8 Frugal Baby Food Hacks

There’s a common adage that floats around on the theme that ‘babies are expensive’.  I feel like this isn’t true!  It would be more accurate to say ‘buying into commercialism with a baby is expensive’.  I’ll agree that bigger kids can get a bit pricey, especially when they start eating you out of house and home!  But babies?  Nah.  Most of what makes babies seem expensive has to do more with choices you make in what you want to purchase for your baby.  Disposable diapers and wipes.  Cute new clothes.  The latest toys.  Pre-packaged baby food.

All of those things add up quickly!  And really, are not necessary at all.  Especially the last one….paying 80 cents a tiny jar of baby food (more if you want organic!) is absurd.  Sure.  Sometimes when we are traveling or end up stuck in town longer than I anticipated, I’ll grab a jar from the store.  But definitely not on a daily basis.  Feeding a sparsely toothed food monger should be (basically) free.  And here’s some of the tips I’ve learned over the years that I wish I had known with my first!

DISCLAIMER: Obviously all babies are different and I am not a doctor.  So if your doctor has given you advice to the contrary, please remember that all babies are unique individuals who might have special food needs!  Also, this post may contain Amazon Affiliate links.  I am NOT paid by anyone to endorse any products, but I sometimes include links to products we use and enjoy and do receive a small commission from Amazon for any sales.

1. Feed Them What You Are Eating

Hopefully you eat veggies and fruits regularly in your diet.  If you don’t, you really should be!  For the most part, I feed any babies 6 months plus whatever fruit or cooked veggie we are having.  Obviously, if it’s smothered in cheese or gravy you might want to separate a small amount for baby before putting all the add-ons in the veggies.  But most spices are fine.  Plus, you’re going to want this little one to eat the veggies you prepare when they get older anyway, so might as well get them tasting your cooking (good or bad haha!) right from the start.

I take whatever veggie we are having…green beans, carrots, peas, squash, sweet potatoes (I avoid the empty calorie veggies like white potatoes or corn, since they won’t add anything to the baby’s daily nutrition)…mash it up with my fork and just feed my mini me right off my plate. I don’t even mess with high chairs anymore.  Takes up too much space in my kitchen.  I was constantly stubbing toes on them.  Babies sit on my lap until they are old enough to handle a little booster chair.  If we are eating a meal without a cooked veggie, I’ll mash up a banana or take out some out of the freezer (see hack #2!)

2. Blend and Freeze Left Over Veggies In Ice Cube Trays

Left over peas and carrots pureed and divided out to be frozen for later

Have one serving of veggies left over from dinner?  Don’t throw them away or compost them!  Mash them up and save them for the baby.  If it’s a thick veggie it’s ok to add a little bit of water and put through the blender.  I’ve found that the easiest way to save servings of baby food is to portion out the puree into an ice cube tray, freeze it, and then pop out the cubes and put in a freezer container.  Then when you need it, take out 2 or 3 cubes (each cube is about an ounce), defrost, and serve.

You can definitely use your standard ice cube tray you already have laying around, but a friend of mine mentioned to me that it’s much easier to pop out the food if you use silicone trays.  Might be worth a try if you plan on freezing a lot of food!

3. Skip Baby Cereal

Controversial topic here, but I really do not believe that baby cereal is necessary for the vast majority of babies.  Nor do I think that a grain is a good choice for baby’s first food.  There are definitely a few very specific circumstances where your doctor might recommend starting cereal, but for your average infant it’s just an extra expense.  There’s a notion floating around that giving a 4 or 5 month old baby cereal will help them sleep through the night since it takes longer to digest.  This is probably true, BUT fuller isn’t necessarily better!  It is very normal for breastfed babies to wake up at night for a long long time.  And, in my opinion, messing with normal isn’t a good idea.  Plus the benefits of more breastmilk far outweigh the benefits of baby cereal.

4. Invest In Reusable Pouches 

Squooshi reusable food pouches. So easy and no waste!

When Ivy was a toddler, my friend Rachael introduced me to Squooshi pouches.  I LOVE them.  My kids, even my older ones, love ‘pouches’ from the store.  They come in so many flavors: from smoothies, to veggies, to fruit mixes.  And it makes feeding babies and toddlers on the go *almost* mess free.  But at $1 (sometimes more!) each, it gets expensive fast.  And it creates so much plastic waste.  So, if you are a pouch lover, consider investing in reusable pouches and refilling them at home.  If you have a dishwasher they are super easy to clean.  A tiny bit of a pain for us hand washers, but I found that I’ll soak them over night and then they clean up quickly in the morning.

There are lots of brands out there, I personally like the Squooshi ones.  Check them out here on Amazon: https://amzn.to/2so0pB1

5. Mason Jars, Mason Jars, Mason Jars

JJ enjoying yesterday’s left over peas. Storing in an old baby food jar keeps it simple and easy to clean up!

Mason jars or old glass baby food jars make great ways to pack baby food to go if you don’t want to use reusable pouches!  Half-pint mason jars will lock tight and are pretty much indestructible inside the diaper bag.  Plus you don’t have to worry about all that leaching plastic BPA junk.  If you don’t have mason jars, you can also buy two or three baby foods in glass jars and then keep reusing the containers.  Bonus Points: Old baby food jars make a great way to keep little girl hair ties and clips secure inside your diaper bag, too!

6. Keep Breastfeeding

Don’t wean that baby just yet!  You can breastfeed for years if you would like to.  Not only does it provide great nutrition, reduce your fertility if you’re wanting kids evenly spaced, and improve bonding; but it also reduces the amount of purchased food your little one needs to stay strong and healthy.

7. Buy On Sale Or Grow Your Own

Don’t be shy about stocking up, especially if you have the freezer space!  Unfortunately, baby food purees cannot be safely canned, but they will last 6 months in the freezer (possible longer if you put in a deep freeze!).  So when Aldi has carrots for 10 cents a pound or apples for 99 cents a 5lb bag, fill your cart and process your own purees, even if it’s several months until your baby will be ready to eat solids.

And of course, you can always grow your own.  Even inside!  Crops like carrots, sweet potatoes, and spinach can easily be grown in a big pot.  And even with 1/10 of an acre in your back yard, you can easily grow plenty of green beans, peas, and so much more.  If you’re interested in growing lots of food in a tight space, check out the book “Mini Farming”, it has so many great ideas.  You can even download it on your kindle here: https://amzn.to/2SPia7W

8. Let Your Baby Tell You When They Are Ready

At the end of the day, you do NOT have to feed your baby solids because they are 6 months old.  Every baby is a unique individual with unique needs.  Your baby will let you know when they are ready!  Are they eyeballing your plate?  Putting everything in their mouth? Are they growing well?  So many factors to consider!  I have started my babies anywhere between 5 and 9 months.  Just depended on when they were ready and interested!

Babies are adorable, precious, a lot of work something (haha!), but they most certainly do not have to be expensive.  A little bit of fore-thought can save you a bundle in the long run.