Ten Ways to Use Leftover Baby Food
Is it just me, or does anyone else have jars and boxes of baby food hanging around that didn’t get used before their fast-growing babies lost interest in them? Or even purees you made from scratch that’s just taking up space in your freezer? My daughter never really cared for purees or cereals at all, and my son had a brief period of loving them before he decided that he just wanted to feed himself solid things that he could hold.
As a result, I wound up with a shelf full of pureed fruits, veggies, meats and baby oatmeal and no babies wanting to eat them. I’m sure I’m not the only one to experience this, and since I hate throwing perfectly good food away, here are some ideas for how to make sure that extra baby food doesn’t go to waste!
1. Donate. A quick internet search should let you know if a local food bank, church, or infant crisis center is in need of unopened baby food to give to families who need it. Or, if you personally know someone who could use it, of course, passing it on to a friend or family member is always an option.
2. Make baby cereal cookies. Rice cereal and oatmeal don’t have a lot of nutritional value by themselves, but you can make a nutritious and convenient snack out of them to take with you when you’re on-the-go. My kids really enjoyed these:
- 1/4 cup applesauce
- 1/4 cup butter
- 1 egg (or two egg yolks)
- 2 cups infant cereal (oatmeal, rice, or a combo)
- 1 tsp vanilla
- 3/4 cup whole wheat flour
- 1/2 tsp baking soda
- 3 T whole milk
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Mix applesauce and butter with a hand mixer. Add in the egg and vanilla and beat until smooth. Then add in the dry ingredients and beat again until smooth. Finally, add the milk and beat until smooth. Drop teaspoonfuls onto cookie sheets (greased or lined with parchment paper) and press them down gently with a fork. Bake 10-12 minutes.
3. Gluten-free baking. Rice cereal can be really useful for baked goods, so if you know someone who eats a gluten-free diet, ask them if they could use your extra rice cereal for baking, pancakes, etc.
4. Hidden veggies. Those vegetable purees are a fantastic way to sneak extra vegetables into your family’s diet. Here are some of my favorite ways to use them: smoothies, scrambled eggs (which turns them fun colors like green and orange!), muffins or banana bread, meatballs, tuna or chicken salad, pancakes or in spaghetti sauce.
5. Healthier sweeteners. Trade in the refined sugars in your favorite recipes and use pureed apples, pears or other fruits instead! You’re still adding sugars to your baked goods, but pureed whole fruit is a much healthier source than plain white sugar. (Reduce the amount of liquids in your recipe to make up for the added moisture of the applesauce).
6. Add protein and flavor to blended soups. Meat purees are a little trickier to use up, aren’t they? They don’t look all that appetizing, and most adults aren’t used to eating their meat in paste form. But if you’re making a blended vegetable soup, you can add chicken, turkey, or beef during the blending stage to give the soup more flavor to make it rich and more filling.
7. Fill up reusable squeeze pouches. If you have a set of food pouches, you can mix and match purees to make your own blends for meals-on-the-go. Both of my kids still enjoy pureed food in pouches even though they don’t want to eat purees with a spoon at mealtimes.
8. Sweeten plain yogurt. Store-bought sweetened yogurts are one of those foods that claim to be healthy but usually contain refined sugars and other unhealthy ingredients. I like to make my own plain yogurt (it’s really easy to make in a Crock-Pot) and sweeten it with a little pureed fruit or some raw honey or real maple syrup. My kids love it and ask for it all the time, and it’s a great source of healthy fat, protein, and probiotics in their diet!
9. Homemade beauty products. Did this one make you do a double-take? Baby cereals (especially oatmeal) can be used for bath products. Oatmeal and baking soda baths are a traditional remedy for itchy skin, so if your toddler or child comes down with the chicken pox, gets into poison ivy, or has another type of itchy rash, let them soak in a tub with your leftover baby oatmeal. You can also use the oatmeal for a nice exfoliating face and body scrub – just mix it with a nourishing oil and, if you want, a few drops of essential oil in your favorite scent.
10. Sensory play activities. For you crafty mamas, use expired baby cereals in your sensory bins, use it for craft projects, or make this really fun baby-safe cloud dough. There are lots of other really interesting ideas out there for how to use baby cereals for crafts and playtime!
How do you use up your leftover baby foods? Tell us your ideas in the comments!