Monday, November 28, 2011

Running the numbers on baby food

A big project this weekend was to make baby chow for my loves-to-eat-anything-6 month old.  For all 3 boys, I've made about 90% of their food.  Yes, we do buy some for convenience's sake, its not like we're opposed to the idea.  It is just something I like to do, I can do, and I thought was cheaper and healthier.  Here's what we did.  Yes, I said WE...this time Troy even helped and got his hands dirty.  It made a big (fun) chore into about a 3 hour project.
Step 1.  Shop - bulk is best, but you don't always need bulk.  6-7 HUGE sweet potatoes make a LOT.  And a few bunches of bananas go a loooong way, too.  But bulk apples, pears, carrots are necessary.
Step 2.  Put big boys to bed for a nap.
Step 3.  Unexpectedly, Reed awakes.  Keep him busy with a pretzel rod.
Step 4.  Start peeling and cooking.  I use all 4 burners on the stove for steaming/boiling/blanching/whatevering, and have 2-3 casserole dishes in the oven baking (apples with a splash of cinnamon cuz I'm just that nice; cranberry-apple, pears, squash, etc)
Step 5.  Get the food processor going.  I only have one and my blender wasn't working well at all, so we had a long ling waiting for the processor...but that's ok.
Step 6.  From the processor to individual bowls to cool.  Some people mix them up right away (like mixing strawberries with apples or whatever), but I like to keep them all separate until I know exactly what I end up with.
Step 7.  Put in individual containers. I filled old baby food jars and containers, then used some canning containers to put in larger amounts of the staples - carrots, beans, bananas, apples - that we use more often since these hold 7-8 ounces (about 3 feedings).  Excess went into ice cube trays to freeze.  Once frozen into cube shape, dumped into a NICE QUALITY double-zip bag.  The last thing I want to do is have all my hard work get freezer burn, so I get the best bags they have.  I didn't have enough room or ice cube trays, so this part of the freezing goes in segments.  Freeze in trays, dump in bags, repeat, repeat, repeat, repeat.

To eat:  The individual baby food containers are frozen, then I get out a few days supply at once to thaw in the fridge. They can be warmed up, then the jars are reused by putting in the frozen cubes.  The cubes are 1 ounce, but I overfill them before freezing, so they are almost 1.5 ounces.  2 cubes fit in a small container and 3 fit in a larger container.

So here is the fun part.  I spent $41 on groceries.  Plus to be fair, add in the cost of the bags $6 (but I won't use them all).  The baby food that we would buy (on sale) is $.50 per serving.  I imagine that you can find cheaper baby food, but we like a certain kind and this is the rock bottom bulk price.  Here's what my $41 got us:
268 servings.
So, if I would have purchased 268 servings at the sales price I would spend $134.00, or $0.50 per serving.  I spent only $47, at a whopping $0.17 per serving.  Saving me....grabbing the calculator.....$87.  Doesn't that sound great?  I know it's not hundreds and thousands of dollars, but consider this:  I've done this for 3 kids, and the savings multiply since this is *only* approximately 2.5 months of food.  So I'm estimating that I've saved (or will save by the time Reed moves to solid people food)......

 2.4(there are 2.4 two-and-a-half month-periods in a 6 month period of eating baby food) x $87 savings x 3 kids =
Boom!  Throw in the intangible happy feelings of knowing what you're feeding your baby, the bonding time with your husband in the kitchen...and it really is a priceless activity.  The other part I'll mention is that my food processor was FREE.  Yep, I got it from Troy's Aunt Karen.  If I recall, she got it for her wedding and never used it.  Bonus.  I bet there are lots of unused and unloved food processors out there.  Just go ask around.  Mine isn't huge....having a big one would be a nice Christmas present (hint hint)

And for those of you that are curious about what all I made, the list is below.  This is just the main ingredients.  We did a LOT of mixing based on Troy's taste-testing ideas.  For example, strawberry + apple; blueberry + pear, peas + carrots, and other combos.
  1. Sweet potato
  2. Carrots
  3. Mixed veggies - carrots, peas, something I'm forgetting
  4. Mixed veggies - carrots, corn, peas
  5. Spaghetti squash
  6. Peas
  7. Green beans
  8. Peaches
  9. Fruit blend - frozen fruit package.  Only fruit listed as ingredient (was the most expensive thing I purchased)
  10. Bananas
  11. Yellow squash (summer squash)
  12. Pears
  13. Apples
  14. Blueberries
  15. Cranberries
  16. Strawberries
Our kids never liked avocado or kiwi, so didn't buy those this time.  Note: white potatoes - tried it; they don't freeze well at all. 

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

This is SOOO COOL. Going to pull up this post when my mom's here. :) Or drag my friend Liz over when she's gone, since I prob don't need to use up freezer room the minute we take him home from hospital. :) Thanks for sharing! --Jess