Cheap & Quick Baby Meal Inspiration
Food is too expensive, let’s face it. However, we can’t feed our kids fresh air, so we are faced with added expense and preparation time once baby starts to wean.
I’ve picked up some tricks along the way and want to share them with YOU to help other families save pennies and time. I enjoy cooking (which really helps) and strongly feel that ANYONE can cook up delicious meals using healthy ingredients for very cheap.
My main tips:
- Try to cook the same meal for everyone where possible – just don’t salt the meal.
- LURK at the supermarket for the hour before closing time – the reduced fridge holds a bounty of goodies that you can freeze for another day.
- Buy a chest freezer if your main freezer isn’t very big. Best investment ever.
- Don’t look down your nose at ‘bargain’ supermarkets – Lidl, Aldi, Iceland, Farmfoods, Fulton Foods et al… they are amazing!
- MEAL PLAN. Try not to deviate.
- Set a strict budget.
- Don’t be drawn in by labels – ‘organic’, ‘non-GMO’, ‘healthiest’… all marketing gimmicks designed to scare consumers into choosing that particular product over standard products.
- Batch cook and freeze!
- Always keep some vegetables in the freezer!
Here are my favourite recipe ideas – aimed for 6 months plus as per the NHS guidelines. If you’re weaning earlier (please don’t unless advised by a paediatrican or dietican, NOT a GP or Health Visitor) I advise getting a good blender, lots of green veg, some coloured veg and some fruit, and trying one at a time to check for allergic reactions. Avoid gluten and dairy before 6 months – baby rice, porridge, rusk etc.
We spend about £60 every 10-14 days, working out at only £120-£180 a month for 2 adults and a toddler. Admittedly there is the odd takeway on top of that but generally speaking we get LOTS of filling and nourishing meals from this budget and we ALWAYS without fail have something we can whip up quickly at short notice. Yeah, we could spend less but we eat lots of meat!
Best supermarket, in my opinion?
Aldi! Hands down.
The beauty of BLW (baby-led weaning) is that the nomming world is their oyster.
As long as food is cut into finger sized pieces, and eating is supervised (oh and no honey!), you’re good to go! Even if they’re still gummy!
Breakfast: toast, crumpets, pancakes, sliced fruit, sliced egg, scrambled eggs… think texture! They WILL make a mess but that is all part of the experience.
Lunch: finger sandwiches with dairylee, cucumber/carrot/pepper sticks, sticks of mild cheese, slices of tender meat, segments of orange.
Dinner: pasta lightly coated in tomato and herb puree is fun for them – particularly spaghetti! Sliced tender meat, healthy baby pitta pizza (recipe here), pinwheels (recipe here), stew/casserole with excess sauce or gravy drained off to allow them to feed themselves with their hands if you’re doing a one-pot-dinner, potato wedges, rice (good for their fine motor skills)… I could literally go on forever. Be adventurous!
ALL of these ingredients are bog standard, no-frills, cheap items you can easily access in any supermarket – if you plan your family’s meals for the week, you can reduce waste and cut costs by feeding everyone the same and just altering baby’s portion by ensuring no salt is added and any choking risks are removed. Simple! 🙂
As we had to wean early (paediatrican and dietican advice), we didn’t get to do the BLW route. Once Max hit 6 months we transitioned onto finger foods BUT he just didn’t like it… we now spoon feed his main meals and offer finger food for snacks, which works for us all. Traditional weaning is a combination of finger foods and spoon feeding.
Snacks: this can be applied to BLW too. Bananas are dead cheap, tasty, filling and nutritious so always always always buy a big bunch! Supermarket own brand crisps are excellent – I find organix to be stupidly expensive plus ‘organic’ is a marketing and sales gimmick, organic farming still uses pesticides and is no different to non-organic once the produce has been washed. The only true organic produce is from your own garden where you can watch it and ensure no nasty chemicals have been used. As long as you check salt content, supermarket branded snack products are GREAT!
Breakfast: weetabix with added raspberries/blueberries/strawberries/banana, sliced toast if you’re wanting to diversify by adding some finger foods, porridge, scrambled eggs.
Lunch & Dinner: Baked potato (sweet potato is amazing) with reduced salt supermarket branded beans and/or cheese, pasta with tomato sauce made from puree (which you can get dead cheap anywhere) or even just cheese and frozen veg mixed in… if you batch cook and have lots of meals frozen, you can alternate menus between lunch and dinner – this is what I do! We have a freezer full of cheaply made vegetable and meat casseroles, pasta, vegetable curry & rice… makes life easy!
FREEZER BINGO is our favourite game in this house. It’s astonishing what you can make if you ensure you buy the right kinda stuff every now and then. I always freeze any excess meat and veg, which allows us to make Max a quick healthy dinner if me and his dad want something too spicy for him for our dinner.
The rice and sauce were both on offer! I had some spare chicken breast meat in the freezer and some frozen veg stockpiled… we got 2 portions out of the rice, sauce, veg and chicken breast! The sauce was on offer for £1 as was the rice. Next time I reckon I’ll just use normal rice as it’ll be cheaper per portion. I like the sauce as its less salty than standard korma sauce and I don’t always have time to make sauce from scratch!
You can read more about Little Dish here!
You can read more about Tilda Kids rice here!
Mince and tatties
Minced beef is pretty cheap if you portion it and freeze it. I got 8 portions out of one pack of reduced 15% fat steak mince – £1.25! Good natural fats are good for growing kids so I’m not worried about the fat content.
It was £2.25 for 2 lamb leg steaks (Aldi I think) – I added a stew pack and made some mash and low salt gravy, and made a big lamb stew to feed the 3 of us until we were busting! A little dollop of mint sauce (supermarket own branded mint sauce is usually about 4op) really seals the deal!
Mediterranean fish cous cous
I find Aldi’s fish cheap and excellent quality. I froze a spare fillet from an earlier dinner – defrosted, simmered in tomato puree, added some diced red pepper, dried Mediterranean and garlic (flavour doesn’t have to cost the earth, dried herbs and garlic costs very little but goes a long way!), and allowed it to simmer. I then added some cous cous – this stuff is AMAZING, filling and very cheap. Lentils would be a good swap too. A squeeze of lemon, a handful of peas, a good stir and we got a lovely healthy dinner in 15 minutes!
Trust me – your freezer and Aldi are your best friends, both for feeding your baby delicious healthy meals and for your purse/wallet!
I hope that this helped!