Bare (ly) Homesteading: How to Avoid Paying for Baby Food
Moms always have the best intentions when it comes to feeding their babies, and so many of us believe we will have the time to steam and blend fresh organic goods for every meal. I certainly used my Nuk Cook-N-Blend Baby Food Maker to make batches of mixed fruits and veggies, but when they start eating three meals a day you will inevitably find your freezer stock running low.
I’m happy to give my baby the organic offerings from brands like Happy Family and certainly use them for a few meals over the course of the week. But completely relying on pouches and jars can really add up.
Meanwhile, there are hundreds of baby cookbooks offering advice on how to prepare the perfect portion of gourmet baby food. But I have a few tricks to keep costs and extra effort to a minimum, while exposing your baby to a wide variety of healthy family-friendly foods.
In most cases, the American Academy of Pediatrics doesn’t restrict any food from babies under one, apart from honey. So after carefully introducing foods one at a time, you can be a bit more adventurous with your baby.
Once a baby has been introduced to textures but isn’t quite ready for finger foods, there are usually a few items already in the house that you can offer your baby at mealtime with absolutely no extra work.
- Ripe Avocado
- Ripe Banana
- Cottage Cheese
- Baba Ghanoush
- Broken up pieces of berries or other naturally soft fruits
When you are cooking dinner for the rest of the family, remember there are plenty of side dishes you can make that are perfectly baby friendly and require no extra effort. Spices and seasonings are all OK for an expanding palette.
- Mashed potatoes/sweet potatoes
- Mashed tunips/parsnips/butternut squash – really any root vegetable
- Mashed cauliflower
- Mushy peas – a British fave
- Fine grain couscous
When I’m serving something like pasta to my family and know the baby isn’t quite ready for noodles, there is an easy way to get around having to puree. I simply mix any kind of sauce we are using with a baby grain like oatmeal baby cereal. I prefer this over rice cereal since there has been arsenic found in rice products. You can also use baby cereals available in barley, quinoa, or other grains.
In fact, you can choose your favorite grain and use it to bulk up anything, from homemade fruit and veggie purees to leftover jars.
I have also focused on family recipes with a bit of a general “mush” factor. Shepard’s Pie, Beef Stew, and all kinds of soups lend themselves to offering the mushiest bits to the baby.
Also, you don’t have to go all Alicia Silverstone and chew up your baby’s food like a mother bird. I just squeeze bits of muffins and breads between my fingers to soften it up for the baby. I’ve even snuck her bits of her brother’s pancakes.
What else do you offer your baby that isn’t technically “baby food?” How do you make feeding your baby cheaper and easier while still keeping it as fresh and organic as possible?
Disclaimer: I am not a doctor. I don’t know what your baby is allergic too, I don’t know how well your baby can chew, and I can’t promise your baby will like Baba Ghanoush.