Supermarkets usually have at least one aisle dedicated a wide array of baby and toddler foods, which is highly convenient when you need to bung baby food into your trolley as you dash through the shop with a grumpy child threatening to sky dive out of his trolley seat.
But when you have a little more time on your hands it's fruitful to venture away from the baby aisle, as you can find some excellent baby food - which is not even marketed for babies and often will save you a few pennies to boot.
Here are some foods I've discovered while weaning my twins that I wouldn't be without.
1. Co Yo Coconut Milk Yogurt
This is yogurt made from coconut milk rather than cow's milk. Most babies seem to love yogurt (it would feature at every meal in our house if my boys had their way), and this is an alternative way to give them that creamy texture, but with a different set of nutrients to real yogurt. We like the Mixed Berry and Natural flavours (on their own, or mixed with fruit).
2. Kallo Organic Very Low Salt Stock Cubes
These have the same ingredients and nutritional values as the "baby" stock cubes you can buy (to avoid giving your little ones salt). In fact I'd be very surprised if they aren't identical products in different packaging - oh, and at different prices. Add the word "baby" and it costs about 30p more for a pack of six cubes. I use these stock cubes to cook for both adults and children and no one has ever complained about missing the salt.
3. Ready Brek
When we were children, I'm sure most of us went to school with this in our tummies, but did you know this stuff is actually healthy! If they'd told us there was no added sugar and salt I expect we might have rejected it in favour of Frosties. It takes moments to make (stir in some milk, heat it up if you're feeling generous) and also costs far, far less than similar instant porridges marketed at babies.
4. Mornflake Oatbran
Mix a couple of teaspoons with whole milk and simmer in a pan for a couple of minutes to make a smooth, creamy porridge. Tip: Make it really liquidy, because it thickens A LOT as it cools. You can also use oatbran to thicken other dishes if they're a bit runny.
5. Meridian Smooth Peanut Butter
Unlike most other peanut butters, this one doesn't contain any added sugar, salt or oil. It's literally just peanuts. Nice on toast or in bite-size sandwiches, or do as we do in our house, and just nick it off the children. Guidelines are for babies to avoid any nuts until they're six months old, so save this until they are a little older.
6. Yeo Valley Natural Yogurt
It might seem odd to recommend a particular natural yogurt, but this one tastes, well, less yogurty than other ones we've tried. Which means that our twins will wolf it down without anything else added to it. Even the "sugar free" baby yogurts I've tried usually contain concentrated fruit juice and taste very sweet. I'm glad I've found an alternative that my babies accept, so they can get the calcium and other nutrients I'm trying to get into them, without adding to their liking for sweet foods.
7. Tesco Reduced Salt Medium Cheese
There's 30 per cent less salt in this cheese than standard cheddar. it's still pretty salty (1.4g salt per 100g compared to around 1.8g in standard medium cheese), which is the nature of cheese, but it's certainly a step in the right direction when you're feeding cheese to babies.
Jackie Novels is a mum of twins with a passion for cooking. The Meals for Squeals blog covers weaning, cooking for babies and toddlers.
Blogs at: Meals for Squeals.
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