When life gets stressful, nothing soothes my soul like baking. It’s one of the reasons the Christmas season is my favorite. I am constantly in the kitchen with so many of those tasty traditional treats, but learning the art of frugal baking is crucial for the holidays and cutting back the grocery bill.
Cooking at home and baking snacks and desserts can be a money saver. Plus, there is the satisfaction of knowing you made it yourself and know every ingredient.
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What can I bake to save money?
First, let’s start with the basics. It’s always best to stick with simple recipes that require fewer ingredients.
Banana bread, brownies, and oatmeal cookies are all examples of easy recipes that require few specialty ingredients. When I can’t find a fruit in season that my kids will eat, my go-to is always bananas.
Remember when starting out with frugal baking following the recipe precisely is key. Use the right measuring cups and level off the measuring cup.
If you scoop a cup of flour and don’t level it off with a knife, your muffins may dry. Baking a tiny bit of extra flour can make a big difference.
For example, bananas are usually quite inexpensive, and if you have a few overripe bananas lying around, put them to use by making some banana bread. Not only will you save money, but you’ll also reduce food waste.
What can I bake if I don’t have much?
It’s common to think that you need to have a fully stocked pantry to be able to bake, but the reality is that there are plenty of recipes that require just a few basic ingredients.
Flour, sugar, eggs, baking powder, and butter/margarine are some of the key ingredients most baked recipes call for.
But if you’re missing one of these items, don’t panic. There are an endless number of baking recipes that require minimal ingredients.
How to save money on baking ingredients
The key to saving money on ingredients is to buy in bulk. I highly recommend shopping at wholesale clubs for baking staples like flour, sugar, chocolate chips, and nuts.
These products are cheaper than buying at a regular grocery store but often come in larger sizes, which will last longer and save you money in the long run.
If you don’t have a wholesale club membership ( I have amazing deals on memberships) go to your local Aldi! Aldi still is hands down the easiest and one of the cheapest places to shop.
They also have a 100% money-back guarantee on their products, so you have nothing to lose by giving it a try.
What’s the secret to good baking?
The secret to good baking sounds simple – follow the recipe and correctly measure your ingredients. But that really is the key.
Baking is an exact science, and following each recipe’s instructions is important. Measuring your ingredients correctly is also crucial.
Invest in a good set of measuring cups and spoons and always level off ingredients when measuring them. You also need to keep an eye on the goodies in the oven. Dry muffins won’t help save the budget if no one eats them.
And if your first few items don’t turn out, don’t be too hard on yourself. It takes time, but it will be worth it in the long run. If you have any farm animals, they will love your treats.
Must-Have Items For a Frugal Baker
Some must-have ingredients for frugal baking include all-purpose flour, sugar, butter (or alternative), baking powder, baking soda, vanilla extract, and eggs.
These essential ingredients will allow you to create various baked goods, from cakes to cookies to bread. Consider adding cocoa powder, buttermilk, and cream cheese to your pantry for fancier recipes.
15 Frugal Baking Tips
Buy in Bulk
Shop at wholesale clubs and buy bulk flour, sugar, and other baking essentials. This way, you can save money and have these products on hand for future baking projects.
Purchase Store Brands
When it comes to baking ingredients, store brands often work just as well as name brands and cost less. Give them a try!
Shop Dollar Tree
Check your local Dollar Tree for baking items during the holiday time. These can often be cheaper than store brands. Price comparing is always worth the extra time to stay on budget.
Make Your Own Vanilla Extract
Vanilla extract can be expensive, but making your own is easy and much cheaper. Soak vanilla beans in vodka in a glass jar for several weeks, and you’ll have a delicious, homemade vanilla extract.
I’ve found vanilla beans at Costco to be a great deal.
Use Cheaper Alternatives
Instead of pricey nuts like macadamia or hazelnuts, use cheaper options like almonds or pecans to add a nutty flavor to your baked goods.
Don’t Waste Food
Use those overripe bananas in a loaf of banana bread, make a fruit crumble with bruised apples, or add leftover pumpkin puree to muffin batter.
If your kids bring home strawberries from their school lunch that are all mushy, use them in this amazing strawberry bread recipe.
Use Less Sugar
Cutting back on sugar not only saves you money, but it can also be healthier. Try using half the sugar in a recipe and see if you can still achieve the same level of sweetness. For all my baking I use raw cane sugar.
Freeze Your Ingredients
Freeze leftover egg whites, buttermilk, or fruit for future use. Those ends of the bread, freeze to use for French toast, or pop them in the toaster and blend them up for bread crumbs.
This way, you’re not wasting ingredients or money.
Premade Mixes and Seasonings
It is easy to make your own seasoning mixes. Of course, grabbing a pack of taco seasoning for under $1 is easy, but if it’s not something you have on hand, you can easily make it using a few ingredients.
Ditch the store-bought cakes and frosting; homemade is easy and tastes so good!
Make Your Own Baking Powder
Need baking powder but don’t have any on hand? Mix together cream of tartar and baking soda for a DIY version.
Substitute with Yogurt
Use yogurt instead of buttermilk or sour cream in baking recipes. It adds a tangy flavor and can be cheaper than those other ingredients.
Make Your Own Butter
If you have heavy cream on hand, make your own butter! It’s cheaper than buying butter, and you’ll have the added bonus of making something from scratch.
Make Your Own Buttermilk
No need to buy buttermilk. If you use a higher fat milk, you can add lemon juice and you have buttermilk. I usually add a Tablespoon of lemon juice to a cup of milk and let it sit for a few minutes.
Buy Frozen Fruits
Frozen fruits are often cheaper than fresh, perfect for adding to muffin or cake batter.
Make Your Own Cake Mix
Instead of buying a pre-made cake mix, make your own with flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt. Store it in an airtight container for use later.
Keep an eye out for coupons and sales on baking ingredients. The easiest way to find coupons and discounts is through grocery apps.
My favorite is Ibotta and Fetch rewards. You can save a ton of money this way!
Use Powdered Milk
Instead of buying fresh milk, use powdered milk in your baking. It’s cheaper, and you can store it in your pantry.
Sometimes, the best way to save money on baking ingredients is to get creative. Substitute with different ingredients, use what you have on hand, and don’t be afraid to experiment!
Five budget-friendly baking recipes
Peanut Butter Banana Oatmeal Cookies – These cookies require only five ingredients and are naturally sweetened with ripe bananas. They’re also vegan and gluten-free, perfect for those with dietary restrictions.
No-Fail Chocolate Cake – This classic recipe doesn’t need eggs, butter, milk or a mixer. It’s simple yet indulgent, and you’re sure to impress your friends and family with your baking skills.
Blender Protein Donuts – These donuts are an excellent alternative to store-bought protein bars. They’re made with almond flour, protein powder, and eggs and are a fantastic post-workout snack.
Flourless Chocolate Chip Cookies are made with almond butter, eggs, and chocolate chips. They’re perfect for those who follow a gluten-free diet and require only a few ingredients.
Homemade Granola Bars – These bars are the perfect snack for those on the go. They’re packed with healthy ingredients like oats, almonds, and honey and are a great way to save money on store-bought granola bars.
Baking doesn’t have to be a bank-breaking activity. Using these frugal baking tips, you can enjoy all the sweet treats you love without breaking the bank.
From buying in bulk to getting creative in the kitchen, these tips are easy to follow and will help you save money in the long run. So put on your apron, preheat the oven, and get baking!