These days, you can buy literally anything at the supermarket pre-made, and most of us do. We buy things like nut butters, pasta sauces, soups, and bread ready-to-eat, prepared for us, because it’s quick and convenient. The trouble is, it’s often far more expensive. When you pay companies to prepare and package your food, you’re not only paying for the food itself, but also for the labor used to make it and the materials used to package it. This causes the price of your food to skyrocket. Not only that, but then you can’t control what’s going in to the food you eat.
While it’s definitely worth it to buy certain products in a store (even though you could technically make them yourself), like yogurt or crackers, other products don’t take a lot of effort to create at home. Choosing to make a few of these things yourself will not only drastically improve their quality, but also reduce the amount of money you’re paying for them.
1. Pasta Sauce
Homemade pasta sauce is one of those things that sounds really difficult but is so easy that once you try making it, you’ll wonder why you ever bothered spending the extra money for the convenience of store-bought pasta sauce. You can make a ton of pasta sauce using just a few simple ingredients, for 10 minutes of prep time and 2 hours of cook time, can it, and you’ll have pasta sauce that will last you for months that will taste better than anything you could have found store-bought. If this sounds like the kind of thing you’d like to switch to making yourself, here’s a recipe that includes canning directions.
2. Nut Butters
Name a nut butter, and you can make it at home. Not only is it extremely easy to do, but it’s actually roughly 20% cheaper to make your own. That saves you about $2 per cup, and it’s way better for you, too. All you need is the nut of your choice, a couple of tablespoons of vegetable or peanut oil, and some salt to taste. Here’s a recipe for some awesome peanut butter. Make a jar of this, keep it in your fridge, and you’ll end up saving a ton of money on your grocery bills.
Homemade pesto, like pasta sauce, is so much better than the store-bought thing. Store-bought pesto is ridiculously expensive. An 8-ounce jar can cost upwards of $5, depending on the brand and where you get it. Basic basil pesto is easy to make, and while it might still be pricey to buy the ingredients from a store, it’ll still be less expensive than the pre-packaged kind. And, if you grow your own basil in a windowsill, you’ll never run out of cheap, easily available pesto. Here’s a recipe to try.
Bread might seem like one of those things that takes a lot of work to make, and, well, you’re not wrong. But, a loaf of bread often costs upwards of $3-$6, depending on the variety, and you’ll eat through it pretty quick. In comparison, a loaf of simple, homemade sandwich bread costs you about $1 to make in total, including the cost of running the oven. All you need to do is add it to your list of weekend chores. If you’re thinking about trying it yourself, here’s a great recipe.
5. Whipped Cream
Whipped cream had to make this list because there’s literally no reason to buy whipped cream at the store. All it involves is heavy cream, sugar, and vanilla extract, and it’s so easy to make with an electric mixer. All you’ll need is two cups of heavy cream, sugar to taste, and a teaspoon of vanilla extract. Throw your beaters and bowl into the fridge or freezer for about half an hour (warm equipment will ruin the whipped cream), then, pour your ingredients into a bowl and whip away. You’ll be forming luscious, pillow-y whipped cream in no time at all.
Just like pasta sauce and pesto, storebought salsa is just really weak compared to the homemade, fresh stuff. Once you make it at home, you’ll never want to go back. All you need is a few basic, cheap ingredients to make the perfect tomato salsa, including tomatoes, a red onion, jalapenos, lime, cilantro, oregano, cumin, salt, and pepper. Just dice everything up (or throw it in a food processor), mix it together, and then pour it into a serving bowl. You’re literally done. Here’s a recipe.