Budget Baking

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Who has a sweet tooth? Do you struggle with purchasing those little special treats for you and your family? Budget restraints might stop you from buying those cookies from the morning coffee stop, or the bakery inside the grocery store but you can still treat yourself and balance the grocery budget. You do this by baking your goodies yourself! It isn’t hard.

I helped an older gentleman yesterday at the grocery store. He wanted a peach cobbler and the grocery store didn’t have any in the freezer section. They had peach pie…. but this older gentleman was a hankering for some peach cobbler. When he became saddened that he couldn’t fulfill his hankerin’…. I suggested he make his own. His eyes got big and he told me he could make a pudding pie (pudding made with a little less milk and poured into a graham cracker crust) but that he wasn’t cut out for anything more elaborate than that.

So…. in order to keep it simple I suggested he buy a can of peach pie filling, and a package of premade pie crust. I then explained to him how to pour and layer…. and since he was making it himself he could put as many layers of ‘cobbler aka pie crust’ in as he’d like. Made a new friend, and helps someone become a little bit more prepared, even it was just in the baking realm.

Want to make you own goodies and save money?

First off, if at all possible, buy in bulk. Some ingredients you’ll use time and time again. Buy the big cocoa powder, a big container of oats, a package or two of flaked coconut when it goes on sale, and nuts too. These are all easy to store.

Being a good steward of your own resources means using up what you have. Did you buy bananas and no one ate them and they’re sitting on the counter quickly turning? Make banana bread. Don’t have time today for banana bread or muffins? FREEZE it for later baking or use in a smoothie.

Alternate Banana bread
Alternate Banana bread

Got leftover rice? Make rice pudding. Did you know that you can make a ‘potato fudge’ with leftover mashed potatoes?

What’s already in the pantry? One doesn’t HAVE to start with a cake mix. Get yourself an old cookbook, one that has basic recipes in it. I like my old Betty Crocker. Betty can teach anyone to cook.

Recipe call for buttermilk? Regular milk will suffice but you can make your own substitute buttermilk by adding a spoonful of lemon juice or vinegar to a cup of milk.

Hate firing up that big old oven? I know that using my own oven raises my electric bill (I live in an earth-shelter so propane is out of the question and we are far from a natural gas line.) but you can utilize your toaster oven and I’ve even made ‘mug cakes’ in the micro!

Bake seasonally. Right now pumpkins are cheap! After Thanksgiving you can often find canned pumpkin for pennies. Buy it. Stock up. You can have pumpkin bread and pumpkin pie all year long. No one says that pumpkin is only for the holidays!

pumpkin cheese swirl
pumpkin cheese swirl

Baking within a budget can be simple. In my younger days, when stretching that grocery budget was a skill in itself, I would add a pound package of brown sugar (does it even come in one pound packages anymore?) the same week that I made ‘beans and weinies’ as the bean/weiners used a quarter cup of brown sugar. That left exactly two cups of brown sugar for my favorite cookies (which I’ll share later…).

When you plan your weekly meals, and your grocery list, be sure to include at least one ingredient to bake with. Soon you’ll be able to open the pantry, open your recipe box (or cookbook) and whip up a treat cheaper than buying it at the store (and fresher and tastier too!)

What’s cookin’?
Blueberry Buckle
Three Berry Cake
Coconut Macaroons