The following items are convenient to buy, but not very cost-effective.  Make them at home and save money, not to mention the fact that homemade versions are usually healthier.

Bacon Bits

When you fix bacon and eggs for breakfast, cook up extra bacon.  Chop finely, place into a baggie, and freeze.   Next time your recipe calls for bacon bits or you want to top a salad with bacon, you have it on hand in your freezer


You don’t always have buttermilk on hand.  For 1 cup buttermilk to use in baking, mix 1 Tbsp. white vinegar or lemon juice with 1 cup milk; let sit 5 for minutes before using.

Chopped Garlic

When a recipe calls for chopped garlic, have some already peeled, chopped, and sealed in a container or baggie.  Add a little olive oil to keep moist.  Store in your refrigerator for up to 3 weeks.



How many times have you tossed bread because it was stale or nobody eats the heel?  Use that bread, cut into cubes, toss in olive oil and season before toasting on a baking sheet (at 350 degrees) until golden brown.  Keep them in an airtight container.  Great for salads.

Pancake Mix

Don’t buy pancake mix, make your own.  Keep the dry ingredients in a container and add the wet ingredients when you’re ready to make pancakes.  A basic recipe is 2 cups flour, 2 Tbsp sugar, 2 tsp. baking powder and a pinch of salt.  Wet ingredients include 1 egg and 2 tsp. vegetable oil, 3 Tbsp. melted butter and 2 cups buttermilk.  Add liquid to dry mixture and whisk.  Makes 12-16 pancakes.

Spaghetti Sauce

Don’t buy, make your own.  A basic sauce is easy.  Add a large can of diced tomatoes, 1 large chopped onion, 2 minced garlic cloves, ¼ cup olive oil, then season with Italian seasoning, salt, and pepper.  Let simmer for an hour.

Another version is 1 large can of diced tomatoes, 1 large can tomato sauce, and 1 can tomato paste. Add the seasonings above and simmer as usual. Be creative with the seasonings.  Change it up and add a little sausage.

Taco Seasoning

This is a basic mix, change it up and make it your own.  Combine 6 tsp. chili powder, 1 Tbsp. onion powder, 1 tsp. garlic powder, 1 tsp. cumin, 1 tsp. paprika, 1 tsp. oregano, and a pinch of salt.

Italian Seasoning

Combine equal parts of basil, oregano, thyme, garlic powder, and any other spices you prefer. This is great added to the Spaghetti Sauce recipes above, or use it to season meat before roasting.

Do you have alternatives that you would like to share?