I started making the baby food for Zuzu tonight and as I shopped for the veggies the other day, thought I’d try and keep track of the price differences. On tonight’s menu: winter squash, aka, butternut.
First, a little about my methods: Instead of ice cube trays that we no longer own, I bought two “green” silicon thingys off Amazon with 15 1-oz. compartments each to make frozen cubes of the pureed food (they are both literally and metaphorically green- supposedly all those nasty free from all the nasty chemicals we hear about in plastics these days and, a nice green hue to boot). Apparently the going price for these things is $7.99, but I don’t know that I would have paid that much for them…anyways. That’s what I am using to freeze the pureed food in our trunk freezer in the garage.
I also bought Ruth Yaron’s Super Baby Foods on Amazon and checked out wholesomebabyfood.com, both of which were recommended by numerous friends. With some things, I don’t care to deal with an overload of information, and Yaron’s book is just that. Useful…almost too useful. She reminds me of the the nosy neighbor we had in Cedar Rapids that knew everything about everything and didn’t mind sharing it with you. The Web site is straight to the point and concise- unlike this post 🙂
Anyways, I kinda synthesized the instructions/recipes from both sources, split two butternut squashes weighing a total of 3.26 lbs. in half, scooped out the seeds, placed them face down in roasting pans with one inch of water, and baked/steamed them for 40-50 minutes until the skin blistered and the flesh was fork tender. I scooped out the flesh, which I pureed with my stick blender. I added the water the squash steamed in to thin it out (to put back in the vitamins and minerals that may have leached out in the cooking process), but attempted to make the equivalent of store-bought “1st” and “2nd” consistencies by putting about one-half in one freezer cube thingy, and then adding more steaming water to the remaining flesh. Just a little was left over that I put in a freezer bag for our next butternut risotto or soup, but in about one hour, I had 30 1-oz. cubes, covered with plastic wrap and labeled “1” and “2” to pop out and repackage tomorrow in freezer bags. All the squash Zuzu could ever want.
Now for the price run-down. If I were buying commercial baby food, I’d buy Earth’s Best. The variety of 1st foods is a little limited with this brand. They do have variety packs of 12 jars available. Based on the prices online at Babies’r’us and Diapers.com, the price for the variety pack averages out to $8.14, or $.68/jar. I’m pretty sure I remember buying a jar of sweet potatoes for $.80, though, at Target in Des Moines last Saturday (don’t ask- I was anxious to get home to my family on the drive home and that Super Target has the last Starbucks for three hours on I-35 so I stopped and bought Zuzu a jar of food). Obviously, since these are variety packs, there are multiple vegetables- 4 2.5-oz. jars each of sweet potatoes, peas, and carrots (not mixed, in case that’s not clear).
So I’m rambling. To the point: the homemade squash made exactly the equivalent of 12 2.5-oz. jars (how about that?), excluding what I froze in the freezer bag already. The total cost for the fresh squash was $5.84; by my math, that works out to be $.49 for the equivalent to a store bought jar. It wasn’t that time consuming and the only complaint, so far, came from Eric who said while lounging on the floor with the baby as I pureed the squash, “Zuzu and I were just talking about how loud her food is.” Ha!