Having puréed and mushed my way through 2 babies’ breakfast lunches and dinners for the past 3 years, I thought I would share my thrifty shortcuts, here is my guide to Baby Mush in 10 top tips;

1. The equipment, despite the baby food experts advice all I have needed is a handblender, a large plastic measuring type jug (for blending in and pouring straight into the cubes/pots). Baby food cubes (pictured above) I used them for first weaning and still do even though Alice is a year old, larger pots with lids for bigger meals. A means to ‘steam’ I have a steamer pan that fits my saucepan and lid (but you can easily use a metal colander over a pan with a lid over the food) and a freezer,  an optional extra is a microwave (lazy defrosting, heating and steaming) but hot water works just as well.

2. I use frozen veg and fruit whenever I can,  this is good economy, it is usually cheaper to buy the more exotic fruits such as mango and blueberries this way and I never miss my window and find furry fruit that I have to throw out! I make fruit purées for breakfasts and mix these with a mixed grain porridge like ‘plum baby’ or ‘holle’ adding formula milk when Alice was under 6 months (we were advised to wean her at 4 months due to reflux, otherwise I would have waited till she was 6 months like Martha) then full fat cows milk over 6 months. Again for economy I mix the more exotic fruits with those like apple or banana (just like the bought ones), so I do a Mango & Apple and Blueberry & Banana (top tip get it in the freezer quick before the banana breaks down into liquid)  and then whatever fruits they have discounted at the supermarket. I also mix these with ‘ambrosia’ tinned custard for puddings. (another top tip, you can freeze ambrosia in cubes too for portion control and to cut down wastage again)

3. I also use a lot of dry goods, like lentils, pasta, rice, quinoa and dried fruits, again this is very economical and they have a really long shelf life so you always have some in.

4. For thrift, I usually feed Alice one meat and one veggie meal a day, although the ‘meat’ meal might be fish or quorn. I usually add some pulses or grains to this one for extra protein and wholesome goodness. I am a big fan of quinoa for this. Mine and Alice’s favourite of these is a ‘superfood’  mush, with sweet potato (2) carrot (2) apple (1) whacked in the steamer and in a seperate pan 50g quinoa and 250ml stock (1/2 a low salt cube chicken or veg). The quinoa is done when all the stock is absorbed and the curly ‘germ’ is visible. Then whizz it up adding some of the steamer water to thin it down a bit.

5. For mealtime ideas I just rip off the most successful jars. You will notice however when you start reading the ingredients list that usually the meat comes in a very small percentage of the mush itself, I tend to top this up to grown up meat to veg proportions. Also that they all contain some fruit to sweeten the deal, so I do just the same and will pop an apple/pear/sultanas or dried apricots (the organic brown ones) into most of the savoury dishes. One of my most successful is chicken (1 breast) with carrot (2), courgette (2), onion (1/2) and dried apricot (10), whack it all in the steamer – with the apricots in the water underneath after 15mins or so, decant into the measuring jug and whizz it up.

6. I also use my breadmaker to make fresh yummy, preservative and salt free bread. Our favourite is a speltish bread made with part strong white flour and part spelt (2:1). If I put the spelt in on top of the white flour on top of the water I can still use the delay function to have my bread ready for the morning, wholemeal bread usually doesn’t work on the delay as the flour sits on the water and gets too soggy or something, anyway it comes out like a house brick so this is my compromise. Spelt is easier on tummies than regular flour and usually suitable for people with wheat intolerance so think it should be nicer for babies too. Alice loves this bread and will put away almost a whole slice with her meals – so I tend not to put much carbs in the mush to account for this.

7. For snacks I prefer to offer Breadsticks and Cream Crackers instead of the ‘baby’ snacks on the market if you read the ingredients they are no higher in salt or sugar than the ‘baby’ ones and a great deal cheaper. I also use sultanas instead of raisins (they are just juicier) and I decant the big baking size bags into smaller pots or bags when out and about. Also salt and sugar free easy peasy homemade popcorn, just put a small handful of the unpopped kernels into a big plastic bowl with a lid and pop in the microwave for 2mins.

8. I also mush up lazy grown up foods like low salt and sugar baked beans (with grilled quorn sausages) and fishfingers and peas. It gives Alice a chance to get to know the meals her sister eats so I don’t have to cook seperate meals for them when Alice is bigger.

9. I try to do all my grocery shopping online, it’s for winners! I can sit at the computer on a Sunday evening with a glass of wine and do my shopping with no kiddy hassle, and I am sure I save at least the delivery charge in kiddy bribes alone! I am sure I spend alot less money as I can check my cupboards to see what I actually need and I can put everything in my ‘trolley’ for a recipe or meal in one go without having to remember what I am shopping for from one aisle to another. AND as I can see it all adding up as I go I am much more thrifty when I am shopping online. Then a lovely chap turns up on a Tuesday morning and brings it all to my front door – brilliant!

10. I enjoy it, I love preparing feeding my kids homecooked foods – even if it does all end up dropped on the floor or smeared into the highchair, or as was Martha’s speciality ‘raspberried’ back into my face! It is SO much cheaper and I am sure better for them than the bought jars and pouches you get in the shops!

I hope that you find this post informative, but welcome any other mum’s top tips too, please share yours with me?