Mr. CBB has paid me the compliment of inviting me to help answer a reader’s question:
A question I would love to have feedback on from you and your fans is: How do you know when it’s less expensive to make homemade baked goods or buy it pre-made at the store? I’m on a tight budget and I hesitate to try recipes only to find out it’s more expensive with the ingredients and electricity amongst other things. I am sure it’s more nutritious to make my own but right now it’s financial.
The short answer is that bakery goods have among the highest mark up in the grocery store, so home baking is almost always more affordable than an equivalent purchase from the store.
In reality, though, there are some factors that need to be considered, especially if you’re on a tight budget. If you are not already a baker, you’ll need to have some basic equipment on hand to bake and you’ll also need the ingredients called for in the recipe.
Do bake at home and make homemade. You’ll recoup your initial investment in ingredients and equipment very quickly.
Tips on getting started with home baking inexpensively
- Keep your equipment purchases to a minimum, buying only the pans you’ll need. If your initial plan is to make granola bars and cookies, purchase only a cookie sheet and a rectangular baking pan (if you need it for the bars). Do spend the money to buy good quality pans. You’ll be using them again and again. You’ll always need measuring spoons, and measuring cups so do spend money to buy them too but check inexpensive outlets like the dollar store to find them at the lowest price.
- For the rest of the equipment, make do with what you might already have on hand. If you don’t have a large enough mixing bowl on hand, look around for another item you can use in its place. Do you have a large saucepan? If you don’t have a wooden spoon, use a serving spoon instead.
- Begin with a couple of recipes that you know your family will enjoy and that share several common ingredients. For example, if you’re planning to bake granola bars then oatmeal cookies of some sort would be a good second recipe.
- If you have no baking ingredients on hand, begin by purchasing small amounts of ingredients until you’ve figured out which recipes your family likes and which recipes you’ll be making over and over. You can minimize the expense involved in getting started with your first recipe by taking measuring cups and spoons to the store and portioning only the exact amount of ingredients you’ll need from the bulk bins. If the ingredients you need aren’t available in bulk, purchase small packages (unless they are things you know you’ll use for purposes other than baking).
- If a recipe calls for an expensive ingredient or one that you don’t often use, consider a substitution. For example, I have several recipes that call for pine nuts. Pine nuts are very expensive so I use sunflower seeds instead.
TIP: If a recipe calls for an expensive ingredient and you can’t make a less expensive substitution, don’t make the recipe.
Once you’re into the swing of homemade baking and have some idea about what your family likes – and what you like to make – begin buying your ingredients in larger quantities. Once you begin stocking up on flour, sugar, baking soda, baking powder, salt, spices, raisins, etc. you’ll start to see an even greater savings.
Good luck and have fun. You’ll love baking homemade in your kitchen once you get started along with saving money.
Guest Post Bio: Aunt B’s family jokes that she started writing because she just doesn’t know when to be quiet! In truth, her blogs grew out of a long illness and helped her to keep in touch with the world around her. She’s interested in everything, and shares her interests at Aunt B on a Budget, A Word from Aunt B, B on Balance and B-Attitude.
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