One of the many perks of being a stay-at-home mom is that I have so much more time to create. I try really hard to spend my days giving Lars most of my attention, but during his naps and, even if I set him up in a bouncer or with a few toys, I have more time than a working mom to cook, clean, blog, prepare, plan, etc. One of the downsides to staying home is that we need to be much more conscious with our budget. (Not that we weren't before…Alex is a financial advisor after all..). I knew I wanted to make homemade baby food before Lars was even born, just from a health perspective, but as I've spent more and more time at Target since he was born, I'm seeing the significant cost savings we're getting by doing it too. Example: If you're going to purchase baby food without artificial coloring, flavoring, added sugars, preservatives, etc. your selection is limited pretty quickly and there's a significant difference in cost. Then add in organic, if you prefer, and you basically have 1 or 2 options on the market. The cost of a jar of just pears last time I was at the grocery store was $1.63 for 4.25 oz. The cost of a pound of just pears from the produce section was $1.36. I've found in my own baby food making, that I can't get about 22-24 oz of baby food pears out of the 1 pound of whole pears. That breaks down to $0.38 per oz if you buy a jar of baby food, vs $0.06 per oz of homemade. (These are non organic costs.)
Obviously there is variation in the cost of the food I make, the day/season I purchase the food, etc. And, there is the upfront cost of baby food making materials (info below), but generally speaking, making my own baby food is not only the healthiest option, I also get a much better bank for my buck. Especially since our baby eats like a bear. I also like making my own because I can make literally anything. If we have leftover spinach, kale, parsnips, carrots, strawberries, or apples, I blend them up into baby food and waste less too.
So, that's my case for making baby food: It's less wasteful, it's really easy on our budget, and it's healthy. I obviously still buy jarred baby food and squeeze pouches for ease when I just don't have time, or when we're traveling or on the go, but generally speaking I really enjoy the homemade stuff. So, here's the stuff I learned from doing this sofar.
"The Amazing Make-Ahead Baby Food Book" has been my guide. I love it. It gives great guides for how to make a ton of food to freeze in a few hours, how much of each food to buy, a great guide for what the fruit or veggie should look like for optimal nutrients, and it has a huge variety of foods you can make (lentils, beans, meats, veggies, fruits, you name it). Here's a link to the book on Amazon. https://www.amazon.com/Amazing-Make-Ahead-Baby-Food-Book/dp/1607747146/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1486479393&sr=8-1&keywords=The+amazing+make-ahead+baby+food+book
Other things you need:
Some sort of steamer basket
Some sort of food processor
Baby food freezer jars or cube trays
We got an all-clad steamer basket for our wedding. We didn't register for it, but it turned out to be the best gift ever. Here's a link to one similar to what we have. It doesn't have to be very big. http://www.williams-sonoma.com/products/85183/?catalogId=5&sku=85183&cm_ven=Google_PLA&cm_cat=Shopping&cm_pla=default&cm_ite=default&kwid=productads-adid%5E52929359743-device%5Ec-plaid%5E82946922583-sku%5E85183-adType%5EPLA&gclid=Cj0KEQiA_eXEBRDP8fnIlJDXxsIBEiQAAGfyoQBWdNJe-H4HDDkPboDFIZUYT2Qic02iO2lhrGM5FKcaAvrp8P8HAQ
I had a large Cuisinart food processor our friends gave us, and loved it for baby food making. Just make sure you have the right blade because they were recalled in 2016 due to the blades chipping. I got a large Vitamix for Christmas and have been using that now. It's really great for making large batches of baby food, but not great for small batches. I also have to add more water to baby food when I use the Vitamix versus the Cuisinart, so that could feel like a downside too, depending on when you start feeding your baby solids.
Baby Food Jars:
These make GREAT baby shower gifts, so put them on a registry if you plan to make your own food. I use the Sprout baby food jars and love them. They're pricey though (hence the great baby shower gift..). :)
You can totally just use ice cube trays and wax paper, but I didn't like how much wax paper I was using, so I bought two of these and love them. https://www.amazon.com/Baby-Food-Freezer-Tray-Watertight/dp/B01DS8XGOC/ref=sr_1_15_a_it?ie=UTF8&qid=1486480380&sr=8-15&keywords=baby+food+freezer+trays
And there you are! If you have questions, ask away, or share your experience with making your own baby food, products, etc. :)