Yesterday in my tip of the day, I talked about products that our family no longer pays out of pocket for because of coupons and sales. Today, I thought I’d list some of the things that we almost never pay for at the stores because I choose to make it myself. If you are at my house or at a function I’m hosting, you might see some of these products that were store bought, but chances are that I didn’t pay for them. Last fall at the Ladies Night Out event at our church, for instance, we had over 40 Luna bars that were completely free after coupons at Kroger. I don’t make a habit of clearing shelves—rest assured even after the 40 or so bars there were still plenty for others to snag if they had the coupons.
I’m also interested in hearing from you. What are the products and foods that you no longer buy because you find it cheaper, easier, or better to make them at home? I’m hoping that your ideas might inspire me to try a few more homemade products.
Here are some of the things on my list that I rarely pay others to do:
- Biscuits—I’ll “buy” them on occasion for the church when we can get them for free or a dime for a container, but other than that I steer clear. Homemade are so much better, they are fun to make (our daughter loves using different cookie cutters to cut out fun shapes), and they are pretty cheap.
- Pancakes—Hubby is the pancake chef in the family, and I can’t imagine using a store-bought mix or pancake batter at home because his are so good. Plus, we use home milled whole wheat flour, upping the vitamin count tremendously over white flour pancakes.
- Whole Wheat Flour—I received a grain mill about 3 years ago for my birthday, and I have been thrilled with it. It was costly, but I feel so much better about the flour that I provide for our family. Because my sister has a wheat allergy, I’m able to mill non-wheat flours for her at a fraction of the cost. I remember once paying a ridiculous amount for rice flour when cooking for her, when the cost of rice is only about a dollar a pound before coupons. I bought 5 gallon buckets of wheat a few years ago, and we still have enough for at least another year of baking.
- Oatmeal—unless I get the instant for free, I buy it in bulk organic at Three Rivers Market when it is on sale (next week it will be only 79cts/lb!) and make soaked oatmeal with it.
- Pre-cut veggies—unless the cost of the veggies is really cheaper per pound or if they are free after coupon, I opt to clean and cut up our own veggies. This saves a lot of money over the course of the year and doesn’t really take up that much time.
- Frosting—cream cheese frosting is super simple to make and with all of the free cream cheese blocks we had last year after coupons and deals, this recipe is also very cheap to make. For a more elaborate frosting, try this homemade buttercream. It isn’t cheap and it does take a while to make, but it is delicious.
- Granola bars and granola—When I get a free sample or a super great deal at Target, I’ll send our daughter one in her school lunch. Otherwise, I don’t buy granola bars. Homemade granola is so easy to make and cheap that I rarely buy it either—I’ll post my recipe for it later today.
- Instant tea—I mean really, do you think that a Southern gal like me is going to think that instant tea is better than homemade? The only time I buy tea mix is when I’m making a Russian Spiced Tea mix to give as a gift. The last time I did that was years ago. When I make Friendship Tea (tea mixed with Tang, it is a Southern thing) I use home brewed tea.
- Muffins—I decided a few months ago that I’ve made my last batch of muffins from a mix. The ones from mixes almost always seem dry and stick to the pans when I make them. Homemade requires very little time, and I can change up the recipe based on what I have available to use.
- Cookies—cookies do not take long to make unless you are choosing an elaborate recipe. Because I have been making them homemade for so long when I have ones from a mix or those slice and burns that you get in tubes, they have a little wang to them to me. I’m not saying I don’t eat them when they are offered to me and when they are free or super-duper cheap I might still buy them, but otherwise I stick with homemade because of the cost.
Whenever I’m asked to bake something for church, a bake sale, or school, I consider a couple of factors. What ingredients do I already have available? If I have to go out and buy a bunch of things just to make cookies, it is cheaper to buy a tube. What is the cost of the ingredients versus buying a mix or tube? Right now I have a bunch of baking supplies I picked up with sales and coupons. Earlier in the year, though, I remember that I didn’t have any chocolate chips or much butter, and I needed to bake something for church. I happened to have caught a sale on break-apart cookies at Target, and when I did the math, it was better for me to let Nestle do most of the work. What is my schedule like? Sometimes you have to weigh the cost of time versus money. Many times I choose to make things homemade because they are learning opportunities for our daughter. Usually we enjoy baking together, and she learns about math, home economics, ingredient sources, the chemistry of baking, and gets to chat with Momma. Then there are the times that I’ve forced myself to bake from scratch when I’m tired or stressed--the only thing that she has learned from that is that Momma can get grumpy. Paying a little more out of pocket and ending the day feeling less stressed is sometimes worth it.