If you haven’t noticed, I’ve kinda been on a “make something for nothing” kick lately. First, it was ketchup from our backyard plants that just.keep.going. Then it was apple cider vinegar from the cores and peels of apples.
All this coking-for-free stuff got me thinking… if I hadn’t been doing something with these foods, they would most likely be ending up in the trash can.
Did you know that the average American family wastes 40% of the food they buy? Can you imagine how much money that equates to every year?
So turning our trash into treats (that’s a Halloween reference, by the way) is not only providing healthy food for us to eat, but it’s reducing our waste! And saving us money too.
All these hidden treasures of food got me wondering if there were even more real food we could make for free. With the only rule being you wouldn’t ordinarily buy something to make this food, I came up with 8 foods in all.
For example, you wouldn’t normally buy pumpkins for the seeds. BUT, since you have them anyway after pumpkin carving or making your own puree, then they’re fair game.
Speaking of pumpkin seeds, let’s use them to kick off our list of 8 real foods you can make for free.
#1. Pumpkin Seeds
Did I mention these were perfectly roasted? They are. And they’re amazing. And they’re free!
#2. Non-Dairy Milk Alternatives
Allergic to dairy? Or don’t have access to or can’t afford quality dairy? You now have your choice of SIX different non-dairy milk alternatives that you can easily make with what you already have on hand.
#3. Chicken Stock
Practically using only the bones leftover from dinner, you can make one of the most nourishing real foods there is. The fact that it’s free is one reason we plan soup on the menu once a week.
#4. Butter (and by default, Buttermilk)
Raw milk is a bit on the expensive side for me to make butter from scratch, but for my sister-in-law who has access to beautiful cream-filled raw milk for just $4/gallon, she buys milk to drink, and skims some cream for butter.
Another superfood in real food terms, whey can be used to soak grains, make our new favorite bread or as a liquid to smoothies. The fact that it can be made 5 different ways is a huge plus too.
#6. Sourdough Starter
The after person buys flour for baking, but combine some with water and in a few days you’re on your way to a delicious and very bread. The perfect accompaniment to #4 if you ask me.
#7. Apple Cider Vinegar
Bypass the trash can and aim for a jar instead. Combine peels and cores with a bit of sugar and water and voila! You’ll have homemade vinegar in a matter of weeks!
#8. Oat Flour
Nothing fancy by any means, but pulverized oats are pretty handy for baking. They add moisture to muffins and texture to breads. Plus since you’re buying rolled oats for breakfast anyway, oat flour doesn’t cost a dime to make.
Those 8 real foods are a fantastic start, and will definitely make a dent in your grocery bill… but the fun doesn’t stop there. Because I’m a frugal foodie and always looking for ways to stretch my budget (so I can share the ideas with you), I’ve compiled a second list of 6 real foods you can make for $1 or less. I figure between these 6 foods altogether, surely we can save a few bucks.
#1. Soaked Whole Grain Bread
Believe it or not, but you can make a loaf of this bread for just under $1. Reason #3 to have peanut butter & jelly for lunch.
#2. Fruit Butter
Pick up 2 pounds of bruised fruit for $1 and you’ve got homemade fruit butter ready in about a day. We use this in place of jelly on our sandwiches, and it’s so good. Plus you can pretty much make whatever fruit combination you want, making no bushel of “seconds” off limits.
I hear buttermilk makes for the best pancakes, and I have 10 ways to make it… without having to make butter first.
#4. Traditional Breakfast Porridge
The breakfast of champions in our house, oatmeal is a staple. It’s hearty, it’s healthy, and it’s cheap!
#5. Whole Grain Crackers
Surprisingly, this 3-ingredient recipe is essentially just the cost of flour… which even when it’s whole grain, still costs less than $1 per batch.
#6. Dry Beans from Scratch
Ah… the bean. The frugal foodies best friend and mighty budget saver. Many beans cost less than $1 per pound dry, and cook up to 7 cups worth of beans. That’s making your dollar stretch REALLY far!
Coming up with creative ways to use what would otherwise be trash is a great way to save on groceries. Include more of the 8 real foods you can make for free AND the 6 real foods you can make for $1 or less and I promise you’ll see grocery savings almost immediately.