Wednesday, September 28, 2011

My Eager Eater

Since we last caught up about baby food, Baby C was just dipping her toes into the figurative baby food pool.  We started out with avocado and banana, and have since mastered and enjoyed pumpkin, peas, sweet potato, apple, pear, peach,'s a veritable farmers market in my little girl's tummy!  With new foods, we're trying some rather interesting combinations.  I don't think I'd eat carrots and applesauce, but who knew my 6 month old would be more adventurous than me!

She looks like she's having fun, right?

Now that Claire is starting to eat a varied selection of food, I have to be choosy when picking out my produce.  Clearly, organic produce is ideal...but I don't have a money tree in my backyard.  Here are some things I do to save a bit of money (and in some instances, time!):

The Dirty Dozen

If you have a limited baby grocery budget, but still want to buy organic, prioritize with the Dirty Dozen.  These are foods that carry the most pesticide residue.  They are apples, blueberries, celery, grapes, kale, lettuce, nectarines, peaches, potatoes, spinach, strawberries, and sweet bell peppers.  The way that I look at is anything that I'll either eat with the skin on or has a very thin skin, I should probably buy organic.  So even if they're not on the list, I'd probably add other berries, like raspberries and blackberries, as well as pears and plums.  Bananas?  Definitely don't eat the peel (intentionally) and even if I did (?), it's thick so pesticides would probably not be able to seep into the fruit.  Same thing with oranges, avocados, cantaloupe, etc.  But as my husband always reminds me, he didn't eat organic growing up and he's just fine.  The jury's still out on that one...

Buy Frozen/Canned

Frozen fruits/veggies are a money and a time saver!  It's usually much cheaper and the prep work is usually done for you!  For instance, my favorite way to make Baby C peas is to buy a bag of frozen (and shelled!) sweet peas, steam them in my rice cooker, puree them, and voila - baby food for 4 days!  Easy as pie!  Canned is similar, but you have to be a little more careful.  First, be sure to check that nothing else is added (should just be the fruit/veg and water).  It's also tough to determine whether or not it's organic.  Just remember my peel rule and you'll be fine.  With the abundance of canned pumpkin in the grocery stores right now, I picked up a can for $1 and got 5 2 oz. servings out of it!  I figured it was way easier and cheaper than buying a baking pumpkin, roasting it, scooping it out, pureeing it...a lot less messy, too!  You can find great organic applesauce made of just apples and water that is way easier than baking or steaming, then peeling, then mashing apples.  Hey, I like to make my baby food, but I also like to work smarter not harder.

Farmers Market

Getting your produce at the farmers market is a great way to go.  Most of the time, food is organic, it's local, and you can likely talk to the farmer themselves about their produce.  On occasion, the market can be a little more expensive than going to a grocery store, but try some different strategies to save some money.  Ask if you can get a flat of berries for a cheaper price then freeze them.  Or try going close to closing - vendors are usually willing to cut you a deal so they don't have to pack as much back up.

Something else I do to get a bigger bang for my buck - make food once or twice a week and store it in the freezer in these:

I usually make food on a Saturday or Sunday, and then again midweek.  My preferred method is steaming in my rice cooker.  I can leave it be for about 10-15 minutes, let it cool down, puree and baby food is made in the time it would have taken me to pack up Baby C in the car, drive to the store, and pay 2-3 times the price for the same amount of food.

Who makes food for their little one?  Any money or time saving tips you can share?  

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