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First foods on a tight budget

Buying food can be expensive and now that there’s an extra mouth to feed you really need to watch those pennies. So make sure you have a good look at Healthy Start Vouchers and our support and benefits for parents page to see whether you might be due some extra financial help. With that in mind we’ve made sure all our ideas will help you cut costs without cutting the important stuff from your baby’s diet.

Easy recipes for first foods

Top tips for table tops:

Tip #1: Plan your budget and write a shopping list

Planning out your meals for the week and writing a shopping list can be a good way of saving money. It stops you buying things you don’t really want. Most supermarkets have a range of fruit and vegetables each week that they are promoting and selling at a reduced price. It’s also cheaper and good for the environment to buy fruits and veg which are locally produced and in season – and they usually taste better!

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Tip #2: Try to use as many of the foods available on the Best Start foods list as possible - Eggs and pulses (like beans, peas, and chickpeas)

They are a cheap way to get your baby eating great food. Make sure the eggs you use have the British Lion stamp. Pulses and Beans are also on the list and are very nutritious but also great to add to stews and soups if you are vegetarian but also make meat meals go further.

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Tip #3: Try tins or frozen fruit and vegetables.

The Best Start benefit enables you to buy fresh, frozen or tinned fruit and vegetables. Make sure that tinned fruits are in natural juices and the veg is in spring water. Buying frozen fruit and veg is cheaper than buying fresh. And you can select the amount you want to cook - so no waste!

It’s easy to make a healthy family meal from just tins - have you tried tuna fishcakes? Mash tinned potatoes and tuna together, then pan-fry to make fishcakes, and add a side of tinned green veg! Delicious, or try defrosting some blueberries and mixing with full-fat yogurt for a tasty dessert.

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Tip #4: Batch cooking and using the freezer.

Try cooking meals to enjoy over the course of the week or batch cook and freeze the extra portions. Chili’ and tomato pasta bakes are all good batch cooking meals. It might take 30 minutes one day to make, but only minutes to reheat in the microwave!

Use the freezer. Pop leftovers in the freezer and defrost on a day when you haven’t got the time to make a meal from scratch.

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Tip #5: Feeding the whole family.

Making the same meal for the whole family isn’t just quicker and cheaper, it will also let your baby see you all eat together which will help them to eat up too. Just make sure that your baby’s food doesn’t have any added salts or sugars.

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Tip #6: Check the sell-by dates.

Check the sell-by dates when you’re shopping to make sure food won’t be going out of date straightaway!

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Tip #7: Don’t buy pre-packaged baby foods.

They may look really easy to give to your baby, but they are very pricey compared to what you can make at home. They are also likely to have cheaper ingredients and be less tasty and nutritious than your homecooked foods.

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Tip #8: Swap cereals for porridge

Porridge made with full-fat pasteurised cow’s milk and added fruit is a tasty breakfast for a baby. Own label oats are cheaper than branded ones and often contain less salt and sugar.

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Tip #9: Get clever with yogurt.

If you have yogurt that’s near its best before date - try making this delicious frozen yogurt recipe.

  1. Line a small baking tray with cling film.
  2. Smooth the yogurt over the cling film.
  3. Decorate with any fruit you have around the house (could be frozen fruit).
  4. Pop in the freezer
  5. Remove from the tray and cling film.
  6. Cut into fun sized triangles g.
  7. Pop in freezer bag and freeze
  8. When main meals are being served to baby, pop a triangle out the freezer so it is a little defrosted (and easier to eat) for your baby’s pud. Yum!

You’ll find other easy to follow recipes for your baby to enjoy that don’t break the bank or need fancy cooking skills right here.

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Tips from parents:

"Be organised, do meal prep, persevere with textures and flavours, camera at the ready for the funny faces 😊"

"When all else fails, Porridge."​​​

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Food & Eating Weaning & First Foods Baby (0-1 years)

Last updated: 26 Jun, 2020