Parents Learn to Make Baby Food, Save on Grocery Bills 

Catherine Pegram

As Mainers look for ways to save money, some parents are cutting back on commercial baby food and making their own.For the first time, the UMaine Cooperative Extension is offering classes to show people how.Eight-month-old Marcus is a healthy eater – though peas don’t appear to be one of his favorite foods. His mom, Mary Doughty of Searsport, says she’s concerned about everything that goes in Marcus’ mouth. So she’s learning to make his meals herself. “I just know what’s going in the baby food and that puts me at ease that I know there’s not stuff in it that’s gonna harm him.”Nicholas Grover of Hudson, who has a three-month-old, is brushing up on his skills in the kitchen for another reason. “You know with today’s economy, help save money you know, making food at home – save on the grocery bill.”Kate Yerxa with the UMaine Cooperative Extension office says help for making baby food is a top request these days.That’s why the office is offering these first-time classes.”You can save 20 to 40 cents per ounce by making your own baby food and by multiplying that by seven, for a week or by a month of by year – you’re going to add up some significant savings.”And it doesn’t mean a lot of extra time in the kitchen. “Just purchasing maybe four or five apples or four or five peaches baking or boiling them – you don’t necessarily have to puree them right away. You can put them in the fridge and come back to them in a hour or so but really the baking time – you’re not there in the kitchen while it’s baking.”Yerxa says making baby food may add another hour or two a week to meal prep.But for many parents, it also adds satisfaction, making it well worth the time. “A lot of families are very busy and just by planning on making your own baby food or even trying, it gives you that little step in the right direction if you just want to enhance your family, family meals, that time with your children.”The Extension service is offering two more baby food classes this month – along with one in November and December.For more information call 581-3445.