How much money do you spend on pre-packaged items every week? Enough to make you wish you didn’t have to empty your wallet every time you go shopping?
While there’s nothing wrong with buying convenience foods (I love my snack bars), sometimes you have to prioritize what to buy with your grocery money- especially if you’re on a tight budget. During our lean financial times, I’ve done research to figure out what foods are best to make myself to save money- And I’ve come up with 6 foods we eat all the time that can be made right at home.
Are any of these on your grocery list as well? Here are 6 foods you can make at home that are cheaper and a little healthier for you.
To be honest, I was never a fan of making my own granola bars. I really love the ease of grabbing a pre-packaged bar that I know is shelf stable and keeping it in my purse all day. While I can’t really do that with my homemade bars, I’ve understood the importance of saving money on things I don’t “need” at the moment and finding alternatives.
I found this recipe on Pinterest and I’m obsessed! I like how you can mix and match ingredients to make something different each time. The ones I make have applesauce, which I think gives these bars a soft, almost oatmeal bar-like texture. I put mine in the fridge because they tend to fall apart when at room temperature. But when cold, they’re actually really good!
At one point I was totally obsessed with Larabars. I still am to a point. Then I discovered I could make my own and save a ton of money. Like the granola bars above, my homemade ones tend to fall apart unless they’re cold. The only ingredients are peanuts, raisins, and cocoa powder, which are kind of like Larabar’s brownie bites; in fact, you could roll them into balls instead of bars and they’re just as good. Check out my recipe and see for yourself!
Buying a box of pancake mix is convenient, but did you know that keeping the ingredients on hand for homemade pancakes can be much cheaper? Flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt have a long shelf life and should be non-negotiable staples in your frugal household. This recipe for Carrot Pancakes will forever be my favorite recipe, because it’s one of the only ways I can get Allison to eat vegetables!
A 6-dollar investment at the thrift store got me a perfectly-functional bread machine! Since then I’ve been obsessed with making my own breadsticks, dinner rolls, cinnamon rolls, and cinnamon raisin bread. The yeast can be an initial investment ($4.59 for a small jar at my Meijer), but it’ll last you a little while and it’s still cheaper this way to make your own bread items!
Even if you don’t have a bread machine, you can still make perfectly good loaves of bread in a stand mixer. This recipe for a Honey Wheat Loaf is my favorite. I don’t make many bread loaves anymore because I can buy them for 50 cents at my local bakery outlet; but really, there’s nothing like smelling a fresh loaf of bread in the oven.
Granola is an amazing yogurt-topper, but have you seen the price for a bag? It’s almost outrageous how little you get for your money. Making your own granola can save you a ton of money every week. Here’s my simple recipe for Honey Vanilla Granola; and it’s basic enough that you can add whatever mix-ins you might find in store-bought granola, like chocolate chips, nuts, pumpkin seeds, etc.
You know, for such a picky eater, my daughter absolutely loves hummus. It’s so strange, but she’ll happily dip her pretzels or crackers (or raisins, ew) into hummus and not complain a bit. I certainly won’t complain either- it’s a great source of fiber and incredibly healthy for someone who basically lives on bread and cheese.
There are many types of hummus you can make, but Allison prefers plain old garlic hummus. I’m a big fan of Alton Brown’s recipe; but if you don’t have tahini (Which can get a little expensive), here’s a good recipe that doesn’t use tahini at all.
Ever since I started making the above items at home instead of buying them, I’ve really noticed a drop in my grocery spending! Whenever I see something in the store I want to buy, I try to think- Can I easily make this myself at home? The answer isn’t always yes, and I love the convenience of buying pre-packaged foods. But when the money’s tight, sometimes you have to prioritize. And you’ll surprise yourself at what you can make at home!
What foods do you make yourself to save money? Share in the comments below!
Jaime is a Nutrition Coach and professional writer. She enjoys cooking easy meals, running, and learning more about food.
Jaime specializes in helping women with ADHD learn to meal plan and cook healthier meals without getting overwhelmed.