So both of our children ate a ton when they were infants. Before they started eating mostly finger foods, they were going through about 10 oz of pureed baby food at lunch AND dinner. (Not as much for breakfast, thankfully…) From about 5 months on I made my own homemade baby food, but at the point where they were eating this much food, I couldn’t keep enough purees stocked in the freezer and refrigerator to meet their demands.
Jarred baby food is expensive and frankly doesn’t taste that good. There is no way around it. For good baby food with minimal, quality ingredients, you end up paying a little less than $1 a jar. When you are going through several jars of purees per meal, it adds up quickly.
Here are some of my favorite staples of baby food to keep in the house that aren’t traditionally thought of as “baby food” but taste great, are relatively inexpensive and are great to supplement the foods you are already feeding your baby.
1) Farmer’s Market organic canned pumpkin, sweet potato puree, and butternut squash puree. Both my babies loved sweet potatoes and squashes. You can serve this right out of the can or puree it in the food processor with a little unsalted cooked chicken or turkey breast and you have an easy, filling meal. My kids also loved any of these mixed with whole milk yogurt. This brand has a no-BPA liner, is organic, and tastes really good. It costs about $2.40 a can and there is no cooking involved!
2) Santa Cruz organic Apricot Apple Sauce. My daughter is a constipated baby. I can’t feed her too many bananas, rice, or regular applesauce. My “go to” breakfast for my son when he was a baby was applesauce mixed with baby oatmeal flakes. I couldn’t do that with her because it stopped her up. So, this was a great alternative for me than cooking and pureeing prunes at least once a week (since a lot of fruit isn’t in season yet). The apricot puree and apple juice in this really helped with her constipation.
Although it is a bit pricey for applesauce, when you compare it to a few 4 oz jars of baby food, it is way cheaper. I like to watch for it on sale at Whole Foods. Mix this with some baby oatmeal flakes, you have a quick, easy breakfast for a busy morning. It also comes in individual 4 oz cups to take to a restaurant too.
3) Whole milk yogurt and cottage cheese. One of my favorite ways to extend the life of a baby food jar and to make it a bigger meal for my hungry babies is to mix it with whole milk yogurt or cottage cheese. Some babies don’t like cottage cheese because of the texture, but whole milk yogurt was a big hit for both of my children. My favorite place to find whole milk yogurt is Trader Joe’s. The consistency is a bit on the thin side, so if your meal is too soupy, I usually just add some oatmeal flakes or rice cereal.
This is also a great way to thin down a chunky puree such as avocado or banana too.