The obvious way to cut costs on weaning your baby is to cook your own meals rather than relying on shop-bought pouches and jars.
But there are a few other corner-cutting ideas to bring down costs. Here are just a few:
– If you’re going to use pouches and jars – and let’s face it, they are blimmin’ handy especially for eating out – you can stretch them further by cooking up some pasta or rice at home and using half a pouch as a sauce. Spreading a spoonful of baby food onto toast is another way of making them last longer.
– There’s nothing wrong with an “And Toast” meal. Not for every meal, but as a light tea, they are great. Team it with scrambled egg, peanut butter (assuming no allergies), grated cheese, tuna mayo, egg mayo, Marmite and even occasionally, jam. This sort of meal also encourages them to feed themselves (if they’re not already Baby-led Weaning babies), and gives you some hands-free time (to clean up the mess they will inevitably make with this!)
– If you’re using follow-on formula, don’t buy into packaging. I started off on Aptamil for the sole reason that I thought it looked good. The packaging had drawn me in. But I soon moved my little one onto Cow & Gate. He didn’t seem to care and it costs £1.50 less per packet than Aptamil. When they hit 12 months, you can move them onto ordinary full fat milk.
– The same applies for pouches and jars. Ella’s pouches are so cute and funky, but you pay a premium for them. Try cheaper ones and see what you and your little one think. They might love them just as much, and if they don’t then at least you’ve tried. Always look out for offers.
– You can also use your own leftovers, or just portion some off your own meal. This is particularly useful in cafes and restaurants – instead of ordering a child’s menu, which is likely to be far too big a portion for a weaning baby or even a toddler, just skim off some of your own meal and ask for a spare plate! And remember, Tesco Clubcard Boost points can be used to pay for meals out at places like Pizza Express. We ordered two pizzas between myself, husband and 3-year-old, and 11-month-old had a good old go at a small piece too.
– Have a good look at your snacks. There are so many baby and toddler snacks available, an entire aisle-full in fact. But check out the quantities, ingredients and prices and you might find a cheaper alternative on the ordinary aisles. For example, baby rice cakes and ordinary plain, unsalted rice crackers are pretty much the same, except for perhaps the flavouring, but the ordinary adult plain ones are a fraction of the price.
- eg Tesco own brand Goodness Apple Rice Cakes (40g) cost 85p while Organix Raspberry and Blueberry cost £1.20.
- BUT, you can buy a 130g pack of Tesco Free From Wholegrain Rice Cakes for just £1 – that’s more than 3 times the weight of Tesco baby rice cakes for just 15p more. Before you worry about the salt content, these have just 1% salt and obviously eat in moderation. Yes, they’re bigger and they’re not flavoured but you just break them up into small pieces and spread something like hummous or peanut butter on them. Your baby WILL NOT CARE if they’re not circular!
- The same goes for breadsticks. Annabel Karmel cheesy breadsticks cost £1.30 for 50g. Not going to break the bank. But again using Tesco for guidance, you can buy a large 125g pack of ordinary Tesco Original Breadsticks for just 69p. That’s 2.5 times the weight, for a little over half the price! These contain 0.1g salt per 100g so again perfectly fine, in moderation, according to current NHS guidelines stipulating the maximum amount of salt for babies under 12 months is 1g of salt a day, while 1-3 year olds should have no more than 2g. No baby or toddler is going to eat 100g of breadsticks anyway!
- And don’t even think about buying those tiny snack packs of raisins. What a rip off! At Tesco (apologies to other supermarkets, but this is just for guidance), you can buy a 500g pack of Californian Seedless Raisins for £1.54. Meanwhile, a multipack of those lunchbox packs will cost £2.19 for 6×42.5g packs (Sunmaid Raisins). You’re getting a total of 255g weight in the snack packs, which is just over half of the large pack, yet paying out 65p more. All you need to do is dish out the same weight – 42.5g – from the large pack, into a small Tupperware box or even a freezer bag and you’ll get 11.7 snack packs out of it.
– Personally, I never bothered buying any baby cereals. I simply used Weetabix, or own brand equivalent, or porridge. Much cheaper.
– Fruit pouches and pots are really handy for desserts and for adding to porridge to cool it down, but you can make your own really easily by simply bobbing a bit of fruit in a blender. Make a big batch and freeze it into portions.
– Try own brand yoghurts and fromage frais. I started off getting Petit Filous, just because that’s the brand you associate with fromage frais and weaning babies, but a six pack (47g each) costs £1.50. Now, I buy my boys 6-packs of Tesco Everyday Value Fromage Frais (55g) for just 42p. Less than a third of the price of the branded desserts and each pot is bigger.
And finally, it hardly needs to be said but batch cooking and freezing into portions is a good way to keep down costs. Once your little one can manage bigger lumps, it also means you can freeze family sized portions which is handy when you’re short of time (or simply can’t be faffed to cook from scratch) and just chop the baby’s meal into smaller pieces. Voila, as they say.