When my son started eating solid food at 4 months old, I threw myself into making him homemade baby food. I didn’t find it hard, really. I just mashed up whatever fruit or vegetable we were eating and handed it to my son on a spoon.
To save time during the week, I would spend a little time on the weekends steaming vegetables, blending them in the food processor, and freezing them in non-bleached cupcake liners. This way, when my son would go to my mother’s house for the day while I was teaching, my mom’s house would be stocked with frozen homemade food.
However, as time went on, and my son started eating three meals a day of baby food, it got a little overwhelming to make sure I had enough prepared food for him. But I didn’t want to pay for special baby food jars or pouches my finicky son probably wouldn’t finish (you’re supposed to dispose of open and used baby food containers within 24 hours of opening).
This is how I stumbled onto today’s hint, which is to use canned pureed food as baby food. Not only is canned food typically cheaper than food in jars and pouches marketed as baby food, it’s also more economical because less food goes to waste.
Here’s how I hit on this frugal baby food strategy: One day, I happened to have a can of Farmer’s Market brand organic pumpkin in the house, so I opened it up, spooned some into a bowl, sprinkled cinnamon on it, and fed it to my son. He was overjoyed!
And once he was done with pumpkin for the day, I simply ate the leftover puree myself (typically I would use the pumpkin in a curry or on top of my pancakes). I loved that we weren’t wasting food because my son was eating puree that I could eat, and enjoy, too!
To be clear, I’m not advocating giving a baby any old canned food. I have been a big fan of the Farmer’s Market brand of canned food for many years. They use non-BPA liners in their cans, and all of their pureed fruit and vegetables are organic.
Besides the pumpkin puree, I’m also a fan of Natural Value Coconut Milk, as it has no added ingredient besides the coconut. And I also like Farmer’s Market brand organic squash and sweet potato purees.
In fact, such purees can work great as a base for more easily making your own baby food pouches. For instance, when the folks at Infantino let me try out their new Fresh Squeeze Station for making baby food pouches, I knew I wanted to use my Farmer’s Market purees in it, and I developed two recipes: for “sweet potato pie” and “pumpkin pie” flavor squeeze pouches.
Of course, canned food isn’t necessarily always cheaper than premade baby food. But I buy all of my canned ingredients in bulk from Amazon.com, which offers free shipping (with Amazon Prime) and a lower price than buying the cans individually in the store.
The bottom line: I love that I stumbled across this hint, as it’s always a smart idea to have canned food in the house (along with a a non-electric can opener), and the cans can be used in such a variety of ways, as I learned first hand.
What are your tips for easier and cheaper baby food?
Hint Mama contributor Olivia Howell is a new mom living with her son, Weston, and husband on Long Island, who blogs about parenthood over at The Lovely Sisters. She is also a quilter, paleo cook, and loves rearranging her living room on Saturday nights. Follow her on Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest.