How To Make Your Own Baby Food And Save Money Like A Mom Boss

Baby food puree of apples, homemade, DIY

 

Are you tired of paying lots of money on baby food? Do you want to create tons of baby food on a tight budget without preservatives? It’s simple and easy to make your own food in a single day and be set for months!

Will This Actually Save Money?

Yes! Sure it may take more time (though you can do work in one day to feed your baby for months!), but you can definitely save money! I can spend $1-$1.50 per container of sweet potato jarred baby food OR I can buy a whole sweet potato for about the same price of one jar. A single sweet potato can make 10-20 jars of baby food (depending on the size potato you buy)!! I just spent $25 on food that will save my family hundreds of dollars over jarred food! Here are the ingredients I was able to buy for $25:

  • 1 Sweet potato
  • 1 Butternut squash
  • 1 bag carrots
  • 6 apples
  • 1 small head of broccoli
  • 1 bag frozen peas
  • 1 avocado
  • Strawberries (no allergies here!)

I already had baby oatmeal, bananas, brown rice, beans, plain yogurt, cans of pumpkin, chicken and beef broths, a jar of pureed green beans and a few other things I could add to the combinations. Check your cupboard before you go shopping and try to use what you already have on-hand.

I will set aside some meat from meals I cook to add later (I’ll keep this in mind as I meal plan). If you are savvy and look for sales, you could spend even less than I did making your own baby food!

I have some tips on how to save money grocery shopping on my resources page.

As a side note, it is completely possible to skip purees altogether and save money by feeding your baby what you eat for dinner (with some extra chopping and cooking to ensure it’s soft enough)! I choose to start with purees (as I did for both my boys). For my second son, I wanted to get as much food into him as possible to get his weight up after a drop in my milk supply and his refusal to take bottles. Skipping purees and going straight to true solids is referred to as baby led weaning. Want to know more? Check out this book that was recommended to me by many moms.

Selecting Foods

Bowls of sweet potatoes and butternut squash after steaming for baby food

When it comes to selecting your food to puree, I prefer to use only organic fruits and vegetables (I would like to do this for the whole family, but it doesn’t fit in our budget). Since I only do purees for a short amount of time, I don’t worry about the slight added cost just for my baby (since I’m saving TONS by making it myself anyway!).

I don’t get fancy with recipes much. I will search Pinterest for ideas, but I mostly just buy a bunch of food, cook it all and randomly throw some combinations in the blender that seem palatable and nutritious together. But, if you are more comfortable with recipes, you will find millions on Pinterest! For example, here are some combinations of foods for baby food I made yesterday (all mixed with formula as the liquid for added nutrition):

  • Butternut squash and peas
  • Sweet potato and broccoli
  • Sweet potato, carrots and peas
  • Apples, strawberries and bananas

Generally, for savory purees I choose a vegetable that creates a lot of puree (like sweet potato, butternut squash or pumpkin) as my base and add other items based on where my child is on trying foods (a new food every 2-3 days). After the first month or two, I start adding some mild spices like cinnamon or nutmeg (no salt!). My family has no history of allergies to any spices (or foods for that matter).

If in doubt, go visit the baby food aisle! You can get lots of ideas on food combinations.

Liquids You Can Use

When making purees, it’s very likely you will need to add liquid to any food you want to blend. While you can just add water, here are some other options for more nutrition:

  • Chicken, beef or vegetable broth (just note any additives before introducing any of these to your child)
  • Water leftover from steaming (with the nutrients from the food you just cooked)
  • Breastmilk
  • Formula

Since I don’t really follow recipes, I start blending and add liquid as needed to reach my desired, smooth consistency.

Foods To Avoid

Until your child is a year old, it is recommended to avoid honey and cow milk (especially straight – cooked into pancakes and other foods is just fine!). It is ok to use milk products like yogurt (plain is best with live cultures) and cheeses. Please speak to your pediatrician if you have any questions or concerns about certain foods, especially ones that are common allergens like peanuts and strawberries.

What You Will Need

There are some tools you will need to make your own baby food. But, you don’t need an expensive tool made specifically for this purpose (though I had the Babymoov and loved it with my first child – it moved on to another mom in need, meaning I just use kitchen items I have on-hand now).

If you are missing something you need, make sure to check your local Buy Nothing group (if applicable)!

Cooking Your Food

Steaming baby food in a rice cooker

Aside from foods like bananas and avocados, you will need to cook or steam all of your food. To maintain the nutritional value of your foods of choice, avoid boiling your foods since many of the nutrients will go straight into the water (though you can boil your foods is something like chicken broth to add nutrition and use the liquid when blending). When you steam, any nutrients that drip off into the liquid can be reused when blending your baby food!

Below are the methods I use to cook my foods (unless otherwise noted, all the links are to products I have used personally):

Steamer

Steaming sweet potatoes for baby food in a pan steamer

These come in many forms. You can get a steamer basket that fits into your stove top pans, use a stand-alone steamer that plugs into the wall, microwave steamer, or use a steamer insert that usually comes with your rice cooker (you can cook rice for your baby food AND cook veggies at the same time!).

Roasting

Butternut squash roasting in the oven for baby food

Some foods do great in the oven (like squash and sweet potatoes)! I use a cookie sheet with parchment paper over the top. Every food has a different amount of time to cook, but I generally cook everything at 350 degrees until soft. To make sure the food doesn’t dry out while roasting, I place a pie tin with water in it in the lower rack of my oven.

Crockpot

If you choose to use a crockpot, make sure to add enough moisture so it doesn’t burn! This method can take a lot longer than others to cook your food thoroughly, but if you are cooking a million things at once (like I do) it may help get it all done.

Other Tools

I have never used them, but I know moms that have used their pressure cooker or instant pot.

What I Use

I make baby food in mass, so I usually have something in the oven, steaming in my rice cooker, steaming on the stove, and sometimes in the crockpot – all at the same time! If you want to see the actual products I use, see the links in each section (where applicable).

Pureeing Your Food

There are a few different ways you can make your baby food with tools you may already have in your kitchen:

Food Processor

This can work in a couple ways with making baby food: chopping and blending after cooking. I find  if you have a larger food processor it helps with large batches. But, if you are doing smaller batches (probably because you want more variety), I would use a blender (a couple types listed below).

Blender

Most households will have a blender. If you do, this will work for most purees! I used to use mine for all my baby food until I got an immersion blender with attachments perfect for making baby food (see below).

Immersion Blender

Making baby food with an immersion blender with mini food processor

Using the basic immersion blender can be time consuming for large batches and challenging with small batches (it spits and sprays food if it’s not fully immersed in the food). But, I got this one that comes with a mini food processor and a cup perfect to enclose your smaller batches (save you and your kitchen from spraying). I no longer use my regular blender or food processor!

Other Tools

It is possible to use a whisk and potato masher to puree your cooked foods, but these will take more time and may not get a smooth consistency. I’m sure a Kitchenaid mixer may also work, but how effective it is will depend on the quantity of food you are making in each batch or mixture.

How To Store Or Freeze

Most baby food you make will last about 4 days in the fridge or up to 4 months in the freezer. Make sure you store either way in an airtight container.

Freezing Baby Food

Use silicone ice cube trays to freeze your baby food

Like I said, I usually make enough baby food for a month or more at one time. My main method of storing is in the freezer. Here is what I do:

  1. Cook and prepare your baby food of choice.
  2. Fill ice cube trays with the purees (I label the lid with the types of purees using these erasable food labels).
  3. Once frozen, pop them out of the ice tray and place the cubes in freezer ziplock bags.
  4. Label the bag with the type of puree and the date it was made.
  5. Throw back in the freezer and you’re done!

Butternut squash frozen cubes of baby food in a freezer bag.

I then pull the cubes of puree I need the next day out of the bags each night (I put them in cheap canning jars to defrost in the fridge).

If you have large cubes that haven’t defrosted all the way by the time you want to feed your child, I fill a bowl with hot water and place the jar in it to warm it up the rest of the way (making sure the water isn’t deep enough to get in the jar if it’s not airtight! You can also use your bottle warmer or the microwave (but I’ve never used either method).

Freezer Trays

Silicone freezer trays to freeze baby food

You can use the basic ice cube tray that came with your fridge or one you can get at the dollar store! But, I highly prefer silicone ice trays since they help get the food out of the tray easily and without needing much defrosting (which, depending on your blend, can break your cubes trying to get them out).

Check out my post on recommendations for products to help feed your child here.

I also prefer trays that have lids so I can label what they contain while freezing. I use this tray (I highly prefer this to any other tray – it hold about 2 ounces of food each) and this tray.

Tips

Make sure to freeze cubes of your high yield bases to make mixes later! For example, I made a month worth of food. Then, a couple of weeks later I wanted to add chicken (from leftovers!). I didn’t need an entire butternut squash to make a batch with chicken for my son to try…so I pulled out a few cubes of squash I had made for just such an addition.

Feeding a baby homemade purees and letting him get messy

Although purees are not a part of the practice, one of the best things about baby led weaning is your child learning early on to stop eating when full. I highly recommend letting your child handle the spoon and get messy eating with his or her hands. Your child will learn textures, temperatures, flavors and more discovering the food on their own!

Personally, I don’t like pureeing prunes. There are times I will buy single jars of baby food to add to my mixes. There aren’t many purees available without being mixed (look for first purees), but I’ve used prunes, green beans and, in a pinch, apples. Is this lazy? Maybe. But it’s ok to help yourself out and not make this easy process stressful!

Making baby food can save you tons of money, but there is a time commitment to actually making the purees. My biggest tip of all is to do what works for you!

Pinterest image for making baby food

Pinterest image for how to make your own baby food

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14 Comments

  • Reply Racheal November 28, 2018 at 12:10 am

    I struggled so much with baby food when my son started on solids. I wish I had these tips back then. What a great post. Very helpful.

  • Reply Angela Workman November 27, 2018 at 7:43 pm

    Absolutely love the insight this article provides! Making my own homemade baby food has long been a goal of mine with each of my children, but life would often get moving too fast with daddy working away from home. I did, however, find a baby-mill to be a valuable resource in providing my little eater with decent exposure to the foods we prepared as a family.

    • Reply KrisBeeMama November 27, 2018 at 9:01 pm

      Good tip! I never used a baby food mill but know others that have.

  • Reply Angel November 27, 2018 at 9:03 am

    Very helpful. Love these tips. I wasn’t able to do that with my daughter but will with my next child. Thank you for sharing this.

  • Reply Valerie November 27, 2018 at 8:43 am

    Using the leftover steamed water is a great idea! it seems so obvious, but I never even thought of doing it.

    • Reply KrisBeeMama November 27, 2018 at 1:31 pm

      It’s great to reuse the nutrients in the water. Any little bit of extra vitamins help!

  • Reply Stacy Craft November 27, 2018 at 8:41 am

    Great info! I also made my own baby food before moving to baby led weaning. I am a weirdo and kind of enjoyed making it!

    • Reply KrisBeeMama November 27, 2018 at 1:31 pm

      I loved it, too! I’m still using my freezer stock!

  • Reply Jennifer August 31, 2018 at 2:48 pm

    Baby food is SO expensive, so this sounds like a fantastic alternative. I really like how you break everything down. It looks like I have a lot of that stuff already in my kitchen. We’re moving on from baby food but my daughter still does pouches so I’ve been thinking about making my own. You may have just convinced me to give it a go!

    • Reply KrisBeeMama August 31, 2018 at 3:00 pm

      I used to make pouches for my toddler when he was done with regular baby food. I have a lot of moms who use this, and I may give it a try this go around!

  • Reply My laid off story August 31, 2018 at 2:42 pm

    You are such a super mom. I wish I had done this with our little ones.

  • Reply Maria Kim August 31, 2018 at 2:33 pm

    This is awesome! When our kids were starting out with solid foods, we also mostly steamed the veggies and used the water from it to help puree them. Thanks for this post! I think it’s definitely helpful for parents who don’t necessarily want to buy baby food!

  • Reply Linsey R Gatto August 31, 2018 at 2:08 pm

    This is so helpful! The “how” of making your own baby food can be daunting. Thanks for sharing!

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