents plates. We did that and it was so easy and inexpensive. You do have to sometimes move the plate away and tell them no when they decide to stir everything up! I have recommended this to our daghter-in-law for our grandson but she thinks it is gross and you may too but I found it to be alot easier than spooning food and coraling several toddlers and trying to eat myself.

  • robin says:

    We’ve never done baby food at all. Sort of like you described, I nurse for the first few months without feeding them anything, then straight to little servings of finger foods at the table when they can sit up. Never could quite figure out what baby food was for….

  • Kansas Mom says:

    Once baby has eaten enough foods, I also just blend whatever we’re having for dinner. (I make sure it’s not seasoned too much and that baby has had all of the ingredients or all but one of the ingredients so we can keep watching out for allergies.) Our kids have loved beef stew, chicken & rice casserole and all sorts of other goodies.

    You should be careful about some things like carrots. If they’re grown in high nitrite areas, they can be too high for babies. We will grow our own this year and know our land and water is ok.

    Finally, I try to pull the cubes of baby food out of the freezer and let them defrost in the fridge rather than heating in the microwave…just in case you don’t have a microwave or prefer to avoid it.

  • Melody says:

    This couldn’t be more appropriate for us! We just started our babe on solids and I was going to start looking into making my own. Thanks so much!

  • Coby says:

    I made all my own food for my son when he was younger buying whatever was on sale and in season. Once he got older and I could mix more foods, he loved barley soup pureed into a thick paste. I would throw whatever veggies I had in a pot with some barley and cook. Then puree and freeze. I would then cook chicken and puree and freeze that separatly and add it when I made the soup for feeding. I did this since the frozen meat doesn’t last as long in the freezer as the veggies and barley. It’s a great way to use up this and that of veggies and really healthy for the baby too! As he got older I just made everything more chunky. Then by 1 year he would eat everything we ate.

  • Tiffany says:

    When my second child went on a “spoon strike” at 8 months old and just refused to let me feed her anything with a spoon, I realized there was a ton of “table food” that she was able to eat on her own (after being cut or mashed carefully), and that I had really fed my first child baby food much too long.

  • Angela O says:

    I love the convenience of the jarred foods when we go out. They’re perfect to throw in my purse or diaper bag. But I’ve also found it so easy to make carrots, sweet potatoes, pumpkin, squash, applesauce, etc. So we’ve found a happy medium!

  • Tami says:

    I did make my own baby food but I didn’t put it in the freezer. Whatever my family was eating, I just stuck it in my food chopper ($12 from Walmart) and pureed it. It worked out great for us and was a lot cheaper than baby food.

  • Saver Queen says:

    i actually had a post on this very topic – it just makes sense! http://tinyurl.com/a5wl3y

  • trisha says:

    We used some commercial baby food with our first, much less with our second (he wanted the real stuff in chunks and we found a grinder), even less with our third and have NOT bought any for our fourth (she just turned 1).

    We pretty much do what you do. I did freeze some things with the other babies, but haven’t even done that yet…but she really prefers table food she can pick up herself.

  • Becky says:

    I make alot of my son’s baby food, but we have gotten the jarred stuff. We started with fresh avocados and bananas and then to pears, peaches (I wanted the peach puree, it was SO GOOD!!!) green beans, squash, pumpkin and sweet potatoes. Very easy to do and we had alot of food for little price and effort. My son is now 11 months and loves to feed himself and I actually still have bags of baby food in the freezer. It was much easier than I thought and 1-2 hours yielded plenty of food for a long time!
    I also mixed and matched the cubes – sweet potatoes and bananas (a favorite), bananas and avocados, sweet potatoes and applesauce (just get a jar of the natural applesauce, same stuff as baby food and a whole lot cheaper!), etc. We also started adding spices, cinnamon was a favorite!
    I taste everything before I give it to my son and the jarred stuff just didn’t taste right…. not bad, just not very flavorful.
    I also recommend getting a KidCo hand mill. We take that with us when we travel especially and don’t need to bring much baby food, we just grind up what we are eating if he cant’ eat it as finger food.

  • Tara says:

    With my first I tried the make-ahead method and failed miserably which resulted in buying lots of over priced baby food. With my second we took Chrystal’s approach and did more nursing than table food until the baby was ready (we began just a little intro of food around 10 mo). Then we ground up what we were eating from that point on. It was SO MUCH easier! By that time, baby was much more interested in the food since she was older, and with much better motor skills, she could do more self feeding too!

  • Joy says:

    Just to let you know, if you steam the fruits and veggies instead of boiling them then there are more nutrients left in the baby food.

  • I planned to feed my daughter and family the same foods.
    We used frozen or fresh fruits and veggies (no salt or preservatives added) and blended it in the blender on its own or with some water or breastmilk. You get to were you can eye how much you might need for each meal and I would save it for use for the next day only too.

  • Hillery says:

    Well, with my first, I was the over-achiever mom. I made all of the baby food from scratch and froze it just like the guest poster did. She loved it. We made our own multi-grain cereal for her as well, she still loves hot cereal and now she is 6! The one problem that our baby food diet I think started was her dislike for highly textured food. Especially meat. She still highly dislikes meat and is happy to be a vegetarian.

    Then I had my little boy. He refused to eat solid food. He only wanted to nurse, and considering we also had the challenge of food allergies, that was fine. He nursed almost exclusively to right around 13 months before he became interested in solid food. Then he started right in on the food we ate and never looked back. He weaned a couple of months before turning 3. He is a much more adventurous eater than our first child!

  • Melyssa H says:

    A great book on making your own baby food and more is Super Baby Food by Ruth Yaron!

  • emily says:

    This is so cool Crystal! Thanks for sharing this kind of stuff!!

  • alyssa says:

    I make most of my baby’s food, just buying a few jars here and there to keep in the diaper bag. They’re nice since they won’t spoil! (I can’t imagine buying them by the case, though!-$$$)
    My favorite no-prep baby foods are bananas, avocados, and applesauce(Just buy a big jar of the natural kind-no sugar, just apples).
    I’ve found frozen cubes are great to have handy when my baby can’t eat what I’m eating. She’s 10 mos. and starting to really enjoy finger foods, so I’m sure I won’t need purees much longer.
    I think the key is to do what works for your child! Some babies aren’t interested in food till nearly a year, while others truly need it much sooner- thus the need for purees, especially if they don’t have teeth!
    All said, whether you feed from your plate or freeze purees, it’s much cheaper and much healthier than only giving your baby boxed and jarred food!

  • susan says:

    I also make my own food and store and freeze in baby food jars. I asked a few friends to keep theirs for me. I don’t like to microwave things in plastic, so it’s great to have them already in the glass. I just take them from the freezer to the microwave to the table.

    Although, I have to admit I’ve been getting a little lazy lately and have been buying a lot of jarred food. Thanks for the reminder to get back to it!

  • Lee says:

    i made all of my food for my youngest little boy, now almost 3. It was so easy! I actually would spend 1 day, much like a baking day. I would use 3 crock pots, the oven for squash and the stove for veggies. I would have all of my baby food for a month in about 2 hours! It was so great, no buying or storing jars, no waste on the jars. It is great on the environment too if you buy mostly local produce!

  • I do like you do Crystal, and offer whatever we are eating to my girl. She still nurses, but at 10 months old she eats as much if not more than her almost 3-year old brother. She’s a chunky monkey and loves food. It’s amazing what a 10 month old with only 2 teeth can eat when you do the infant-led self-feeding. Thanks for the post!

  • Ang. says:

    I got a baby food grinder as a shower gift. I used it for all of my kids. They ate what we ate and it was so much easier than buying the jarred stuff. I think that my kids are less picky about food because they have always eaten table food.

  • Mrs. Jo says:

    I’ve done a mix of things but I love making my own babyfood and it works well for us! I’ve also used store-bought at times when it was necessary for traveling. I also prefer to feed them table food and chunks and incorporate what we are eating into their diet. I use a potato masher to mash spaghetti w/sauce and a food processor helps too.

    Because I’ve gotten into being a “sneaky chef” beefing up our meals with extra veggie purees and stuff, I have a whole freezer full of little jars of purees and I love surprising my husband by telling him “there’s chickpea or spinach puree in that!”

  • Anon says:

    Great post!

    I’m pregnant with our second and I think I’ll do a combo of freezing, and just feeding fresh foods. (We purchased store bough foods for our first – they are expensive, but healthy. The only thing added is Vitamin C.)

    I do want to mention that the microwave zaps foods of their nutrients, so I think a better method would be placing the food on the stove, or possibly in a mug that’s in a pan of hot water. Slightly more time consuming, but worth it because the baby needs those nutrients! I’ve never done it, but it seems like thawing the food out to room temperature would probably work too.

    And, if someone is going to feed their baby table foods, they need to make sure to take the baby’s portion out before adding salt, butter, etc. when cooking.

  • Marie says:

    Wow, great comments. Can I just tell you how much better I feel that some of the other bloggers just didn’t worry about baby food too much and went right to table foods? With my now 2 and a half year old, I literally shed tears over the fact that feeding her baby food was so complicated and frustrating. With our next kid, I am determined to just do what works. I might freeze and make some things and then buy cans of others or just stick to simple table foods that can easily mashed up. Thank you!

  • Lisa H says:

    Crystal, I did nearly exactly what you do for my daughter, who will be 2 next month. Funny how they all end up eating lots of solid foods, whether or not you spend the money on baby food, or spend the time making it! Mine just fully weaned at about 21 months, though she was only nursing before bed for the final three months.
    I am the only mom I know in real life who fed the baby like I did, but my pediatrician backed me fully, and no one gave me any hassle. I just don’t “get” the whole modern Western way of counting jars! We fed our infants for thousands of years before that industry sprung to life!
    Blessings,
    Lisa

  • Andrea says:

    I made my own baby food for my two boys(which are now almost 2 & 4). To me it was helpful to buy little plastic storage bowls with lids and freeze up two servings in each. I didn’t want to use the microwave to defrost or heat. So I would lay out a bowl the night before & serve both servings within 1-2 days of each other. The bowls were very easy for me that way on the run it was already in a serving bowl. Now my boys use those same bowls to eat soup & yogurt out of.

  • Michele says:

    Yes, I did make my own baby food for my 3rd child. However, he wasn’t a big fan of baby food for but a couple of months. Funny story, I had about 12 jars of frozen sweet potato in the freezer from the springtime. My son wanted nothing to do with them, but I didn’t want to throw them out. At Thanksgiving, I defrosted all of them, mixed in some canned pineapple, and topped with marshmallows to make the classic sweet potato casserole. I didn’t tell anyone we were eating “baby” food! Now that’s frugal!

  • Lori says:

    Good post. I just did a post that included the same type of directions. And I did another post about the cost effectiveness of making your own food here: http://www.thetowells.com/2009/01/making-baby-food/

  • Momma says:

    It is true that you can save a TON of money by making your own baby food.

    We recently wrote a fun post on this same topic. It’s titled, “Cheap homemade baby food… with ingredients you would never guess…”

    You can read the article by clicking the URL above this comment (click on the word “Momma”.) It will take you directly to the blog post! Enjoy!

    Momma
    Feature blogger at Engineer a Debt Free Life blog
    (lots of freebies, bargains, and money saving tips!)

  • Lori says:

    I have written two posts so far about making baby food. One of them talks about how inexpensive it is compared to commercial baby food:
    http://www.thetowells.com/tag/baby/

  • Lisa says:

    My son is now 8 months old. He was introduced to food at six months. (Breastfeed until seven months). I make a large majority of the food he eats at home: either pre-frozen or use a KidCo food grinder. I HIGHLY recommend the book Super Foods as a great guide book.
    When we go out for the day or the rare dinner out or even rarer babysitter, he gets prebought food : )
    The biggest thing is to find what works for your family.

  • Margaret says:

    I swore I would spend the extra money to save the time on making my baby food, but when we were forced to switch to formula at four months (after trying everything, I just was not producing enough for a starving chappy), I rethought my decision in an effort to save some more. After getting a hand blender for my birthday (a request for grown-up food), I realized how easy it was to make the baby food.
    We have also done carrots, peas, and green beans–as well as the items in your blog. I found it so cost effective that I blogged about it too at http://mweyler.blogspot.com/2008/11/another-impartial-review-dirty-jobs.html and http://mweyler.blogspot.com/2008/12/bananas-and-such.html
    In that blog I calculated out how much per hour that I had saved myself. Big bucks!!!

  • Audrey says:

    I made baby food for my daughter too. I did it once every two weeks or so, and I thought it was so much fun! I always looked forward to it!

  • Elizabeth says:

    I LOVE this post!! It has been very helpful and encouraging. I breastfed my first baby 8 months, starting solids at 4 months. With the solids, I did part homemade and part canned. I found “Top 100 Baby Purees” by Annabel Karmel very helpful. I knew breastfeeding was sufficient, but with all the pressure and expectations from family/friends/ped. office my husband and I decided to start solids as our pediatrician (whom we have a great relationship with) recommended. However, I’m very interested in, and maybe now convinced with your post and these comments, that with my next baby coming in July I will follow a schedule more like you did. I know I will have to be flexible, but I love the idea of breastfeeding for 18 to 24 months and not introducing solids so early. Breastmilk is truly like medicine for our babies it is so good for them! I am curious how you handled night nursing – that is where I really struggled to find something that worked. Also, at what point, if any, did you try to schedule breastfeeding. I did demand feeding pretty much the whole time, but wow was that exhausting. I hope these aren’t too personal, I live in a rural area with very little breastfeeding support, so I’m always curious how other mom’s make it work so well.

    Thanks again for your insight!!

  • Karen says:

    I also have an entry about making baby food!
    I love to do it 🙂
    http://amomsbusylife.blogspot.com/2008/11/blog-post.html

  • Lana says:

    I both buy and make my baby foods. I find that some foods are just easier to buy (like blueberries because I just cannot seem to blend them well enough), but some of my baby’s favorite home made foods are: prunes (done the same as fruit: boiled and blended), pork chops (also boiled and blended), and stews (a bunch of veggies and a meat mixed together). I also get a sense of pleasure to see my baby eat food his mommy has prepared.

  • Kate Duff says:

    I must also recommend the book Super Baby Food by Ruth Yaron.

    Loved it for all kinds of info on how to make baby food, and what to feed them when and how much. Never bought a single jar of baby food for either of my 2 kids. Making your own is so much easier than people think.

  • Jen says:

    I bought a ton of the Ziploc 4 oz. plasic containers. I’d blend up all her food once a week, write on the container with a dry-erase marker (which comes right off) and then already have a container for any leftovers! (I usually served them at her next meal.) Now that she’s 18 months, I still store snacks in them and she feels like a big girl carrying around her own bowl. #2 is due in May and I’ll do the same thing.

  • Bridgett says:

    I love homemaking baby food. I’ve helped several mommies do this & have spoken on it a few times. W/my first I shopped once a month and did one more run in the middle for produce & milk only! So my husband & I made all his food for a month. It usually took about two hours and we were set. I always budgeted $30/month and I never went over. Though he was always in the 10% for his weight by the time he ate stage 3 food, he was eating the equivalent of 3 stage3 jars every meal! The doctor said he was fine and some babys eat alot. My savings in making baby food for his stage 3 season was about $170/month! It only took 2hours a month to save 170 + health! 🙂

  • Belle says:

    I used to do this when mine were little and I glad I did.

    http://www.southerness.blogspot.com

  • JC says:

    I did this for my son when he was little and I still do it for somethings. It’s a great add-in for meals, quick soups, etc. Sweet potato is really yummy mixed with oatmeal.

    Now that he is older I’ll make up a batch of spaghetti-os (whole wheat pasta, tomato sauce, meat/turkey dogs) or something else and freeze. It’s great for quick meals!

  • Ann says:

    I am the mom of 6 children, and used less and less baby food the more children I have had. I breastfeed all of them for at least 2 years-just let them wean themselves. Life is interesting to babies/toddlers and they eventually just have no interest in nursing.
    I have done the jar baby food, homemade baby food in ice cube trays and just making some food. The thing I found works best is just delay food introduction until the child shows an interest in picking up the food and putting into their mouth for themselves around 8 months. Early food introduction is a way for allergies to develop in your child. The baby cereal is pretty much junk compared to fresh food. I would give them baked sweet potatoes, pease, maybe some cheerios, a graham cracker, cooked soft carrots, etc. Anything I could have soft and a good texture so they could pick it up. The baby would be very interested in feeding themselves and would amuse them for quite awhile. My children tended to be large babies, (largest was 12 lbs. 10 oz. )and nursing kept them fed until this time. When they would need to nurse more, I would recognize the growth spurt, drink more and eat healthy food. I would nurse the baby more frequesntly. My milk production always picked up. I never introduce any solids until after 6 months of age, and never any dairy until after 1 year. It doesn’t take buckets of $$ to feed babies. Hope that helps!!

  • Kris says:

    Hi! Great info and comments. I’m wondering— has anyone tried making ‘teething biscuits’? Willing to share a recipe or point me in the right direction? Thanks!

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