Whether you are making your child’s baby food because you are looking for an all-organic alternative to store-bought food, or are just looking to save some extra cash, here are the resources and tips you should check out before you start cooking.
Find a reliable recipe source
This is the first step, and arguably the most important. Not only will you have to find a source that has tasty recipes your child actually will eat, but you also need a source that has been checked by your doctor and provides reliable, age-appropriate suggestions. I used Momtastic’s Wholesome Baby Food. While most of the recipes are pretty basic, i.e. steam and puree, the site gives nutritional information about each food item and breaks the food groups down by age range. I also checked with my pediatrician before using this site as my go-to recipe finder, just to ensure that its suggestions were age appropriate for my child. The site is baby tested, pediatrician approved.
Calculate the cost savings
Not sure you want to make your baby’s food? Here are a few of the cost savings I’ve found:
- Bananas -At $0.25/lb, you can purchase around five bananas for a dollar. These bananas, when pureed with water, usually make 10 2-oz jars, averaging $0.10/jar compared to $0.50 a jar in the store.
- Sweet Potatoes – I usually buy three to four sweet potatoes for $2. This makes 10-15 2-oz jars, averaging less than $0.10/jar compared to $0.50 a jar in the store.
- Peas – I like to buy organic frozen peas, because they are easy to store and quick to make. One bag costs $1 and makes 8-10 2-oz jars, averaging $0.12/jar compared to $0.50 a jar in the store.
NOTE: these prices vary slightly depending on your location and the season of the fruit and/or vegetable. Sometimes it may be cheaper or more convenient to buy an all-organic jar food to supplement the food you make, specifically in off-seasons when it is hard to find organic fruit in the stores.
Learn when you need to buy organic, and when it’s okay to skip
This is a personal preference, as it never can hurt to buy organic all of the time. However, I spoke with my pediatrician and found that it is not always necessary to buy organic every time. For example, bananas, cantaloupe and other fruit that is completely contained in a removable skin, can be safe to go non-organic. When should you NOT skip on organic? Carrots, beets and any other root-based fruit or vegetable should always be organic, as they soak the pesticides from the ground right into the core of the food.
Identify a storage solution, and STOCK UP!
I’ve talked with several parents on this topic, and everyone seems to have their own go-to secret for storing the best homemade baby food. It really doesn’t matter which one you pick as long as you follow these basis rules:
- The storage container must be BPA free, and ideally microwave and dishwasher safe.
- Conduct the “drop test.” If you’re like me, and plan to make a week’s worth of food on one Sunday morning, you are going to have a full fridge. Buy a test container, fill it with water and freeze it. Drop it on the ground and make sure that it doesn’t crack. The cheap ones will, and the last thing you want is your baby’s food ruined because it is filled with plastic shards.
Not sure what to use? The top suggestions I’ve seen are:
- Ice cube trays
- Dollar store disposable food storage solutions, which can be used again but often don’t pass the “drop test”
- OXO tot – these are more pricy ($9.99 for six 2 oz containers) but are durable and definitely pass the “drop test.”
Select your equipment
I looked into a profession baby food processer and found that it was a waste of money. I first tried my food processer, which worked wonderfully, but took forever to clean, and then ended up transitioning to my blender. It works just as well as the food processer, or a branded baby food maker, and it cleans up in seconds, by popping it into the dish washer.
Prepare for the challenges
While rewarding, making your baby’s food can be a challenge. Because the food is all natural and does not have any preservatives, you will need to keep it constantly chilled. This can be a challenge when traveling with your little one, as you always will need a cooler.
It also is time challenging. I usually spend at least one-two hours per week making my daughter’s food. I found it is easier to make it all at once, as it takes some time to prepare and clean everything up, so be sure to carve the time out of your scheduled.
Sometimes, it’s nice to have a back-up. I’ve found a few trusted organic jar brands that I keep in the house as back-ups. This way, if I need to run out and I know I don’t have time to prepare the cooler, or if I am running behind for the week and didn’t get to my scheduled Sunday food-prep time, I will have food for her as a back-up.