This week, we’ll be looking at buying foods pre-made vs making them from scratch at home.
As I said in part 2, beans are one thing I buy and make myself to save money. If I buy beans, I usually get 2 cans of black beans, 2 cans of pinto beans, and 1 can each of chickpeas and great northern beans. Each can has roughly 1 cup of beans once you drain and rinse them, so that’s about 2 servings. At $0.69 per can, that’s $4.14 for 12 servings! On the other hand, I can get a bag of dried beans for about $1.50 that makes at least 16 servings. That’s a pretty huge savings. Plus, beans made at home will be lower in sodium, one of the biggest issues with canned foods.
Buying carrots whole costs anywhere from $0.69 to $0.79 per pound compared to pre-packaged baby carrots, which cost about $1.30 per pound. If you take the time to peel and cut the whole carrots all at once when you get home from the store, they’re just as convenient during the week as the pre-packaged variety. And they taste better! The same is true for pretty much all produce – you pay extra for the convenience of buying something pre-chopped. The nutrition is similar though, so it’s about the time you have in this case.
Oatmeal is sold at many fast food restaurants and coffee shops these days. It seems as though it’s typically sold for at least $3.00, roughly the same price as I paid for a giant container of rolled oats that lasts for weeks of daily oatmeal breakfasts. Besides, pre-prepared oatmeals are usually packed with all kinds of sweeteners and other nonsense. When I make oatmeal at home, it’s 1/2 cup oats, 3/4 cup milk, 3/4 cup water, and cinnamon with a chopped/mashed banana and some ground flax seed stirred in at the end of cooking. Cheap, healthy, delicious.
For bread, I make this recipe every month or so. It makes 2 loaves of bread or, for those who need a little more portion control around homemade bread (me), about 30 rolls. I keep some in the fridge and the rest in the freezer to pull out as needed. Not only does homemade bread taste 100 times better than store bought, but there are no strange ingredients. Plus, with good whole wheat bread approaching $5.00 per loaf, you can’t beat a loaf made with ingredients I’m willing to bet already occupy your kitchen…or can be purchased for a very reasonable price and used for many loaves to come.
These are just a few suggestions. For the most part, there is a way to make things at home to save money AND know that you’re consuming healthier ingredients. It comes down to making the time to do a little pre-prep to make healthy meals during the week less stressful. That’s what we’ll talk about next week in part 4!