Cut Your Grocery Bill: 15 Foods You Can Make at Home to Save Money

By Sara


Last Updated: September 4, 2023


With the cost of groceries skyrocketing, it's no wonder that many of us are feeling the pinch at the supermarket checkout.

From a loaf of bread costing up to $8 to exorbitantly priced pre-made meals, the financial burden of buying groceries can be overwhelming. But what if you could trim down that bill without compromising on the quality or variety of your meals?

You might be surprised to learn that making certain foods at home can save you a significant amount of money in the long run. And it's not just about skipping that daily coffee shop visit; the savings extend to everyday essentials you probably never thought to DIY.

From shredded cheese to pasta sauce and even your morning bagel, making these items at home saves money and allows you to control what goes into your food. You might already own most of the equipment needed to get started!

In this article, we'll break down the economics of home-cooking vs. store-bought for various food items.

We'll discuss the initial cost of any equipment you may need, compare unit prices, and even look at monthly savings to give you a comprehensive understanding of just how much you could save. So, let's dive in and explore ways you can cut your grocery bill by making these 15 foods at home.



Does homemade food save money?

One of the primary motivations to cook or bake at home is to save money, but many people wonder if making your food at home actually saves you money. Let's start by acknowledging the obvious: Homemade food is generally fresher and doesn't contain the preservatives that many store-bought items have. So, right off the bat, you're gaining in terms of quality.

Now, let's address the elephant in the room—time. Yes, making food at home can be time-consuming. However, when we calculate the cost savings per unit, you'll often find that the time invested is well worth it.

But it's essential to keep in mind that dining out isn't necessarily a time-saver either. Think about the time you spend driving to a restaurant, waiting for a table, waiting for the food, and then driving back home.

Depending on the restaurant and the distance, this could easily add up to a couple of hours. When you compare that to the time spent making a meal at home, the difference might not be as stark as you initially thought.

Let's consider the example of bread, a staple in many households. A loaf of store-bought bread can set you back anywhere from $6 to $8. Meanwhile, making a loaf at home generally costs about $2 to $3 for the ingredients.

Although it might take about 2-3 hours to bake the bread, including preparation and cooking time, the savings per loaf come out to approximately $4 to $6. If you consume a loaf of bread a week, that's a monthly saving of $16 to $24, which adds up significantly over the year.

But what about equipment? Certain foods require specific equipment to make at home. For instance, if you decide to invest in a bread maker, which costs around $150, you might wonder if it's really worth it. To find out, consider the break-even point.

If you save about $5 per loaf of bread, then you would need to make 25 loaves of bread to recoup the cost of a $150 bread maker. After that point, every loaf you make contributes to more savings.



Things to Make Homemade to Save Money

The grocery store can be a financial trap if you're not careful, with enticing pre-made or pre-packaged foods that you could easily make at home for a fraction of the price. Not only will your wallet thank you, but your health might as well. Here are fifteen things to make at home to save money. 


1. Shredded Cheese

Store-bought cost: Around $4-$6 for an 8-ounce bag

Homemade cost: $2-$3 for an 8-ounce block

Equipment Needed: A cheese grater

Savings: Up to $3 per 8 ounces

Buying a block of cheese and grating it yourself can cut the cost in half. A typical cheese grater costs about $10, and you'll break even after just a few uses.


2. Bread

Store-bought cost: $6-$8 per loaf

Homemade cost: $2-$3 per loaf

Equipment Needed: Oven, mixing bowls, baking sheet or loaf pan

Savings: Around $4-$6 per loaf

We've already discussed bread, but it's worth repeating. The long-term savings are substantial, and you get the bonus of a home filled with the smell of fresh-baked bread.


3. Spices Mixes

Store-bought cost: $3-$6 per jar

Homemade cost: Less than $1 per jar

Equipment Needed: Small jars and mixing spoons

Savings: Up to $5 per jar

Commercial spice mixes often have added salt and preservatives. By buying whole spices and grinding them at home, you not only save money but also avoid unnecessary additives.


4. Smoothies

Store-bought cost: $5-$8 per smoothie

Homemade cost: $1-$3 per smoothie

Equipment Needed: Blender

Savings: Up to $5 per smoothie

A decent blender may cost around $50, but considering the savings per smoothie, you'll break even quickly. You also get to control the ingredients, ensuring a healthier option.


5. Coffee

Store-bought cost: $3-$5 per cup

Homemade cost: Less than $1 per cup

Equipment Needed: Coffee maker or French press

Savings: Up to $4 per cup

While the initial investment in a good coffee maker can be steep, the daily savings add up rapidly. Given that a coffee maker can range from $30 to $300, even at the higher end, you'll break even after about 100 cups.


6. Pasta Sauce

Store-bought cost: $3-$5 per jar

Homemade cost: $1-$2 per jar 

Equipment Needed: Stove, pot, blender (optional)

Savings: Up to $3 per jar

Jarred pasta sauces often contain added sugars and preservatives. Making your sauce at home is not only more cost-effective but also healthier. Even if you invest in a hand blender for smooth sauces, costing around $30, you'll break even after 10-15 jars.


7. Baby Food

Store-bought cost: $1-$2 per jar

Homemade cost: Less than $0.50 per jar

Equipment Needed: Blender or food processor

Savings: Up to $1.50 per jar

Making your baby food allows you to control exactly what goes into it, offering your child a healthy start. Even accounting for the initial investment in a food processor, you'll find the savings quickly accumulate.

8. Salad Dressing

Store-bought cost: $3-$5 per bottle

Homemade cost: $1-$2 per bottle

Equipment Needed: Whisk, bowl, storage bottle

Savings: Up to $3 per bottle

Most salad dressings are simple to make, requiring only a few ingredients. Homemade versions are often healthier, containing fewer additives and preservatives.


9. Hummus

Store-bought cost: $3-$5 per tub

Homemade cost: $1-$2 per tub

Equipment Needed: Food processor, mixing bowl

Savings: Up to $3 per tub

Chickpeas, tahini, olive oil, and some spices are all you need to make hummus at home. Not only do you save money, but homemade hummus often tastes better and is free from preservatives.


10. Granola

Store-bought cost: $5-$8 per bag

Homemade cost: $2-$4 per bag

Equipment Needed: Oven, baking sheet

Savings: Up to $4 per bag

Homemade granola is customizable, healthier, and far cheaper than what you find in stores. And you can make it in large batches, saving time and money in the long run.


11. Iced Tea

Store-bought cost: $1-$3 per bottle

Homemade cost: $0.20-$0.50 per bottle

Equipment Needed: Pitcher, boiling kettle

Savings: Up to $2.50 per bottle

Iced tea is refreshing but can be expensive when bought by the bottle. Making it at home is extremely cost-effective and allows you to control the sweetness and flavor profile.


12. Pickles

Store-bought cost: $3-$5 per jar

Homemade cost: $1-$2 per jar

Equipment Needed: Jars, boiling water bath canner, or large pot

Savings: Up to $3 per jar

Store-bought pickles often contain artificial preservatives. Making them at home is straightforward and allows you to customize flavors. You can even pickle other veggies you love, extending your savings.


13. Nut Butter

Store-bought cost: $5-$10 per jar

Homemade cost: $2-$4 per jar

Equipment Needed: Food processor

Savings: Up to $6 per jar

You can turn your favorite nuts into nut butter in minutes with a simple food processor. This lets you avoid any additives or preservatives, and it's generally cheaper, especially if you buy the nuts in bulk.


14. Popcorn

Store-bought cost: $3-$5 per microwave bag

Homemade cost: $0.50-$1 per serving

Equipment Needed: Large pot

Savings: Up to $4 per serving

Instead of buying microwave popcorn, popping your own kernels is far cheaper and avoids the added chemicals in many store-bought options.


15. Pizza Dough

Store-bought cost: $3-$5 per pre-made dough

Homemade cost: $1-$2 per dough

Equipment Needed: Mixing bowl, kitchen counter or board for kneading

Savings: Up to $3 per dough

Making your own pizza dough at home saves you money and lets you customize your crust how you like it.



Final Thoughts

Taking the reins of your grocery bill doesn't mean sacrificing quality or flavor; it means smarter choices that benefit both your wallet and well-being. With a little time and effort, you can make these 15 food items at home, providing your family with healthier, fresher options.

You'll also find that the cost savings quickly add up, especially when you consider the long-term benefits of dodging preservatives and other additives. Happy cooking and even happier saving!



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