Hummus, Salad Dressing, and Other Foods That Are Cheap and Easy to Make at Home



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Cut Costs by Going Homemade

Maybe you're looking to save money, or perhaps you're just not eager to run to the store to get anything if you don't have to do it (we hear you). The 17 foods highlighted here come prepackaged at the store but can be prepared more cheaply at home. Better yet, they are quick and easy to whip up in a home kitchen — no exotic ingredients, equipment, or specialized skills required. Plus, flavors can be adjusted to fit personal tastes, so let your imagination run wild with new combinations.

Hana Livingston contributed to this story.

Related: 100 Cheap and Easy Weeknight Dinners


Marinara Sauce

While you can buy inexpensive marinara sauce, the high-quality ones still run a few dollars per jar. If you have a pantry with a lot of canned tomatoes making your own sauce is a tasty way to save money.

Recipe: The New York Times



The ultimate convenience food, having a few frozen burritos stashed away is a good idea, but the store-bought versions are actually pretty costly, about $3-plus per small burrito. The best time to make them is when you have leftover rice and beans, or another dish that can be combined with rice to make a burrito. Even if you buy the ingredients specifically for making these burritos, it comes out a lot cheaper than store-bought, around $1 per burrito or less.

Recipe: The Kitchn

Lauri Patterson/istockphoto
Brent Hofacker/shutterstock

Cold-Brewed Coffee

Java addicts favor cold-brewed coffee over conventional iced coffee for its smooth flavor, lower acidity, and higher caffeine buzz. Once a specialty item at boutique coffee shops, cold-brewed coffee is now available at Starbucks and in bottled form at the supermarket. However, it's much cheaper to make yourself. Start with coarsely ground coffee and a large container. Be prepared to use more coffee than for the hot version — one cup of ground coffee for four cups of water, for example. Combine and let sit for three to 24 hours. Strain out the grounds and enjoy however desired.

Recipe: Cheapism

Related: 10 Independent Coffee Roasters That Put Starbucks to Shame



Making your own salsa comes with more advantages than cost — the flavors are brighter and the spiciness can be adjusted to your palate. For a restaurant-style salsa, use a food processor to whirl together canned tomatoes with onions or scallions, lemon juice, jalapeños, and salt. These 21 salsa recipes have something for everyone, including creative ingredients such as bacon and pumpkin seeds.

Recipe: BuzzFeed

Related: 30 Cheap and Easy Recipes From Canned Foods

Tortilla Chips

Tortilla Chips

Instead of throwing out tortillas when they turn stale, make them into chips. Just cut tortillas into wedges or squares, lightly toss in olive oil, arrange on a baking sheet, and bake in the oven until crunchy and slightly browned. Sprinkle with salt (or another seasoning) and enjoy. Use the same technique to transform old pitas into pita chips.

Related: The 20 Least Unhealthy Junk Foods

Salad Dressing

Salad Dressing

As far as DIY food prep goes, salad dressing tops the list for being easy and tasting infinitely better than the store-bought version. Shake together olive oil with an acid such as a vinegar or citrus juice, along with a little salt and pepper. To take it up a notch, add an emulsifier such as mustard or honey to keep the dressing from separating. The possibilities are infinite — yogurt or tahini instead of oil or the addition of garlic, herbs, spices, anchovies, and so on. For a little more than the cost of store-bought salad dressing, purchase the Kolder Salad Dressing Bottle ($7 on Amazon) with ingredient quantities printed on the side.

Hot Sauce
Pumpkin Stock

Chicken Stock

Homemade stock is an ideal way to make use of kitchen scraps. Instead of tossing out chicken bones, carrot peels, onion tops, mushroom stems, and the like, seal them in an airtight container and freeze them for stock. This basic chicken stock recipe from has the chicken bones and vegetables simmering with aromatics and water for a few hours until flavorful. Use immediately or freeze for later use. Homemade stock not only tastes better than boxed brands but is also practically free, considering it's made from food that is normally trashed.

Recipe: Serious Eats

Related: 30 Easy Soup Recipes That Last for Days



This staple of Middle Eastern cuisine has become a fixture in many American kitchens recently. Since chickpeas (especially dried ones) are dirt-cheap, it's definitely less expensive to make this dish at home. This Ina Garten recipe is straightforward and easy. To jazz up the dip, consider adding more seasonings and flavors such as roasted garlic, sun-dried tomatoes, paprika, olives, or roasted red peppers.

Recipe: The Food Network

Cooked Beans

Canned Beans

A $1 can of beans is a good deal, but not compared to making them yourself. Dry beans are much cheaper, and more typically more flavorful, than their cooked canned counterparts, and also don't come with any of the added salt or preservatives. You can also choose from a wider variety of beans when you opt for dry. Once cooked, you can portion them into bags in the freezer so they are ready to go, just like the convenience of cans! You can cook beans in a pot on the stove, or better yet, in a pressure cooker in less time.

Recipe: The Veggie Queen

Related: 30 Creative Rice and Bean Dishes From Around the World



Mayonnaise is a controversial condiment — while some can't stand it, others refuse a sandwich or french fries without it. Haters should try a homemade version before swearing off mayo completely. Made from ingredients already stocked in the kitchen, such as egg yolks, canola oil, and white vinegar, homemade mayonnaise is silkier, more delicious, and cheaper.

Recipe: The Petite Cook

Andrey Zhuravlev/istockphoto


No longer the breakfast of health nuts and hippies, granola is a well-loved and filling meal. The prices and sugar levels of store-bought granola can be absurdly high, however. Make your own granola at home starting with a base of oats and adding extras, such as favorite nuts, seeds, dried fruit, shredded coconut, or chocolate chips. A sweet and sticky substance such as maple syrup, honey, or molasses holds it all together. Finish it off in a low-temperature oven and store in an airtight container.

Recipe: Chowhound

Hot Cocoa Mix

Hot Cocoa Mix

Nostalgic and mostly sugar, store-bought hot cocoa has a special place in the hearts of many. Upgrading to homemade is cheaper and tastier, especially if you use a nice quality cocoa powder. Consider making special blends that include some ground chipotle for a bit of heat.

Recipe: Alton Brown

Related: We Tried 11 Hot Cocoa Mixes and This is the Best 

Frozen Fruit

Frozen Fruit

Frozen fruit is a bargain at the store, especially when it goes on sale or compared to fresh, but doing it yourself pays off too. Paradoxically, when fruit is perfectly ripe, it goes on sale because it has a short shelf life, so buying up the super-cheap fruit and then cutting and freezing it yourself yields a fresher and even cheaper version than store bought.

Related: 16 Foods to Freeze for Later (and How to Do It Right)



This refreshing summer dessert requires only a few ingredients — one of which is water. Use whatever fruit is seasonal and at its bounty, such as summer peaches or winter plums. No special machinery required; follow Food52's these instructions for homemade sorbet without an ice cream maker, substituting other fruit for the strawberries.

Recipe: Food52

Irish Cream

Irish Cream

Made from just a handful of ingredients, Irish cream is cost-effective to concoct at home compared with a store-bought variety such as Baileys Irish Cream. Follow this recipe or tweak it to be sweeter, spicier, boozier, or even vegan. Give as a gift or keep as a gourmet addition to a home bar.

Recipe: Saveur