Food Dating

Many prepared foods include a sell-by or use-by date on the packaging, but baby formula and baby foods are one of the few prepared foods that are required by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to carry this information on the label. It's the date through which the food will retain the nutrient quantity that’s described on the label. The use-by date on baby food is determined by the manufacturer, packer or distributor. It's based on product testing, storage conditions, handling and other factors.

Reasons to Make Your Own Baby Food

­Money is one driving force behind deciding to make homemade baby food. Just as it costs less to make a pizza at home than it does to order delivery, homemade baby food costs less than factory-prepared baby food.

Since bananas are often the second food babies try (after rice cereal) and one of the easiest baby foods to prepare, we'll use them as an example. A 2.5-ounce (71-gram) jar of commercial baby food bananas costs about fifty cents. A pound (0.45 kilograms) of bananas that the whole family can enjoy is about the same cost. You'd need to buy six and a half jars of baby food to equal one pound (0.45 kilograms) of bananas.

At first blush, fifty cents for a jar of baby food doesn't seem like much, but a 2.5-ounce (71-gram) jar of chicken, beef or ham costs twice as much as fruits or vegetables. As your baby grows, he or she will eat more solid food at each feeding. The baby food jars get bigger and up to three times more expensive. By the time U.S. infants reach 12 months of age, they've consumed about 600 jars of baby food [source: Stallone]. That's a minimum cost of $300. By comparison, you can prepare a wide variety of fresh baby food at home for your child's second six months of life for around $55 total [source: Tallman].