Oct 22, 2010

Homemade Baby Food (Merrick)

Two months ago I started my baby on solids. We did rice cereal for the first month and then moved on to pureed fruits and veggies. My friend had some left over Gerber baby food from her son, so she gave it to me and we have used that for the last month. And all the while I thought that after all that free baby food ran out, I would probably just continue buying it from the store because it wasn't that expensive and was convenient. That is, until my friend mentioned that as babies get older they eat about five jars of food per day, and it was costing her nearly $20 extra on her weekly grocery bill. And that's only for one baby.

So I did a little online research, scoured the baby isle at the grocery store, made some homemade baby food, and then came up with this little comparison.

Gerber is the cheapest at my grocery store (Smiths). The cost for 5 ounces of baby food (for my son's age group) is $0.95. These are several of the options they offer at my store, so I made each of these from fresh produce and here are the price comparisons*:

- Homemade: $0.19 for 5 oz.
- Store Bought (Gerber): $0.95 for 5 oz.
- Savings: $0.76 or 80%!
- Homemade: $0.34 for 5 oz.
- Store Bought (Gerber): $0.95 for 5 oz.
- Savings: $0.61 or 64%!
Green Beans
- Homemade: $0.61 for 5 oz
- Store Bought (Gerber): $0.95 for 5 oz.
- Savings: $0.34 or 36%!
- Homemade: $0.42 for 5 oz.
- Store Bought (Gerber): $0.95 for 5 oz.
- Savings: $0.53 or 56%!
Sweet Potatoes
- Homemade: $0.27 for 5 oz
- Store Bought (Gerber): $0.95 for 5 oz.
- Savings: $0.68 or 72%!

So although another mouth to feed will certainly increase your weekly grocery bill, making your baby food can make the blow a little lighter. Also keep in mind that different stores have different produce costs. If I had a bigger freezer to store a lot of baby food, I would go to Sam's or Costco and buy produce in bulk, and then these prices and savings would be even better.

Now you do have to take into account the cost of your time, because time is money! If you are incredibly busy and you're straining to make time to do this, then $0.95 is probably worth it to you. And there is nothing wrong with that.

However, let me tell you that the amount of work that I put into making this baby food was minimal (the amount of mess, on the other hand...that was not minimal). I have a vegetable steamer, so all I did was wash, peel, and chop the produce, throw it in the steamer for 15 minutes until it was soft, then toss it in the food processor with a bit of water. Once it was pureed I poured it into ice trays (that I got at the dollar store, 2 for $1), froze it until they were hard, then put them back in the freezer in labeled baggies.

Total hands on time for each item was probably five minutes. So easy.

This coming week I'm going to try making it from canned fruits and veggies to see if it cuts down on the preparation time (since many items probably won't require steaming), and see how the price differs from fresh produce. So stay tuned for a post about that next week!

*this comparison chart involved some math, and I'm an artist. Don't judge too harshly if there are some calculation mistakes..


emily kate said...

I've always made Addie's food (except for when we were in Utah for a week) and I have to say that I love it. I love saving the money. I love having full control over what is in the food she eats. And I really enjoy making it. Yesterday I just made some more apples/applesauce (freezer supply was low!) and made peas for the first time. The apples are more time consuming than the frozen peas that just have to be dumped in! I don't mind the work at all.

That being said, I understand why some people don't want to bother with it!

Kylie said...

I LOVED making my daughter's baby food. It saved us so much money. Though we would still have a few of the store bought containers on hand to throw in the diaper bag if we weren't going to be home. But making your own baby food is such a great thing.

But just so you know they actually don't recommend using canned fruits and vegetables for baby food.


And if you ever need a reference for how to make a certain baby food that website is fabulous as well, and they have a toddler version of it too.

Lisa C said...

I am not a homemade, cloth diaper, make my own croutons kind of person, but I have also always made my own baby food and love it. You can just steam it in the microwave if you don't have a steamer (saran wrap the top with some water). I freeze it in covered ice cube trays then throw them in a large ziploc bag in the freezer in individual portions. You can spend an hour one day and make weeks worth of food and only have to clean the mess once (cause it doesn't matter if things mix a little). I agree that frozen peas (and mixed veggies,etc) were one of the easiest. Also, I love that you can vary the texture so much. It makes kids transition to real food that much easier and if you've ever tasted the 2 kinds of baby foods, homemade tastes way more fresh and real.

Steph said...

We feed our babies whatever fruit, vegetable or grain that we are eating with our meal. (I make sure to spread them out for allergy testing purposes, just like when using baby food.) Depending on the food, I have a little hand grinder (http://www.amazon.com/Kidco-F700-Baby-Food-Grinder/dp/B000E46IU8) that I grind the food, or if it's soft, like pears or bananas, I just give them small chunks for finger foods. My 2 oldest gave up on baby food all together by 6 months old, so we haven't even bothered with our 7 month old daughter so far, except for a few jars that were given to us, and she didn't even like them. (Baby food does not taste like food! I absolutely have refused to give my kids baby food meats, since that is just DISGUSTING! Have you smelled that stuff? Makes me want to puke!) It makes my life easier, since I don't have to buy OR make food and I don't have to worry about taking something along with us, since she'll just eat whatever we are eating. This method is not for everyone, but I love it!

Carly said...

I am totally all about making baby food. Firstly because the stuff in the store makes me want to gag (literally). Homemade stuff actually smells like something I could eat myself and thus don't mind making a mess with. And then, of course, the cost comparison makes making it totally worth it. The only time we buy baby food is when we travel. One of these babies, I really want to invest in a hand grinder.

Lisa said...

I didn't make my own with the boys, but might this time around. One thing though, my pediatrician told me that the store bought 1s and 2s are *exactly* the same product, just the portion size is different. It's cheaper by ounce to buy the 2s, if you're gonna buy food. She recommended that you buy ONE container in the size 1 to see if your baby liked it, then move on to the 2s. It's not til the 3s that there are texture issues. But sweet potatoes=sweet potatoes.

How long do you think these would keep in the freezer?

Brynn said...

I always bought frozen bags of veggies and cooked them a little longer than suggested to make sure they were soft enough. 1 bag would make 10 or more servings, depending on how much was in it. I also didn't bother with ice cube trays. I just put 3 or 4 tablespoons into snack bags to freeze it. Beyond easy - just boil, strain, puree, freeze. Cheaper, and my daughter has always been a good eater because of it.

MJ said...

You can save a lot of money by just skipping purees altogether using Baby Led Weaning - it's pretty cool. But I will caution you about using canned veggies for your next baby food making section...there is a TON of sodium in the canned veggies and the BPA and other chemicals in the cans themselves that leach into the food - i'd go for frozen veggies instead if you can't use fresh.

BrittWilk said...

i did a similar comparison on homemade baby food on the bovine blog a while back. it seriously saves sooooo much money. especially when you have a kid like van. i calculated that he would have been eating 12+ jars a day when he was eating only baby food (not table food). goodness. not sure how i would have done that without making it myself.

Linda said...

I made my son's baby food and will definitely do it next time too. When we traveled I would buy it in the little plastic containers and then bring the containers home and freeze homemade baby food in them. This was great for when my son got to the point of eating 4 "ice cubes" at every meal. I now have a magic bullet and am excited to use that because it so much easier to clean than a blender. Also, I left the skins on most of my fruits and vegetables, any that adults eat, and my baby did fine with that (way less work).

Packrat said...

When my first child was born 30+ years ago, I received as a gift a "baby food grinder". It was just a smallish hand cranked grinder that was sturdy enough to even grind cooked meat. (And, it was much easier to clean than the blender.) I used it for my children and my grandchildren. The food I used was usually what I was fixing for dinner (without seasonings). It took very little extra time, and I never had to worry about running out of baby food.

TheMoncurs said...

I keep meaning to comment that if you're getting to the point where your kid is eating 5 jars of baby food a day then you're doing it wrong. At that point they should just be eating real food.

We're doing baby-led weaning with Jones and skipping purees altogether. It's heaven and so. much. cheaper. I love it.

Mrs. D said...

i ;love this! i just started doing my own baby food and everyone was telling me that it took too much time but it was totally worth it! gREAT advice!