Cost Comparison: Baby Food

One of the most exciting steps you will take as your baby grows is introducing solids to him. It’s kind of fun to see the expression on baby’s face and to find out what he will do with a spoon. But the options for giving baby solids is somewhat overwhelming. You have to decide what age he will start eating, what he will eat, and whether you give him fresh or jarred. I want to help you make that choice easier by sharing my own experience with homemade baby food, and that’s why today I’m delving into the costs of baby food.

Pssst! You can see all my homemade baby food posts right here.

I haven’t done a cost comparison since Thanksgiving when I compared the cost of canned and fresh pumpkin puree. So I’ve really been itching to do another one, and I am so excited to share what I found about the cost of homemade baby food vs the cost of jarred baby food.

On the fence about whether you should make or buy baby food? Here's a detailed cost comparison that can help you see the price difference and other factors to consider before you take one side or the other.
© tycoon101 / Dollar Photo Club

Cost to Buy vs. Make Baby Food

To make this comparison a lot smoother and easy to follow, I will only be comparing the cost of Gerber baby food from 3 different stores:

Walmart
Amazon.com
Target

For the homemade baby food costs, I am using all the data I gathered while feeding my daughter from 6 months through 11 months. All of this data can be found in the homemade baby food series starting HERE. I wish I had time to find out the costs of those purees more accurately, but I really think the data I gathered offers wonderful insight into how much you can expect to pay for homemade baby food.

Cost of Jarred Baby Food

In January I went to Walmart to write down the prices of jarred baby food. It took a lot longer than I expected, so instead of going to Target to gather prices I just went online. I got prices from Amazon in February and prices from Target just this week. I doubt the prices for baby food fluctuate too much, which is why I didn’t get all the prices at once. Plus, it really does take a lot of time to check all the prices.

Let’s do this!

On the fence about whether you should make or buy baby food? Here's a detailed cost comparison that can help you see the price difference and other factors to consider before you take one side or the other.Gerber 1st foods came out to an average price per ounce of $0.31 for the three stores. Amazon had the most expensive at $0.43 and Walmart and Target tied at $0.20 per ounce each.

Gerber 2nd foods was $0.32 per ounce on average with Walmart being the cheapest ($0.15 per ounce) and Amazon the most expensive ($0.30 per ounce). The meat baby food for 2nd foods was most expensive on Amazon for $0.77 per ounce, while Walmart’s costs just $0.39 per ounce.

Gerber 3rd foods was the cheapest category for some reason costing only $0.18 per ounce on average at the three stores. Both Walmart and Target have them for as little as $0.12 per ounce, but Target also offers a more expensive kind for $0.30 per ounce.

Finally, Gerber rice cereal and oatmeal came out to an average of $0.39 per ounce at Walmart, Target, and Amazon. Amazon and Target actually came out the cheapest at $0.22 per ounce, but Amazon also had the most expensive at $0.95 per ounce for whole wheat rice cereal.

Overall, the average for jarred baby food at the three stores was $0.27 per ounce and the average for rice cereal and oatmeal was $0.27 per ounce as well (I threw out the two most expensive because I don’t know why you would pay so much when you can get it cheaper at both Target and Walmart).

I’m just making a wild guess here, but I did some calculations and figured that by purchasing the cheapest priced baby food you could spend over $300 for the six months you are feeding your baby. And lots of people actually start feeding their babies at 4 months, so it could be more like $400+!

Cost of Homemade Baby Food

As I was making my daughter’s baby food, from July 2014 to January 2015, I kept track of how much I spent on all of it. It was a tedious process and I spent plenty of hours doing calculations, but now I get to share all that data with you to come out with my conclusion.

From apples down to quinoa, I listed the total cost, the # of ounces produced, and the cost per ounce in the chart on this PDF file. The average price for all of these foods came out to just 14.7 cents per ounce. That’s 12.3 cents per ounce cheaper than buying it. Keep in mind it is an average, so half of the foods cost less per ounce and half cost more per ounce.

The least expensive food I made for Bella was oatmeal at just 2.4 cents per ounce. The salmon was the priciest at 37.4 cents per ounce.

I want to remind you that I don’t shop with coupons and I rarely shop around. If there is a sale, I’ll take advantage of it if I need the food, otherwise, I don’t shop sales either. In other words, you can definitely make baby food for cheaper if you are smart about grocery shopping.

Here is the amount of money I spent making baby food from the first month down through the sixth month:

  • $4.82 for 25 days
  • $7.94 for 33 days
  • $16.11 for 33 days
  • $20.95 for 33 days
  • $20.07 for 33 days
  • $39.42 for 30 days

I spent $109.31 for 6 months worth of baby food! That’s less than $20 per month. Now doesn’t that look way more appealing than spending upwards of $300?

It’s obvious that if you have a baby who needs more food that you could spend twice as much as I did. Or you could spend less, especially if you are a savvy grocery shopper.

Pros and Cons of Both Sides

I’d like to bring up some things you should consider for both sides:

Jarred Baby Food
  • There are other ingredients listed on the label.
  • Your baby may not enjoy the taste and/or the food may taste really different from the fresh version.
  • Commercial baby food is processed at very high temperatures in order to kill bacteria. That said, many nutrients can be lost with your baby losing out.
  • You have to remember to buy the food while you are shopping.
  • Baby doesn’t have to eat the whole jar. Follow your baby’s hunger cues for giving him the correct amount.
  • It’s highly convenient and doesn’t require you to do anything more than pop the top.
  • You get a collection of jars to keep and do what you would like with.
Homemade Baby Food
  • You know exactly what is in it because you made it.
  • You can make it with organic produce and meat and add your own spices, too.
  • Your baby will be able to taste fresh food.
  • You decide the method of preparation for the food. Fortunately, you don’t have to overcook it in order to be safe.
  • Your shopping list will become much longer (and you’ll definitely have to add your baby’s meals to the meal plan so you remember what she is eating each day).
  • It’s really easy to give baby the correct amount of food because you can start out with a small amount and add more as needed.
  • You will spend a good amount of time making baby food. I spent less than 3 hours per month making Bella’s baby food.
  • You can freeze a lot of the baby food if you can’t use it in time.

It is highly satisfying, in my opinion, to give your baby food that you spent time and effort preparing. All in all, I can say that, for me, homemade baby food is worth it.

Linked to: Thrifty Thursday and Frugal Friday

If you’d like details on my homemade baby food adventures, check out all the posts here.

Want to start your baby on fresh, real food?

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Get a FREE chapter from my new ebook, Raising a Child with Variety: The Baby Stage. The book has all the details to get you started feeding your baby solids from your own kitchen. Plus, there are tons of printables to help you get organized!

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Comments

  1. The ingredients list ALWAYS freaks me out. You’ve always been the best teacher when it comes to making your own baby food- I think my creepy future baby pinterest board consists of 2 random articles and 45454 of your baby food recipes lol So if I have you as a resource, I don’t need any of that jar stuff! LOL

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  1. […] purees around 6 months old. I know I saved money over buying jarred baby food, because with Bella I did a cost comparison and found it to be about $200 cheaper overall. Those savings may not seem significant to you unless you are trying to save as much money as […]

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