Archive for the ‘Baby Food’ Category

Many pediatricians recommend rice cereal as a standby, but conflicting information is emerging about making homemade porridge or feeding baby pureed avocados.  What did you first feed your little one and how was it received?  Did you get lots of advice from friends and family?  What seemed to work best?  Thanks for sharing your wisdom!

While most families want to feed their baby organic baby food, cost can sometimes be a barrier.  Did you splurge on organic meals for baby?  Did you find a way to offset the cost by making your own organic purees or harvesting produce from a family garden?  If you did buy prepared organic baby food, where did you find the best deals and the best quality? Thanks for sharing your wisdom with us this weekend!

My life has become a bit easier this year with the addition of a freezer and makeshift pantry in our garage.  What a difference!  I’ve cut my grocery shopping trips down to one or two per month and been able to stock up on sale foods at peak times.  Our membership to a CSA fills in the fresh food gaps with local organic produce each week.

Since my state of mind has shifted toward stocking up, I realize that now is a great time to purchase sale priced products that will last for months.  After studying a few grocery store flyers, I’ve found myself stocking up on the following items:

Baking supplies: It’s a great time to load up on flour, spices (although they are cheaper and eco-friendlier if you can get them in bulk) , and chocolate chips.  Even baking sheets and pie pans are available at a discount over the next month or so.

Turkey and Tofurky: Both of these items can be purchased at fabulous prices at this time of year,frozen, and used later in the winter.  According to Turtle Island Foods, makers of the tofu-based tofurky roast, it can be frozen for up to a year before being used.  Trader Joes has some excellent prices on natural turkeys and  a few local grocers even have free range birds at great discounts.

Seasonal produce: Squash, sweet potatoes, onions and apples are all on sale now and can be stored for months in a cool, dry location.  If you store them separately (so that they aren’t touching one another) they’ll last much longer.  Also look for cans of organic pumpkin and jars of applesauce which both work as cheap organic baby food too!  

What are your grocery shopping tips for holiday savings?  Have you already purchased your groceries for the big meal next week?  Are you in charge of Thanksgiving dinner this year or can you happily just show up with an adorable baby at someone else’s table?  For your sake, I heartily hope it’s the latter.   

Thanks for joining us this week for Thrifty Green Thursday.  If you have a simple tip for saving the planet and a few bucks, please click here to jump right in.  We’d love to have you! 

Don’t forget to post a comment before Friday for a chance to win a Natural Pod organic t-shirt or onesie!

Back when I wrote my Fattening Baby, Naturally post, I was searching for alternatives to Pediasure.   Although Audrey’s pediatrician wanted her to drink Pediasure in order to gain some weight, I hesitated giving her something with non-organic dairy products, artificial flavors, sugar, and maltodextrin.  I ended up doing all sorts of things to boost the calories and fat in her diet, and I also made a discovery: MLO brown rice protein powder.

A 24-oz container of the powder costs about $10.  I found it in the health food section of my local grocery store.  It’s gluten-free, vegan, and contains two simple ingredients: rice protein concentrate and rice bran.  As rice is often a first food for babies, it seemed like the perfect thing to add to her food without bombarding her with unnatural or unhealthful ingredients.

Two rounded tablespoons contain 110 calories, 1 gram of fat, and 15 grams of protein, as well as some calcium, iron, phosphorus, and magnesium.  Back when I spoon-fed Audrey, I usually just put a tablespoon in her daily allotment of oatmeal.  Recently I added some to some popsicles I made out of oranges and bananas.  The back of the box has a smoothie recipe, but I find it too gritty for smoothies.

Now, I’ll issue the standard disclaimer that I am not a doctor or a nutritionist.  I’m just a mother who wanted to find some natural ways to plump my baby up–and this brown rice powder ended up being a great little discovery.  For more Works for Me Wednesday ideas, check out Rocks in My Dryer.

Organic Formulas–Worth the Price?

We’ve written a bit about breastfeeding and introducing cow’s milk, but what about infant formulas?  If you chose to feed your baby formula, how did you pick the brand?  Did you go with conventional formula or decide on an organic formula?

With so many organic products on store shelves, I was surprised to find very few organic formulas on the market:

Nature’s One Baby’s Only Organic Formula ($8.99 for 12.7 oz container–$.71/oz.) Note: This product claims to be a “toddler formula” and is not recommended for babies under twelve months old.

Earth’s Best Organic Formula ($14.95 for 13.2 oz container–$1.13/oz.)

Similac Organic Formula ($29.99 for 25.7 oz container–$1.17/oz.)

Bright Beginnings Organic Formula($149.95 for six 25.7 oz containers–$.97/oz.) Note: This brand appears to be available only online by the case.

There’s no doubt organic formula costs more than conventional formula.  A 12.9 oz. can of regular Similac costs $14.99 at Walgreens ($.86/oz.), and if you buy generic brands, it’s even cheaper.  Is it worth it to pay more for  formula that isn’t made with pesticides, hormones, and other chemicals?  If you, our readers, have had any experience with these or other organic formulas, please post a comment and let us know what you think!

Green and Clean Mom reveals that baby carrots are dipped in bleach to prevent those pesky white spots.  It looks like switching over to full-size carrots might be the way to go.

Also at Green and Clean Mom, I found a discussion about paying for trash: how do you pay for it?  If trash pick-up is paid by taxpayers, there is not much incentive for people to recycle or reduce the amount they toss each week.   Some people have to pay extra for recycling–yet pay very little for up to four bags of trash a week!   I guess I am a bit of a stickler about this issue.  I think the system should be set up so that recycling and community composting is mandatory and people have to pay for how much heads to a landfill.

This whole garbage discussion originated over at Enviromom, who issued a One Can a Month challenge last July.   Even if your city offers no incentives for reducing the amount of trash throw away, you can still find ways to reduce the amount you consume.  Enviromom has several ideas for cutting down  the amount of garbage you generate, room by room.

And speaking of Enviromom, The Green Baby Guide was proud to be featured along with this great Portland-based website in the special baby issue of Metro Parent.  You can read it online–we’re in the article called “Growing a ‘Green’ Baby.”

Despite my claim to hate buying in bulk, I was intrigued by Call Her Blessed’s post about making a HUGE vat of salsa.  She divides it up into dozens of jars and keeps it in her fridge for months.   You could also can the salsa, but she says this changes the flavor a bit.  I am now inspired to whip up a cauldron of salsa of my own!

Maybe Joy’s Thrifty Green ThursdayUsing a Pantry to Save Time, Money, and the Planet” post has influenced me just a bit, because I found myself reading Happy to Be at Home‘s Freezer Cooking 101 tutorial with interest.  Very strange, considering my twin dislikes of bulk buying and thawed out food.  (I discussed this a bit in my Eco-friendly and Budget-friendly Alternatives to Takeout post.)

Please let me know what you think about any one of these issues by posting a comment!

I like to make these pumpkin bars in the fall because they seem a bit more nutritious than normal cookies yet still taste delicious.  These soft pumpkin bars have just four tablespoons of butter and ¾ cups sugar–you’d need  two sticks of butter (16 TBS) and 1 ½ cups sugar for a batch of chocolate chip cookies.  Plus, these contain a vegetable!  I’ve made them with different winter squashes and even carrots, with good results.

Pumpkin Bars

1 ¾ cups flour
2 tsp baking powder
½ tsp salt
1 tsp cinnamon
¼ tsp nutmeg
¼ tsp ginger
4 TBS butter
¾ cup sugar
2 large eggs
½ cup unsweetened applesauce
¾ cups pumpkin puree (home-cooked or canned)

Heat oven to 350 degrees.  Grease a 9 x 13″ pan.

Combine the dry ingredients and set aside.

In a large bowl, cream the butter and sugar on medium speed with an electric mixer.   Add the eggs, beat in the applesauce and pumpkin until well-mixed.  Add the dry ingredients and combine well. 

Pour the batter into the pan and bake for 18-22 minutes, until a toothpick comes out clean.  Cool and cut into squares.

To make this recipe relevant to the Green Baby Guide, I would like to note that if you puree your own pumpkin, little waste will be produced in the creation of this treat.  Also, babies will like them.

The Hidden Costs of Breastfeeding

Before my daughter was born, I knew I wanted to try breastfeeding for all the usual reasons: breast milk is nutritionally perfect for a newborn and helps promote bonding between mother and child.  I’ve got to admit, though, that a big motivation was the idea that it was free!   For that reason alone, I’m glad that breastfeeding ended up working out for us.

A couple days ago I became aware of something I’d never thought about before: the hidden costs of breastfeeding.  Now, breastfeeding is generally much cheaper than formula, which can set parents back $1000 to $2300 in baby’s first year–but it isn’t exactly free.   Working mothers may need to pay for a breast pump and bottles out of pocket if insurance doesn’t cover it, which can cost hundreds of dollars.  My hospital had lactation consultants that were paid for by the county, but some women spend upwards of $1000 for lactation consultants if they’re having trouble with their supply or the baby’s latch.

Then there’s the food.  A breastfeeding woman needs to add 500 calories to her diet to keep up a good supply.  How much do 500 calories cost?  Well, a huge five-ounce serving of plain pasta costs $.31. At about $1 a pound, that’s one of the cheapest foods around.   If you supplement your diet with 500 calories of pasta every day for a year, you’ll pay  $114 more on food that year.  Not bad–except who wants to eat that much pasta?  (Me.  Maybe.)  Adding 500 calories of lean proteins and organic vegetables to your diet will end up costing much more.

I know exactly how I got those extra calories while I was breastfeeding: lattes and pastries.  Practically every day I would stroll on down to the coffee shop for a coffee drink made with whole milk and some little treat to tide me over.  While I should have been eating salads and whole grains, I craved carbs, sugar, and butter!  Moreover, I craved the little bit of social interaction my coffee shop jaunts provided.  Okay, so let’s say I spent an average of $3 a day on coffee and pastries–that’s $1095 on food I needed to nurse my baby.  The amount is staggering, especially considering how proud I was to spend under $800 on baby gear, including diapering costs!

So what are some ways to defray the hidden costs of breastfeeding?  Here are some ideas:

1. Check with your insurance company to see what kinds of benefits you may be eligible for as a nursing mother.  Also, look around for free breastfeeding resources.  Kelly Mom has great information online, and La Leche League holds meetings all over the world.

2. Ask your hospital or birthing center if they rent breast pumps, which may be cheaper than buying one yourself.  Joy borrowed an electric pump from family members and bought her own tubing.

3. As for the added calories you’ll need as a nursing mother, just being mindful of the extra expense can help you budget for the food and nutrients you need. I could have easily baked my own treats and limited my coffee shop expenditures. Even better, I could have tried to keep more cheap and nutritious snacks around (like wholegrain toast, carrot sticks, or homemade muffins) so I didn’t resort to pastries in the first place.

Now that I’m aware of the hidden costs of breastfeeding, I feel fortunate for the nursing support I received as a new mom.  Also, I can’t really complain about needing  to eat an extra 500 calories a day.  Ah, how I miss the days of lattes and pastries!

Finding Free Organic Produce

Blackberries ripen in the August sun, cherries plop onto neighbors’ lawns, and squash crops overwhelm backyard gardeners.  There is nothing I love more than taking advantage of summer’s opportunities for hand-picked fruit—especially when it’s free, organic, and grown locally. 

Here are my favorite food finding tips:

Wild berries: Blackberries seem to be a national favorite but huckleberries, salmon berries, and thimbleberries are just a few of the other choices available here in Oregon. I usually call our city maintenance department to check about which areas are being sprayed, ask about berry hot spots, and end up picking loads of free organic berries! I slather my clan up with sunscreen and scramble out the door in the morning hours before the sun zaps our enthusiasm.  Then we freeze the berries or make them into jam to last through the winter months.

Fruit trees: My goal is to load up with fruit from a neglected apple tree this year. When I see a tree with rotten fruit under it, I shall screw up my courage, knock on the door and ask if I can pick some.  (My son’s charm might help.)  Even if the homeowner wants to use the fruit, chances are he or she will reach a point of saturation with fresh cherries/apples/pears.  Also, here in Oregon, we have the Portland Fruit Tree Project, which helps save urban fruit from rotting away on city sidewalks. You can check out their website to donate to their cause or to join a local harvesting party.  A large portion of the fruit they save goes to vulnerable people who need healthy, organic food.  In other areas, try to call city maintenance to see where city-owned fruit trees are located.

Tomatoes, zucchini, squash and other garden faire: Although it’s wonderful to grow a prolific garden, slogging through twenty pounds of summer squash in a few weeks is no easy task.  On the first days of September, my fellow teachers often leave heaping boxes of squash, tomatoes and zucchini in our staff room for the taking.  It’s worth it to let your friends and family know that you’ll welcome their garden overflows and then sit back and enjoy the unique flavor of a homegrown food.   You may be inspired to grow your own garden next year!

Damaged fruit:  According to Parade Magazine, grocery stores toss an estimated $20 billion worth of food annually.  While it might be tough to get large chain stores to offer you a discount on imperfect produce, independent grocery stores sometimes have a damaged fruit and veggie section.  If not, ask the manager if you can get produce for free or for a discounted rate when it needs to be removed from store shelves for disposal.  You can always cut away the bad sections and use the rest to make soups or sauces. 

By picking the food yourself or saving it from the grocery store dumpster, you’ll be cutting your costs and ensuring that local food doesn’t go to waste.  Instead of buying kiwis from Chile next January, you can happily pull those local blackberries out of the freezer for a low-emissions, no-cost treat!

Every week the Green Baby Guide will be hosting the Thrifty Green Thursday Blog Carnival.  If you have a blog and some thrifty green ideas of your own, please join us!  See this post for details.

Oats were one of Audrey’s first favorite foods.  I’ve written a few times about the porridge I made for her as a little baby when I needed to fatten her up.  Once she was about fifteen months old, I started making her normal oatmeal for breakfast.  She has astounded me with her capacity for oatmeal.  Today I gave her a full adult serving (1 cup cooked) and she ate the entire bowl!  Normally, though, I will cook ¾ cups of dry oats for us both.  That will yield about a cup of cooked oats for me and a half cup for her.

So what is thrifty and green about our breakfast?  I buy oats in the bulk section.  Organic oats cost about $1.00/lb.  I can sometimes find conventional oats for $.50/lb. on sale.  That means our ¾ cup (2.25 ounces, according to my scale) of organic oats cost just fourteen cents!  I add some dried apricots and a little brown sugar, which boost up the price, but oats still end up being much cheaper than most other breakfasts.  And, by resisting convenience foods such as instant oatmeal packs, freezer waffles, or toaster pastries, we’re avoiding wasteful packaging.

Oats for Two

¾ cup rolled oats (not quick oats)
1 ½ cup water

Four or five dried apricots, cut into pieces

Put the ingredients in a microwave-safe bowl and zap for two minutes*.  Stir.  Cook for 1.5 minutes longer and stir again.  Spoon a portion of the oats into a smaller bowl for the baby.  Top with brown sugar and eat!

*Note: our microwave is not very strong.  Cooking times will vary depending on your microwave.  You can also cook the oats on a stovetop, of course.

For more Works for Me Wednesday ideas, check out Rocks in My Dryer.  Bon appétit!

The Eco-nomical Baby Guide
Eco-nomical Baby Guide
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