Nineteen tips for how to save money by cooking up these simple, natural, healthy, quick recipes for the family

round loaf of fresh bread on a wooden cutting board, a bread knife laying to the left

(photo compliments of

Alright, while reading 573 Ways to Save Money by Peter Sander and Jennifer Sander, I found a few super simple recipes I really liked. They use a few real ingredients, and are cheaper than their pre-made or packaged counterparts at the supermarket with mystery chemicals and preservatives. Save money, cook with healthier ingredients and get creative in the kitchen? This is great.

  1. Make your own smoothies. Get out of the habit of expensive fruit juice smoothies and get into the habit of making them yourself at home. Bananas, berries, ice, yogurt, juice, and a blender are all you need. Visit for a great selection of smoothie recipes.
  2. Stuff baked potatoes. An inexpensive and filling way to feed a family is with stuffed baked potatoes. Bake them, scoop out the insides, and mash with a bit of milk, butter, and sour cream, then add in chopped and spiced meat or cheese or vegetables.
  3. Simple pasta is the best. This inexpensive pasta meal is perfect–plain pasta, olive oil, garlic, and Parmesan cheese. Add salad or a loaf of bread you’ve made yourself, and you have a budget gourmet meal.
  4. Bake your own bread. If you are addicted to the beautiful artisan loaves in specialty bakeries, you will be delighted to know that you can make them yourself. Really, you can. And a loaf will cost you less than a dollar, rather than the four or five you’d pay for a fresh loaf in a bakery. The secret is to use the recipe in an amazing book called Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day. Jennifer read the recipe in the food section of the New York Times over a year ago and has literally made hundreds of loaves ever since (despite her lack of baking talent). | The most expensive ingredient is yeast. Flour, water, and kosher salt are the only other ingredients. The master recipe can also be used for pizza dough, sweet breads like cinnamon rolls, and sandwich rolls. You can find the simple recipe and instructions online. Visit and search for “artisan bread in five minutes a day.” Jennifer is such a fan of this book, however, that she believes you should run out and buy a copy. Or at least look for it in your local library. | Five minutes a day. That is all you need to save money and have your own inexpensive, flavorful, homemade bread. And your house with smell wonderful.
  5. Go wild with your salads. Now here is an old piece of country wisdom: Some of what grows wild in your yard is edible. It won’t feed a family, but it will stretch a salad. You can pick dandelion greens, wild lettuce, pansies, and mustard greens, among others. Don’t pick from a yard that uses pesticides, and stay away from wild mushrooms unless you are knowledgeable, as they can be deadly. In the late winter and early spring, Jennifer adds miner’s lettuce and tiny purple pansies to her salad. Se also cooks up a batch or two of dandelion greens flavored with garlic and onions. Wild-food fans will tell you these wild plants ahve great nutritional value, high sometimes than commercially grown produce. And you’ll feel like a real pioneer, scanning the horizon for something edible and free.
  6. Indulge in homemade chocolate truffles. Chocolate truffles are deliciously, and sadly, expensive. Just a few can easily cost $10. But for closer to $8, you can make your own. Imagine, an entire batch of truffles to share with friends, or not, according to your mood. The most expensive ingredients you will need are heavy cream and baking chocolate. You can spend an afternoon of creative fun in your own kitchen making up a batch of chocolate truffles. Simple to make, truffles can be created using a variety of recipes. Find them online by typing “chocolate truffle recipe” into your search engine. | Ramp up the caloric indulgence level by rolling your truffles in crushed candies or chopped nuts… Either way you will have far more chocolate for your money than you could get buying that gold-foil embossed box full of fancy truffles.
  7. Make your own baking mixes. Marcie Rothman, the Five Dollar Chef, says that one of her biggest gripes about groceries is the amount shoppers spend on prepared mixes. “You can make your own flavored rice, or ground beef casserole for so much less. You don’t need to buy Hamburger Helper.” You can learn how to make your own baking mixes at The site gives a lengthy list of recipes for mixes, including ones for apple muffins, delicious puddings and cakes, and even Alfredo sauce.
  8. Learn to make soup. Few things are as cozy and comforting as the smell of a pot of soup simmering on your stove. Cozy, comforting, and in most cases, cheap. Soups are a convenient and cost-effective way to use up leftovers, and can sometimes be made from what you already have in your cupboard or refrigerator. Mix up a big batch and freeze small individual portions to take to work for lunch, maximizing your savings. If you keep a bag of potatoes and a few onions on hand, along with bags of frozen vegetables, cans of tomatoes (or your own homemade sauce from your new tomato crop!) you will always have the basics for soup. Using water instead of broth is the cheapest way to make soup, unless you have broth you made yourself from leftover chicken. A good source of simple soup recipes is
  9. Make your own tomato sauce. Okay, write this down–five fresh tomatoes, some olive oil, some garlic, some parsley, salt, and pepper. Think you can handle that? Of course you can, and in ten minutes you will have made a simple tomato sauce that is cheaper and better for you than the sauce at the store. In the summer when your neighbors and coworkers are looking around for people who want tomatoes, raise your hand high. You can find a simple sauce recipe at Look for the Five Minute Tomato Sauce Recipe. It uses a 28oz. can of tomatoes rather than fresh, though. For a sauce recipe using fresh tomatoes, go to
  10. Make muffins for breakfast on the go. Make your own muffins. They are one of the easiest things you can bake (from scratch, please–no mixes, which cost too much, and aren’t healthy) and they freeze well. You can also use up bruised fruit like bananas, apples, and peaches. Make a batch of twelve and freeze some for your mornings on the go. Good muffin recipes abound; look for them at
  11. Delight in beans and rice. Even if you have a family of dedicated meat-lovers, everyone enjoys a good pot of beans. You can find good beans and rice recipes at You’ll save money, and eating more beans and rice has nice benefits too.
  12. Pop real popcorn. Want popcorn that tastes like popcorn and costs less? Then skip those microwave packages and reach instead for the old-fashioned popcorn in a plastic bag or glass jar. It costs less, you can make as much or as little as you want. Use real butter, add cinnamon and sugar, go wild with your flavorings. If you don’t remember how to make it on the stove the old school way, there is a handy video on, search for How to Make Popcorn on the Stove.
  13. Bake your own Irish soda bread. …A simple bread to make is Irish soda bread. It doesn’t require yeast, kneading, or rising. A warm loaf of Irish soda bread along with butter and jam is a great weekend afternoon or after-school treat. The ingredients are plain, probably found in your cupboard: flour, oats, butter and baking soda are the primary ones. It only takes twenty minutes (remember, no need for the dough to rise).
  14. Make your own salad dressings. Instead of spending several dollars on a bottle of expensive and high-calorie salad dressing, reach into your own cupboard for the simple ingredients you need to make your own. Olive oil and vinegar, along with salt and pepper makes the most simple dressing of all. If you like the cheesy creamy kind, go ahead and add some blue cheese or other soft cheeses to the oil and vinegar mixture. The taste is better, the price is better, and it is a healthier choice–no preservatives, less sodium, and little fat.
  15. Make your own gourmet pizza. It is easy to avoid the high-priced pizza in restaurants and the fancy stuff in the frozen case at the store if you learn how to make pizza dough yourself. A simple recipe for Quick Pizza Dough is found on You can watch a video on that will walk you through making your own pizzaInvite your friends over to join you and see who can bring the most creative pizza topping. You provide the dough and the oven; they can bring along all manner of cheeses and meats and gourmet touches.
  16. Try some Depression cooking with Clara. Ninety-three-year-old Clara grew up during the Depression era and vividly remembers how her mother used simple and cheap ingredients to make satisfying meals. This is a skill that once again comes in handy, so watch the YouTube videos that Clara’s younger relatives have made. She will show you how to make “Pasta and Peas,” a dish she says her own mother made several times a week. Watching Clara move around her kitchen will also remind you that life is long, and that this too shall pass.
  17. Make your own dips. If you love potato chips or nachos with a sour cream dip of some sort–say, French Onion–ooooh, doesn’t that sound good right now?–you’re looking at $2.50 or more just for the dip. And you had better plan to use that much, pretty quickly, or else it will go bad. So you eat too much, or end up throwing half of it away, right? Well, there’s another way–simply keep plain sour cream on hand (it’s good for other stuff too, so you’ll get more use out of it) and a few packages of dry onion soup, like the Lipton’s kind. Just mix a little from a soup packet into your sour cream, and voila! You can try other flavors too, and nothing goes to waste.
  18. D-I-Y Caesar salad. A deliciously affordable indulgence is a Caesar salad, made from scratch. Sure, it costs $10 in a restaurant, but the ingredients themselves don’t cost much. Lettuce, eggs, garlic, olive oil, Parmesan cheese–you probably have those things now. Old bread to make some croutons. And then a tin of anchovies, which should cost less than $1 at the store. Check out this simple recipe at Once you learn how to treat yourself at home with this inexpensive recipe, you will never again order it in a restaurant.
  19. Try out Grandma’s oatmeal hamburgers. No, we really don’t expect you to make hamburgers out of oatmeal, but you do need to know that your grandmother made her ground beef go further by adding oatmeal to it. When making a meatloaf, you can add bulk by using three-fourths of a cup of oatmeal for every pound of hamburger meat.

The above tips are directly quoted from 573 Ways to Save Money. Buy it or borrow it from the library for free. The conversational manner in which it is written makes it an easy read with great advice for saving money for your family.


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    Nineteen tips for how to save money by cooking up these simple, natural, healthy, quick recipes for the family | Be good. Or else.

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