Nix those suspicions that good, homemade food comes with an exorbitant price tag. We found exactly the opposite, actually. If we roll up our sleeves and make homemade pasta, cookies, or just about any other food, it costs a whole lot less than buying the pre-made versions. Not to mention the pride of putting a from-scratch meal on the table.
1. Granola bars
$0.48 each for homemade | $0.69 each for Kashi brand
Who doesn’t love a crunchy, chewy grab-and-go snack? But there’s no need to shell out big bucks or entrust our health to unpronounceable ingredients. Oats, nuts, berries, and honey star in this recipe and significantly cut back on costs. Also check out Greatist’s Fruit and Nut Bar recipe.
2. Granola/Breakfast cereal
$0.37 per ½ cup homemade | $0.41 for Arrowhead Mills brand
Skip the boxed stuff and DIY it for a personalized cereal. These homemade bran flakes rival the store-bought stuff in nutrition and flavor. Add a small handful of dried fruit and roasted nuts for some extra crunch and flavor.
$0.25 for homemade | $0.28 per packet Quaker Oats brand
Swap that paper package of instant oats for classic whole rolled oats. Whip up a big batch at the beginning of the week and then soup up each serving with add-ins like fruit and spices.
$3.40 per 16 oz. homemade | $3.75 per 16 oz. jar Green Mountain Gringo brand
Take a page out of Slim Shady’s book and serve up some salsa. Boiling and blending creates a restaurant-quality dip that’s way better than the jarred stuff.
$0.75 per ¼ cup homemade | $0.87 for ¼ cup Santa Barbara brand
Guacamole’s an easy and stove-free snack to whip up on a warm, summer afternoon. Making it at home not only ups the freshness (and flavor), but also makes it easier to control saltiness and the heat. Pair with homemade tortilla chips for even more healthy points. Ole!
$0.21 per 2 tablespoon serving homemade | $0.43 for 2 tablespoons Sabra brand
Dangerfood or not, this dip is delicious. And when restraining ourselves to a two-tablespoon serving, it costs less than a quarter. Plus, the directions are simple — just blend! No more $6 hummus tubs needed.
15. Jam and jelly
$3.04 per 8 oz. jar homemade | $3.77 per 8 oz. Sarabeth’s brand
Yes, it’s possible to make jam and jelly in the microwave. Seriously. All it takes is some frozen fruit, lemon, pectin, and sugar. Just remember, this doesn’t preserve the jam the way true canning does, so it has to be gobbled up within a few weeks.
$0.40 for 2 slices homemade | $0.52 for 2 slices Arnold brand
It’s not always easy to discern which breads are masquerading as health foods and which are actually good for you. But making bread at home helps clear things up real quick, since it’s easy to control exactly what ingredients go in the bowl. Since fresh baked varieties don’t contain preservatives, remember to eat within a week, or freeze for longer safe keeping.
17. Nut butters
$0.29 per 2 tablespoons homemade | $0.29 for Smuckers Natural brand
It’s peanut butter-jelly time! Homemade nut butters eliminate the need for crazy preservatives and over-the-top fat and salt content. Just grind those nuts up for any variety of nut butter imaginable!
24. Marinara sauce
$0.97 per ½ cup homemade |$1.22 per ½ cup Amy’s brand
Pasta sauce is the original sneaky way to add veggies to a meal, so why settle for the store-bought stuff? It takes just a few minutes of active prep to get the basic ingredients together, then just let it simmer.
$1.21 per quart homemade | $3.29 per quart College Inn brand
Stock and broth seem like one of those things only fancy-pants cooks make, but they’re actually super-easy and a great way to use up stuff that’s already on hand. The basic recipe is water, bones or carcass, vegetables, and seasonings. (The seasonings are actually optional. Technically,broth is seasoned while stock is just a blank slate.)
$0.64 per 2 tablespoons homemade | $0.72 for Buitoni brand
The crisp, green taste of pesto is best when made with ultra-fresh basil. Store-bought brands tend to compensate with loads of oil and salt. When that basil plant’s growing as quick as a weed, grab a few handfuls and combine with a touch of olive oil, cheese, pine nuts, and garlic. If basil’s out of season, capitalize on in-season greens like kale or spinach. (Bonus points for superfood greens!)
$0.34 per ¼ lb. serving homemade | $0.62 per ¼ lb. serving Bionaturae brand
It’s just eggs, flour, oil, and salt, and yet people tend to shy away from making their own pasta. Doing it at home makes it easy to control just how healthy and whole-wheat-filled the final product is.
28. Filled pasta
$0.50 per 1 cup serving homemade | $2.15 per 1 cup serving Buitoni brand
With that stockpile of freshly made pasta dough and ricotta in the fridge, it’s easy to throw together some homemade ravioli. Combine ricotta with sautéed spinach for quick and easy healthy dinner. Better still, filled pasta can be rolled by hand and is far easier to cut than that pesky, thin spaghetti.
29. Roasted chicken
$1.40 per ¼ chicken homemade | $1.75 per ¼ store-bought rotisserie chicken
Sure, it takes some time, but don’t be intimidated by the idea of roasting a whole bird. Making it at home eliminates all that broth-injected, unpronounceable-chemical-laced stuff that comes pre-cooked.
30. Mashed potatoes
$0.76 per ¾ cup serving homemade | $2.50 per ¾ cup store-prepared potatoes
Mash up some cauliflower rather than chowing down on boxed or prepared mashed potatoes. We swear it tastes the same! Can’t commit all the way to cauliflower? Go half cauliflower, half potatoes. And keep it light on the butter and milk!
$0.32 per 2 cookies homemade | $0.35 per 3 mini Entenmann’s brand
We’d make homemade cookies just for the awesome smell, so getting to devour them is a pretty awesome bonus. Adding superfoods banana and oatmeal into the mix practically turns these cookies into a superfood themselves.
$0.35 per brownie homemade | $0.52 per brownie Entenmann’s brand
Yes, it is actually possible to make delicious brownies without any flour. The surprising stand in? Black beans, which add fiber and protein. This is an especially great for those with celiac disease, who might otherwise shell out major cash to get a flour-free recipe. (Even wheat-lovers will devour this recipe, we promise!).
38. Ice cream
$2.43 per pint homemade | $4.19 per pint Ben & Jerry’s brand
Who doesn’t love having a little ice cream on hand to dip into now and then? Whip up a big batch (no need for an ice cream maker) and personalize it with any flavors or add-ins desired. Of course, several of these frozen treats are fruit-based, which makes them an even healthier option in our book!
$1.14 per cup homemade | $1.37 per cup Naked brand
Skip the watery smoothie drinks that can be packed with sugar and miss out on a lot of the fruits’ benefits. Blend together spinach, yogurt, ice, orange, banana, strawberries, and just about any other fruit for a green smoothie without any added sugar. And compared to that $7 green smoothie at the juice bar, it’s actually a deal!
42. Sparkling water
$0.25 per liter for SodaStream | $0.99 per liter Poland Springs
Bottled water is an easy way to flush money down the drain while also wasting lots of plastic bottles. Instead, rig up a carbonation station to add bubbles to pure, delicious water — no additional sugar or sodium.
43. Flavored water
$0.37 per liter homemade | $0.99 per liter Poland Springs brand
To create flavor-infused water, simply put water in a pitcher and add slices of lemon, lime, orange, mint or other sliced fruits. Let it sit for an hour or as long as you’ve got, then strain off the fruit for a debris-free drink.
Note: Per-serving prices for homemade versions were determined by adding the common price of the portion of each ingredient used in the recipe and dividing by the number of servings. Where the “homemade” link mentions multiple recipes, an average was used.