Photo Food Fight – Baby Food

by Chris Tecmire

Baby Food

They say a picture is worth 1000 words.  I’m putting that statement to the test.

Photo Food Fights is a series designed to more effectively demonstrate how to make wise decisions when it comes to everyone’s favorite topic – food.  Two or three food items will square off in a battle to the death to determine which is the best deal.  Today’s battle…

 

Baby Food

 

Baby food is a topic near and dear to my heart.  My wife and I have an 8 month old named Landry who’s hungry all the time.  He was content with mama’s milk for the first 6 months, but now he’s moved onto bigger and better things.  We knew he was ready when he would stare longingly at us each time we ate and mimic our chewing motion.

The average American family spends over $1,000 per year on food during those first couple years of their child’s life.  But, that’s the average family and, here at Simple Family Finance, we try to avoid average at all cost.

So, we need a baby food price comparison to determine the best deal.

We need an old fashioned food fight!

 

Without further ado…the following food fight matches Store-bought Baby Food vs. Homemade Baby Food.  May the best baby food win!

 

First up…Peas.

 

Peas

 

Next we have…Bananas

 

Bananas

 

Finally, we’ll compare…Rice Cereal

 

Rice Cereal

 

 

Homemade baby food kicked some major hiney in every category!  Especially with rice cereal!  I knew the homemade food would be a better deal, but I was surprised by the enormity of the rice margin.  It turns out that 1/2 cup of prepared white rice cereal only costs about $0.02.  I think Trisha and I are going to have to start having rice cereal for dinner. :)

The biggest difference between rice cereals is the amount of water that’s used in preparation.  The store-bought stuff is “instant”, meaning that it’s already been partially cooked and then dehydrated.  It doesn’t need nearly as much water to achieve the right consistency, so 1/4 cup of the instant rice cereal makes MUCH less than 1/4 cup of uncooked rice.  We usually start with a 6:1 water to rice powder ratio and then adjust at the end if necessary.

By the way, Trisha and I always use brown rice instead of white to give Landry the nutrition and fiber he needs.  Whole brown rice isn’t much more expensive than white, so the homemade rice cereal would be a similar price.  However, I couldn’t find a non-organic brown rice cereal at my local supermarket, so I don’t know how the store-bought price would be affected.

 

The evidence is clear that homemade baby food can save you a ton of money, so next week we’re going to take a closer look at how to prepare homemade baby food.

*Footnote:  All of the store-bought prices were based on the least expensive options I could find.  In this case, that’s the Beechnut brand ($0.50 per jar and $1.50 for a box of rice cereal).  Gerber will cost you 25% more across the board.

 

 

Recipes

 

Homemade Peas ($0.17 per 4 oz. serving)

1.  Steam the peas until tender (we cook a 1 pound package of frozen peas at a time and freeze the leftovers for later).

2.  Puree them with some additional water (we use the water left in the pan for the extra nutrients).  Make sure you let the peas cool sufficiently and only fill the blender half full, so the thing doesn’t erupt on you.  Strain the peas if needed.

3.  Continue to add water to the mixture until it’s the right consistency for your child.  Most baby food is fairly runny.

 

Homemade Bananas ($0.20 per 4 oz. serving)

1.  Mash the banana with a fork until the chunks are gone.

2.  Add a little water or breast milk to thin it out.

 

Homemade Rice Cereal ($0.02 per 4 oz. serving)

1.  Grind the dry rice (we use brown) in a small coffee grinder until it reaches a fine powder.  Sift out any larger pieces that remain.

2.  Put cold water in a pan (6X the amount of rice) and then mix in the rice powder to get rid of the lumps.

3.  Bring the mixture to a boil, stirring regularly.

4.  Lower the heat and let it simmer for a few more minutes until it reaches the right consistency.

5.  Add some more water if necessary once it’s done cooking.

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{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

Joylynn August 2, 2012 at 3:34 pm

Good timing – we just started our 6 month daughter on solid foods 2 days ago:) I made all our own baby food for our son (now 2 1/2) because I wanted to save as much $$ as possible, and it was really quite easy! He only ate pureed food for about 4 months before he raised his nose at it and wanted to move to food he could pick up and gum/chew on his own. Our investment in an immersion blender sure made it easy-peasy (pun intended). I’ll do the same for my girl!

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Chris Tecmire August 5, 2012 at 6:14 pm

Wow – that is good timing :) Glad it’s worked so well for you. We’re enjoying the process too. Landry’s taken really well to all the different fruits and veggies we’ve thrown at him which has made it all pretty simple.

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Rachael Neal August 2, 2012 at 5:01 pm

Love the recipes! How long is the food good for? I mean, I assume my boys will eat it fairly quickly…but I’m mostly wondering about the rice cereal?

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Chris Tecmire August 5, 2012 at 6:20 pm

We tend to stay on the conservative side and only take out enough for a day or two, but most of the experts say to use up any pureed produce within about 3 days. Some say the rice cereal can last slightly longer, but we just stick with the 3 day rule. With a little planning and a freezer, it’s pretty easy to keep to that schedule. The other thing to think about is that baby food tends to get “bad” more quickly once there’s saliva (aka bacteria) or other foods mixed in. In that case, you may want to make sure it’s gone sooner.

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Rachel August 7, 2012 at 9:14 pm

I love these photo comparisons, it really helps put it into perspective. We just started our 7-month old and the price of jarred organic baby food really adds up so we will be making more of our own!

Reply

Chris Tecmire August 7, 2012 at 9:45 pm

Rachel, how much is a jar of organic baby food where you’re at? I’m just curious.

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