Food & Drink, Kids, Money

How to make baby food in 45 minutes a week and save 50 percent

The biggest reason I started making baby food is to give my kids the most fresh and nutritious food I could in their first year of life. The second is to save money. And the third is for the environment, because God knows I owe it after putting three babies in diapers!

My husband and I have some pretty lofty budget goals this year, and we’ve already whittled our budget down to the basics. Food seems to be the only category that has any flexibility. So I wanted to know the exact amount I could save by making my own baby food.

Feed your baby the most nutritious food possible in the first year? Find an introduction order and lots of recipes in this article. How to make homemade baby food in 45 minutes a week and save 50 percent

This organic produce makes 52 servings of baby food

I did a little experiment to see how much it costs per ounce when I made the food versus buying the jars. I bought all the food in the picture above, made the purée and calculated the servings.

Canned baby food is the same price per ounce no matter the flavor, whereas the price produce varies greatly. Where we live (which has a relatively high cost of living) Earth’s Best organic baby food jars (4 oz.) cost $1.19. Two ounces is considered a serving, so that’s about $.60 a serving. This is the cost difference I found with homemade purée:

Peas: I paid $2 for a 20-oz bag of organic frozen peas. It made 7 servings.
= $.29 per serving

Carrots: I paid $1.29 for a 1-pound bag of organic carrots. It made 9 servings.
= $.14 per serving

Apples: I paid $3.50 for 6 small organic apples (1.5 pounds). It made 9 servings.
= $.39 per serving

Banana: I paid $2.75 for 7 organic bananas, but I only used 3 because they make so much ($1.18). It made 10 servings.
= $.12 per serving

Green beans: I paid $4.99 for a 20-oz bag of organic frozen peas. It made 8 servings.
= $.62 per serving

Broccoli: I paid $4.99 for a head of organic broccoli. It made 9 servings.
= $.55 per serving

As you can see, most of the produce is significantly cheaper to make yourself, but my organic green beans and broccoli didn’t do as well as the other produce.

By the way, from a few calculations non-organic homemade baby food seems to have about the same savings.

Exactly how much money can you save making your own baby food?

How to make homemade baby food

Because the produce prices vary so much, I decided to see how it averaged out over a week. Last week I kept track of everything that she ate (from this batch of produce and a few more things I had in the freezer) and calculated what it cost:

MONDAY: peaches (.42), banana (.12), peas (.29), carrots (.14) = $.97
TUESDAY: pears (.31), apples (.39), green beans (.62), sweet potato (.12) = $1.44
WEDNESDAY: peaches (.42), banana (.12), broccoli (.52), carrots (.14) = $1.20
THURSDAY: pears (.31), sweet potato (.12), peas (.29), apples (.39) = $1.11
FRIDAY: banana (.12), apples (.39), green beans (.62), carrots (.14) = $1.27
SATURDAY: peaches (.42), pear (.31), broccoli (.52), carrots (.14) = $1.39
SUNDAY: apples (.39), peas (.29), sweet potato (.12), banana (.12) = $.92

I found that costs about $8.30 to feed her a week if I make her food from organic produce. It would cost $16.66 if I bought organic food jars. That is a savings of 50 percent.

By the way, please know I have not even the tiniest bit of judgement for buying jars. I have bought many a jar before. And I still plan to. I’m not down for making pumpkin or prunes or even butternut squash. No sir. I want to make baby food, but not baby food that takes more than 20 minutes! What I am saying is that if you don’t have much wiggle room in your budget, this can save you some cash and give baby fresh food at the same time.

If you’re ready to get started, here’s my easy approach to making baby food:

The easiest way to make baby food and save 50 percent
While we’re on the subject of saving money, I was happy to see these bibs at the Dollar Tree. By the third baby I’m not buying the expensive ones anymore that get stained by carrots the first day! (They have bottle brushes too, by the way.)

Tools

  • cutting board and knife
  • saucepan with cover (you can use a steam pot, but I personally find the saucepan is easier and has less clean up)
  • something to blend (blender, food processor, personal blender)
  • containers (plastic containers, ice cube trays, silicone trays)

Instructions

  1. Wash ripe produce.
  2. Peel.
  3. Cut into cubes or slices and deseed. (Hint: Cubes work best for foods that take longer to cook, like potatoes for example.)
  4. Put cubes in saucepan and add water. Simmer, covered, until you can cut it through with a spoon.
  5. Blend cubes AND cooking water (so you don’t loose any nutrients*). Blend longer than you think so there are no clumps. I use a $15 personal blender by Hamilton Beach, which I already had for smoothies. It blends about 9 servings of baby food at a time, which is all I need.
  6. Put purée in container and refrigerate (eat produce within 48 hours) or freeze.

How to make baby food step by step

Containers

I’ve tried a mixture of storing methods, and the easiest way for me has been to invest in a few sets of containers with lids. You can thaw them in the fridge or take them with you. I like to set out all the food baby we’ll need for a few days to thaw in the fridge, so it’s there ready to go. That way I never have to use the microwave.

The problem is I can’t ever get the food in the silicone tray to magically “pop” out like they’re supposed to (though I use one occasion when I have too much purée) and the ice cube trays make me mad. But that’s just me.

I bought these containers. Look for the ones that stack and screw shut.

I turn away for one second! Sheesh.
I turned my head for one second! Sheesh.
Making homemade baby food
This picture warms my heart. Marcello had better luck with the sweet potatoes than I did with the peas!

Baby food recipes

When it’s available to me at our grocery store, I buy organic produce to make baby food. I spend about 40 minutes to an hour making two or three kinds of baby food each week and then freeze it. Here are my recipes, all made in a regular sized sauce pan.

This is also the order I introduced food to Clara.

How to make homemade sweet potato baby food

Sweet potatoes

  • 3 washed, peeled, cubed sweet potatoes + 2 cups of water + 9 minutes cook
  • Time: 25 minutes
  • Yields: 14 servings

How to make homemade pea baby food

Peas 

  • 1 bag of 20-oz frozen peas + 1.5 cups water + 7 minutes cook
  • Time: 10 minutes
  • Yields: 7 servings

How to make homemade carrot baby food

Carrots

  • Bag of carrots (about 9 sticks), peeled and sliced + 1 cup water + 12 minutes
  • Time: 20 minutes
  • Yields: 9 servings
  • *Don’t use the cooking water to make the carrot purée. There is a tiny chance the nitrates could affect baby.
  • It’s more expensive, but you can also use a bag of baby carrots for the same results.




How to make homemade apple baby food

Apples

  • 6 small (or three large) organic apples, peeled, deseeded and cubed + 1 cup water
    + 7-10 minutes (depending on how ripe)
  • Time: 25 minutes
  • Yields: 9 servings

How to make homemade peach baby food

Peaches

  • 20-ounce bag of frozen peaches + 1.5 cups water + 10 minutes cook
  • Time: 15 minutes
  • Yields: 12 servings
  • Our grocery store doesn’t have fresh peaches this time of year so I used a frozen bag. Of course you can also use 3 peeled, deseeded peaches when they are in season.

How to make homemade banana baby food

Banana

  • 3 peeled bananas + 1/4 cup water + no cook time!
  • Time: 5 minutes
  • Yields: 10 servings

How to make homemade pear baby food

Pears

  • 3 peeled, deseeded pears + 1/4 cup water + 7 minutes cook (optional)
  • Time: 15 minutes
  • Yields: 9 servings

How to make homemade green bean baby food

Green beans

  • 20-oz bag of green beans with snapped ends + 1 cup water + 9 minutes cook
  • Time: 15 minutes
  • Yields: 8 servings

How to make homemade broccoli baby food

Broccoli

  • 1 head of broccoli + 2 cups water + 7 minutes cook
  • Time: 12 minutes
  • Yields: 9 servings

Baby food combinations

You can also make combinations of these foods, and try adding yogurt or rice cereal. I’ve learned that you can add rice cereal to foods that aren’t baby’s favorite to make it a little more bland. Right now Clara will only eat peas if I do half rice cereal and half peas. You saw what she’ll do if I don’t. I also like to add rice cereal to dinner in hopes it will fill her tummy through the night!

Here are some favorite combinations to try:

  • Apples + carrots
  • Green beans + pears
  • Banana + peach
  • Sweet potato + peas

A few safety things

  • Wait three days in between introducing new foods to observe any allergies.
  • Don’t add salt.
  • Don’t add the cooking water to carrots before blending because of nitrates.
  • Wait until the food is cooled before putting it in plastic containers.
  • Check out FDA’s site for more safety guidelines before you get started.

Make popsicles out of leftover baby food puree

If you have leftover purée or make a double batch of fruit, you can put them in popsicle molds for older children. These are from Ikea and hold exactly 2 ounces each. I also put leftover smoothies in them!

Reusable fruit pouches

I’ve started using reusable food pouches too. When Luca was a baby, fruit pouches were like a dollar, but the boys picked some out at Target the other day that were $1.59! Anyway, they’re so convenient, I thought I’d try making my own.

I also love the little spoons that screw on the end for babies. Genius.

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42 thoughts on “How to make baby food in 45 minutes a week and save 50 percent

  1. Thanks for this post! I have an almost 5 month old and was just thinking I needed to check out some resources for making baby food since this will be my first time doing it. I love your blog…super inspiring and helpful stuff!

    Lindsey

  2. So glad to help. Let me know if you have any questions. Good luck! (Are you getting any sleep yet? We’re having a rough patch right now.)

  3. Sorry to hear about the rough patch. Those times are tough! We are not getting a ton of sleep right now either but that’s from our 2 year old, who I’m guessing is just going through a regression phase :/ But we have been blessed with the little guy being a pretty great sleeper from the beginning. Hopefully you and I will both be getting sleep again soon though :)
    Lindsey
    http://www.careerintherearviewmirror.blogspot.com

  4. Just found your site today and I LOVE it! I am half way through my first pregnancy and will definitely be feeding our baby food that I’ve made – SO much cheaper. I do have a question. For the food that you have froze, do you know how long it keeps in the freezer and how do you thaw it when you’re ready to use? Thanks!

  5. Hi Rebecca. Congratulations on your pregnancy! To answer your question, the FDA recommends using the frozen baby food within three months. To thaw, I either put a couple days worth of food in the fridge or leave it out on the counter if I need it faster. I try to avoid the microwave so I don’t destroy nutrients, make it too hot for baby or heat plastic. Best to you and baby!

  6. Very informative on the baby food preparation. Thank you! I am definitely going to try some of these recipes. Question on the carrots, you said do not use the water from the carrots because of the nitrates. Do you just drain the water or does it still require water, I was thinking of substituting nursery water. Sorry I am super new on this homemade baby food process :)

  7. Hi Lisa! Yes, you drain the carrots of their cooking water. Then you add enough fresh water to get the right consistency. Nursery water would be great. I just used filtered water. Hope that helps!

  8. #pinning I’m so glad I found this. Baby is four months old and we will soon be trying real food. I want to make my baby’s food because I don’t eat all my meals out of jars so why should he?!? Plus I like that I’ll know exactly what he’s eating. Thank you for this post, I wasn’t sure where or how to start.

  9. Those were my thoughts too! And I’m so glad I could help. I can’t say that I love cooking, but I did enjoy making baby food. It’s so fun to watch them experience trying new foods for the very first time! Best to you and your son :)

  10. This is a fabulous post!!!! I’m a first time mom and I had so many questions about making our own baby food. This has been very very helpful. Thank you for sharing.

  11. Congratulations on your first, Ashley! I’m so happy the post was helpful. I’m not a foodie, but I did enjoy making the kids’ baby food for them. I hope you do too :)

  12. I wonder if you might have some advice. I bought a few jars of organic veggies to see what she liked and to watch for allergies before I invested the time into making the food. She loved squash, so I bought that and steamed it and pureed it. Well, she gagged, spit it out, and refused the next bite. Since I know she likes squash, is it the consistency or just that the fresh squash is too strong of a flavor? It didn’t seem much denser than the store-bought…I tried mixing it with banana, which she also loves, and it was the same result. Gag, spit out, refuse to eat. The veggie and fruit purees I’ve been buying are supposed to have nothing added but water so I don’t understand!

  13. Wow, even mixing it with banana she wasn’t having it! I don’t know what the difference is exactly, but there is quite bit of play with the taste with how much water is added — or taken away. I remember reading about Buddy fruit pouches containing far more sugar than the actual fruit. And it’s true, if you taste those fruit pouches, they often taste much sweeter than if you were to take a bite of the same fruit. This can be accomplished by taking water out of the puree. The example that was given was if you take the water out of a grape you are left with a sweet raisin. Does that make sense? I can’t be sure why your daughter is not going for homemade squash over the jar, but if I recall correctly, I don’t think any of my kids cared much for squash or zucchini right away!

  14. Hey Kate. This may be a silly question but Im a first time mom making my own baby food. For the banana- do you literally just mash up a ripe banana in the blender without cooking it? If so, she’ll be eating a lot of banana ;) Thanks so much! Your blog is awesome!

  15. Yes! You literally just mash up the banana! Isn’t that the best? My kids ate a lot of bananas too :) Oh wait, they still do.

  16. Kate,

    You are amazing!!! My LO is 6 months and I have been playing around with making her food for about 2 weeks. I do not get a lot of support from family for breastfeeding and making her food so it is nice to be reassured of all the benefits. Thank you so much for sharing your Mommy secrets!!!

  17. Hi Jen! Isn’t it weird how some people are not supportive of these things! I don’t know if it’s because they want everyone to do things how they did or are afraid maybe they didn’t do something they could have, but who hasn’t? I used formula and jarred food too, so no judgement here, but good for you for doing your best for you baby. xo

  18. Hi there– quick question about veggies that do need heated. Do you reheat on the stove? The thought of cold green beans or peas sounds awful! Thanks :)

  19. Hi Whitney! I don’t reheat them. This way I don’t kill any nutrients in the microwave and don’t have to worry about hot temps in her little mouth. I’m with you, cold green beans does not sound appetizing! But remember that baby doesn’t know any different. Good luck! :)

  20. Hi Taylor. Nope, no reason not to use breast milk! I tried it with my first son and got frustrated because my milk went bad in some of it. And then with my second and third I didn’t pump very often and didn’t try it again. Sorry that doesn’t help at all!!

  21. Have you had any issues with the green beans pureeing until they’re smooth? When I made them for my son, they still had quite a bit of texture to them despite lots of pureeing. I was using my beaba babycook so maybe a blender would have worked better?

  22. Yes, Erin. Green beans are probably the hardest to get pureed! You can use a sieve at the end to make sure nothing is too big for baby.

  23. Hi Kate,
    Thank you so much for this post. So helpful! So I made a big batch of puréed carrots last night (before I found this) and did use some of the cooking water to purée it. :( Does that mean I have to throw it out? How will the water affect the baby? He’s 4 months old. If baby can’t eat it, can adults eat it? I would hate for it to go to waste.

    Thank you!

  24. Hi Christy. I am not a nitrate expert, so it’s hard for me to say exactly what you should do with the food. But I’m with you, I wouldn’t want to waste it! I’m sure it would be fine for adults. As for babies, I know the chance of it affecting them is so very slim. Here’s an article to check out to help you make your decision. Hope it helps!

  25. Absolutely love this post! I am so excited to start making my daughters food! You explained it so simple and nice! Thank you for this !!

  26. Hi Kate,

    Thank you so much for posting here super easy recipes!! They are perfect for my 5 month who is growing tired of oatmeal. We are trying sweet potatoes first and I have a feeling they will be a big hit! I have a quick question though, when you make avocado or bananas can you freeze them and thaw later? Of this a food you need to make daily and serve right away?

  27. Hi Brittany! I do freeze avocado and banana purees. The color does look quite the same, but the taste is still there. Good luck with the sweet potatoes. It’s so fun giving them new foods to try.

  28. Hey there Kate! I want to start off by saying that I LOVE youe post. So informative and helpful!! I have a now 5 month old daughter and have been slowly introducing her to food, I’m not sure how much I feed her per serving because I usually feedher until she loses interest in it.

    I am putting her in day care in January, so I now need to know how much food to prepare and what much each serving should be. For ypur recipes, how many ounces is in a serving?

    Thank you so much!!

  29. Hi Karen! This is a hard question. Two ounces is considered a serving (1 of the small plastic jars I have shown), but as babies get older they eat more servings! So it’s hard to say how much to pack. At first one or two will be enough, but as she grows she’ll want more. Just pay attention to how much she usually eats and maybe put in a little more in case she’s having a hungry day. Sorry, that’s about zero help.

  30. WOW! Our twins are 5 months old, so we’re hoping to start fresh food purees in the next few months. I can’t believe the price difference the way you showed it! That will definitely be better (and healthier) than the $40 a week we’re spending on formula!!

  31. Hey there! I just had a question! Have you tried any or all of these foods?? I am planning on making them for my daughter when she turns about 4 months old and just wondering which on s you thought were the best?

    Thanks!

  32. Yep, I’ve made them all! These are my recipes I came up with while making them. The order I put them in is the order I introduced them to Clara. I would recommend starting with something on the blander side, like sweet potatoes. Hold off on the really sweet ones, like bananas, to give them a chance to like the greens too. They’ll always go for the sweet ones!

  33. Hi there! I found this article to be most helpful! I’m a first time mom of a daughter who will be 6 months in a couple weeks so I’m starting to research puréed foods and baby foods to start her soon. Did you make from scratch any other fruits or veggies that you didn’t mention like squash? If so, do you just cook them the same way?

  34. Hi Brittany! I’m glad you found the article helpful. Yes, you can make other fruits and vegetables the same way! I just got lazy by my third baby and didn’t want to make squash. Haha! I remember baking the squash until tender, scooping it out and blending it with some water.

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