Homemade Baby Food: The Savings

Let me preface this by saying that I am no SuperMom! I am simply a mom who tries to help our family save money where possible and practical. For us, this means shopping the consignment racks for some of Levi’s clothes, using cloth diapers, accepting gently used hand-me-downs, and most recently making homemade baby food. Are you a terrible mom if you buy your kids full-price name brand clothes, use disposable diapers, and feed him or her food from a jar? By all means, no! You might in fact be the most attentive, loving, generous, servant-hearted mother in all the world!

It just comes down to a matter of means. And since we’re currently working our way through seminary, we don’t have a ton of extra cash floatin’ around. Hence, the homemade baby food.

We also triedΒ baby led weaningΒ (BLW) in the past and really liked that a lot! The principles of allowing Levi to have larger pieces of food to munch on and simultaneously help to develop his fine motor skills was really intriguing. However, once he got to the point where milk and whatever small amounts of solids he was eating from BLW was not enough, we decided to introduce purees. He was around 8 months old at that time. I found a lot more ease of mind in knowing, “okay, he ate 2 oz of this and 1 oz of that, so he should be full” rather than always questioning if he was satisfied. We still do give him finger foods after most every meal and for a mid-afternoon snack, so he can “practice” and learn what food actually looks like in its non-pureed form.

Let me just throw out there the fact that I had never made homemade baby food before to this extent. Back when Levi first started eating solids, I made a small batch of purees for him in addition to BLW. Because he was eating so little at the time, it took very little work and very few ingredients. Now that he is an eating machine, this takes a bit more effort and a lot more ingredients–but I have found it to be worth it (unless we happen to find a great sale on jarred food).

On an average day, Levi will eat 2 oz of a veggie-based puree and 2 oz of a fruit-based puree for both lunch and dinner, so all my calculations are based on those figures. He eats oatmeal for breakfast, so luckily I didn’t have to make any purees for that meal. I’m a very quantitative person–I like to do the math and figure out what is going to be the most economical option in the long run. So I crunched some numbers (not that it was very difficult) and here were my results:

2 – 4 oz of Earth’s Best baby food @ $1.00 per jar x 60 days = approximately $120
8 oz of homemade baby food x 60 days = $57 total in groceries (this will vary based on the recipes you make, but I feel like any ingredients for stage 2 or stage 3 recipes will be fairly close to this total)
Total savings = $63 or $31.50/month

Now to some, that may not seem like a huge savings. But to us, it seemed worth it to at least give homemade baby food a try. I mean, I love to cook to begin with, so I was excited to contribute to my family in this way. So, I planned his little menu and went grocery shopping and set aside a full day to pureeing-madness…

Check out the recipes now… {part 2}

Homemade Baby Food: The Recipes

I used this book when deciding on recipes for Levi’s baby food:Β 201 Organic Baby Purees

The iBook version is only $9.99, so I thought it was a pretty good deal since I needed some inspiration for what recipes to make for my little one. One thing I like about this book is the fact that all the recipes are divided into the appropriate age groups based on the ingredients and textures. Plus, it contains just what the title says–recipes for purees. When searching for “baby food cookbooks,” I found many books that contained mostly baby-friendly finger food recipes with a few puree recipes–not exactly what I was looking for. This book was perfect!
Here is a list of the recipes I chose:
Garden Veggie and Lentil Dinner
Chicken and Veggie Dinner (I added 1-2 cups of cooked brown rice)
Beefy Peas and Potatoes (I added 1-2 cups of cooked brown rice)
Autumn Harvest Puree (I added a can of garbanzo beans)
Summertime Peach and Raspberry Delight
Cantaloupe and Strawberry Joy
Apple and Plum Compote
Pear and Apricot Puree (I substituted the apricots for frozen blueberries)
I tried to pick a good variety of combinations, as well as some iron-rich foods, since Levi’s iron was a bit low at his last doctor’s visit. I quadrupled all of the recipes so that it made enough servings for 2 months worth of food (based on how many ounces Levi is currently eating). Some of the recipes required boiling the ingredients, but I baked anything that was supposed to be boiled (with the exception of the Beefy Peas and Potatoes)–I find that the ingredients are more flavorful that way, plus baking is supposed to be more nutritive than boiling.
I’ll add the recipes below, based on how I tweaked them. If you want the originals, I highly encourage you to buy the book!
Garden Veggie and Lentil Dinner (16-20 Servings)
4 carrots, peeled and chopped
3 celery stalks, chopped
1 small sweet onion, chopped
1 quart of chicken stock
2 cups of brown lentils, picked through and rinsed
1 large tomato, chopped
1. Saute carrots, celery and onions in extra-virgin olive oil in a medium pot until onions are translucent.
2. Add stock, lentils and tomatoes and bring to a boil over medium-high heat.
3. Reduce heat to low and simmer gently with lid tilted for 30-45 minutes, or until lentils are tender.
4. Puree to the desired consistency and serve. Freeze remaining portions up to eight weeks.
Chicken and Veggie Dinner (16 servings)
3 boneless skinless chicken breasts, cubed
2 small sweet onions, chopped
2 cups frozen peas
4 carrots, chopped
1-2 cups cooked brown rice
Olive oil to coat
1. Preheat oven to 350.
2. Add chicken, onions, peas, carrots, and olive oil to a 9×13″ baking dish.
3. Bake for 30 minutes or until chicken is cooked through and veggies are tender.
4. Transfer baked ingredients, including broth, to food processor.
5. Puree until semi-smooth (add water to thin if necessary).
Beefy Peas and Potatoes (15 servings)
2-3 large russet or yukon potatoes
2 cups frozen peas
1 lb lean ground beef, cooked
1-2 cups cooked brown rice
1. Wash, peel and dice the potatoes. Place in a saucepan, cover with water, and boil for 10-15 minutes.
2. Add peas to saucepan. Boil for another 5-10 minutes until peas are tender.
3. Place in food processor with cooked beef and rice. Puree, adding cooking water as necessary to thin.
Autumn Harvest Puree (14-16 servings)
4 apples, cored, peeled and chopped
2 large sweet potatoes
1 can pure pumpkin
1 can low sodium garbanzo beans
Cinnamon
1. Preheat oven to 350. Sprinkle cinnamon over apples and bake for 30 minutes or until tender.
2. Wrap sweet potatoes in aluminum foil and bake alongside apples. Remove potatoes from skin once tender.
3. Combine all ingredients in food processor and puree, adding water as necessary.
Summertime Peach and Raspberry Delight (12 servings)
10 peaches or nectarines, peeled, pitted and chopped
12 oz frozen raspberries
1. Combine raspberries and chopped peaches to food processor and puree until smooth.
2. Optional: pass puree through a fine mesh strainer to remove raspberry seeds.
Cantaloupe and Strawberry Joy (15 servings)
1 cantaloupe, chopped
1 pint of strawberries, trimmed and washed
Combine both ingredients in a food processor and puree until smooth.
Apple and Plum CompoteΒ (15 servings)
4 sweet apples, cored, peeled and chopped
6 small plums, peeled, pitted and chopped
Cinnamon
1. Preheat oven to 350.
2. Sprinkle apples and plums with cinnamon and bake for 30 minutes or until tender.
3. Transfer to a food processor and puree until smooth.
Pear and Blueberry Puree (16 servings)
5 medium pears, peeled, cored, and chopped
12 oz frozen blueberries
1. Preheat oven to 350.
2. Bake pears for 30 minutes or until tender.
3. Combine with blueberries in food processor and puree until smooth.
Now, on to the process… {part 3}

Homemade Baby Food: The Process

So, once you decide which recipes and how much of each to make, the fun begins! I wasn’t exactly sure how long it would take to make everything, so I set aside a full day. I’m glad I did, because it took about 8 hours start to finish to prepare and freeze the food. I know–8 hours. Sounds insane. But keep in mind, those 8 hours consisted of feeding Levi his meals, eating my own breakfast and lunch, and a few short breaks here and there. It’s difficult to do this with a baby in the house (especially because I tried to avoid running the food processor when Levi was napping), but its doable! Just set aside a day.

Here’s what you’ll need:
Ingredients for all the purees
A decent food processor
Ice cube trays
Quart size freezer bags

Now, you can do this one of two ways. You can either cook one recipe at a time or you can cook multiple recipes simultaneously. I stuck with one recipe at a time to avoid getting confused about which ingredients belonged with each recipe (since some of the same ingredients were used in different recipes). You’ll just want to think ahead and cook the things that will take the longest first.

Yumm…veggies with lentils!

 

You’ll obviously puree everything as it is made and then you’ll begin filling ice cube trays with the purees. I really like to use these silicone cube ice trays. The cube shape makes them easily stackable in freezer bags, so they take up less space. We just happened to have a few of these already, so it worked out great. If you only have regular ice trays, I wouldn’t sweat it.

 

Let me just tell you, I only had 4 ice trays total, so this whole freezing process took a long time. About 2 days straight of filling these little guys and refilling them. That was not fun. And I was slightly worried about leaving the purees in the fridge for that long (they ended up keeping just fine). Would I buy more for the next time I make baby food? Probably. I was just trying to avoid spending the extra money this time, since this is probably the last time I’ll make baby food for Levi.

 

Once the cubes are thoroughly frozen, you’ll just transfer them to appropriately marked freezer bags. See what I mean about the cubes taking up less space? They are a great shape to fit right in our freezer door.
Now, the night before, I’ll take out Levi’s food for both lunch and dinner for the following day. One cube (from any ice cube tray) is equivalent to 1 oz of food, so I simply take out however many he’ll need for that day. Yea, it’s a bit of extra work (and a few extra dishes), but just think of the money saved!
And that’s it! Homemade baby food. Enjoy!

Levi: Week 41 Summary

Not too much has changed this week, but here is a recap of Levi’s 41st wonderful little week of life.

FEEDING
We are pressing on! Levi is still nursing–dare I say even better than previous weeks. He isn’t as crazy distracted as he has been, except when Brian is in the room. He knows that daddy’s presence equals playtime! He officially only nurses from one side now; he hated the other side and it was just becoming frustrating for us both. He seems pretty satisfied, despite this change!

Solids are still the same. Levi tried a few new things this week, including pita bread with hummus and a mozzarella cheese stick! He loved the pita with hummus! That will be a new snack item in the afternoon. I also began planning a day long adventure in making 2 months worth of baby food for our little man. I will make sure to post about my experience with that soon!

“More hummus, please!”

NAPS
Levi had a few good days this week and bad days this week as far as napping was concerned! I expected that though, since we were just getting back from vacation.

NIGHTTIME
The first few nights we were back in town, Levi was still waking up every 2 hours or so. He wasn’t hungry–he just simply wanted to say hello. I was quite exhausted! But things gradually got back to normal. The last few nights of the week, he was back to sleeping from 7 PM-7 AM. Praise God!

TEETHING
Well, maybe he isn’t teething as we had originally thought. Still tons of drool, but no sight of those little chompers poking through his gums yet! His grumpiness is pretty much gone too. So we’ll see in the coming weeks!

MOTOR SKILLS
Levi’s “scooting” really took off this week! He still won’t pick his belly up off the ground and he still needs to REALLY want something in order to be motivated enough, but the little man is quick when he wants to get from place to place. Luckily, it is still pretty easy right now to keep him contained to certain areas–which I like πŸ™‚

He also started “waving” this week! It’s so cute. Brian and I have been waving to him every time we say hello or goodbye for about a month now–hoping he’d catch on eventually. He has! You can tell he still needs time to think about the motion when he wants to do it, but we’ve definitely seen him make the connection.

OUTINGS/EVENTS
Man, not too much this week as compared to my last post! We stayed in a lot this week or just went on mini-outings to run errands and such. Levi and I both needed some down time after our busy trip.

That’s all for this week!

Levi: Weeks 39 & 40 Summary

The last two weeks have been super packed. Levi officially turned 9 months old and with that milestone came some definite struggles. We also attended the annual Fall Festival at SBTS and Levi and I took a trip to Florida to visit my family. It’s all been a bit of blur, but here’s as much as I can remember:

FEEDING
9.5 months and Levi is still nursing! I never thought I’d see the day. Amazingly, the countdown to his first year and the end to our journey in breastfeeding is on! Just under 10 weeks to go. Literally, every week that passes, I feel successful. He is pretty much only nursing from one side now–which means I haven’t been as rigid with his feeding schedule. I want to make sure he definitely gets enough milk. Usually, if he wakes early from his nap, I’ll let him nurse as much as he wants and then I put him right back down to sleep. He seems to be doing fine with that.

His appetite for solids is ever growing! The dude can eat. He is now eating about 2 oz of veggies, 2 oz of fruit and 2 oz of yogurt for lunch and dinner. Still doing oatmeal mixed with applesauce every morning for breakfast. I started giving him fruit puffs and Cheerios pretty regularly after meals now, as well as any other types of finger foods he might like. When we were in Florida, Levi was given a frozen chocolate covered banana for the first time. To say he loved it would be an understatement.

We are down to our last few jars of baby food that we bought last month, so I’m exploring the idea of making more homemade food.

NAPS
The week Levi turned 9 months old, he suddenly had tons of trouble napping. He would wake after only 30-45 minutes. He might have had a bit of a cold or he might have been teething (or both), so I tried not to get to frustrated with his lack of a schedule.

When we went to Florida this past week, Levi did pretty well with napping–better than the week before. He still wasn’t 100% though, but I’m sure that was just because we were in a different place and some days he missed naps altogether due to our busyness.

NIGHTTIME
I don’t remember much from week 39 as far as nighttime sleep–although I do remember that he rarely slept 12 hours straight without waking at least once or twice. So much for the 12 hour nights the week before!

Our 5 nights in Florida were pretty absurd. The first two, Levi did great. Slept from at least 10 PM to 7 AM each night. But the last three…oh boy! He was literally up every 45 minutes to 2 hours–even when he went to bed right on time. He was screaming like he was having teething or gas pains. My mom and I just could not figure it out. Finally, by the third sleepless night, we decided to put him in a different room than myself–thinking maybe he just kept waking because he knew I was sleeping right beside him. That night he finally slept 4 hours straight. It was the weirdest thing! And I was absolutely exhausted.

TEETHING
We are pretty positive Levi is teething right now. He keeps holding his gums, he is very clingy and altogether miserable, plus his mouth is currently a non-stop drool fountain. I am hoping this passes quickly.

OUTINGS/EVENTS
My little man is 9 months old now! Crazy to think that in 3 months he will be a full year old. He is so much more fun by the day with new noises, skills, and a developing little personality. I just love him! Here are some photos from his 9 month “photoshoot.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Levi had his 9 month appointment during week 39. Brian and I were extremely surprised–he weighed only 17.5 lbs (10th %) and measured 29 inches long (75th %). We thought for sure he was up to 20 lbs by now! So, not too much of a difference from his 6 month appointment when he was 16 lbs and 27.75 inches. He received 4 shots, plus 1 oral vaccine, and was overall very healthy. His doctor told us his iron was slightly low and that we needed to feed him more meats, beans, hummus, and dark greens.

We took Levi to his first SBTS Fall Festival on 09/06! It was such a fun time as we enjoyed the World’s Fair. We spent most of the time with our friends Josh, Carly and their baby Peter. Peter is exactly 6 months younger than Levi and they are almost the same size! Unfortunately, Levi was a bit cranky, since his doctor’s appointment was earlier that same day. We really wanted to see the “grand finale” of the night (which ended up being a laser light show), so we walked the babies around until they were asleep. Surprisingly, Levi slept right through the loud pops of the fireworks at the end!

 

 

Lastly, Levi and I flew home to Florida last week to spend a few days with my family and celebrate my brother’s 18th birthday! We had such a fun time with my mom, dad, brother, and grandparents–and we even got a chance to see Ethan and Anna. The photos speak for themselves!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Until next week!

My Heart.

Before becoming a stay-at-home (albeit, work-from-home) mom, I had a vision of what my days would look like. No longer would I have to get up during the dreaded 6 AM hour and make myself presentable for office life. My days would involve sleeping until at least 8 AM every morning, snuggling my sweet baby all day long, planning daily adventures to the park or the zoo or the library, keeping an incredibly clean apartment (I mean, I would be home all day to do so), having unlimited time to spend in my Bible or in prayer, working only during Levi’s naps, and all the while, serving family dinner promptly at 6 PM. Boy, I had some high expectations for myself and this new stage of life!

In reality: we’re up at 7 AM sharp (if not before then) because of Levi’s all-too-accurate internal clock. I struggle to read my Bible, not because I don’t have the time (because I do), but because I put more value on getting to work right away rather than going to God right away. We don’t snuggle. Levi hates it (I wonder where he gets that from…). We usually manage to get out everyday (Lord knows I’ll go crazy if not), but our adventures typically consist of walking to our mailbox or our garden or taking a “trip” to Target for odd and end things that I can dream up. Our apartment is usually clean enough to be sanitary, but not spotless by any means. And dinner…well, that’s lucky to be finished by 8 PM after Levi is already in bed.

Needless to say, staying home with my son looks a lot different than I had pictured.

I’m grateful for it–for this opportunity. I have the privilege to watch him change and develop day by day. We can read together, play together, explore together. How incredible is it that I am blessed to raise him up? I don’t have to leave him at daycare everyday or drop him off with a nanny. I get that time with him. I get these memories with him. So why does life seem flat sometimes?

Maybe because I don’t give my God the priority that He deserves. Maybe because on occasion I feel trapped inside a 750 square foot apartment. Let’s be honest here: maybe it’s because sometimes I just fill my days with work emails, and social media, and Netflix and forget about this blessing God has bestowed upon me.

This blessing of motherhood. Of having the opportunity to intimately know this brown-eyed, rambunctious, strong-willed, beautiful little life.

My love for Levi, it is deep and wide and nothing like I have ever known. How much greater is my Father’s love for me? I cannot comprehend it. Even when I neglect Him. Even when I tell him that I don’t need Him…and then come running back to Him on the hard days. He is still there. Waiting. Saying, “Come, my child. Let me know you–all of you. Put aside your work, and your chores, and your idols. And come.”

So, this is where I’m at. My heart. Knowing I need to give God more of myself, and give my husband and my son more of myself. Give them my love and affection and attention. It’s hard–this stay-at-home mom stuff. Definitely much harder than I had pictured.

As is the process of sanctification…

Levi: Week 38 Summary

Overall, it was a pretty good week in our household! Levi was pretty happy and smiley all week and he slept really well. Here is the recap.

FEEDING
As I mentioned last week, I began pumping and bottle feeding Levi to see if he preferred that over nursing. But I just couldn’t keep up with how much he was wanting from a bottle. So early last week, I tried nursing him again for every feeding. I did a bit of research on ways to keep a “distracted baby” nursing, and some of those tips definitely worked. He is now nursing again just fine as long as we are in a quiet room where no one else is present. I also cannot be on my phone anymore when nursing, will look him directly in the eye to keep him focused, and at times when he is very hyper or overly distracted, I’ll sing to him. It sounds silly and high maintenance, but it has really started to work. I figure if that is what it takes to keep him nursing for 3 more months, then that is what we’ll do! I don’t at all think that giving him formula for a few months is a terrible thing–but honestly, I just can bring myself to spend so much money on formula, when I just need to show a bit more effort to keep him nursing. And I’ve actually enjoyed that time with him! It’s so nice to give him my undivided attention for those times each day, and I’m starting to get weirdly sentimental about when we won’t have that time together anymore.

Solid feeding is still the same! We bought about 40 jars of food on sale at Babies R’ Us last week and Levi has beenΒ loving them! For my reference, the jarred food ended up costing about $0.18 per ounce. Most of the homemade baby food I’ve been making is anywhere from $0.08-0.15 per ounce, so it is a bit more expensive. But I have yet to add any meats, grains, or yogurts to his homemade food (which would increase the cost), so we decided to try jarred food for a while. It is definitely nice not having to worry about making food or thawing it. We’ll reassess once we run out of the jarred food!

NAPS
Levi napped pretty well this past week–we were pretty much back to “normal”. He did begin consistently waking from his morning nap at 10 AM (1 hour before his feeding time), but he still ended up sleeping about 1.5 hours each time, so that was fine with me! If he seemed happy, I would leave him in his crib for a while to play. If he is out of his crib, it is very hard to keep him occupied for a full hour before he is supposed to eat.

NIGHTTIME
Almost every night last week, little man slept from 7 PM to 7 AM. Yay! I bought him some new PJ’s last week! He is officially in 9-12 month PJ’s now (mostly because he was too long for his 6-9 month footy PJ’s), but most of the 9-12 month ones that we currently have are fleece for the Fall and Winter. It is still pretty warm here, so I went to Target looking for a few pairs of cotton ones for him. The ones I bought for him are “big boy” two-piece PJ’s–so yes, I was a bit emo about that. Naturally, they didn’t have “feet” attached and he woke the first night he wore them, so I wonder if his feet got cold. I might need to put some socks on him at night now. Here is my sleepy guy in his new pajamas.

MOTOR SKILLS
Our baby boy is definitely growing up and definitely getting ready to crawl. He now will rock on his hands and knees–I’ve gone to get him from his crib several times and found him doing this. If he is sitting up, he has also started lunging himself forward onto his hands to get something in front of him. He hasn’t quite figured out how to get from a sitting position to a crawling position, but we can tell he is super close. Oh, and he’s now a pro at scooting himself backwards and getting stuck under our couch or his crib. Seriously.


TEETHING?
Levi was grabbing at his mouth and feeling his gums a bit more last week, so we are wondering if he will be cutting some teeth again soon. We are not looking forward to that!

SIPPY CUP
We also bought Levi some sippy cups this week to start getting him used to those! I know there are some controversial things about giving water/juice to a baby under one (basically that it can replace their desire or need for milk), but I just wanted to get him acquainted with it. I just fill it with a super tiny amount of diluted juice, so that he can get the idea of how to use the sippy. If we continue breastfeeding until he is 1 year, I would prefer just to transition him straight to a sippy cup (instead of to a bottle and then to a sippy), so I figure this might help with that transition!

He didn’t quite understand how to use it yet (I got him one with a straw, since he loves straws), but I know he’ll pick it up eventually.


OUTINGS/EVENTS
It was a really fun week with several activities and adventures! Levi and I went on a “picnic” together on the lawn of our apartment complex. It was a pretty impromptu decision, so nothing fancy. Fruit puffs for him and PB&J for me! He discovered grass while we were outside. He would yank it straight out of the ground and try to eat it. I let him taste it, so that he could figure out for himself that it was gross. He loved to sit outside and enjoy the breeze and watch the neighborhood kids playing. I look forward to doing this more with him in the Fall! He is such a fun age for picnics now.

 

Brian’s new schedule is in full swing and it looks like he will be off work every Thursday and Sunday (for the most part). So this past Thursday, after he got out of his afternoon class, we made it a family day! We went to the Christian Book Nook and a super cute little coffee shop downtown called, Please and Thank You. It was nice to spend that time together doing something a bit different than “normal”.

 

That’s all for this week! More next week when I share about my big 9-month-old. *Sigh*