This week's winning money saving tip comes from Kirsty, who has saved potentially hundreds of pounds by making her own baby food.
"It can be a bit overwhelming knowing what to do when your infant needs to start eating solid food. Suddenly having another mouth to feed can be an extra drain on your finances - especially if your baby has been breastfed until now, which was free!
But I found a solution - I'm now saving potentially hundreds of pounds by cooking and freezing my own baby food portions.
When it came time to start feeding my daughter solids, I was tempted to buy the nice-looking jars of organic baby food that I saw lining the supermarket shelves.
At first I didn't think making my own baby food made sense. Would it really be more cost-effective to buy all the fresh organic ingredients and make it myself? How was I going to fit making her special meals into my already busy daily schedule? The fact that I didn’t have any of the “equipment” I thought I needed (for steaming vegetables etc.) was also an issue.
After a bit of research, however, I realised there was a lot of money to be saved by doing it myself. I also discovered that instead of buying any of the fancy saucepans or baby food steamers and blenders out there, I could make do with what I already had in my kitchen!
I found that steaming vegetables using a metal colander over a saucepan did the job just fine - and I could use a hand blender or masher to easily make food into puree. I also found that some ice cube trays I had lying around the house were perfect for freezing the purees into baby-sized portions, which can easily be defrosted according to what I need each meal time.
So when the time comes to feed my hungry child I just grab a couple of puree cubes and defrost them and away we go - no planning, no fuss, no cooking. It’s perfectly simple! What's great is that I can mix and match flavours by mixing different cubes together. From carrot and parsnip to sweet potato and cauliflower — there are many potential combinations!
As my baby grows and develops a more mature palate, whole meals can continue to be cooked and frozen in this way, such as chicken, mince beef and fish dishes. The best part is I know exactly what is going into each meal my daughter eats - and as you can see, she loves it!
The frozen portions will last in the freezer for several weeks, and once my supplies run out it only takes a couple of hours of cooking and freezing to build those supplies back up again, ready to last another few weeks.
As a rough guideline of what you can save, I checked the website of one of the big UK supermarkets to compare the cost of buying a bag of organic carrots against one of the cheapest branded jars of organic baby carrot and potato food (which only contained 60% carrots and 20% potatoes - the rest was made up of water).
At the time of writing, the organic carrots came in at £1.58/kilo, while the branded jar cost £6.24/kilo. So the savings speak for themselves!
I also compared buying organic apples with a branded jar of apple and pear puree (which actually contained only 6% pear, 70% apple and 20% apple juice concentrate).
Again, the savings speak for themselves: the organic apples cost £2.48/kilo, while the apple and pear puree turned out to be a far pricier £6.24/kilo.
From this rough cost comparison it’s clear you could pay two-to-four times as much for store-bought puree rather than lovingly making it yourself, which adds up to a lot of money — potentially hundreds of pounds in one year. So get creative, get cooking and get saving!"
Kirsty lives in London with her husband and six-month old daughter.
Do you have a money saving tip to share? Send it in and if it's published we'll send you a £50 shopping voucher! Find out more here.