Food Items You Should Stop Buying and Make Instead


A simple combination of oats, nuts, and dried fruit, granola commands quite a markup at grocery stores. Select your own raw ingredients and make it at home in bulk instead. And while you're at it, mix in some honey, stick it in the oven, and cut into strips for your own at-home granola bars. Yum


At more than $5 for a 10-ounce tub, hummus can be a costly purchase when you consider that garbanzo beans cost about $1 for a 15-ounce can.


1 16 oz can of chickpeas or garbanzo beans
1/4 cup liquid from can of chickpeas
3-5 tablespoons lemon juice (depending on taste)
1 1/2 tablespoons tahini
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons olive oil

Drain chickpeas and set aside liquid from can. Combine remaining ingredients in blender or food processor. Add 1/4 cup of liquid from chickpeas. Blend for 3-5 minutes on low until thoroughly mixed and smooth.

Place in serving bowl, and create a shallow well in the center of the hummus.

Add a small amount (1-2 tablespoons) of olive oil in the well. Garnish with parsley (optional).

Serve immediately with fresh, warm or toasted pita bread, or cover and refrigerate.
For a spicier hummus, add a sliced red chile or a dash of cayenne pepper.
Hummus can be refrigerated for up to 3 days and can be kept in the freezer for up to one month. Add a little olive oil if it appears to be too dry.


If you're looking to spice up your snacking habits, salsa is a low-calorie alternative to many snack aisle enticements, but packaged fresh salsa can run upward of $0.40 per ounce. If you're lucky enough to be shopping during tomato season, stock up on those luscious red delights to blend a batch of your own (you can always freeze the extra tomatoes to use when the temperatures drop). Even better: look to your garden for tomatoes, peppers, onions, cilantro, and limes for the ultimate discount!



At $0.40 per ounce for a bag of Lay's original potato chips vs. $0.05 per ounce for russet potatoes, you'll save a bundle as well. Here's all you need.

3 russet potatoes, scrubbed
2 Tbs. extra-virgin olive oil or cooking spray
1 tsp. sea salt
Optional seasonings: onion powder, garlic powder, curry powder, vinegar, chili powder

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Using a mandolin, slice the potatoes into thin slices, about 1/8 inch thick. Soak the potato slices in a bowl of warm water for 10-15 minutes. Drain the potatoes and pat them dry. It's important they be completely dry or they won't get crunchy. I actually put them in a salad spinner and then pat them dry with a dishtowel.

Lay the potato slices on 2 large baking sheets. Make sure they are in a single layer. Drizzle with oil or spray with the cooking oil spray on both sides. Bake for 20 minutes, flipping them halfway through. The chips should be golden brown and still soft in the center.

Sprinkle the chips with salt and any other seasonings you're using and serve

Vanilla Extract

Store-bought pure vanilla extract easily exceeds $3 an ounce. But steep a few vanilla beans in vodka at home, and you can cut that cost in half.


6 Vanilla Beans
6 (4 oz jars)
24 oz. vodka


Use a knife to split the bean in half, leave about ½ inch at each end intact.

Put your vanilla beans in your glass bottle or jar and cover with vodka.

Close jar or bottle and store in a cool, dry place for at least 8 weeks. Give the bottle a shake every week or so. As you use the vanilla, simply add in more liquor to replace what you have used.

Croutons and Breadcrumbs

Don't throw away that slightly stale loaf of bread. Rather than buying boxed croutons at the store, you can dice up that leftover loaf into cubes and butter and toast your way to delicious, crispy croutons. Similarly, pulverize a few slices in a food processor for homemade breadcrumbs, and save yourself a trip to the store.If you haven’t considered making your own croutons yet, I suggest starting. Not only is it super easy but it’s also a lot more cost efficient than purchasing them from the grocery store (plus you have the added advantage of knowing exactly what’s in your salad topping). For this, you’ll want to pre-heat your oven to 400 degrees.

You'll need:

Bread (Any type will do)
Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Seasoning (I love to use garlic and herb seasoning)


Store-bought pesto can cost nearly $1 an ounce, so save on your sauce by making it at home. Plus, whipping up a batch allows you to incorporate other money-saving tips. Substitute spinach for basil, and use almonds in place of pricey pine nuts.


1/2 cup pine nuts
3-4 cloves garlic (I think the more, the merrier)
3 cups fresh basil leaves, packed
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste (or about 1/2 tsp. of each)

In a food processor or blender, blend together basil, nuts, garlic, and cheese. Pour in oil slowly while still mixing, and then add in salt and pepper. Scrape down the sides and pulse once more to make sure it's well-blended.

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