The truth is, being frugal is a skill that requires intellect, organization, and keen awareness. It’s an art, really. Frugalistas understand how to use every resource available to stretch their dollars, but not everyone has a built-in radar for cost effectiveness. This is why it is sometimes daunting to decipher where to start in order to see and feel maximum savings in one’s bank account.
DIY, or making things oneself seems like it would automatically save money, right? Not necessarily. Sometimes it is more time consuming to make bread than to buy it. However, other factors also come into play that have to do with lifestyle choices.
Here’s a quick guideline to help you get started on deciding what food to buy vs. make.
How Much Do You Enjoy the Kitchen?
It may sound funny at first, but if you don’t actually enjoy cooking or baking you probably are better off buying your food from the store. While you may have every intention of becoming a better chef one day, now maybe your time is best spent finding good deals and clipping coupons to bring in the savings. Using your time wisely is just as important as spending your money wisely.
However, if you enjoy the thrill of the whisk and know your way around a KitchenAid mixer, dive right in. Some recipes may take several attempts to get right and there is a risk you will want to make EVERYTHING once you get going, which is most certainly not always less expensive.
How Important Are The Ingredients?
Are fresh ingredients and minimal processing a top priority? If so, then hands down the home kitchen will outweigh the grocery store in terms of money spent wisely. With home recipes, ingredients tend to be in the most natural, freshest state and are much lower in sugar and salt than what you buy at the store.
Even “healthy” items like granola bars come packaged with preservatives. An added benefit to minimizing what’s in your food: find simple recipes that use only a few ingredients to deliver major taste. You will end up buying less at the store while getting the highest quality. Use cook books to help you get started until you understand how to make your own versions from scratch.
How Much Are You Making?
Just like buying in bulk, cooking in bulk means you are getting the most out of what you buy. It may not be economical to buy a whole Basil plant for a recipe that calls for a dash of it. Yet, by planning ahead the rest of the Basil can be used to whip up a simple homemade pesto that lasts for weeks. Plus, many recipes can be doubled or tripled and then either canned or frozen for later consumption.
The bottom line is that not everyone is cut out to make it all from scratch and not all foods will save you money by making them at home. For a breakdown savings by food, peruse this article.