Thursday, November 11, 2010

Saving Money on Babies and Toddlers: Food

Children can be really expensive, but it doesn't have to be. Today starts a series on how to save money on those little bundles of joy. We'll start off with food.
  • Breastfeed. Breastfeeding is best, and a whole heck of a lot cheaper. 
  • Save on Formula. Some people cannot breastfeed for a variety of reasons. I myself had a ton of problems that resulted in our breastfeeding relationship ending at 6 weeks. Formula can be expensive. Really expensive. So what do you do? You have a few options. There are coupons. Sign-up with all the formula companies and they will send you coupons or formula checks. Pair them with a great sale, and you will save some cash. You'll also find tons of moms who are willing to give or trade away checks for the company they don't use. Another solution is asking the doctor for samples. Another solution is to try the store brand. Most store brands are made by the same company, so if it's onsale at Publix one week and Target the next, you can rest assured it's the same formula. My personal favorite was warehouse clubs. You can buy their house brand and get double the regular amount for the same price.
  • Solids. There are a few options to take here. Make your own, buy it, or a combination of the two. Making your own can be very cost effective, but can be time consuming. Buying it can cost money, but be less time consuming. Personally, I was about the combination of the two. There are times when you can get baby food really cheap (and even free!). When you buy produce in season, you can often make quite a bit of baby food out of it. Either way, use coupons/sales to reduce your costs.
  • Snacks. Older babies and toddlers love snacks. Cheerios is of course a favorite. Cheerios go on sale a lot, and often with coupons. I pretty much avoid the prepackaged snacks because they are often horribly over priced, and only buy them when they are super cheap (which is rare). Make your own snacks or stick to cheerios, goldfish, and the like.
  • Toddler Meals. Most of the time these just aren't worth it. Again they are horribly over priced. Toddlers can eat most of the foods you eat as long as it is cut up to their size. My only exception is the Gerber Pasta Pick-ups. I buy these when they are on-sale, and they are great for emergency kits or for when you need to be able to feed your toddler something quick or need to take a meal with you.
  • Baby/Toddler Juices. Most of the juices marketed to babies/toddlers are not much more than regular juice with more water. Toddlers are only really supposed to have 4-6 oz of juice a day. I personally just by 100% juice when it is on-sale and fill a sippy half-way then fill the other half with water. It lasts longer and costs less.
  • Eating Out. I tend to pick places where kids eat free or those under 2 eat free (most buffets). I hardly buy a kids meal for a toddler because they are often overpriced and half of it ends up on the floor. Instead I either use the aforementioned pasta pick-ups or feed them from my plate.
Hopefully these tips help! Let me know if you have any tips for saving money on babies and toddlers when it comes to food!
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