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Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Saving money on baby - baby food

I'm completely outside the norm when it comes to feeding my babies. My friends are probably screaming "Don't listen to a thing she says!" I don't follow any of the rules when it comes to feeding babies.

So don't follow anything I'm about to say, 'kay?

Then again, my kids seem to have survived me. They are even pretty healthy.

So, really, this is not a "how to" as much as a "something to think about" article.

First of all, I do breastfeed as long as I can. That saves money. Lots of money. I'm going to write a post about that another day. But it's also kind of a no brainer. Not everyone is able to breastfeed, and not everyone wants to. That's ok. I'm just saying it's less expensive to breastfeed.

When I start feeding my babies solid foods, which has been at around 5 months for both, I do everything I can to avoid buying commercially produced baby food. It's overpriced and pointless, if you ask me. I have actually never bought a jar of babyfood, although I do confess that Korban ate quite a bit of it during the holiday season, when we also decided to move. It was a busy time, and the crisis pregnancy center I volunteer at tends to get overrun with donated babyfood, so I took a few jars home every time I volunteered there.

It was not great for his taste buds. I really think that it made him a more picky eater. When I stopped offering him the cooked to death, unseasoned stuff from a jar,  he became a much more adventurous eater. Then again, maybe it was just that he got older. I don't know. It's hard to discuss these things with an 8 month old.

So, what do I feed my babies?
Well, with Izzy, I made a lot of homemade food for the first month or so. I would simply bake up some sweet potatoes or...something green. I don't remember what. I would cook a couple weeks worth, blend them up, and freeze them in ice cubes. Then, I would leave them on the counter to thaw for the morning. By lunch, she had homemade baby food. She also ate whatever she wanted from our plates. It's important to me that my kids eat at the table with us and that they eat what we're eating. I almost never make a separate meal for the kids. I can't remember the last time I did that. Izzy loved spaghetti, any kind of fruit, eggs, you name it. I let her have everything but peanuts, which I gave her sometime around 11 months. I didn't worry about salt, either.

Of course, this only works in families that regularly eat fresh, healthy meals. I would never expect my babies to thrive on canned soup, fast food and frozen pizza. But you can't really thrive on that, either.

Izzy did not always eat healthy, and still doesn't. For me, it is more important that my kids learn to try things and that they get to enjoy my meal with me than that they eat 100 percent healthy all the time. So, it's kind of the same standard I hold myself to. We eat healthy at home, and we eat what is put in front of us when we're out. If eating out at a restaurant, I sometimes make the right decision, sometimes I go for the fried chicken sandwich...

Yes, she ate french fries for dinner a time or two. It happens. She survived.

Anyways, back to saving money. I got sidetracked. I'm kinda fuzzy brained today.
Baby food is overpriced. Even more so if you are going for the organic. Homemade is relatively simple, and much cheaper and healthier. Even easier - and with no noticeable impact on your budget -  is feeding baby what you eat.

I just remembered that has a name. It's called baby led weaning.

Korban didn't like the homemade food so much. He doesn't like eating the same thing 2 days in a row, and I wasn't going to the trouble to make something new for every meal, in addition to food for the rest of us. He made 1 year old a week and a half ago, and he's a good eater now. Not as good as his sister, but a good eater. He almost always finds something at dinner to fill up on. I definitely try to be conscious of my kids when I plan a meal. I don't expect Korban to eat a steak and salad, but he can do broccoli and potatoes.

Here's the big money saver, though - snacks and toddler food. It is a pet peeve of mine to see a tiny little can of nutritionless kid "puffs" or "melts" that cost the same as a box of cheerios, or chex, or crackers. I'm not sure why people spend so much on kids snacks. Many are loaded with sugar and have little nutritional value. What is their purpose? Then again, if I followed the rules about introducing foods to my kids, I might see a need to blow $10 a week on specially (tiny) packaged snacks specifically for children.

Here are some examples of snack foods we take when we are one the go:
These are not ideal foods, but they keep the kids full on the occasional day that we are out and about at snack time. I buy whatever's on sale that week.

  • Cheerios
  • Chex
  • Honeycombs (once in a while, when they get better at eating solid foods)
  • Cheese crackers
  • Goldfish crackers
  • Saltine crackers (whole wheat - the others have hydrogenated oils in them)
  • Peanut butter bread or crackers
  • Raisins
  • A banana (great, easy first food!)
  • An avocado (another great first food!)
  • An apple I've eaten the peel off of (when they get enough teeth to handle it)
  • Clementines or satsumas
  • Pretzels
You get the idea. These are "real people foods" that cost much less that the stuff marketed to your babes. None of these foods contain the junk we try to avoid, and they are easy for baby to handle. Of course, use your own judgement when it comes to what you baby can handle.

Oh, and most name brand baby cereal has some scary ingredients in it. I think regular oatmeal is fine. You can even blend it up to make it smoother. It is much cheaper.

So, as an additional disclaimer - I am not a doctor, a nutritionist, or an expert on any kids except for my own. We've had a great experience doing things this way, but I really just wrote this post to help you start thinking about the difference between the kid-foods you buy versus the other things offered at your grocery store. I say the biggest difference for a lot of these foods is slick marketing and a higher price.

So, what is your baby feeding approach? Do you think I'm crazy?

I think I need a snack. All that writing about food made me hungry, and I think I'm going to sneak the last avocado. :)

This post was shared at Simple Lives Thursdays.


  1. Not crazy at all. First child had only breastmilk and homemade baby food, now that she is five years old she eats just about anything and everything. Second child didn't want baby food so he ate what we ate. He is slightly pickier than his sister, but loves salads, artichokes, asparagus, edamame, seafood and Gorgonzola cheese! Third child is 7 months old and is just now becoming interested in food. We won't be giving him any grains until he is one and trying a more French type of feeding routine - exposing him to as many fruits and vegetables as we can during the first two years of life. Thus far he has tasted beets, asparagus, roasted peppers, broccoli, cauliflower, sweet potatoes, spaghetti squash, tomatoes, onions, garlic, potatoes, bananas, pears, apples, avocados and more. Read French Kids Eat Everything for even more ideas to create adventurous eaters.

    1. I'm glad to hear that the same methods worked for you! I love food so much, that I want to share it with my family, even the smallest members!