Welcome to Southern Savers, where finding deals and steals is simple and rewarding!

See I told you, this would help!

Coupon Abbreviations
  • SC = Store Coupon
  • MC = Manufacturer Coupon
  • SS = Smart Source
  • RP = Red Plum
  • PG = Proctor and Gamble
Coupon Terms
  • WYB = When You Buy
  • B1G1 = Buy One Get One Free
  • .75/1 = 75 cents off one item
  • .75/3 = 75 cents off three items
  • EXP = Expiration Date

Going Nuts? I can help you understand coupon terms and abbreviations

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Is it cheaper to make every food from scratch or to coupon your way to savings  Here's a way to a more frugal living!

Cooking: Homemade vs. Couponing

Do you buy convenience items to save time? To save money? Or just because you never learned to cook from scratch? The real question is, does it really make a difference in your budget? By couponing, you can can often find killer deals on pricey convenience items, but would you still be better off making them yourself? As with homemade household cleaners, you may be the only one who can make that decision for your family based on the following considerations.

Considerations:

  • Honestly evaluate whether or not you have the time to cook from scratch. It doesn’t take as much time as you might think, but it does take more planning. How much time can you afford to spend cooking? Are there ways to save time (i.e. cooking ahead, once a month cooking, etc.)?
  • Evaluate the “hidden costs” of convenience items, for example preservatives and additives that should be avoided for health reasons.
  • Evaluate the time you spend deal hunting. Could you have just as easily made the item from scratch in that amount of time?
  • As always, if you can get an item free, the comparison is easy! Take advantage of those freebies, even if you just end up giving them away to someone else who needs them.

Definitely a Deal

  • Deli Pre-made Tea 1 gallon $1
    Homemade: $.04 per gallon

Tetley Tea Bags, 24 ct., 40¢
Lipton Family Tea Bags, 24 ct, 24¢
24 ct package will make at least 6 gallons of tea

Considerations – you can add sugar to taste, no high fructose corn syrup, no preservatives, you can add your own flavors like lemon or mint, definitely tastes better! (in my opinion)

  • Store-bought Bread, 20 oz loaf, $1-$2 on sale
    Homemade: $3.27, 41¢ per loaf

From Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day
6 cups water
3 tbs./3 packets granulated yeast ($1.79 for 3 packets, cheaper if purchased in bulk)
3 tbs. kosher or other coarse salt (5¢)
13 c. all purpose white flour ($1.43 at 44¢/lb.)
Yields 8 one pound loaves

Considerations – no high fructose corn syrup, preservatives, or soy products; great flavor and smell, very easy (you make the dough ahead of time and keep it in the refrigerator until you’re ready to bake); you might need to buy a few kitchen tools (baking stone, container for the dough, etc.) but they are a good investment and you’ll definitely make back what you spent

5 lbs. Russet Potatoes, $1.50 at 30¢/lb. (based on Bi-Lo’s price this week)
1 cup milk, 16¢ (based on $2.50/gallon)
1/4 cup butter or margarine, FREE-28¢ (margarine is often free with coupons)
makes mashed potatoes for 6 (at least!)

Considerations – taste is unsurpassed, much healthier (just do a little research), I have never seen one of those little packages yield enough for more than one person and they aren’t as filling as homemade potatoes

You Make the Call

  • Ragu Pasta Sauce, 26-26.3 oz., 28¢
    Homemade: $8.50, $1.70 per 24 oz. container

Prices may vary based on store or local sales and coupon deals. For example, many of these canned items are frequently found B1G1 and there are often coupons.

3 cans crushed tomato, $3
1 can diced tomato, 50¢
1 can tomato paste, 50¢
1 lb. ground beef, $2.50
spices – less than $1
onion and garlic – $1
Yields approximately five 24 oz. containers.

Considerations – no preservatives, can use fresh ingredients from a garden to bring down the price, can leave out meat, you can freeze or can your own

  • Nabisco Chips Ahoy! Cookies, 9.5 to 15.25 oz. pk., 89¢
    Homemade: $3.89-$5.01, 8¢-10¢ per cookie

recipe from the Betty Crocker Cookbook
3/4 c. sugar (21¢)
3/4 c. brown sugar (36¢)
1 c. butter or margarine, softened ($1.12 for butter, margarine FREE-$.50 with coupons)
1 tsp. vanilla (25¢)
1 large egg (8¢)
2 1/4 c. flour (25¢)
1 tsp. baking soda (less than 1¢)
1/2 tsp. salt (less than 1¢)
1 bag (12 oz. or 2 cups) semisweet chocolate chips (approximately $2 regular price, but can be found on sale)
makes about 4 dozen

Considerations – no preservatives or additives, you can beat the taste and smell of a warm homemade cookie

Chicken Marinade
1 1/2 cups vegetable/olive oil (99¢ based on sale on Pompeian at Bi-Lo this week)
3/4 cup soy sauce ($1.20)
1/2 cup Worcestershire sauce (FREE at Bi-Lo last week, $1.50 per bottle regular price)
1/2 cup red wine vinegar (68¢)
1/3 cup lemon juice (24¢)
2 tablespoons dry mustard ($1)
1 teaspoon salt (less than 1¢)
1 tablespoon black pepper (less than 1¢)
1 1/2 teaspoons finely minced fresh parsley (20¢)
Yields 4 cups of marinade

Considerations – no preservatives or additives, made with pantry staples

In the end, most “from scratch meals” are healthier and you can save on the ingredients by working common cooking items into your stockpiling deals.  Stay stocked on these regularly called for items just as others would stay stocked on the convenience versions and you will have low cost meals.  I’ll have a great pantry items stockpile guide for you on Wednesday.

What are your favorite made from scratch recipes and how do they save you money? What convenience items do you feel you can’t do with out? Share you favorite made from scratch tips and tricks.

    • Zombiemommy

      I make whole wheat bread every week.
      I make my taco seasoning (recipe from Tightwad Gazette) and marinades.
      I make my own decaf iced tea, once or twice a day (I have an electric kettle, so its pretty easy)

      I used to make my spaghetti sauce, but after reading about BPA in canned items, I choose to buy a non hfcs sauce from Aldi's in a glass jar.

      • Zombiemommy

        PS Thanks Jenny for a great post, its worth the couple of minutes to make from scratch.

      • TrishB_FL

        Would you mind sharing your recipe for whole wheat bread? I have been looking for a good one for our family. Thanks!

        • KAWilson

          ditto……would like to have it too….

        • adevine

          Try the whole wheat bread recipe on the back of the King Arthur Whole Wheat Flour bag…I make it often for our family and it is the best, most consistent recipe I have found!

          • adevine

            I have a bread machine, so I add the ingredients and run it through the dough cycle in my machine, then take it out, shape it and put it in a loaf pan. Let it rise and bake as directed.

      • lrose57

        LOVE the old Tightwad Gazette and Amy Dacyczyn, drink decaf tea which I always add flavored teas to… make it taste great and does not need the sugar ! I use home grown tomatoes for most of my sauces…

    • carissa528

      Well, I don't think you are really comparing couponing vs. Homemade here. You are using couponing to buy the items to make the homemade product. So, in essence we ARE couponing, whether we use those items to make homemade items, or buy the convenience item! So, I guess you are comparing Convenience vs. Homemade within the realm of couponing.

      Good post. Thanks!

      • artmommy222

        Good point. If the homemade version means that you don't want to bother with couponing, it would be interesting to see the price comparison if you are buying full price staples.

        • Amy B.

          I guess if you know the power of Southern Savers and the awesomeness of coupons and are reading this post, you probably aren't going to pay full price for anything :)

    • carissa528

      Also, remember you can find tomato sauce and tomato paste free (Muir Glen) get the 8oz cans and stock up on those with the $1 off coupon! They are FREE. So, you can make your own spaghetti sauce a lot cheaper than she posts here.

    • RobinB78

      I tend to go both ways when it comes to homemade vs convenience items. I stay stocked up on both at all times even though I prefer homemade over the boxed stuff. It's nice to have when you just don't have the time or energy to do everything from scratch! Plus, my mother-in-law doesn't cook well, so my hubby grew up on food from a box! So when he's craving comfort food I make him something from the box! LOL

    • Jessica

      I really would like the full recipe for that homemade bread. I have never tried to make bread, but that sounds pretty good.

    • TrishB_FL

      I make double patches of pancakes (pumpkin, blueberry, etc.). Freeze the pancakes on a cookie sheet (layer with wax paper for additional layers) and then place the flash frozen pancakes in gallon bags. You can pull out exactly how many pancakes you need and reheat them in the microwave for a quick breakfast.
      I also make double batches of cookies and freeze the dough in logs so I can quickly make homemade cookies.
      Oatmeal rolls freeze extremely well and are a nice, healthy addition to a meal.
      Meat sauce, rice pilafs, seasoning mixes, etc. are also good things to make ahead and pull out as needed.

    • sdshaw

      I used to do a lot of OAMC or freezer cooking before I discovered couponing. I would plan out most of my meals for the month and make them all in a two day period or split up and have a cooking session once a week. One week I might make lunch wraps, burritos for dinner and breakfast burritos for quick grab n go. The next week I might make a double batch of spaghetti sauce as well as meatballs for subs. I also did a lot of freezing cooked meat for easy preparations. Since I have started the couponing I don't do that as much. If I buy a roast or a pack of hamburger meat I will still do it, and I will split up chicken breasts with marinade in the freezer. My husband loves homemade food, but hes equally happy with a frozen pizza we got for $1 and it makes my life tons easier to not be cooking everytime I have an off day.

    • monice

      I hosted a House Party for Ball Brand Canning Products this past week-end. My friends & I were all first timers, so I purchased a variety of fruits & veggies at the farmer's market for us to “play” with. What I realized is that it isn't that difficult or complicated and I can make apple preserves when I buy too many apples instead of feeding the deer :) I ended up with several extra pounds of tomatoes & peppers, so I may be make sauce from scratch with fresh vegetables this week-end.

      • Carla

        I had the party too! It was so much easier than I thought it would be – ready to do it again!

        • monice

          We're already planning another one with more newbies. Hoping to use homegrown next time!!

      • Christin

        I would like to know more about the party! I love canning and have some people who would like to do it too!

    • Shirley

      My dh is a big pizza eater, so I make my own pizza dough, that way its healthier. I don't keep extra dough because our freezer's too cramped, so I go ahead and bake 2-3 different types of calzones along with the pizzas that I can wrap in foil, store in the fridge and divvy them for his lunches for the remainder of the week. I still don't make my own sauce yet, haven't been able to come up with a recipe that I like.

      Which brings me to my curiosity :) what is in everyone's pantries? What are your ingredient staples that you can't live without? I am Chinese so I do a lot of Asian-style dishes, my must-haves are soy sauce, oyster sauce and mirin (Japanese sweet cooking wine). These will allow me to do about 60% of my recipes.

      Cheers

      • Savonarola

        Not Asian, Texan – my pantry may have a rural/Mexican bias. ;) I keep white vinegar (you can't go wrong – use in marinades, for cleaning, for canning – everything), vegetable oil and olive oil, flour, sugar, buttermilk powder (for those inconvenient times I run out of buttermilk), canned tomatoes and canned beans (also dried beans and jarred spaghetti sauce), hot sauce, worchestershire sauce, boullion cubes, brown and powdered sugar, yeast (mostly quick variety in packets), baking powder and soda, salt, soy sauce, and a bunch of spices. I'm never without potatoes, carrots, and onions.

        I make most everything from scratch, but I do use convenience items if I got them very cheap. I buy bread, because unless you got a really good deal on flour, it doesn't come out that much cheaper (although it does taste good). What is pretty much always cheaper is packaged cookies – those cost way more to make than they do to buy with coupons. I don't bother to bake for the lunchboxes any more, because this is cheaper.

        The key here is to not waste by properly using your leftovers. Around here, it goes something like this: baked chicken on Monday, spaghetti w/meat sauce on Tuesday (use half now, freeze half for next week), chicken pot pie or casserole on Wednesday, Something meatless on Thursday (burritos from rice and beans, cheese enchiladas, quesadillas, arroz con pollo – something), pizza on Friday. Pizza is homemade, but I keep frozen around for those Fridays when I don't have it in me. If you don't have a decent number of back up recipes for the leftovers from that Sunday roast, you are losing value! We stretch meat until it begs for mercy around here. ;)

        • Karen

          I use leftover chicken or beef roast with homemade noodles. Really good. Even used the store bought kind to make a “Hamburger helper” type meal. Better for you, since you control salt and no MSG.

    • Michele

      Thanks for a great post! I've been trying to figure this out lately because we are a family of 6 and even with couponing it would help if I could save a little more. This information helps me focus my limited time on the right items. I REALLY can't wait for you Wed post on the stockpile guide.

    • Terri

      Here is a wheat bread recipe that I have modified from one on All Recipes.com.
      It’s not dry at all and even my kids like it.
      The original uses less whole wheat and is called “Honey Wheat Bread.”

      3 cups warm water
      4 1/2 tsp dry active yeast (or two packets)
      2/3 c honey, divided
      4 cups all purpose flour
      4 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
      3 Tbsp butter, melted
      1 Tbsp salt
      3-4 Tbsp powdered wheat gluten

      In the bowl of a stand mixer, mix water, yeast, and 1/3 c honey. Add white flour and gluten. Let stand 20-30 min or until big and bubbly.

      Mix in butter, honey, and salt. Gradually mix in whole wheat flour and mix until all of the flour is incorporated. This is in place of kneading. The dough will still be sticky. If your mixer is like mine, there is just a touch too much dough when all of the flour is in, so watch that last 1/4 c.

      Transfer to an oiled bowl. Turn to coat. Cover and let rise until doubled or about an hour.
      Punch down the dough and transfer to two loaf pans that have been sprayed with cooking spray. (You really have enough for two loaves and about four rolls that are the size of ping pong balls or two giant loaves.)

      Allow to rise until dough tops pans by 1/2 inch or so.

      Bake at 350 for 30 minutes.

      Brush tops with melted butter if desired and cool on a wire rack.

      Hope you guys like it. If you have problems, you can always look up the original and all of the comments that follow.

    • I'm wondering, does any one make their snacks from scratch? I recently looked up a recipe for homemade crackers and it seemed pretty simple. I was also thinking small muffins, homemade applesauce, and things along those lines. I thought it might save me a lot of money especially during the summer months when I have all 4 kids home all day. Would love to know if anyone has looked into this or does this?! Thanks!

      • AYork

        http://simplyrecipes.com/recipes/banana_bread/

        If you like banana bread…check out that recipe. I usually make 12 muffins instead of a loaf. Really easy and makes a very tasty snack!

      • Emilytwinmom

        I eat gluten free, so when I can't find a gluten free alternative to something I used to love and miss I try to make it myself. Sometimes it's awesome, sometimes it's not so awesome. Unless you're a pretty experienced baker stay away from trying to bake things like cheese its, but making things like applesauce and muffins is super easy and cheap!! For muffins you can even buy mixes when they're free with coupons, and use mini tins and freeze some for later. I make lots of snacks for me and the three kiddos!

      • AngelaDH

        Applesauce is super easy. Just boil cut and peeled apples with extra water, add cinnamon to taste and sugar if you want (we like our applesauce with a bite). Mash it once the apples are soft (add the cinnamon and sugar when mashing) and freeze it or can it.
        The Betty Crocker Cookbook has great muffin recipes. I also like my silicone muffin “wrappers” because they are individual and I don't have to buy papers. The muffins generally come right out and we wash the muffin cups and they're ready for next time! I also freeze the muffins in the silicone and then pop them out and then into the microwave for later.

      • Luiza

        Hi there, for apple sauce, just peel and core them; stir in a little sugar to taste and steam in pan with just a couple of spoons of water added. Apples will release juice as they cook. Steam on medium heat a few minutes until just soft enough. Allow to cool slightely, add the juice of a freshly squeezed lemon juice and run it through the blender or food processor. There you have the best apple sauce for kids of all ages. You can even skip the sugar altogether and it will still taste superior than store bought, simply because it will taste natural and real. Keeps well in fridge for several days. My 12 mo old boy eats this with cottage cheese or yogurt for his snack times. My Bi-lo often bags apples that are starting to go a little funny for $1 and I make sauce with them. God give you wisdon and joy daily as you work to love and serve your little ones.
        ps Try this same method with other fruit on sale such as peaches, plums, pears… and for older kids you could skip the pureeing and just serve the fruit cut up over cereal, etc.

        • jerilyn

          You can skip the cooking too. Google raw applesauce for some recipes.

      • Rene

        The healthy mini muffin snacks is easy. I also substitute half of the regular flour for whole wheat and use apple sauce or a mashed banana in place of oil. This also works for cakes and brownies. No one will ever know the difference. And the fruit makes it lower in calories and fat plus it makes baked goods extra moist.

    • bridget

      This is an eye-opening post, although I had a good chuckle about paying 44 cents for Lawry's marinade. I think SS has trained me too well, because my “buy” price for marinade is only if it is free!

      Thanks for all you do to help us, Jenny!

      • Luiza

        Hi there, for apple sauce, just peel and core them; stir in a little sugar to taste and steam in pan with just a couple of spoons of water added. Apples will release juice as they cook. Steam on medium heat a few minutes until just soft enough. Allow to cool slightely, add the juice of a freshly squeezed lemon juice and run it through the blender or food processor. There you have the best apple sauce for kids of all ages. You can even skip the sugar altogether and it will still taste superior than store bought, simply because it will taste natural and real. Keeps well in fridge for several days. My 12 mo old boy eats this with cottage cheese or yogurt for his snack times. My Bi-lo often bags apples that are starting to go a little funny for $1 and I make sauce with them. God give you wisdon and joy daily as you work to love and serve your little ones.
        ps Try this same method with other fruit on sale such as peaches, plums, pears… and for older kids you could skip the pureeing and just serve the fruit cut up over cereal, etc.

        • Luiza

          Sorry, Bridget, I meant to send the post on apple sauce in reply to Michele…

    • Emilytwinmom

      Having to eat Gluten Free means my options for “convenience foods” are rather tasteless and very expensive. I make about half of my food from scratch, but refuse to condemn my family to my diet, so I buy some convenience foods for them and love coupons! However, when I started to get really good at making food for myself I started to make almost all of our dinners and it is so much healthier! I also have to say our grocery spending has gone down significantly.

      • Tracy Shober

        We also are forced to make the great bulk of our food from scratch because my son cannot eat gluten, casein or soy. We also eat almost all organic. I have learned to keep our overall budget very reasonable by using coupons and sales and stockpiling.

    • Shawn

      I just recently purchased a yogurt maker for $25. I can now make homemade organic yogurt a lot cheaper than buying it already done. I buy a gallon of organic milk, 2 single serve organic vanilla yogurt. I boil the milk with about 3 Tbsp of sugar. Let it cool to 95 degrees. Then mix in 1 container of vanilla yogurt and a little extra vanilla extract. It will make 7 large jars of yogurt. So basically for around $5, I can make 14 large jars of organic yogurt. (.35 cents each) Even cheaper if I didn't use organic ingredients. Also, a side note….it is so much healthier and has helped tremendously with my digestive tract!! Add fruit or eat plain….kiddos love it too!!

      • jerilyn

        We love homemade yogurt. You can also make it in a crockpot too!

        • how do you do that?

          • Kat

            Slate ran an article a while back comparing whether it is cheaper to make or buy basic items. It includes a link to really easy yogurt instructions:
            http://www.slate.com/id/2216611/pagenum/all/
            I couldn’t believe how easy it was. i used the method where you preheat your oven then turnn it off, wrap your yougurt container in a towel, and leave it in the warm oven for a few hours.
            I also couldn’t beleive how much better it tastes. Yogurt should be tart, but not sour or harsh like store bought. My husband always said he hated yogurt, and even he loves the homemade kind.

        • Tracy Shober

          Ooh! Share please!

        • Stephanie

          I'd love this information also! My little boy likes to eat two little cups of yogurt a day…and would have more if I'd let him! :)

      • carissa528

        My husband LOVES homemade yogurt. He's been making it for a couple of years now. But we don't have a yogurt maker or anything like that. He just sticks the pot in the microwave oven with the stove lamp on. The heat from the stove lamp keeps the microwave at just the right temp. to make the yogurt!

    • Robin3girls

      I use a book called Make-A-Mix. It gives quick and easy recipes for making mixes from scratch and storing them in the pantry or freezer. I have only been couponing for the past 2 mths and find myself buying some of the convience items, if they are free, but also stocking up on my make-a-mix items. I have a long list of stockpile items.

    • AngelaDH

      Great post! Thanks for sharing! :)

      I love using the King Arthur's White Wheat Flour for my bread and it is a lot cheaper at Publix than anywhere else. They also run sales on it every so often. I stockpile flour whenever it's on sale (I only do the unbleached) so my pantry has it stashed in multiple places. :p A couple months back I found Gold Medal flour for like .95/5lb bag. I'm still working my way through it! :D Canola oil is cheap with couponing and my mum and mother-in-law bring me good ole C&H Brown Sugar from California (and there are coupons for it). :D I wish they sold C&H East of the Mississippi!!

      • lrose57

        We buy King Arthur in bulk from a small Mom and Pop store that sells fresh and Amish made products.. They repackage the 50 lb bags and sell the “fancy” King Arthur for less than the groc store sales… my DH makes pizza crusts every Saturday and the High Gluten Flour we get for $25 for 50lbs… which is great, since you cannot buy it in our stores here and we used to order it from Amazon or KA site and have pay a humungus shipping fee…

    • Beth

      I am really enjoying your posts. I am new to couponing and am hooked! I wish I had figured all of this out sooner. We tend to do a mix of cooking with a lean towards more homemade – just don't want my kiddos (and my husband and myself) eating the “extra” stuff in store bought! My husband is a wonderful gardener (my version of farming) and loves to can so we save a lot with his veggies, fruits and canned goods!

      I can't wait to see the post on Wed. for your list of stockpile/pantry items.

    • flowergirl889092

      I LOVE the Artisian Bread in Five Minutes a Day book Jenny mentioned in her post. I do buy bread, but make the dough when I get a chance. The dough makes great pizza dough and I also roll it thin and make pita bread on the pizza stone (the recipe is in the book). I also make my own hummus to go with it. It is so much better tasting and much cheaper than storebought!

      • Honey

        sounds yummy… could you share your hummus recipe?

        • Amanda

          One of my favorites is homemade dough for pizza with hummus as the “sauce”, throw on a bnch of chopped veggies, a little feta and mozzarella and you'll be amazed! I make it with roasted garlic hummus and it's just awesome!

    • Melissa

      I have only been cooking for about 3 years since I became a stay at home mom…I have not gotten good enough to make whole meals from scratch but I do feel like couponing has opened up new doors for me…we try things when they are their cheapest…I did try making my own meat sauce with canned tomatoes…and that went well…but i try to try something new each week or as sales permit! Thanks for the great article!! :o)

    • LydiaClaire

      Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day has changed our lives. I work full time, have three children, even manage to exercise pretty regularly but still, with this book, I have time to bake all of our bread from scratch.

    • rosewood4

      I like what Melissa said and it gave me the idea to start trying to make at least 1 new dish that I have not made yet a week. Time for a little variety.

    • Tina

      Just about everything tastes better and is better for you when it is made homemade. It is even better when it is fresh from your own garden. However, there is a learning curve to all things. Work on one thing until it is easy and then move on to something else or you will overwhelm yourself. I am just getting the swing of couponing for staples and now I am moving on to homemade yogurt. As mentioned below it is easy, inexpensive (especially if eating organic), and much creamier, better tasting, and more filling than store bought. Even if you can get yogurt free with coupons, it just isn't worth it. Next up…. homemade mozzarella.

    • jennifer r

      one convenience item we now live without is store-bought frozen waffles…with three kiddos i can't imagine how many boxes we would go through in a week,,,plus the freezer space to store them…
      so i make one large batch of homemade waffle batter about each week (which i can control all of the ingredients, using whole wheat flour, milk, eggs, etc for a wholesome breakfast) cook them all off, let them cool on wire racks and freeze them in a big ziploc or two…
      just reheat like you would, a regular store bought waffle in the toaster and there you have it!
      :)
      thanks for this great post…

      • IF I buy waffles, we'd go through a case every 2 weeks with 6 kids and hubby eating them. Very expensive!

    • Amber

      I love to make things from scratch because they just taste better.. My husband says it is the added love… But it does take time, so if you don't have that, you may need to stick with convenience or just start to plan out things… I have been sticking to desserts to save us money. If I cannot make brownies or other sweets with the basics in my pantry, we go without. This saves on buy cookies or ice cream every week.

    • I coupon and make most things from scratch. I use my coupons to buy things for snacks and feed my teen aged son! Couponing has saved me sooo much money on cereal alone. I have 6 kids and we go through a box of cereal a day! During summer with the kids home, I have to have a pantry full of snacks. My husband is a teacher, so he's home all day munching, too. And it's just too hot to cook anything right now! so that's another reason to have snacks during summer.

      We also do the artisan bread and use it for pretzels, pizza dough, etc. Making pizza from scratch and using marinara and cheese bought with coupons is a major savings for us each week. Every Friday night is pizza. :)

    • I am so glad to read this post about making things from scratch, and reminding folks of the benefits of eating food without 'stuff' that is included with processed/packaged goods. Sometimes folks get caught up in how cheap an item is, and forget to ask themselves “is this something I want to put in my body?”

    • katie

      do people really buy and/or drink deli pre-made tea? ick.

      anyway…as a mid-20's single person who is trying to save money for her savings and retirement accts, using coupons has helped me focus on not only my grocery expenses, but also on the ingredients in the food I am purchasing and ingesting. My health is just as important as my bank account.

      Personally, I won't indulge in a Frito Lay CVS deal, as I know I don't need chips in my pantry. That said, if I can get a good deal on unsalted snyder's pretzels, coupled with a sale on cucumbers, and add to that my homemade hummus…well, that's a healthy meal! (or snack)

      I know how to cook, and can make most anything from scratch — but I unless it's on a small scale, I can't come up with a single reason as to why I should spend my time doing so.

      Canned veggies, frozen veggies, frozen fruit, rice of all sorts, etc. are always on sale and are healthy. In fact, for a single person, they're ideal. If I were to purchase all my produce fresh, I'd have to go to the grocery store daily, otherwise most of it would rot. My stomach is only so big.

      Best homemade recipe: roasted chicken. It can feed a family in one meal or feed a person like me for a week. Whole chickens are usually cheap and one can add sides accordingly. Better yet, throw that chicken in the crock pot, add a can of soup, some veggies (frozen, canned, or fresh), rice, salt, pepper…you'll come home from work with a glorious meal.

    • We love making homemade pizza! My husband loves the simple thin crust and my kids love picking their own toppings. It seems to be a lot cheaper and so much healthier! This article was a great idea, I am going to link my readers to it!

      • lrose57

        Ah… my DH makes fantastic pizza, he has been perfecting his crust for years and uses the high gluten flour that King Arthur makes… the best…

    • Dawn

      You have an excellent point on so many of the things…I love the Artisan bread–I have some in my fridge now. :) About the spaghetti sauce…I use home grown tomatoes/peppers, and I really use minimal other ingredients, so, other than the cost of my plants, there really isn't any…Last year, my 4 tomato plants yielded enough for 8 gallons of sauce!

      • lrose57

        I make home made sauce as much as possible and we have a garden and probably this year will have enough tomatoes to give away to the whole neighborhood, if the weather stays like it has…I like Tony Danza's Sunday Sauce and Quick sauce… adds some red wine to it… the best, try his meatball and lasagna recipes… do not make any other recipes for these anymore… just google his name and recipes…

    • rose

      I have my three teenagers take turns once a week to make a NEW dinner (never tried before recipe to their liking) during the summer when there is down time. My daughter went off to college and was the only one with a recipe box and knew how to cook. How easy is that!!

    • Stephanie

      I have found that buying “plain” noodles and rice and then making my own homemade sauces have saved me so much money. It really takes very little time and I can control what is in the sauce so that makes me feel better about what my family is eating.

      Another healthy and frugal tip that I have realized since having children is to use less meat when cooking. When my husband and I were newlyweds, I would make a chicken breast for each of us and two side items at dinner. Maybe it was just novice cooking, but a lot of that is just the way we've been taught to eat down here in the south! Now I often use 1.5 chicken breasts in 1 meal for a family of four. I just season and cook the breast in broth and shred it up in my rice or noodles, etc. The kids eat the meat better this way and my hubby seems to enjoy the meals better!

    • Mary_P

      Is there a method to the madness on the bread? I have a bread maker, can you give the complete recipe and preparation directions for the Artisan Bread?

    • Michelle

      I spent the first year of marriage living overseas where processed food was not an option, so I learned to cook everything from scratch. Since moving back to the States we have been trying to ballance the very things that Jenny mentioned in this article: healthy and homemade vs. cheap and processed. Recently we decided to test how much more we would spend a month if we started buying only organic or 100% natural products. I did have to go to ALL the stores (Publix, Bilo, Kroger, and Earthfare) in one week to get the best price on everything we needed, but we only spent $30 dollars! We got some organic and some conventional fruits and veggies, the staple items we needed like organic milk, organic eggs, organic cheese, free-range chicken and lots of other healthy items. My budget for food is $40 a week for the two of us, so I still have $10 to play with! Cooking from scratch and buying healthy food is an option on a small budget! I'm so happy that I don't have to give up my homemade bread (I like King Aurther's 100% whole wheat recipe the best) or my Ukrainian recipes to live within my means!

    • ADJ

      It looks like I am in the minority about the spaghetti sauce…the article says $1.70 for 24 oz of homemade. But I can buy it for 1.08 for the same amount. I do like homemade sauce, but I haven't found that it is any cheaper than buying, and it is definitely not as convenient. If I had a spot to grow my own tomatoes and then canned them into sauce, I can see how that would be the best way to go, but except for that, I just can't see taking the time to open all those cans and make my own when I can open 1 jar and heat it in 5 seconds, lol.

    • moneysaved4disney

      I would like to start making my own bread…this just gave me an extra reason to actually do it! Thx!

    • vjw

      I have tried the prepackaged meals a few times when I got a real good deal on it. However I was raised on a farm and we always baked and cooked from scatch. I have my family so spoiled that they cannot stand prepackage things unless it is cookies and pies. My kids are not picky it is just the taste of the prepackage meals are not as good as mine they say.
      My first time I made myself a meal at my new apartment…I made spagetti…I ate it for a week 2 meals a day! (At that time I did not have a way to freeze it yet.) After that I learned to reduce how my mother had taught me how to cook. I now am having to increase things because my boys are starting to eat more and there is no leftovers for my husband and I to take to work.

      As for meat saving dishes (these are my favorite). I will use 1/2# hamburger in spagetti sauce and add mushrooms to make it “look” like there is more in it. My homemade sauce is 2- kroger or Mccormick packet of spagetti seasoning (follow directions). I use the sauce method, 16oz of tomatoe sauce a pinch of baking soda (reduces the acid in from the tomatoes) and a tbs of brown sugar or less. If it has a stong flavor add more sauce. Sometimes I will add italian seasonings too. We will eat off this for a few meals. It is looks like there is a lot of meat I will add to it then freeze or freeze w/note add to it.

      My other meat saving is Chicken pot pie or Chicken corn soup. I can use one large chicken breast and make enough for my family of 4 and at least 2 lunches. I will make soup for my boys' school lunches. They hate the school lunches and I cannot blame them. They watched the Jamie Oliver show and mine won't even look at a chicken nugget!

      • Jennifer

        Great ideas. I loved “Jamie Oliver's Food Revolution”! Kudos to your kids for not wanting to eat the nuggets.

    • Lana

      I do keep some frozen meals on hand to avoid last minute eating out when There is a crunch for time. Also with 2 college kids home for the summer and both of them working and in and out they can prepare an easy meal for themselves if need be.

      I do buy jarred spagetti sauce as it is so cheap but I give it homemade taste by combining 2 jars with a can of diced tomatoes and a teaspoon of Italian seasoning and simmer for 30 minutes. Makes a really good sauce.

      Our youngest daughter has food allergies so I bake from scratch for her but it is expensive. We usually eat her baked goods with her for the first day and then freeze the rest for her and I use the very inespensive mixes for the rest of us most of the time.

    • Joshua

      Home made bread is fun, better tasting, cheaper, but much more time consuming and harder to eat. 5 minute bread? Liar.

      If you already know exactly what you are doing and work really fast and make a batter bread ( no kneeding required) you might be able to make it with 10 minutes of work, but that doesn't include the time prooffing the yeast, letting it rise, and baking it.

      Give yourself 30 minuets to make the dough. It may not take that long, bet it often does. Below is a tasty recipe that is simple and yet can make delicious french/artesian bread of pizza crust.

      1) In large mixing bowl add 1 cup warm-hot water and 1-2 tb sugar or honey. Stir.
      2) When water is warm to the touch, but not hot enough to feel uncomfortable, add 1 packet yeast and waut 10 min.
      3) Add 1 tsp salt, 2 tbs oil (I like olive, but in it doesn't actually make much of a difference) and stir.
      4) Add flour 1/2 a cup at a time until the dough is to thick to stir and balls togeather (about 2.5 cups)
      5) Knead for 8-10 minutes regularly adding flour when the dough starts getting sticky.
      6) Place 2 tbs oil in large mixing bowl. Add dough and swirl until oil coates the sides. Flip over the dough in the bowl and cover bowl with plastic wrap. Wait until the bread double is size.

      From here you can either punch the dough down, shape and bake, or puchdown, shape, wait until doubles in size again, and bake. 400 F is a good temperature.

      You can vary the crust by doing different things.

      For a firm crisp crust, like on real French bread, lightly spray bread with water once or twice while baking and/or coat dough with a mixture of egg whites and water before baking.

      For a golden sheen, coat with butter or margerine after cooking. I simply glide the stick over the surface of the bread. For bread that truely amazes, After 8 minutes in the oven remove bread and coat with margerine/butter then place back in oven. Repeat againin another 6 minutes, and when the bread is finished.

      For a brown crust, coat with milk before baking.

      Baking bread should be fun, so try different things.

      While I love to bake bread, we 've found that store bought bread is necesary, and someimtes even cheaper. Heres why:
      1) We eat homemade bread much faster. It tastes so good, and it doesn't come in little thin slices. One may not think much of eating half a loaf of artesian bread, but eating 8-10 slices of bread is a different story.
      2) Little kids eat sandwiches better on store bought bread.
      3) Don't have the time to regularly bake bread.
      4) Preservatives. Store bought loaves can last 2 weeks without suffering ill effects. home made bread needs to be eaten with in a day or 2 before it starts going down hill.

      • The Artisan Bread in 5 minutes a Day book gives you a recipe that can be mixed and kept in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks. You don't need to kneed it, proof yeast, or let it rise. You just take a lump out of the fridge, let it rest, and pop it in the oven (rest time and baking time obviously not included in the 5 min. but you don't have to stand there and watch it!) You should check out the book. I have many friends who make the bread and it tastes wonderful. If you don't wash your storage container, the bread starts to take on a nice sourdough quality to it from the old dough.

        • vanessacook

          The part about if you don't wash your storage container…totally gross to me! I am sure it probably tastes great, but I could never do it myself. If I didn't know someone else had done it I would probably eat it all day long. (I am a big bread lover.)

    • david121

      Forget about the cost, powedered mashed potatoes are hardly worth eating. Real mashed potatoes are a treat as well as cheap and easy to make.

      • vanessacook

        I have started adding all sorts of things to the boxed potatoes and they end up tasting wonderful…I get rave reviews everywhere I take my “special” concoction. (I have to agree…plain boxed are just too plain.)

    • david121

      Easy supper tasty pasta sauce. Brown 1 lb italian spiced ground turkey ($1-$1.18 at Walmart. Not a sale, but the regular price) with an onion. Add a jar/can of pasta sauce (and some additional seasonings if so desired), and poof, you have a fancy pasta dinner.

      Also, it is cheaper. One can usually buy pasta sauce for cheaper than buying tomato sauce.

    • Meghan

      When I get a good deal at places like farmers markets, I'll chop up and prepare the extra fruit or veggies and then freeze them. It's great to just quickly defrost a container under warm water and then dump it into my cookpot. That way I get organic ingredients and little to no waste! It works great with stew veggies, tomatoes for Italian recipes, berries for smoothies or mixing with yogurt or sundae toppings, roasted garlic for recipes, and just about anything where I'm going to be cooking my frozen stuff.

    • Lindsay

      I make a mean Chicken Dumplins..part bought part homemade. I use
      2 32oz cans of Chicken Broth (I stock up when they are B1G1 at Publix – Usually less that $1 a can)
      2 16oz cans of Chunk Chicken Breath (again I stock up when they are B1G1 – About $3.00) – Pour chicken (juice and all) into a bowl and shred it.
      1 stick of butter (usually free)
      1 cup of milk ($0.13 – based on $2.08 gal of milk)
      *Mix everything but chicken into large pot and bring to the boil – be sure to have your dumplins ready to drop before you bring to a boil.
      DUMPLINs – homemade
      2 cups of all purpose flour ($0.25 – based on 5lb bag @ $2.50)
      1/2 cup of buttermilk ($0.07 – based on $2.08 gal of b-milk)
      1 Tbsp Crisco (lard) (not sure of $, but can't be that much)
      In a mixing bowl, but lard into flour and then pour in B-milk and gently knead until dough ball forms; pour on on floured counter and roll into 1/2 in think square; used knife and cut into strips or squares (depending on how big or little you like your dumplins) and then one at a time, drop the dough into the boiling liquid – making sure that each piece of dough is fully submerged and then floats to the top before dropping another piece of dough. Once all dough has been drop reduce the heat and gently stir in shredded chicken. Remove from heat and serve.

      This make a Large Pot that only costs about $5.45 (I would guestimate this recipe probably makes about 18-20 cups but I am not 100% certain. I know that one batch has fed 7 adults and 3 children with plenty leftover for lunch the next day.)
      So that come out to about $0.27/cup at 2 cups average a person…
      You've fed an adult for $0.54 to $0.81.
      Enjoy!

      • Lindsay

        Ooops, I meant chicken BREAST not breath..ha ha

    • Christina

      I am new to cooking from scratch. There are a few things I like and make often. When I look up new recipes they seem to call for so many ingredients that I give up even trying. Any help or hints? I've really enjoyed this site and have always clipped coupons just never knew I could get this much for less. I would like to eat healthy and cook more but it seems overwhleming.

      • PrincessPerky

        Try searching for 'simple' or 'easy' with your recipe name, you will likely find several easier versions, some might argue the fancier one tastes better, but those folk have more time/experience, you prolly wont mind.

        Also feel free to leave out a few rare ingredients.

    • Jodi

      Wow- so many posts! This is a great discussion point because I usually only end up saving 40% on most grocery bills because I buy fresh produce, meat etc. and make most meals from scratch- and I only shop from a list! I think it is more expensive to cook from scratch but worth it in the long run. I always look for sales/coupons and only buy produce that is on sale and plan around that. We do have some Lean Cuisine around in a pinch for my husband and I. We have five kids so our food budget always has room for improvement. I have tried to buy what I need and is good for us vs what is cheap and on sale. I am all for taking a jar of Newman's Own and dressing it up – a great sauce for adding meat or veggies. Using this site and coupons has cut my bills down considerably – and we still eat well. I really rack up on toiletries using Southern Savers!!! Keep it up Jenny!

    • mary

      homemade salad dressing is MUCH cheaper and MUCH healthier. (Did you ever read the ingredients?? Usually it's got HFCS which makes me ill, distilled/ vinegar which also makes me feel ill- not to mention it's flavorless compared to wine vinegar, cider vinegar, or balsamic, soybean/vegatable oil instead of olive oil, and all kinds of preservatives.) DIY and get better quality for less.(Especially if you get your ingredients using coupons. $2.99 for 17 oz. extra virgin olive oil, anyone?) Maybe if you're lucky and it doesn't make you feel sick, you can get a bottle or two of the premade stuff for free with coupons, but it's still unhealthy- and therefore, what's the point in having salad anyway?? I don't have any special recipe, just find one that you like.

    • mary

      I wish you would post the full recipe with directions for the artisan bread. I currently have transportation issues and a very limited budget, and I've completely run out of bread. We're picky about our bread too. Many store bought breads have a lot of junk added to them, such as HFCS, and preservatives. The only kind I'm willing to buy is Trader Joe's bread which is healthy and only $1.99 a loaf everyday. I've never made bread and I plan to try in the next couple of days- I don't really want to ask somebody for a ride to Trader Joe's just for a loaf of bread and nothing more, especially since I happen to have milk, eggs, yeast and 20 POUNDS OF FLOUR!! (lt was on sale $1.29 for 5 lb. and there was a coupon I don't remember the value but it worked out to something like 50-75 cents a bag. I couldn't help myself and stocked up.) I'm not sure which recipe I should use and I really hope it doesn't turn out to be a wasted effort.

    • mary

      I wish you would post the full recipe with directions for the artisan bread. I currently have transportation issues and a very limited budget, and I've completely run out of bread. We're picky about our bread too. Many store bought breads have a lot of junk added to them, such as HFCS, and preservatives. The only kind I'm willing to buy is Trader Joe's bread which is healthy and only $1.99 a loaf everyday. I've never made bread and I plan to try in the next couple of days- I don't really want to ask somebody for a ride to Trader Joe's just for a loaf of bread and nothing more, especially since I happen to have milk, eggs, yeast and 20 POUNDS OF FLOUR!! (lt was on sale $1.29 for 5 lb. and there was a coupon I don't remember the value but it worked out to something like 50-75 cents a bag. I couldn't help myself and stocked up.) I'm not sure which recipe I should use and I really hope it doesn't turn out to be a wasted effort.

      • Snowski824

        You can probably find the recipe online with a search but I know my friend checked that cookbook out from the library.

    • A couple of resources for things we make from scratch at home:”Artisan Breads Every Day” by Peter Reinhart. He’s the master. Hands down. http://www.amazon.com/Peter-Reinhart-Reinharts-…You can make mozzarella in 30 minutes. Seriously. Ricki Carroll is the queen, and you can order a book and supplies from her website – http://www.cheesemaking.com/Enjoy!

    • I too am looking for a good sandwish bread. The bread recipe I currently have is delicious but too moist for sandwich bread. It is best as dinner rolls or slice bread with meals.

    • SFLS

      What about buying bread from the bread outlet store? We have one in town and the loaves of fresh, name brand bread are between .50 and 1.50 each, Thomas' English Muffins .99 for a 6 pack, Dandee 8 pack hamburger or hot dog buns .50. Often, they even have the name brand organic breads…

    • Hubbardca

      Here is a basic dinner from the book “Cheap Talk with the Frugal Friends.” I haven't tried it yet, and I didn't find powdered milk at a good price, but I still think it's probably cheaper than store bought.

      Cream soup master mix

      2 ½ c flour (or 1 ½ c cornstarch)
      2 c dry milk
      ½ bouillon powder
      2 T onion powder
      1 t basil
      1 t oregano
      1 t pepper
      Combine ingredients and store in a container. To use for casseroles, combine ½ c flour mix (or 1/3 cornstarch mix) with 1 ½ c water. This makes the equivalent of one can of cream soup. Use in casseroles:

      Chicken and rice casserole

      1 sm. onion, chopped
      3 celery stalks, chopped
      ¼ c margarine
      3 c broth
      1 c uncooked rice
      4 c cooked chicken or turkey
      1 can cream soup (or soup mix)
      ½ c shredded cheese
      1 t liquid smoke (?)
      Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Saute onion and celery in melted margarine till tender. Add broth and rice. Cook till rice is tender. Stir in remaining ingredients and pour into casserole dish. Bake uncovered for 20 minutes.

    • Hubbardca

      “Cheap Talk with the Frugal Friends” also suggests using the leftover juice from canned pineapple and teriyaki sauce as a marinade.

    • Hubbardca

      Here is a basic dinner from the book “Cheap Talk with the Frugal Friends.” I haven't tried it yet, and I didn't find powdered milk at a good price, but I still think it's probably cheaper than store bought.

      Cream soup master mix

      2 ½ c flour (or 1 ½ c cornstarch)
      2 c dry milk
      ½ bouillon powder
      2 T onion powder
      1 t basil
      1 t oregano
      1 t pepper
      Combine ingredients and store in a container. To use for casseroles, combine ½ c flour mix (or 1/3 cornstarch mix) with 1 ½ c water. This makes the equivalent of one can of cream soup. Use in casseroles:

      Chicken and rice casserole

      1 sm. onion, chopped
      3 celery stalks, chopped
      ¼ c margarine
      3 c broth
      1 c uncooked rice
      4 c cooked chicken or turkey
      1 can cream soup (or soup mix)
      ½ c shredded cheese
      1 t liquid smoke (?)
      Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Saute onion and celery in melted margarine till tender. Add broth and rice. Cook till rice is tender. Stir in remaining ingredients and pour into casserole dish. Bake uncovered for 20 minutes.

    • Hubbardca

      “Cheap Talk with the Frugal Friends” also suggests using the leftover juice from canned pineapple and teriyaki sauce as a marinade.