Post Contains Affiliate Links.
My previous two posts about saving money on food went down pretty well! They were a preview of my first eBook, Frugal Living for Lazy People, which is now available! now the eBook is actually out I couldn’t be happier with the reception it has had!
It may seem strange to do another preview now that it has actually been released, but I had these three posts planned from the start, they are actually what inspired the book! so here we are, part, or ‘preview’ three:
I was thinking about my shopping tips when I wrote the other posts and had a realisation. One of the greatest expenses when it comes to food shopping, no matter how frugal you are, is always going to be the kids!
If you are fortunate enough to be able to breastfeed you are already making a saving of at least £40 per month, which is fantastic! However, for formula fed babies the expense is a necessity, no exceptions, so this post will deal with ways to save when it comes time to wean.
My little man started on purees at 4 months, just like his big brother, because milk simply wasn’t cutting it. We had already switched them both to the hungry milk formula by four months. each boy had already started showing signs of not being satisfied after feeds even though more milk would mean throwing up, their little tummies were at full capacity!
Each boy had already started showing signs of not being satisfied after feeds even though more milk would mean throwing up, their little tummies were at full capacity!
They also both stared intently at people who happened to eat or drink in front of them with obvious interest.
Some experts still advise waiting until 6 months, or until the baby can sit by themselves before starting but all babies are different.
I loved the idea of baby led weaning. However, we’ve found that even now Rhyd is eight months (eep!) we usually have two out of three meals spoon fed most days. He just seems to get a bit frustrated with feeding himself sometimes! Lazy boy!
So how can you save when it comes time to wean? Well, here are five ideas I have picked up or used myself and have found save me money! Why not give them a try?
1. Make Your Own
I know I know, working mums feel hard pressed for time as it is, without trying to be a gourmet chef for little people who each have to eat something totally different! but hear me out.
When you’re cooking dinner and say, boiling some potatoes, why not just throw a steamer pan on top with some broccoli and carrot inside?
It only takes a few minutes, which you were already cooking during anyway, and afterwards takes maybe five minutes’ total to finish.
There is only one piece of kitchen kit I absolutely recommend for this, and that is a stick blender. This makes it so quick and easy to make smooth purees, and I mean smooth. You can get one for so cheap these days! I found the one I use to share with you, it’s just £15 at the moment!
All you need to do is put your steamed veggies in a bowl and blend until smooth, then scoop into an icecube tray and freeze. Once frozen pop the cubes into a ziplock bag and label with a marker, it’s that simple!
For his very first tastes I thought it might go over better if they were a little more ‘milky’ and mild, so I mixed in some baby rice. It can make the purees go further also but I only do it for the first few batches. You want them to try the real taste of the veggies, to avoid rejection once you give them the solid equivalent.
Some flavours I recommend for first tastes: carrot, broccoli, sweet potato, apricot, apple and pear, apple and banana.
2. Be overly cautious with portions
It’s easy to get overzealous with baby and even older kids portion sizes, we have a hard time picturing how small a baby’s tummy actually is and as such it is very easy to make far too much food up and end up wasting lots. For a reference, I found this handy chart with some good info, here.
Always start with less and add more, that way you can get a feel of what your baby is comfortable with. Also, when you first start weaning it is possible baby will take a dislike to a certain flavour, it is always best to keep other options on hand.
Don’t despair! You can reintroduce those flavours later. One thing I like about the ice cube method is the freedom you have to switch things up a bit.
An example dinner for Rhyd when he was first weaning would be say, 4 cubes savoury and 4 cubes sweet. I would grab different cubes to make combinations such as 2 cubes sweet potato, 1 cube carrot 1 cube broccoli, which always went down well, followed by 2 cubes banana and 2 cubes apple/banana, which was another popular combination.
To start with, why not try just two savoury cubes followed by 1 sweet to get a feel for things? If your little one is still acting hungry/interested pop some more cubes in the microwave! (Just remember to check thoroughly that the food is a safe temperature before feeding.)
There is also a super handy chart of signs your child is/is not interested in eating at the moment here.
Don’t forget, ‘food before one is just for fun!’ If you thought little one was ready but they seem to consistently reject food in favour of their usual milk, don’t sweat it! They might respond better after a brief hiatus, or might be more interested in the baby-led path later on.
3. Don’t be ashamed to have a backup stash in the cupboard
The morning is by far the hardest part of the day for me. As such I rarely, if ever, feel I have the time to relax and think about making elaborate cooked breakfasts.
The options are usually toast, cereal or porridge. Lately, we have also been taking advantage of Aldi croissants (a big bag is just £1!) Rhyd exclusively had powdered baby porridge for breakfast until more recently. I now try to give him solid food to feed himself for at least two meals a day.
I discovered pretty fast with Gray that I was not happy with the smell, price or look of jars in general. They seemed wasteful and… Not fresh. However, I needed something I hadn’t made myself to get started.
I bought some boxes of powdered ‘just add breast/formula milk’ baby rice and discovered there were other ‘meals’ that came in this form, hurrah! I have about five different flavours of baby porridge in my cupboard at all times.
It really is a life saver, but another reason I buy the boxes of ‘just add water’ stuff? They can be bought for as little as £1.50 (that I’ve found) and make on average a full seven breakfasts each. That’s seven meals, a whole week of breakfasts, for £1.50, whereas I’ve yet to see jars below 50p at the cheapest I found in a sale and they provided one meal. That would be three for £1.50 compared to seven!
Do not be ashamed of having those days where you cannot bring yourself to be organic earth mama. Do not be ashamed of yourself for needing, for whatever reason, to just give your baby the easy option some days. We all have days like that. They will be fine!
4. Be Organised
(It may seem a little odd being on a list about saving on food, but it goes hand in hand with points I make in both of my previous posts in this series, and it really does work).
I have a tub in my fridge that is specifically for Grays snacks and nothing else.
His cheese sticks, yoghurts, jelly tubs, rice pudding tubs etc, they all go in there together. This allows me to very clearly see how many snacks he has left and what kind.
The boys also have a designated cupboard in the kitchen that contains dry snacks such as crisps, biscuits, dried fruit and treats. Also baby porridges, spare bottles, sippy cups, snack tubs and a little tub full of child essentials such as medicine, vitamins and spare dummies.
I have found myself tempted to buy little man packs of kiddie biscuits because they are on sale, only to get home and find he already had half a dozen packs he still hasn’t eaten in the cupboard; now I keep them in their own place I can clearly see what he does and doesn’t have and save myself from unnecessary expense.
Keeping all the snacks together, (and if you have a toddler like me, in a high cupboard above the counter), also means being able to keep an eye on what your little one is eating during the day.
When Gray asks for a snack, he gets a choice between dry snack, fridge snack or fruit. Whenever he chooses biscuits or crisps, that option is removed next time, ensuring we avoid days where he has gorged on unhealthy foods.
5. Buy in Bulk
Now I don’t mean get a spare chest freezer or cupboard solely dedicated to giant bags of rice or sides of beef, for many of us these types of bulk buying are completely impossible, we simply don’t have space!
I’m talking about the little everyday things that are packaged and promoted as begin ‘for your convenience’ but cost too much to really be worth it.
Raisins are a favourite staple for young kids to snack on, but did you know you can buy a 1lb bag from the baking aisle for less than £2? And those little tiny cardboard boxes that go for 12 for £1 are usually roughly 25g each… That works out almost double the cost of the big bag!
All you have to do is pop a small handful into a snack tub and you’re good to go! (And helping the environment while you’re at it!) Small savings add up!
I also occasionally grab a big bag of cheesy goldfish crackers or the like from the pound shop. I’ve worked out these contain roughly 20 portions. At the supermarket, a 6 pack of crisps is usually £1. So this time, you’re looking at paying over triple the amount for the equivalent number of snacks!
Little changes really do make a huge difference. Buying a big bag and putting a small handful into a tub takes maybe 30 seconds longer than grabbing a bag out of the cupboard, really not a bad deal over all.
I hope these tips help you make a saving! Even if you’re already shopping economically, being organised in the kitchen is just something that makes me happy! I hope I’ve given you some good ideas to keep you happy in the kitchen too!
The book itself, Frugal Living for Lazy People, can be found on Amazon here. It is packed full of even more tips and tricks for saving money! Including recipes and an in depth Christmas saving guide! I am pleased to say it has already received some glowing reviews!