Featured Image The choice to make your own baby food can seem intimidating and time consuming. But with a little preparedness and planning, you can save a lot of money by making your own. Though my time is more limited with baby #2, I’ve found these lessons learned from my first go-around has made the process easier. Here’s a little of what I’ve learned. Use the tools you have. You may be tempted to purchase a baby specific blender but really most blenders are created equal. Save yourself the money and use the blender or food processor you already own. For foods like bananas and avocados, you can simply use a fork to mash the food in a bowl. We were given a baby blender but really only used it a few times. I found my blender worked faster and I was able to make bigger batches of food all at once. Make friends with the freezer. Baby food prep does take time and when you’re a parent being busy is an understatement. My advice is to make as much food at once and store it in the freezer. I found these great ice cube trays with lids. I can easily pop a couple cubes out as I need them, and once I make a big batch my son’s menu is usually set for a couple weeks. Make realistic goals. When my son first started solids, I was very excited to get back in the kitchen to whip up some old recipes I had made for my daughter. Unfortunately, I was a little too ambitious. I bought a ton of fresh, organic fruits and veggies and that week my daughter came down with a bug (darn you daycare germs!). Needless to say, I had no time or energy to make baby food and most of the fruit and veggies went to waste. That’s where frozen fruits and veggies can come in handy. I don’t have to steam and puree right away and I can make baby food when (if) I find the time. Sneak in veggies. With the limited flavors of baby food on the shelf, it can at times be a challenge to find right combos for your little one. For example, my son loves peaches but doesn’t care too much for peas. I was able make a batch of peaches and peas that he gladly slurped down. Instead of wasting money on yet another jar of barely eaten peas, I can mix together different food combinations that I know my son will enjoy. Buy it on sale and stock up. I’ve yet to catch many jarred baby food sales but I can usually find a good sale in the produce aisle. When strawberries were in season and super cheap, I loaded up my cart and froze a bunch to make for my daughter. Bonus: Once my daughter was done with purees I had leftover berries for smoothies. There’s not much else you can do with leftover baby food if your baby has moved from purees to solid foods. Don’t fall for fancy baby packaging. Buy things like applesauce and juice in the regular aisles. You will typically get a lot more for your money. Baby food companies know parents are always seeking the best for their baby and can fool you into thinking the juice they sell is better. Remember, there is no special apple they’re using to make apple juice for babies. Do your research, it’s usually the same juice just repackaged in smaller yet more expensive bottle. Put some thought into your grocery list. Buying food separately for your baby and the rest of your family can add up. Instead, think through what you can make for your family that can easily be mashed up and served to the little tike. For example, before I add any seasonings to veggies, I’ll scoop out some and mash it up. I’ve found this way of planning our meals makes the rest of my family eat healthier too. Last night, instead of a side of mac-n-cheese, we had a sweet potato. We all enjoyed it! It can be hard to find the time to mash up food and making your own food can big a huge commitment. On the other hand, if you are on a tight budget, it might be worth spending some extra time in the kitchen so you can spend less money. And there is always the option of doing a combination both, which is what I do. Adding another mouth to feed to the family can take a hit to your budget but with a little planning, making homemade baby food can save you money. Audra F. Hi, I’m Audra! I’m a marketing specialist here at VACU. I joined VACU right out of college at VCU 5 years ago. In that time, I got engaged, married my college sweetheart and had two babies; a girl and a boy. I’ve learned a lot about finances working at the credit union, but even more from navigating these life changes. So I’m excited to share my personal financial journey with you and what I’m learning along the way. Other stories by Audra F.