Cooking from scratch is probably the best way to save hundreds of dollars a year. There is very little that I don’t make from scratch, and I’ve been doing this for, well, forever. That’s even when I was working two jobs – full-time 9-5 during the day, and bartending at night. It can be done without killing yourself!
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*Updated January 2017
Save money by cooking from scratch
One of the things I do to save time is to cook and prep all in one day – usually Sunday. Why Sunday? Well, it’s usually a day off from work, and it’s the day before trash is picked up. Since cooking in quantity can make a fair amount of trash, it’s a good way to get rid of the stinky stuff so it’s not sitting in the bin for very long.
Sunday is also the day that I normally go grocery shopping too. (Click here to see how I shop for groceries.) Since I buy produce and meats in large quantities, it’s easier to cook some of it right away while I break down the large packs of meat for the freezer.
Some examples of the typical things I make in one day
Pictured above is a shot when I was making spaghetti sauce. I grow my own Roma tomatoes, which I buy from my friend’s greenhouse. These plants have been grown from seed by her family for years and years, and the tomatoes are just a little smaller than a softball. I get 18 plants every year for about $2.25/pack of 6 plants. I’m going to guess on the conservative side, and say I get 10 tomatoes per plant. I need about 20 tomatoes to make 3 quarts of sauce, so that’s 75 cents for the tomatoes. I also use a few tablespoons of good olive oil, a couple cloves of garlic, a tablespoon of sugar, a little salt, bay leaves, crushed red pepper, some fennel seeds and a splash of red wine. So the ingredients that I buy (conservative guesstimate) cost another 75 cents. The parsley, basil and oregano all come from my garden. Total cost is $1.50 for 3 quarts of sauce, or 50 cents/quart! This past summer, I canned just under 30 quarts of sauce. In comparison, Botticelli sauce is on sale this week for $1.99/24 ounce jar.
A 2 lb. loaf of whole wheat bread made in the bread machine costs about $1.00. This week, a comparable loaf is on sale for $3.49 for a 16 ounce loaf. I get all the ingredients going in the bread machine so it’s making bread while I do other things. I love my Sunbeam bread machine! Here’s a post I wrote about how to save money by baking your own bread.
I’ve been making yogurt since I was in high school, and my go-to is a yogurt maker. It’s super easy to make yogurt, and for roughly $1.65 (depends on the cost of milk/gallon and sometimes I use 2 cups of soy milk and 4 cups of whole milk), I can make 8 containers of yogurt. A similar size container of plain yogurt goes for 89 cents at the grocery store. All I have to do is put the milk mixture in the yogurt maker containers, set the timer and refrigerate the finished containers of yogurt 11 hours later.
And as I write this post, a nice roast beef is cooking in the oven. Later, I’ll make gravy and garlic mashed potatoes to have for dinner, and use some of the sliced roast for sandwiches during the week, made with some yummy homemade bread.
These are just a few of the foods to cook from scratch that can save you money. I will keep adding more and more money-saving recipes and tips here on this site, so be sure to visit often! And sign up for my newsletter so you don’t miss anything!
Remember, your mileage my vary according to the costs of items in your area and what you grow yourself – which is a whole other post.