It’s surprisingly easy to do.
It’s 7 AM. I’m running late yet again. I don’t have time to make my morning cup of coffee or pack any food, so I decide to stop for a coffee on the way to work and go out to eat for lunch. I promise myself I won’t make a habit of it. But of course, I break that promise.
The situation I’ve just described is pretty common in today’s world. I’m not proud to admit it, but I’ve found myself relying heavily on convenience foods/drinks in the past, especially when I had an extremely busy schedule in college. Unfortunately, the financial repercussions of doing so can be pretty steep.
And while meal prepping for the week and getting up early enough to make a simple cup of coffee in the morning may seem like easy tasks, it’s always so much tougher to motivate yourself to get them done when you’re exhausted from a long week of classes or work.
However, I’ve found that making myself more aware of the financial impacts of my food and beverage purchases has helped me cook more at home, spend less money, and eat healthier overall. Thus, here are four ideas for things to make at home that will help you save money every single month.
1. The Following Costly Beverage
I know I’m not the only one who has been guilty of stopping for the occasional coffee. And with the convenience of drive-thrus, it’s even easier to make an unplanned stop for a pricy beverage. Unfortunately, specialty coffee drinks can be pretty expensive, and the money adds up fast.
If you typically stop to grab a cup of coffee each morning on your way to work (many people do), that could easily cost you $20 or more every single week, which comes out to about $80 per month. And if you think that there’s no way people spend that much on coffee, here’s a shocking statistic for you.
However, you can avoid this situation all together. If you buy bagged coffee at the grocery store, it will cost you about $8 (or less), and brew over 60 cups of coffee, which means you can save about $75 per month on coffee alone.
I don’t know about you, but I’m willing to take a few extra minutes to brew my coffee at home if it means saving hundreds (or even thousands) of dollars per year.
2. Pancake Mix
Ok, I know what you’re thinking — making pancake mix at home from scratch sounds complicated. I promise that my recipe is not. All you need are some rolled oats, a ripe banana, a splash of water or nut milk, some cinnamon, and baking soda/baking powder. It really is that simple.
You can literally combine those ingredients in a blender and end up with the perfect pancake mix that makes super tasty, sweet pancakes for a fraction of the cost. Plus, if you can’t have dairy or gluten, this recipe will be even more cost effective, as the gluten/dairy free mixes at the store often have huge price markups.
The vegan pancake mix I used to buy was $5 per bag, and it only made a few servings. Once I started making my own mix from home, I pocketed an extra $20 per month. Now, my pancakes taste immensely fresher, and they don’t have any refined sugar in them either.
Burritos, tacos, and quesadillas are huge staples in my diet. And that means I go through a lot of salsa. I personally prefer fresh salsa, and the one my local grocery store sells costs $5 per container. I use an average of one container per week, which comes out to about $20 per month.
If you’re feeding a whole family, it could easily cost you double that. However, if you make your own fresh salsa at home, all you really need are some spices (which you probably already have), some tomato, cilantro, and yellow onion. All together, those ingredients will cost you about $1, which means you could easily save about $20 — $30 per month.
What’s even better is that your version will taste fresher and likely be healthier as well. Many of the store bought salsas, including the fresh ones, are loaded with salt. With your homemade version, you can adjust the amount of salt to your own taste. Therefore, it’s a double win.
4. This Super Crunchy Creation
I think most people would agree that granola is one of the most versatile cereals out there. You can eat it plain by the handful, soak it in nut milk, sprinkle it on top of coconut yogurt, or even top your smoothie bowls with it, like a thick and creamy smoothie bowl.
No matter how you choose to eat your granola, the fact remains that it tastes incredible and has a super satisfying crunch. Unfortunately, many of the minimally processed, low sugar granola options at the grocery store cost about $5 per bag. If you go through a bag a week (which let’s be honest, isn’t very hard), you’re wasting $20 a month on a food you can easily make at home.
I love homemade granola because you get to use unrefined sugar, you can add any ingredients you’d like, and it makes your whole kitchen smell amazing. If you’re looking for an ultra crunchy granola packed with superfoods, try adding some quinoa. Not only will it taste amazing, but it will also help you put an extra $20 per month into your savings.
It’s easy to justify spending extra money on food because you’re busy and tired, and eating out or buying pre-packaged foods is more convenient. However, this approach will cost you a lot of money in the long run.
Even those months when I stay well within my grocery budget, I can always seem to find an area where I could have cut my costs down even more.
If you sit down, make a plan, and challenge yourself to cook more at home, you’ll be surprised by how much money you truly can save on food.