Make Your Own Groceries

Food’s getting too expensive, leaving us with two choices: lose our lead on per capita obesity, or find new ways to save money. We’re not the type of nation to give up a first place position on anything, so that leaves us with saving money, and one way to do this is to make your own stuff. We know, it’s crazy! Apparently early settlers somehow created their own Cheetos and Frappuccinos, but we’re not going to get that primitive. Instead, here’s a quick rundown of some interesting Do It Yourself tutorials we found that might give you some ideas on how to cut costs the next time you go grocery shopping.

Make Your Own Baby Food
The process is pretty easy–puree the food and strain it. This post suggests you spoon individual servings into an ice tray, then cover it with plastic wrap and freeze it. “Then, put the frozen blocks of food into a freezer bag.” The author doesn’t go on to mention thawing out the food, which leaves us with images of her babies sucking toothlessly on foodsicles, but we assume you’re supposed to reheat the food when you’re ready to use it.

Of course, if you need advice on how to make your own baby, you can head over to our sister site Fleshbot.

Make Your Own Instant Oatmeal
Trent at The Simple Dollar makes his own instant oatmeal packets. Instant oatmeal is a simple recipe, which means even the kitchen-phobic can accomplish this without ruining anything. Trent writes that the initial batch actually comes out to slightly more per serving than prepackaged, if you factor in the purchase of one-time supplies like reusable baggies and salt. Batch #2 is the same price as pre-packaged, and batch #3 is where the real savings kick in.

While this is a great idea, we think you can go one better and forego the plastic bags entirely, which drops the cost per serving immediately. Baggies are good if you have to eat your breakfast in the break room at work, but otherwise the “recipe” is so simple that you can assemble it on the spot each morning in less than 30 seconds. If you follow Trent’s advice to grind up some of the oatmeal to make the final product thicker, simply grind up a predetermined amount and keep it in a plastic container.

Make Your Own Ice Cream and Sorbet
Real ice cream requires cooking a custard first, and you’ll have to purchase eggs, heavy cream, and milk, which are exactly the sort of ingredients that are going up in price. Since the point is to save money, you’re better off buying in-season fruit and trying your hand at sorbets.

This is maybe the funniest/laziest sorbet recipe we can find: freeze a can of fruit, then puree it in a blender with a little liquor. (We’re going to try this over the weekend.)

If you’re too lazy to puree and blend, go even simpler and just make ice pops.

Make Your Own Hot Dogs
Just kidding.

The Big Question: Is This Really Worth My Time?
If you’re asking yourself that, there’s a good chance you already know the answer: you probably feel your time is better suited doing something more productive and/or entertaining.

However, Trent the Oatmeal Guy writes that he made his instant oatmeal packets while talking on the phone with his mother. We’ve discovered family phone calls are the perfect time to multitask with housework and kitchen activities, especially if you have a hands-free headset.

(Photo: Getty Images)

Want more consumer news? Visit our parent organization, Consumer Reports, for the latest on scams, recalls, and other consumer issues.