Once upon a time, breakfast in our house was cereal almost every day. I used to think that cooking dinner meant opening a box of noodles and sauce and adding water. Frozen chicken nuggets were heated in the oven. These habits were expensive and unhealthy (and not terribly tasty, either). Thank goodness my cooking skills have taken a tremendous leap since those early days in my marriage.
These days our eating habits have undergone a complete transformation. We have learned how damaging processed foods can be to our health. We have had to deal with a child unable to eat eggs, milk, wheat, peanut, coconut and many other foods. Another family member can’t tolerate any processed foods. A third was on an elimination diet to see if he was sensitive to certain foods. Boy, do these things challenge my cooking skills!
Cooking from scratch allows me to micro-manage what my family eats and prevent adverse reactions. But that’s not the only reason I like to cook from scratch.
Cooking from scratch saves me tons of money.
For instance, my family loves oatmeal for breakfast. And these boys, they can eat a ton of oatmeal. If I were to give them Quaker Instant Oatmeal, I’d have to give them each 4 packets (I said they could eat a lot!). Amazon has these oatmeal packets for $.24 each so that’s $.96 plus $.25 for milk – about $1.20 per kid for breakfast.
If I instead serve old-fashioned oats from Aldi at $.15/cup plus $.25 for milk and sugar, that’s $.40 for breakfast per person. I save $.80 / kid each time I serve the old-fashioned oats.
How much does this save us over the course of a year?
Multiply $.80 x 3 kids x 3 breakfasts a week x 52 weeks = $374 saved per year just be eating old-fashioned oats in place of instant oatmeal. Not bad for a breakfast that they love. (Why only 3 kids? The fourth is allergic to oatmeal.)
Want to reduce the cost of this meal even more?
Swap out some or all of the milk for water. Serve smaller portions if your kids aren’t
bottomless pits hungry growing children like mine.
What if your kids hate oatmeal?
There are tons of other frugal breakfast ideas that you can use. Oatmeal just happens to be one of the very cheapest. You can dress it up with a little fresh fruit, a handful of nuts, or our favorite, cocoa powder. Chocolate oatmeal = yum!
If you can save $374 just by making your oatmeal from scratch, just think of the savings you’ll get when you add other dishes to your repertoire.
What else do I cook from scratch?
- Dried beans
- Baked goods – all kinds
- Brown rice – make in bulk and freeze for later.
- Chicken stock – it’s a must for us to avoid the MSG in store-bought.
- Stove-popped popcorn – so much healthier than the microwave kind.
- Casseroles and soups galore.
- Yogurt (yes, really!)
- Salad dressing
- Spice mixes – much cheaper to mix up your own and avoid additives
You don’t have to do it all at once.
By picking just a few things in your diet to cook from scratch, you can start to see the savings add up.
If you are looking to save money on groceries, cooking from scratch will give you some of the biggest savings.
Plus, home-cooked foods are usually much healthier than their store-bought equivalents. It’s a win-win situation.
With our family’s food allergies, cooking from scratch is an absolute must, but I recommend it to all my friends who are looking to save money and eat healthier. It’s not that difficult and the rewards are tremendous.