Grocery prices are going up everywhere. The other day, I took my husband grocery shopping with me and I sighed when I looked at all the prices.
“I remember when that cream cheese was only $1.09 a block. Now, it’s $3.50 on SALE”
“See that sour cream there? It used to be $1.50, now it’s $2.99”
“Ugh! Why on earth is the ice cream $9.00 a bucket now?” (don’t judge…it’s a staple in our house)
You get the idea. It actually was quite disparaging to me, because it means our grocery budget is stretched out to the max these days. And, it may be that way for many of you as well.
I want to show you how we save money starting with making these foods to stop buying and start making at home. Simple, easy and far more nutritious for you, too!
There’s a lot more to Italian cuisine than pizza and spaghetti, here’s a short list of Italian recipes to make at home.
A frozen pizza will cost you about $4.00 and take out pizza can cost up to $10 for a medium.
With hungry teenagers who practice TaeKwonDo 3 hours a day, we need about 4 pizzas for my family.
And $16-$40 for one meal just isn’t in my budget. Not to mention the questionable ingredients! So, I learned to make my own!
For the crust you will need:
- 1 cup warm (100°) water
- 1 T. dried yeast
- 2 T. sugar (or honey)
- 2 T. olive oil
- 3 cups flour (I use whole wheat, but you can use white if you like)
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 tsp garlic powder (optional)
Begin by sprinkling the yeast over the warm water. Add the sugar and oil, and stir to combine. Let sit for 5 minutes to “proof”, then add the flour in 1 cup increments.
Mix on medium speed with dough hook (or get some really good arm exercise and knead by hand) for about 1 minute, then add the garlic powder and salt.
Mix together well for 5 minutes to allow gluten in flour to develop.
Allow to rise for 5-10 minutes, while oven is preheating to 450° degrees. Roll out the dough onto a cookie sheet, pizza pan or baking stone. Pierce with a fork all over, also called “docking the crust”.
Bake the crust for 7 minutes alone. Remove from oven, and top with sauce, cheese, and toppings.
Return to oven and bake for an additional 20 minutes, or until cheese is nicely browned and bubbly.
Tip: Allow the pizza to cool for 5 minutes before you cut it. This will help the cheese to stay in place, especially if you are like my family and pile that cheese on high.
Alfredo, a pasta dish with a thick, creamy sauce and whatever you’d like to add to it.
In this recipe, you blacken both sides of your chicken pieces and slice them into strips which you then place over the pasta. Simple, easy, and delish! Try it for yourself.
Pesto Penne Pasta
If you like pasta then this is for you, penne pasta mixed with pesto and cherry tomatoes and parmesan cheese. Yes, and if you want to try it, here’s the recipe.
Chicken parmesan is an Italian dish of chicken breasts baked with parmesan cheese. Chicken + cheese = delicious!
It’s warm and flavorful, without being overwhelming. The cheese just adds a bit of extra softness and flavor to it. Try it yourself, here’s a recipe.
Italian Hot Chocolate
I don’t know anyone who can turn down a cup of hot chocolate; it’s a great drink all year-‘round.
This one is made with real chocolate, milk, and cocoa – what more do you need to convince you to try it? Of course, if you’re a liqueur fan, you can add a touch of Bailey’s Irish Cream for extra yumminess!
Make a pizza base, put the toppings on one side, fold the dough, bake, and voila! You have a calzone! It really is that easy, here’s a recipe to prove it.
Strawberry Nutella Pizza
Okay, I know this one sounds weird, but stick with me.
A fruit pizza with strawberries, bananas, and sliced almonds all thrown together in a Nutella-filled pizza base and topped with powdered sugar. Try it yourself.
Italian Tomato Sauce
Tomato sauce is used in a lot of Italian foods so it makes sense that they’d have a recipe for it. This recipe results in a thick, creamy, and tasty tomato sauce that you’ll love.
Ah, lasagna! You can’t talk about Italian food without talking about lasagna.
It’s an Italian staple; it’s quick and relatively easy to make once you’ve got the hang of it. If you’re looking for an easy lasagna recipe, look no further.
Sautéed chicken pieces topped with sun-dried tomatoes and cheese and baked. That sounds pretty good to me! You can get the recipe here.
Calling all coffee lovers! A cappuccino is a great way to start and end a stressful day at the office.
It’s rich and creamy with a lovely fragrance and flavor. What’s not to like? Give it a shot, here’s a recipe for you; see what you think.
Mexican food is known to be colorful, spicy, and packed with flavor. Now, not everyone enjoys spicy food so Mexican cuisine can be hit and miss in some cases.
Still, if you want to try making some spicy dishes yourself, these recipes will make it easy for you.
We can easily go through about 50 tortillas a week, especially if my daughter makes lunch.
Her favorites to make are quesadillas and tacos. Of course, they are really only flour, salt, fat and water and take about 10 minutes to make.
Just long enough to grate cheese, or brown some taco meat.
And, for some reason, I felt that I was buying time or something when I bought them in the plastic little packages each week.
They were nice, but these homemade ones ROCK!! All you need is:
- 3 cups flour
- 1/2 cup fat (lard, tallow, shortening…butter won’t really work well here)
- 1 tsp salt
- up to 3/4 cup water
Mix together the salt and flour and cut fat into it until it’s about the size of peas. Add water, 1/4 cup at a time until dough comes together. Knead together for about 2 minutes until smooth. Allow the dough to rest, under a damp cloth for about 5-7 minutes.
Divide the dough into 12 little balls. Roll out with rolling pin and place on a dry skillet. Cook for about 1 minute on each side. Remove to a plate with a towel covering to help hold in heat.
Tip: If you happen to have any left over, heat up some coconut oil, or tallow the next day to 350°. Cut the tortillas into triangles with a pizza cutter and fry up. Season with salt, pepper, and garlic powder for some delicious chips for snacking!
Chicken Enchiladas with Red Sauce
Chicken and jalapenos rolled in pan-fried tortillas and baked in a red sauce? That sounds good to me! Here’s the recipe if you’re interested.
Mexican White Chicken Tortilla Lasagna
Shredded chicken layered in cheese and burrito tortillas and baked in a cast iron skillet.
Yes, it really is that simple and if you don’t believe me try for yourself. This is a fantastic twist on regular Italian lasagna, and I love it!
Mexican Frittata with Pico de Gallo
This delectable Mexican treat looks like a pizza or quiche but adds sour cream or Greek yogurt to the mix.
If that sounds good to you, then give this one a try and see what you think.
Chicken Tortilla Soup
Shredded chicken, fried tortilla chip strips with jalapenos, onions, tomatoes, and other things in one spicy package! Sound good? It tastes great! Try it yourself and see.
Chili Lime Shrimp Tacos with Mango Salsa
If you like seafood or you just want to try something different, these shrimp tacos should make the cut.
It’s a colorful, tasty treat that’ll be popular anytime. Here’s the recipe for you to enjoy.
This one looks a bit like a beef stew and is packed with potatoes, veggies and meat.
It looks good, it tastes good, and if you want to try it yourself you can do so with this recipe – enjoy!
This is a slight twist on the toasted sandwich idea.
You pack a tortilla with cheese, sweet peppers and other goodies before frying it in butter. Try it yourself, here’s the recipe.
Simple and spicy, the shrimp is cooked in a deep red sauce and the whole shebang is ready in around 30 minutes. Try it yourself and see what you think; here’s the recipe.
Pork stew cooked with poblano, jalapeno peppers, onions, garlic and roasted tomatillos. Whoa, my mouth is watering! Try this one yourself and see what you think.
Flan is a dessert dish that resembles a crème caramel pudding. It’s a custard-based dessert topped in rich caramel sauce. Yum!
Cereals are a staple of breakfast time, and they’re pretty easy to make at home if you don’t want the store-bought stuff.
The boxed stuff offers such things as convenience and ease of breakfast in the mornings, right? Well, it also offers such things as GMO ingredients, HFCS and a host of preservatives.
Making your own isn’t hard at all. As a matter of fact, make a batch of this on the weekend, and you’ll have easy breakfasts all week long!
Alone in a bowl with milk, or as a homemade yogurt topping, and you can even make it into granola bars!
Cinnamon Toast Crunch
Cinnamon toast crunch is a popular breakfast treat.
Unfortunately, store-bought cinnamon toast crunch contains a lot of artificial preservatives, colorants, and other things that you probably don’t want to go into your body.
That’s where this homemade alternative comes in, you can have all the tastiness of your cinnamon toast without all the nasty, unhealthy stuff. Here’s a recipe for you to try.
Cranberry Oatmeal Cookie
If you’re an oatmeal fan, this is for you. This one is a bit softer than granola and it has a sort of crumbly texture – like a cookie.
The best part is that you can play with the recipe to make it your own.
Vanilla Almond Puffs
Who doesn’t like vanilla?
Well, you mix the sweetness of vanilla with vitamin-rich almonds, and you get a sweet, healthy cereal that your whole family will love. Try it yourself and see what you think.
Yes, you read that correctly: Nutella cereal.
If you’re a Nutella fan, then this is definitely something you’re going to want to try. Don’t believe me? Here’s the recipe, see for yourself.
Peanut Butter Crunch
Peanut butter might not be for everyone, but this is something you’ll want to try.
This recipe is 100% vegan and is packed with flavor without any of those unhealthy preservatives and flavorants.
If you enjoy baking, then you’re going to love these recipes.
This is really an easy thing to make, once you get the hang of it. If you have never made your own bread before, you’ll be in for a heavenly experience!
And, avoiding the HFCS and other additives that are in store bought bread makes this recipe a go to!
You’ll never have to worry about running out during a winter storm, either. Just keep some flour and yeast on hand, and you can whip up a batch in no time! This recipe will make 2 large loaves.
- 2 cups warm water
- 1 T. dry yeast (or one packet)
- 1/2 cup honey
- 1/2 cup coconut oil, or melted butter
- 1 tsp salt
- 4 cups wheat flour
- 2 cups white flour
Dissolve the yeast in the warm water.
Add the honey and oil and stir. Add the salt to the flour, and add in 2 cup increments while mixing. Knead by hand or mixer for about 10 minutes. Let rise in a warm place until doubled, about an hour. Punch down, and divide the dough in half. Shape into loaves, and place in two greased bread pans. Let rise a second time until doubled again.
Put the bread in a cold oven, and turn the oven on to 400 degrees. This helps give the yeast another “kick” and makes your bread more fluffy. Bake for 30 minutes from time you put the bread in. Cool, and remove from pans. Enjoy!
Tip: Allow the bread to cool for at least 30 minutes before you cut into it. This will avoid “weeping” and the bread will finish cooking during the cooling time.
Premade Pancake Mix
You’d be amazed at how long I bought into the notion that I *needed* to actually buy the dry boxed pancake mix!
I’m almost embarrassed at the fact that it took me YEARS to figure out that all I really needed was flour, salt, sugar, baking soda, and baking powder!
Add to that some milk, melted butter and eggs… and voila-pancakes!
So, here’s my go to recipe for pancakes…
Chocolate brownies are a favorite for many people. The fresher they are, the better.
These rich chocolatey treats are soft and fluffy, and you can always use a new recipe. Or, you can try these:
- The Ultimate Brownie with Coconut Cream Frosting
- The Very Best Black Bean Brownies (No Flour Needed)
Ah, flapjacks! Basically thicker, fluffier pancakes, these go well with just about anything.
Syrup and whipped cream on a stack of fresh flapjacks sounds pretty darn good to me. Here’s a good recipe to try for yourself.
Muffins are a staple quick breakfast for when you’re in a hurry or going on long car trips.
The best part about making muffins at home is that you can play with the recipe and add whatever you want.
You want blueberry muffins? Add blueberries. You want chocolate chip muffins? Add chocolate chips. You get the idea.
I used to love the convenience of opening up a can of biscuits.
My kids would argue over who got to “pop” the can open. Once I learned to make my own, I never bought another can. They are so light, and so easy to make!
Here’s the recipe:
- 4 cups flour (you can use white, wheat, or a combination)
- 3 T. baking powder
- 1/2 tsp baking soda
- 4 T. cold butter
- 4 T. shortening (I use palm shortening)
- *you could forgo the shortening all together and just use all butter, if you want*
- 2 cups buttermilk
- 2 eggs
Gently mix the dry ingredients together and cut the fat into it.
It’ll get crumbly, and you want pea sized crumbles. Mix together the eggs and buttermilk in a separate bowl and gently incorporate the wet ingredients into the dry.
BE GENTLE! Pat out on floured counter until about 1/2 inch thick. Using a biscuit cutter, or other sharp end (not a glass!*) cut out your biscuits. Place on ungreased cookie sheet and bake in oven for 15-18 minutes until golden brown.
*TIP Now, as for why not a glass…I know you’ve heard everyone say that it’s okay, and best to use and all…but, truth be told here. It “seals” the ends up and you don’t get as high of a rise on your biscuits. Trust me. Try it for yourself. Next batch of biscuits you make, make 1/2 with a biscuit cutter or a sharp knife cutting them out and 1/2 with a glass and see which ones rise better for you. You can usually pick them up at a dollar store or Target pretty cheaply.
I have had people stare at me with this blank look when I tell them that I make my own yogurt.
You’d think I told them that I could transmute base metals into gold! It’s really super easy to make your own yogurt, and I promise you’ll love it!
First, start off with milk.
I use raw, and whole milk is the best, but if you want to use skim I can’t stop you. Warm the milk gently in a pan until it reaches 145 degrees F (62 Celsius).
You don’t want to leave it unattended during this time, as you will need to stir often to keep it from burning.
Once it reaches that temp, turn off the heat and let the temp fall to 105 degrees.
Once it’s cooled, it will have formed a “skin” of sorts. Remove the skin and gently mix in 3 Tablespoons of starter yogurt.
You can use store bought yogurt, but you need to check and make sure that it’s the plain kind and has the active cultures in it.
That’s what you need to get your milk cultured. You can use any brand you want as long as it has the active cultures in it.
Pour into clean jars, and add a lid.
Place the jars in the dehydrator for 8-10 hours on 115 degrees.
You can also set 2 large jars full of boiling water in a a cooler, add the yogurt next to the jars and shut the lid, undisturbed for 24 hours.
*TIP You can also use this to make your own frozen yogurt, instead of ice cream! Just as delicious and a great way to get more good bacteria in your guts!
Mozzarella cheese is a popular choice for pizza toppings, but it also goes well in salads and toasted sandwiches. It’s also quite easy to make; here’s a recipe to try for yourself.
Store-bought butter is getting more expensive by the day. This is why many people are turning to making their own butter at home. It’s easy enough to do once you’ve got the hang of it. Try it yourself, here’s a recipe.
Whipped cream is commonly used in desserts, milkshakes, and, of course, hot chocolates.
You’ll also typically find it on cheesecakes. Unfortunately, store-bought whipped cream is getting very expensive and sometimes doesn’t taste very nice.
Thankfully, you can make your own quite easily. Here’s the recipe for you.
Do I really need to explain this one? It’s condensed milk! Condensed milk is a sweet treat that goes well with just about anything.
Coffee, cheesecake, and even sandwiches. Making your own isn’t that difficult, here’s a recipe to follow if you’d like to try.
Seasonings and Dressings
This is our family’s favorite for salads and dips.
A bottle of the store bought stuff only is about $1.50, but with the preservatives and MSG, I won’t feed that to my family.
Making your own is so easy, too! Just a bunch of seasonings, some buttermilk and sour cream and you’re good to go! In a quart sized jar, just add:
- 1/2 cup dried chives
- 1/2 cup dried parsley
- 1/4 dried dill weed
- 1/2 cup dried onion powder
- 1/2 cup garlic powder
- 2 T. salt
- 1 T. black pepper
Mix together and store in an airtight jar for up to 6 months.
To use, simply add 2T. of the mix to 1/2 cup of buttermilk and 3/4 cup sour cream and mix well.
Chill well before use (if you can wait) and use within a week. This recipe lasted me nearly 3 months before I had to make it up again, and I make ranch dressing nearly weekly.
*TIP forgo the buttermilk and mix 2 T. into 1 cup of sour cream for a delicious party dip!
At the average price (in my area) of $1.39 for a couple ounces of questionable seasonings, it’s a wonder more people don’t make this on their own. Here’s my favorite recipe:
- 1/2 cup chili powder
- 1/2 cup paprika
- 1/2 cup cumin
- 1/2 cup garlic powder
- 1/2 cup dried onion, or onion powder if you prefer
- 1/2 TEASPOON cayenne pepper (more or less, to taste for spiciness)
Mix all together and store in a covered jar or container for up to 6 months. To use, simply add 1/4 cup of mix and 1/2 cup of water for each pound of browned meat.
**TIP** This is also great sprinkled on roasted potatoes or on chicken.
When I tell people that I make my own mayo, I have gotten responses from “oh, cool!” to the blank stares as if I told then I could transmute base metals into gold.
It’s so simple, so easy to whip up a batch of your own mayo that you’ll wonder why you should buy the store bought stuff ever again!
- 4 large eggs, brought to room temperature, with 3 separated
- 1 Tablespoon mustard (yellow is fine, but I like to use the brown for a different flavor)
- 1 cup extra virgin olive oil
- 1 tsp salt
In a blender or food processor, add 3 egg yolks and 1 whole egg, the mustard and salt. Mix on high for a minute.
While the mixer or food processor is still running, gently drizzle the olive oil in a little stream. This will begin to coagulate and thicken as you do. Store in the fridge for up to a week.
**TIP** You can lacto-ferment your mayo by increasing the salt to 1 Tablespoon, and stirring in 1/4 cup whey to the finished mayo. Allow to sit at room temperature for 7 hours before storing in the fridge.
What foods are you making at home that you used to buy?
Heather’s homesteading journey started in 2006, with baby steps: first, she got a few raised beds, some chickens, and rabbits. Over the years, she amassed a wealth of homesteading knowledge, knowledge that you can find in the articles of this blog.
Learn more about Heather and the rest of the writers on this page.