Grocery Budget Tips: Tip 3 – Cook From Scratch (FREE EBOOK)

Welcome back to our grocery budget savings series!  You can find what this series is all about with this introduction.  Here is tip #3:

We cook from scratch. This is perhaps the biggest money saver, and it truly can be done anywhere you have access to a way to cook food.  I make my meals from basic, raw ingredients instead of cans and boxes.  For example, if we want spaghetti, I make my own spaghetti sauce from homegrown tomatoes that were turned into sauce and canned.  I have made my own pasta, too.  We do a lot of bread, roll, bun and muffin baking.  I make my own yogurt. I make breakfast sandwiches instead of buying them (and make the biscuits and mix/season the sausage to go with them).  We brine our own corned venison (instead of corned beef).  Chicken broth, bread crumbs, alfredo sauce, breaded chicken, deli potato wedges, baby food, fries, pizza, calzones, stuffed chicken breasts, condensed soups, gravies, stew and taco seasonings, pierogi, stuffed cabbage, takeout favorites (bourbon chicken and sweet and sour chicken for example), the list can go on and on and on.  IF something looks good on tv or at the store, I  try and find a recipe or a way to recreate it.  My recipe collection is absolutely ridiculous.  I don’t like to buy canned or boxed anything when it comes to our normal meals.  Not to say we never do – if you look at my shopping cart some months we have purchased spaghetti sauce once we have exhausted our own home canned sauce, my husband likes quick convenience meals sometimes for when I’m too busy to cook for him when he comes home from work at night, etc.  But the majority of our cooking is from scratch and homegrown whenever possible, too.

Cooking from scratch also allows you to control the ingredients you put in your food.  Would you believe that there is high fructose corn syrup in yogurt and canned beans?  Sugar in chicken broth?!   Foods that seem healthy on the outside end up not looking quite so healthy when you look at the ingredient label. Luckily, most of the items you may purchase can most likely be made at home and you can change the ingredients to suit your nutritional preferences and even change things up to try different tastes.

A few examples of how cooking from scratch saves us money: Bulk breakfast sausage can be around $3-4/lb.  But if you buy your own pork butt for less than $1.50/lb, grind the meat yourself, then add your seasonings, you have saved money.  Then you also probably have a bone leftover for soup!  If you buy a whole chicken on sale for less than $1/lb, you get two breasts, two thighs, two drumsticks and two wings – PLUS a carcass to make stock in your crockpot.  If you save bones from cooked chicken or turkey and freeze them until you are ready for them, you can make a big batch of healthy homemade chicken stock as a added bonus for a byproduct!  If you make bacon, save the grease.  It’s wonderfully flavorful for other uses in place of butter or oil.  Taco seasoning can be $1-$2+ per little envelope.  If you make tacos with two pounds of meat like us, you could be looking at $4 just on seasoning.  Or, you could use seasonings you most likely have in your pantry and make it up for much less.  Spaghetti sauce is another one.  We usually eat quite a bit of spaghetti sauce, and if spaghetti sauce is over $3/quart and we buy 2-3 to feed our family, we have $6-9 invested.  Or, we could use our homegrown sauce for the cost of a used jar, lid, and electricity/gas to can and seasonings and make it for much less.  Even if we have to buy a bulk jar of tomato sauce for $3/can, we add seasonings to that and we have saved $3-6.  This may not seem like a lot to you, but all these little things do add up. If you can get ahold of a roast from a deer, you can put it through the corning process yourself and save yourself $18+ on corned beef.  We think corned venison tastes just like corned beef – if not better.  There is no gameness to the meat if you treat it right. You can grind your own pork roast, add seasonings, purchase casings, and make your own sausage, kielbasa, hot dogs, brats.  You’ll save a fortune and you can control what goes into them.  I could go on and on.

The next question you may ask is where do I find the time?  Cooking DOES take time.  But, feeding our family convenience food is not an option so the only other option is to cook.  I know busy – we have 7 children, I run our farm AND I homeschool (in addition to being wife and homemaker).  My life is dedicated to these areas.  I don’t usually spend time watching TV, or mindlessly surfing the web, I don’t do very many things outside the home and am quite content being here with my family.  Maybe you could find areas in your life that you can do without, to free up time for the things you do need (or want to do).  I hear all the time how people want to spend less time on facebook or desire to pull themselves away from regular TV watching.  Just do it! That is not my only suggestion for “finding the time” but it’s a good one, I think.   Time saving tips are for another post I think, but real quick other things that save time include meal planning (to avoid scratching my head at meal time and spending precious time trying to find something to cook), food prep (the night before I do any meal prep such as thawing meat, preparing veggies, making ingredients that can easily be reheated the next day, gathering items from the pantry, etc.).

I do want to share with you a book I wrote about cooking from scratch.  It’s a free PDF download.  It’s older – I wrote this quite a few years ago so all the contact info and links are NOT current.  If you have questions you can always get a hold of me through this blog but the information contained in this little book is too good not to keep sharing.  It offers many suggestions on getting started with cooking from scratch.

Why From Scratch?

 

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