Is There a False Economy to "Make Your Own Baby Food"?

Updated on May 04, 2011
L.A. asks from Kew Gardens, NY
28 answers

Ladies -

I thought we'd be in the make your own camp, but to get started I ordered a set of earth's best fruits and veg from amazon.

They cost roughly 75cents a jar. Two months into feeding and we've spent a total of $36 between cereal and fruit, veg and dinners on baby food.

Little guy is showing an increased interest in our foods and is eating real melon, grapes, bananas, pears, apples through the mesh feeder. He's also been fed fork mashed unsalted adult food off my plate, i.e. brocolli, chicken, potatoes, pasta.

The books all tout how cost effective it is to make your own. Our little guy was on "baby food" for such a short stint, that I question the economy. I am glad I didn't spend money on a steamer, food processor, and specialty ice cube trays.

Even if we bought another 2 or 3 months supply of prepared baby food, I think we'd still come out ahead of the game.

Am I missing something? Do I have this all wrong?

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answers from Allentown on

We don't do special equipment. (When they're old enough,) I take a bit of everything out of the pots and pans before seasoning and mush it with a fork. If that's still too hard or chunky for my kids, it means (to me) they're not ready for that particular food.
No steamer, no processor, no ice cube trays.

And really, "specialty" ice cube trays?! Give me a break!

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Boston on

Well...IMO homemade baby food costs nothing on top of the cost of the food, which was stuff that I was buying for my family anyway. Everyone has pots and pans, most people have a blender or food processor and a few ice cube trays. Add a some ziploc bags and a sharpie to label them and that's all you need.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Dallas on

Since I already have all that equipment in my kitchen, making my own is cheaper, but it's not always about the money, either. It's sometimes about nutrition and food safety and other such things. That being said, each person decides what's best for their family and does that. =)

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answers from Dallas on

I already had the blender and food processor so we only had to buy the trays for freezing. For us it was just a healthier way to feed our son.

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answers from Dallas on

We still use our steamer and food processor and will for years, so I consider it an investment. Oh, and I just bought ice cube trays from the dollar store, and once they were frozen put them in a ziplock.

I can make dozens of batches of baby food from, say a couple pounds of zucchini. (Which are generally .75-1.00 a pound here.) Where as, I could only buy a handful of jars with that. Not to mention there are crazy amounts of citric acid in baby food. They are also tasteless, so babies (in my opinion.) have a hard time transitioning to the taste of real food.

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answers from Pittsburgh on

There was a time when people fed their babies without specialized equipment, right?

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answers from Honolulu on

Ummm, people buy a steamer for baby food? They make specialty steamers just for baby food? I just steamed veggies for us and then put it into our blender with water and froze in a normal icecube tray.

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answers from Minneapolis on

I spent $6 on a mini food processor/chopper when my oldest was 6 months old. I then used fruits and veggies I already bought for my husband I, steamed or cooked them and pureed in the mini chopper, froze in ice cube trays I already owned (and one extra I bought for a whole dollar) and then put into freezer bags.

So making baby food for my kids cost me $7. They both started solids at 6 months and by 9 months were eating chopped up table foods, and by 10 months or so were self feeding finger foods and using a toddler fork.

Spending that much money on special equipment for feeding your baby is not required. Like I said, I spent $7 on 'stuff' to make baby food for my kids. It was cheaper, healthier (by far!) and tasted better. Propaganda not required!

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answers from Phoenix on

I never heard of or used any of those specialized baby food equipment you're mentioning.

I had a hand held baby food grinder that went everywhere with us and I would say it paid for itself.

Sounds like your fork has done the trick!

Happy eating!

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Minneapolis on

I have no idea why you need a steamer? Or special trays?

I do have a smoothie maker that cost me $22 at Target (on off brand), and I love it and use it for other things too (smoothies, food prep, etc). I make baby food for my daycare. I mostly do what I call "Must go's" for baby food. Whatever the other kids don't use for a meal, or what is left in the fruit bowl on Fridays..or when it starts going ishy. Like a half banana..or a one person portion of green beans, etc. I whip it up (takes me about 60 seconds), and either feed it at that meal, or freeze it if its a bunch.

Then I will do a base of foods...2 or 3 sweet potatoes goes a long way with a 5 month old just eating baby food. Or 2 season squash on sale. For someone like me who buys alot of baby food (or used to), I have saved alot of money, had kids eat a better variety of foods (they DO like it better..I have over 20 years experience with a variety of kids...the overall experience the last 4 years has shown me that they are all better eaters with the home made stuff..even if it comes from canned fruits. I will assume the flavor is better..less processed??)

And if you are eco-friendly...think of the trash you create with baby food containers (even with glass that can be recycled, they have labels and covers that are trash). Plastic is worse of course.

Many of my daycare kids are not on baby food long, altho by USDA standards, I am required to OFFER it to them until their first birthday. But this way I get to choose the consistency. My now 10 and 11 month olds in care self feed, but I do give them cereal with a bit of chunky fruit or veg for lunch and breakfast, as required for the protein in it.

Just my thoughts and experiences.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Los Angeles on

I think it is cheaper if you already owned the food processor/ blender, or Vita-mix which many people do. Perhaps your babies teeth came sooner than most, or you started him late on solids. For us, our baby showed interest in solids early and is cutting teeth late. She's been on purees for 4 months and I think she will be a few months longer. But in the end, i think most people don't do it to save $$, they do it so their baby will develop tastes for fresh/ steamed veg. vs. canned veg. Also to have control over quality and ingredients. In the end, since I don't buy all organic, and already owned my Vita-mix, I think I've saved a few hundred dollars.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Houston on

I bought no special equipment, per se, to make all my daughter's baby food. For the most part she ate a texture modified version of what I was eating. I got by just fine with my mini food processor, regular old ice cube trays, and the steamer I already owned. I would often make batches and freeze stuff, but she mostly ate what I ate from the time she started taking solids around nine or ten months. She had no teeth until she was a year so things had to be broken down to a certain extent.

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answers from Kansas City on

I agree. Our third is 9 months old and we feed him baby food from a jar (LOVE Earth's best) and some table food. Some kids are on it a short time.



answers from Chattanooga on

It's economical if you are smart about it... I spent $5.00 on little containers at Family Dollar, and $10.00 on a food processor. That's it. After that, it's just paying for produce, which is pretty cheap. My DD started eating solids instead of purees around 8 months though, so she really didn't do the puree thing all too long either. But the containers I got are great for storing little snacks and her leftovers in, and I use the processor for making salsa and whatnot, so I'm still getting my money's worth!


answers from St. Louis on

My LO is 9 months old now and has been on food since 3 months. We still by babyfood, but if we can feed table food that is what is given. Only when the table food can't be given do we give the jared baby food now. Actually the LO prefers to eat what we are eating too!



answers from Seattle on

LOL... it depends on whether or not someone's selling you something.

We spent Zero on 'making our own' because kiddo just ate what we ate. Leftovers got popped in the fridge or frozen. If frozen, ziplock bags don't cost a lot.

Also... do keep in mind that babies eat different amounts. Many babies I know eat 4 jars of food 5-8 times a day. At 0.75 each thats: $15-$24 a DAY in baby food. In our area, however, babyfood jars are 1.25- 2.50 each. Easily bumping costs up to $25-$80 a day in baby food. In other areas, babyfood jars cost 0.25 each. $5-$8 isn't quite so awful... but that's still a couple hundred a month on baby food.


answers from Dallas on

I fed my babies mushy pieces of whatever we were eating, when appropriate. Otherwise, I mashed a banana or made baby cereal or something. We did the Nuby strainer feeder thing that you put solid food in and they suck or chew on the mesh. Baby food was just for convenience when out and about or something. So if it were not convenient, i would not mess with it. I don't feel 33c for the jar is expensive and I wouldn't think I was saving money to make my own. If I had that kind of get up and go, it would be about nutrition, not economy. So, yes, I think it's false economy and just another niche market someone is trying to corner.


answers from San Francisco on

Isn't it sad how easily the latest gadgets are marketed to young mothers?
I had a "happy baby" food grinder which I paid $12 for, new. I used it for 3 kids. Basically I just took whatever cooked veges, rice, soft fruit, etc. I was making that day and put it through the grinder (before seasoning, of course.) It was a hand cranked device, small, two pieces and easy to use and clean. Didn't freeze anything, like I said, just ground up a small amount of whatever I was using that day (I'm sure mothers in more primitive cultures do the same thing with a mortar and pestle.)
And honestly my kids went from breast to table so quickly it was hardly necessary! IMO, prepackaged baby food is ridiculous :(



answers from Dallas on

I used jar baby food for my oldest but when my youngest was born we were more tight on money and I went to making my own baby food. I just boiled frozen veggies until they were soft, Stuck them in a blender that I already had and then into regular ice trays to freeze. I would even do low sodium canned food to save money on buying the frozen veggies. One can of green beans made 12 squares in the ice tray and lasted me at least 7-8 meals. Now add up the number of different veggies that come in the frozen section or canned section of the grocery store. When they got older they just got the veggies right out the can. I saved a ton of money I think we did the math and it ended up being something like $12 a week and that is a jumbo box of diapers in 3 weeks.



answers from New York on

It is cheaper to make your own if you buy at the farmer's market in season or buy organic produce on sale. But in order to take advantage of the savings, you have to boil or roast the veggies or fruit and then use a tool you already have. I used the food processor. Plus, you have to freeze half of it if its from something big like a pumpkin or squash plus your baby has to be ok with eating that food 2-3 times a day for several days. It can be a lot of work regardless of the fruit or veggie you use to you make quite a bit a one time. Unless you have a lot of time on your hands. lol



answers from Seattle on

I have a steamer tray for my rice cooker, and I steamed foods for my oldest until soft enough and then froze them in ziplock plastic containers. We still use the rice cooker (and owned it pre-baby as well) and I use the plastic containers all the time for various left overs. My second is not at solids stage yet, but I will use these items until they wear out because they are commonly used household items. Babies don't need pureed foods or ice cube sized portions - if you use logic rather than a baby gymic, babies cost alot less. (we never used a mesh feeder either) But I did always think baby food is gross - why give my baby super processed chemical laden nasty mush and then make a homecooked nutritious meal for myself? Just seemed counter-intuitive to me.

just my 2 cents :)



answers from Erie on

i didn't make my own, but i'm wondering if you found a book on how to make your own if it would maybe clarify some stuff for you.

Maybe you could do a compromise and buy squash but do your own peas on an as needed basis using frozen peas?



answers from Savannah on

We got a steamer for our wedding (before pregnant with any kids) and use it all the time. My husband would never eat canned vegetables. We either eat frozen that I cook on the stove, or fresh that I steam.
I did make my own babyfood with steamed veg (because that's what we eat) and I had a $10 babyfood processor (cuts lower than a regular processor) . We used the 2 icecube trays that are in my freezer anyway and froze the cubes of babyfood and put them in ziploc bags in the freezer. Made his meals varied and very fast. So....I guess I bought those trays for like 50 cents each, and the $10 mixer from Babies R Us.....$11 and whatever food we were serving ourselves. I would keep the processor on longer for smoother "stage 1" textures, and for a shorter time (a few seconds?) for "stage 2" textures. I used a fork to mash for "stage 3" and now he just eats it the same way we do (but cut smaller). But no, $11 was a good investment to have for TWO children. I just popped a food cube (or two) into the microwave for a 45-60 seconds and stirred, and it was good to go. I don't think it was a waste at all. You spent $36 on one baby. I spent $11 on two and it was healthier (fresh, not canned, not scary to taste---what do they put in those things??? the color is all wrong too!) It was also very easy. If I cooked creamed corn for the family, I loaded up a few big spoonfuls into the mixer and bagged them once frozen. If we had broccoli or green beans, carrots or sweet potatoes, or any number of fruits, that's just what we did. After my 2nd and last baby, I gave it to my brother for his baby. Good deal!



answers from San Antonio on

I think you have to put it into you did.

I had a mini food processor, I used icecube trays, a pampered chef steamer and press n seal until it was frozen then moved it to freezer ziplocs until she ate it. Ziplocs I could write on to tell the broccoli from the green beans from the spinach. So...anyway, that being my 3rd and 2nd that I had made food for, I was ready. Some moms are going to say the plastic in the ice cube tray leeched into my kids system and caused...god knows what. But I say, I know my kids are ok and so far they have survived this long, regular icecube trays are the least of my worries. $50 jeans and a 16 year old that wants to drive and get a car....OMG I'll take the baby food!



answers from Oklahoma City on

It's not less expensive to make your own. If you take into consideration your time is worth something then anything you can do or buy that will free your time up then that is worth something to me. Baby food is not really for nutrition. It is for training the baby to swallow something thicker than formula, then to chew food and swallow without gagging. I talked to a baby food company, can't remember if it was Gerber or DelMonte and the person basically told me these things. The jarred baby food has such a low nutritional value that it really shouldn't even count in the daily food plan for an infant. They should be on formula first and foremost.

So, the value of making your own is the "knowing what's in it". I used regular food as soon as the kids got old enough they were wanting table food and I bought a Pampered Chef Food Chopper. I hit each food about 15 times and it was fine for the babies to eat. They were older though.



answers from Norfolk on

All 3 of our boys were on table food when they were about 9 mos. I'm pretty good at making extra (coming from a larger family), so they always got what we ate, just made for them. Either cut up or pureed in the blender, nothing special. I would save your money for other things. I can't help on making it ahead and storing it b/c I just put the big pieces in the fridge and then took them out and did whatever needed to be done.



answers from Hartford on

Many people choose to make their own baby food because it is usually healthier. Not only do you have more control over what goes into the food, such as: fresher ingredients and no unnecessary preservatives, like salt or worse - chemicals (that they do not have to list in the ingredients), but you can choose to lightly steam or keep the food raw, which preserves more nutrients (everything prepackaged has to be cooked at mega-high temps so that it has a longer shelf-life and follows FDA regs). I just went from nursing to feeding the baby off of my plate, so I found baby food altogether to be unnecessary.


answers from Dayton on

Haha! No special equipment here. Though it does look fun and cute. Completely not necessary.
The only thing I bought (and I used for 2 kids) was 2 ice cube trays.
Much cheaper than throwing away jars of half eaten food.
And w/ my leftover sweet potato cubes (which DS still occasionally eats) I make yummy pancakes and bread!

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