recession guide

recession guide

photo by cali4niachef

There comes a point in time when your baby has to eat something in addition to breast milk or formula. That time varies from baby to baby, and mother to mother, but what it means for us all is we've got to shell out more cash. That can be a problem, especially in this economy when we're all trying to save more not spend more. Fortunately, there's a way to feed your baby and spend less: Make your own baby food.

I interviewed cali4niachef, the group owner of Homemade Baby Food, and mom to Reed, three-and-a-half, and Jonas, who's almost one, and she says making your own baby food can save you lots of money. Plus, it's not as complicated or as time-consuming as you think. Here's her advice.


Did you always make your own baby food for your sons?
Yes.

What inspired you to make that choice?
My children—I wanted them to have what was the most fresh, pure, and wholesome food. Basically I'm not going to feed my children anything I wouldn't eat myself.

You used to be a chef so you're obviously a good cook, but what if someone isn't a great cook? Wouldn't jarred food taste better to the baby?
Absolutely not! Making baby food is very simple. All you need to know is basic food preparation—steaming, baking, freezing. Have you ever tasted jarred baby food and then tasted homemade baby food? It's a world of difference; jarred baby food is inferior in every way.

What are the benefits to making your own baby food?
First, you know exactly what your child is eating and where it came from. It's fresh! Jarred baby food is processed with additives and preservatives, packaged, and shipped to the store. Then who knows how long it sits in the warehouse or on the shelf before you buy it and feed it to your child? Secondly, it saves a heck of a lot of money!

Have you ever figured out how much money you've saved by making your own food rather than buying baby food?
A 2.5oz jar of baby food can cost anywhere from 50  to 80 cents; when you make your own baby food it will cost about 5 to 10 cents per 2.5oz. You could literally save hundreds of dollars!

That sounds good to me! How do I get started?
Here's what you need: food processor or blender, either will do. Ice cube trays, large plastic bags for freezing, steamer, strainer/colander, grinder/food meal for meals "on-the-go," fine mesh strainer, and a masher. Though I've made baby food for 2 children I've never used a food meal or a masher.

If I don't have a food processor or blender—is there anything else I can use? Or any ideas where to get one cheap?
Sure yard sales, thrift stores, and consignment shops—just make sure you sanitize it! I use a mini food processor that cost me $40 and that's all I've ever really needed.

If I don't have a vegetable steamer or a pressure cooker, is it okay to just use a pan for steaming?
Sure, and you can even steam in the microwave.

Do I have to make food meal by meal?
It's recommended you don't. The best and easiest way to make baby food is in large batches and freeze it using the ice cube method. By doing large batches it saves you time and money.

If I freeze food, how long is it good for?
It's good for three to six months, but you should use it within three months for maximum quality. After three months it starts to lose nutrients.

What would you say to people who say making baby food is too time-consuming and that jarred food is much more convenient?
I find it to be quite the opposite. Every time you go grocery shopping you have to buy dozens of jars of baby food. If you run out you have to go to the store to buy more. When you make your own baby food, it's always available. When I leave the house I'll take out a couple cubes the day before and place them in a container in the refrigerator; when I'm ready to go they are already thawed.

Do you have any recommendations (books or websites) where I can find good recipes?
Books:
The Basic Baby Food Cookbook: Complete beginner guide to making baby food at home, by Julianne E. Hood; Super Baby Food by Ruth Yaron; Top 100 Baby Purees: 100 Quick and Easy Meals for a Healthy and Happy Baby by Annabel Karmel; Blender Baby Food: Over 125 Recipes for Healthy Homemade Meals by Nicole Young.

Web sites: Wholesome Baby Food; Simply Baby Food Recipes, Homemade Baby Food Recipes, Super Baby Food.

For more great tips, advice, and recipes, join the group Homemade Baby Food.

Do you make your own baby food? How much money has it saved you?