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6 Foods You Can Make From Scratch to Save Money

Man making fresh artisan bread at home.
Evgeny Atamanenko/Shutterstock

Making food from scratch might seem daunting, but some things are quick and easy. Preparing these items yourself will help reduce your grocery bill. Plus, any additives that end up in your family’s food will be completely up to you.

The best way to implement these money-saving tips is to make a plan. Without a plan, you’ll run out of ingredients, which will make it harder to whip things up at home. For example, decide which day of the week you want to make bread, plan a shopping trip, and then stick to your schedule. Make double or triple (or even quadruple) loaves, and freeze them for later use.

Although the savings might seem insignificant at first, they’ll quickly add up over time. You’re also bound to cut back on waste and packaging.

Also, keep in mind that your time is valuable. Stick to the things you can realistically make and don’t feel bad for buying ready-made items when you need to. It’s all about balance, right?

Bread

If your family devours loaves of bread like there’s no tomorrow, consider adding this to your make-from-scratch list. It’s easy enough to whip up a few loaves at once and freeze the extra ones for later. It costs less than $1 per loaf, and many people find the kneading to be ultra-relaxing (think of it as getting in some meditation, too—way to multitask!).

You can make this into a fun family project if you give each of your kids a lump of dough to knead, too. If you normally buy gluten-free bread, you know how pricey it is. If you make your own, it’s a sure way to reduce your overall grocery bill.

Here are some easy recipes to get you started:

Kids’ Snacks

Homemade granola bars on a cutting board.
Olga Dubravina/Shutterstock

Let’s face it, kids eat a lot. There’s a whole market geared towards making yummy, tasty, addictive snacks your kids will demand time and time again.

But some of the treats they crave are really easy to make at home, and they probably won’t even be able to tell the difference!

Here are some popular kids’ snacks you can easily make at home:

  • Granola bars: You’re free to experiment with a ton of flavors. You can make gluten- or nut-free, vegan, or whatever’s best for your family. These chewy peanut butter bars are gluten-free, packed with protein, and incredibly easy to make!
  • Trail mix: Get creative with the ingredients and involve your kids in the process. Or, you can check out these three healthy trail mixes for inspiration. Just avoid giving nuts to children under 4 years old since they’re a choking hazard.
  • Popsicles: Yes, store-bought popsicles are pretty cheap. But if you want a healthier, organic alternative, making your own is the way to go. Just blend up some fruit and yogurt. You can even sprinkle in some “hidden” spinach. Don’t forget to buy a sturdy set of popsicle molds. You can also give these strawberry Greek yogurt popsicles a try. Whichever you choose is bound to please your child’s taste buds.
  • Granola: When you make your own granola, you can keep it simple. It’s ideal if any of your kids need gluten- or nut-free snacks, or if you just want to reduce their overall sugar consumption. Try this easy-peasy four-ingredient gluten-free recipe.
  • Applesauce: Of course, buying applesauce at the store won’t bust your bank account, but there are a few other benefits to making your own. It’s cheaper if you prefer organic, but you can also reduce your environmental waste, especially if your kids are addicted to “fruit crushers.” You can get reusable pouches or use small mason jars to freeze individual portions for future use. Plus, you have the ability to blend a variety of fruits, or even slip in a few “hidden” veggies.
  • Baby food: Homemade baby food is a great way to use high-quality ingredients, while also saving money.
  • Larabars: Many kids are addicted to these sweet, nutty treats. Experiment with creating some fun and unique flavors!

Salad Dressing

A healthy, nutritious garden salad isn’t quite complete without a tasty salad dressing. But the cost of those bottles really adds up—especially if anyone in your family is a huge salad-lover.

Store-bought dressing is also usually packed with additives and stabilizers, plus some extra sugar. Just read the label carefully—you’ll be surprised at all the “extras” crammed in there.

Making your own dressing can be as simple as mixing oil and vinegar together. Or, you can try one of these popular options:

Beans

Dried beans on a tabletop.
barmalini/Shutterstock

In reality, cans of beans aren’t that expensive, especially at places like Costco or Trader Joe’s. Even organic prices have dropped.

However, cooking your own can be super-easy, especially if you use an Instant Pot. Plus, you can cut back on material waste.

In the end, the savings will add up—especially if you make beans in bulk, and freeze them for later.

Check out these easy guides to get started:

Sauces and Dips

If you only buy small jars of salsa or a few tubs of hummus here and there, making your own won’t save you much cash. However, if you’re throwing a big party, or your kids gobble hummus by the bucketload, making your own will definitely help trim your budget.

Think of all the jars you buy throughout the week. Pick one and see how hard it is to make from scratch. Don’t forget about the extra benefits, like controlling which ingredients are included, upgrading to organic for cheaper, and reducing your overall environmental waste.

Here are some ideas to consider making from scratch:

Specialty Foods

This is probably the biggest money-guzzler of all. If you’re devoted to an all-organic diet or have a specific allergy, making things from scratch will make a huge dent in your weekly grocery bill.

Also, specialty diets are all the rage. If you’re devoted to the Keto diet but still craving cookies, making your own is way cheaper than shelling out $10 for a small bag.

If you or your kids have a severe allergy, such as nuts, dairy, soy, or corn, making your own specialty food is a must.

Here are some fun recipes to get you started:


If you’re overwhelmed by trying to make everything from scratch, we suggest picking one thing and giving it a whirl. Even one item can make a difference in your overall budget.

And you might be surprised at how relaxing it can be to set aside some extra time to bake or cook. There’s no putting a price tag on that!

Jill A. Chafin Jill A. Chafin
Jill A. Chafin is a freelance writer, aerialist, dancer, food enthusiast, outdoor adventurer, and mama, based in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. Read Full Bio »

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