30+ Foods to Start Making Instead of Buying

*This is the 7th day of the One Month Spending Freeze Challenge. Please click here to see all of the posts in this series.*

I told you how much I used to spend on groceries on Monday. A hundred bucks a week was too much for our small family, at least when our income was slashed in half. We could not afford to continue spending that much money so I tried everything to get that bill down.

When you've got more time than money, making these foods from home may just be worth it. Choose from 30+ grocery items that you can start DIYing instead of buying!One thing that we slowly started doing more of was making grocery items at home to save some money.

Even if we could afford to spend an infinite amount of money on groceries tomorrow, I would still continue to make these items at home. They are all way more delicious than the store-bought versions!

30+ Foods to Start Making at Home

There are so many different foods you can make from scratch that will be both healthier and cheaper than their store-bought versions.

The first several foods on this list are ones that we make exclusively at home. We rarely will buy any of these foods from the grocery store, because we’ve become accustomed to our homemade versions.

The last part of the list are foods that I have never made at home, but I might try one day, especially if I can be convinced that they are in fact cheaper and better for you.

Salad Dressing

Salad dressing doesn't have to come from a bottle at the store. It can be quickly made at home with simple ingredients you probably already have. The secret ingredient in this vinaigrette always makes an excellent salad.In the past, I would buy Ranch and Italian dressing, but I always hated it when I had to replace them. They were a good $2-$4 each and I knew they had tons of extra ingredients we just didn’t need in our bodies.

So I started making my own. The one I make right now is just a basic vinaigrette (with a secret ingredient!). I rarely make more than enough for just one dinner, but you can always double or triple the recipe to make a week’s worth.

Get the recipe for Basic {Secret Ingredient} Vinaigrette.


BeansCanned beans are pretty tasteless, and they are full of sodium. The only beans I make right now are Pinto beans, but I would love to start making my own Garbanzo beans, black beans, and more.

Get the Recipe for Slow Cooker Pinto Beans.


BreadWhen I graduated from high school, my mom bought me a KitchenAid Stand Mixer. Without this mixer, I know I wouldn’t have been brave enough to make bread on a regular basis. I started making bread soon after I got married 7 years ago, but it wasn’t until this year that we decided to make it 2-3 times a week and replace the store-bought bread for good. We spend right around 50 cents a loaf for this bread!

Get the recipe for Poor Man’s Bread.


SoupI am not even sure what kind of soup I made the first time, but ever since that first attempt I have been making soup every fall and winter. Most cans of soup can feed 1-2 people. When you make soup at home, you can feed 5-30 people, depending on how much you make. I would just so much rather eat a delicious homemade soup than canned soup.

Get the recipe for Garbanzo Bean and Tomato Soup OR Split Pea Soup.

Rotisserie Chicken

Rotisserie ChickenI finally got the courage to make a roast chicken a few years into our marriage. The chicken was always pretty tasty but I was tired of it being so dry, so I decided to try something new this year: brining. It literally took the taste of my normal whole chicken from about 6 stars to 11 1/2! Depending on how much all your ingredients cost and the price of rotisserie chickens in your grocery store, you could save a lot of money over buying a store-bought rotisserie chicken.

Get the recipe for Better Than Rotisserie Roast Chicken.

Chicken stock

Once you start making your rotisserie chicken regularly, the next logical grocery item to make is some healthy and tasty homemade chicken stock. I would make it off and on in the past, but now I’ve been trying to make it at least twice a month. It is great for making homemade soup, and we recently just used it as “medicine” for our girls and my husband while they were sick. Each can of chicken stock can cost anywhere from about 50 cents to over a dollar, so I know we probably save at least 40 cents (per 2 cups) by making it at home!

Chicken breasts

In my post about making 9 meals from 2 whole chickens, I mention that one of the chickens should be cut into 8 pieces. Two of the pieces are chicken breasts. You can actually do a lot with just two chicken breasts. So stop buying the expensive, pre-butchered chicken breasts (which can run from $1.69/lb to about $2.99/lb where I live) and buy a whole chicken so you can get your chicken breasts for at least $0.60 less per pound.

Shredded Cheese

Ever wondered how much you are spending on cheese, whether you buy the blocks or buy it pre-shredded? Find out the cost savings over a year of the type that is cheaper and you might just change your buying habits!

Are you aware of how much money you spend on cheese? I did a little price comparison last year and found that buying a block of cheese was cheaper than buying shredded cheese. Over time, that little price difference can add up. Get a cheese grater and start saving some money on cheese!


At least once a month I will make homemade pizza. It’s a rare occasion for us to have frozen or take-out pizza. I haven’t done any price comparison for homemade pizza over the other types, but I am willing to bet that it’s way more delicious. I have made skillet pizza, deep-dish pizza, calzones, and regular pizza. We love them all, and I have improved a long way since I first started making them when I got married.

Dried Fruit

The case for dried fruit is that the sky is the limit if you make your own. I have never seen dried peaches, dried bananas, or dried apples at the store. Maybe they exist, but they are not readily available where I live. If you own a dehydrator and have access to free or really cheap produce, make your own dried fruit! I wish that were my situation, but it’s not so I’ll continue to buy raisins and craisins.


My girls love applesauce, both homemade and store-bought. I actually don’t have a huge problem with store-bought, but I can imagine that only the worst apples were used to make it. When you make your own applesauce, you can take out any really bad parts. I think the price would be nearly the same for homemade and store-bought unless you can get apples for cheap or free.

Granola or Oat Bars

My sister introduced me to homemade oat bars (pretty much just like granola bars), and I love them way more than the store-bought kind! She has the recipe on her blog, so I’ll send you to her recipe over there. You must try them! Now, when it comes to the cost, I really don’t know if they are any cheaper, but I might do a price comparison sometime soon.

Pancake mix

The whole time we’ve been married we’ve bought boxed pancake mix maybe three times. I much prefer to make my own pancakes, but I’ve never made a large batch to have on hand. We don’t eat pancakes that often, but I guess if I had the dry mix already pre-mixed, we probably would. I’m guessing you can save a lot of money by making your own mix.

Pancake syrup

There’s no way I’ll buy pancake syrup from the store. I’ve always made my own. It’s so nice to make a lot all at once and then just have it on hand in the fridge when we do have pancakes, waffles, or French toast. I almost always make this Homemade Maple Syrup from One Good Thing by Jillee.

Instant Oatmeal packets

I’m going to be upfront and honest with you. I really like the oatmeal packets from the store. I tried making my own instant oatmeal last year, and I just didn’t like them. I tend to be a sugar freak when it comes to oatmeal and cereal, so I’m sure that’s why. But if you don’t mind the taste of oatmeal too much, you should definitely be making your own Instant Oatmeal packets for better nutrition and to save some money. When I made my own, I made these Healthy Instant Oatmeal Packets from The Yummy Life.


There have been a few times that I’ve attempted to make homemade breadcrumbs. The results were super fabulous, but the time spent in the kitchen was a bit overkill. Maybe if I didn’t have two young children who need my undivided attention at all hours of the day, I wouldn’t mind so much. I’ll definitely make breadcrumbs again in the future when they are all grown up. I referred to this recipe for Homemade Breadcrumbs on Weed ’em and Reap.

Mac and Cheese

The last time I made mac and cheese from a box was too long ago to even remember. I made it all the time when I would babysit as a teenager, but there’s no way I would give this to my own children. I feel like the cheese is pretty fake, ya know? Homemade Mac n’ Cheese is a wonderful alternative and way better! Here’s a version that would taste great for both adults and kids: One Pot Chili Mac and Cheese from Damn Delicious.


The cost to make your own popcorn at home is ridiculously cheap. Besides, you have complete control over how much salt and butter you put on it. A little more wouldn’t hurt anyone! 😉 Made from Pinterest has a great recipe to try.


I made these with some friends last year and there’s really no comparison to the store-bought version. Homemade bagels are 1000x better! I would share the recipe, but it’s on a piece of paper, so here’s a tutorial from Six Figures Under. Her recipe and method looks basically like the ones we made. Delicious!


I once would buy my lettuce and prepare it to make salad. Now I just grab a bag of prepared salad and get on with life. I don’t know which is cheaper or if they are different nutritionally, but this is one grocery item that could be a nuisance if you have no time to prepare salad.


When I had a food processor I made salsa several times, and it’s so good that you can’t even compare it to store-bought. When I finally get my food processor, I think I’ll be making salsa again!

More Ideas

The rest of these grocery items are ones that I have never made myself, but I’ve heard that they are definitely better from home and possibly even cheaper.

For today’s challenge, pick one or two of the items on this list or another item that you can think of, and start making it from home this month. It would be best to compare the cost to make it vs. buy it if you want to continue making it after the spending freeze challenge.

Have you ever made any of these foods from home?

Be sure to follow me on Facebook or Instagram to find out my progress with the One Month Spending Freeze Challenge.

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I'm a mom of 3 on a journey to feed my family nourishing foods. Personally, I believe that you can feed your family healthy, delicious meals without spending a fortune or slaving away in the kitchen.


  1. For me, when milk is so cheap ($1.99 a gallon today), it’s much cheaper to make my own yogurt. If you can get milk at a reasonable price, it’s a great way to save. I make quite a few of these items too. Love homemade bread the most, though! 🙂
    Kristen @ Joyfully Thriving recently posted…I’m So Glad I Live in a World Where There are OctobersMy Profile

    • Good to know about the milk, Kristen. I really want to try making yogurt sometime soon. It’s so nice to be able to make these foods at home, right?

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