Food is a necessary expenditure — unlike a Friday night movie or those super cute fall boots, there's really no way around it. However, there are definitely foods that are cheaper to make at home, and unlike things like homemade bread or cookies, they're often the foods that you may never have even thought about making from scratch.
In an article for Forbes, certified coach and financial planner Mindy Crary said when she works with clients, time and time again food is the single easiest and most significant way they can save money, as well as a way to maximize personal satisfaction out of what they eat. She noted it can be incredibly easy to give into cravings when you're tired or don't feel like cooking, which is why it's also important to keep basic staples on hand at home so you never feel like you have to make a trip to the store in addition to preparing a meal.
The fact that cooking at home saves money probably isn't all that surprising to most of us; however, the variety of foods that you can make at home cheaply and deliciously just might be. So if you're looking for ways to cut back on expenses, read on for eight surprising foods you can make less expensively at home.
Lifestyle expert and blogger Beth La Manach has a super simple recipe for homemade hummus on her YouTube channel. You can make as much or as little as you'd like and also experiment with your own personal taste preferences (for example, I don't like a lot of lemon juice when I make hummus at home). And you can also totally improvise with a blender if you don't have a food processor.
2. Pesto Sauce
An eight ounce jar of pesto can cost around $8, so making it at home definitely will save you money — especially when you consider that you probably already have a lot of the ingredients, like black pepper, garlic, parmesan cheese, and olive oil. All you'll likely need to invest in is some basil and pine nuts, and it will taste amazing.
In an experiment on his personal finance blog, MyMoneyBlog.com, Jonathan Ping compared making pizza at home to frozen pizza brands, and found he saved about $7 per pizza (and that's not even including delivery fees and tips for when you order delivery). Also, a personal tip of mine is to buy fresh pizza dough directly from a pizza store near your home. I usually pay about $3 for enough fresh dough for two whole pizzas, and I just have to worry about getting things like cheese and sauce, which I can use throughout the week in other recipes.
This might sound surprising, but you can actually make yogurt at home! Thekitchn.com's Emma Christiansen has a two-ingredient, step-by-step recipe, and once you have the basics down, you can start tailoring your yogurt to your specific taste and preferences. You'll eliminate the expensive packaging costs you get with store-bought brands without sacrificing all the health benefits.
5. Spice Blends
Award-winning healthy living blogger Katie "The Wellness Mama" recommended making your own, additive-free spice blends for things like taco seasoning and curry powder as opposed to relying on the more expensive spice blends you find at the grocery store. She recommended buying your ingredients in bulk in order to really save money. Also, here's a personal hack I use all the time: If you already have a full spice rack full of things like cumin, paprika, and basil, and don't necessarily want to make your own blends from scratch, you can often make the very same blends you buy at the store from the spices you already have on hand.
6. Almond Milk
The Wellness Mama also has a recipe for making your own almond milk — another product that can get pretty pricey at the store. The other benefit to making your own at home is that you can actually reuse the parts of the almonds that you don't use in the milk to make almond flour, which you can put towards a whole other recipe, or even just use the ground almond leftovers as a yogurt topping.
7. Nut Butters
On the finance site Wisebread.com, finance writer Elizabeth Lang said that if you buy nuts in bulk, you definitely save money making your own nut butter at home as compared to buying packaged jars from a grocery store. And as with all things you make yourself, you have the added benefit of tweaking the taste and texture to your liking.
8. Salad Dressing
Salad dressing is one of the easiest and fastest foods you can make at home, and usually with ingredients that you already have. In an article in Today's.com Food section, food writer Jessica Battilana emphasized all the various dressing you can make with a simple olive oil and vinegar base. By adjusting the amount of garlic or herbs you add, you can make tons of different flavorful combinations.
There are tons of ways to cut costs when it comes to what you eat, and there are more foods you can make cost effectively at home than you might think. With a little time and prep work, you can definitely pad your wallet by saving money in these unexpected (and delicious) places!