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5 Things I Never Make From Scratch

One of the biggest tips given by frugal gurus is to stop by pre-made items and learn how to make things from scratch. While DIY-ing it can save a lot of money, I think you also should take into consideration the time involved. If something saves you a few dollars, but it takes an hour to do, it might not be worth the time and effort.

In addition, I think it’s important to think about how well the DIY product works and whether you enjoy creating the item. In many cases, you might not be making something from scratch because you love the process of creating it, you want to do it yourself, or you have another reason that has nothing to do with saving money.

With this in mind, I thought it would be fun to share five things I currently don’t make from scratch:

1. Laundry Soap

I know. You are probably shocked that I don’t make my own laundry detergent. It seems like every frugal blog post and money-saving book will recommend that you stop getting to-go coffee and make your own laundry soap.

However, I’ve tried multiple recipes and I just never liked it as well as store bought laundry soap. Plus, there are often sales/coupons at Walgreens and Kroger that make large jugs of laundry detergent just $0.99 to $1.99, so it really doesn’t save much (or any?) money to make your own at that rate, either.

For more thoughts on why it might not be frugal to make homemade laundry detergent, read Homemade Laundry Detergent Doesn’t Actually Save You Money.

2. Pasta Sauce

Okay, confession time: I don’t think I’ve ever made pasta sauce from scratch. And I know that many foodies and chefs can’t imagine this, but I really can’t tell a difference between homemade pasta sauce and store bought pasta sauce.

Since I can regularly get pasta sauce for $0.99/jar, it just makes sense to buy it instead of take the time and buy the ingredients to make it from scratch. And now I feel like I might need to duck from the rotten tomatoes some of you want to throw my way (but hey, better to throw them at me than to use them in your tomato sauce!)

3. Tortillas

Back in 2010, I wrote an article on Why I Don’t Make Homemade Tortillas. I stand by that article 10 years later — and I can still get tortillas for $1-$1.29 per bag. Here’s some of what I wrote

Your prices might be entirely different… we can pretty routinely pick up a package of 8-10 tortillas for around $1. When I priced out the ingredients of homemade tortillas, I figured up that it would likely cost me around $0.30 to $0.40 per batch.

So yes, you could say that homemade tortillas are slightly less expensive than store bought tortillas. However, you forgot to factor in one very important part of the equation: TIME.

To make 8-10 tortillas from start to finish would likely take me around 30 minutes. At that rate, I’d be spending 30 minutes of my time to save around $0.60 to $0.70 total.

I could probably figure out a way to make them more efficiently if I did a bigger batch, so let’s say I became the world’s fastest tortilla-maker and I could whip out 70 tortillas from start to finish in an hour. At this rate, I’d still only be saving less than $5 for an hour’s worth of work.

If your family loves homemade tortillas, or you don’t want to eat some of the ingredients in store bought tortillas, or you love making tortillas, or you go through seven packages of tortillas a week and the least expensive you can find them in your area is $4.99 per package, then by all means, make homemade tortillas. But, don’t do it merely for the cost-savings because, unless you live where tortillas cost $7 per bag, the savings per hour is so slim that your time would very likely be better spent elsewhere.

4. Sandwich Bread/Hamburger/Hot Dog Buns

While I’m a big fan of making homemade bread (especially when you can save time and energy by using the bread machine!), I draw the line when it comes to sandwich bread, hamburger buns, and hot dog buns.

Not only does our family prefer store bought for those, but also, I can get them marked down or on sale all the time from Kroger for $1 or off the clearance cart at Big Lots for $1.40. Some Dollar Tree stores also carry them, too (for $1).

5. Yogurt

I’ve made quite a few batches of homemade yogurt in the crock pot, but in this season of life, I’m finding that I love the convenience, price, and variety of buying yogurt marked down at Kroger. And my kids (and even Jesse!) love trying the fun flavors and kinds I find marked down!

Plus, when you can get 6 servings for $0.50 from the marked down case at Kroger, it might be more expensive to make it from scratch! (Note: It’s not always that inexpensive, but I have scored quite a few deals this past year that were pretty amazing!)

Do you agree with my list? Or do you make some of these items from scratch? What would be on your list for things you don’t make from scratch?

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  • Patricia Keppy says:

    I agree wholeheartedly, it isn’t cost effective to make these items.

  • Janice says:

    I like where You put that if the small savings are important to you or if it is something you like to do or you need to leave out ingredients. That way instead of throwing out all the tip, people are more likely to listen to the others.

    • Jordan says:

      Right?! Its always about finding the balance in life and what works best for each person and their family. It is hard these days to make catch all statements that really hold up! -Jordan, MSM Team

  • Tara says:

    If you can’t taste the difference between homemade and store-bought pasta sauce, then you are not trying the right sauce! 🙂 I used to always buy it, but a couple years ago started making my mother-in-law’s passed down recipe, and it’s definitely better than jarred sauce. I make it in a big batch in my crockpot and then usually have enough for 3 meals worth to put in the freezer.

  • Matraca Beesley says:

    I agree with all of them , except I do make pasta/tomato/enchilada sauce from scratch when my mother in law has enough tomatoes to share from her garden! We do that in the instant pot and freeze it. When it runs out, back to jars until garden season is back. 🙂 I can’t really tell a difference, but enjoy making it!

  • Jennifer says:

    Y’all, Wal-Mart sells the best bread that is similar to Arnold’s or Pepperidge Farm. The Multi Grain is $1.28 a loaf and the whole wheat is $1.53. These are the side pan breads and the name brands are 2 to 3 times more, depending on the sale. They also have a potato bread and a NY Rye.

  • Beth says:

    Yes, Pasta sauce! I grow a huge garden and can my own sauce but still buy it at the store when it goes on sale for $.99. Honestly my homemade does not have as good of flavor so I end up adding more spices or cheese to the dish I make which means no saving in the long run. I still can though because we feel it is important to teach are kids how to grow and preserve their own food.

  • Heather says:

    I make my own pasta sauce, but that’s because my mom made her own when we were growing up. It’s not cheaper, but it’s comforting to me.

  • Shannon says:

    I do make my own pasta sauce. I have made it for so long I can taste the sugar in the pre-made. I do use canned tomatoes.

  • Ani w says:

    I make my own fettuccine Alfredo sauce because I just don’t love the jarred kind. And my family is Mexican so we eat a lot of tortillas but I rarely make them, but do loooove homemade ones!

  • Amy says:

    Love this! My husband was in law enforcement and no homemade detergent ever worked on the smell of his T shirt so it wasn’t worth it. Homemade sauce occasionally in the winter for fun. I actually just thought about getting a tortilla press but again, for fun. The biggest thing to remember is that life isn’t a competition between women. Nobody is a better person because they do everything from scratch. Use the extra time saved for serving Jesus and others!

    • Jordan says:

      Absolutely! Life isn’t a competition and everyone should find what works best for them and their family!! I love what you shared. Thank you so much! -Jordan, MSM Team

  • Amy B says:

    I make some of our families bread, yogurt and pasta sauce from scratch– but I have several food intolerances and buying food to fit those is really expensive!
    Plus, I love making bread 🙂
    I don’t make laundry soap- I don’t think homemade works well

    • Jordan says:

      Working with food allergies can definitely make it a better idea to make things at home! I imagine it is reassuring to know exactly what is going into the foods you are eating! -Jordan, MSM Team

  • J says:

    Yes! I but frozen chopped onions and green peppers for this reason. I will pay someone a little more (if any) to chop those for me, so that for weeknight meals o can throw them into my recipes. They save my life.

    I still use fresh 15% of the time and for recipes where it really matters (stir fry, stuffed peppers), but I always have frozen on hand for everything else (meatloaf, casseroles, quiches, soups, etc)

    Love this post!

  • Beth says:

    The only one I don’t agree with is the yogurt. And that’s partly because of tastes/life stages. I make it a gallon at a time in our instant pot. It takes all of 5-10 minutes of work. So depending on the cost of milk it’s about $2.50 a gallon or $0.15/8oz. This works for us because I don’t sweeten or flavor it (saving time and money). It goes straight back into the gallon jug and my kids drink it out of cup. Two of my kids prefer it to milk. Every once in a while we get something flavored from the store but it’s more sugar than I want them to have regularly. If you had to add toppings or sweetener that would definitely increase the cost and time.

  • Pixie508 says:

    While a few times a year, I do make my own sauce, the time it takes to make a small batch vs a big batch is basically the same! So, I make a huge stockpot full, let it simmer away for hours, use it for dinner that night, and then divide it into quart size freezer bags and use it over the course of the next several months. That’s the only way it’s worth it! But I always keep a few jars on hand anyway.

    Also, the only breads I make are quick breads (like banana bread or zucchini bread). I don’t have time and patience for sandwich bread 🤣

  • Katy in Africa says:

    We live overseas, so I make tortillas, but when we’re back in Texas our grocery store sells freshly made ones! Yummo!

  • Jennifer says:

    I love this list and the idea behind it. Our time is so valuable! We make yogurt because our kids eat a ton of it and our store doesn’t ever mark it down. It was nice to know how to make some of these when the store shelves were empty at the start of the pandemic!

  • Bonnie says:

    I would add pie crust. First of all, we don’t eat many pies anyway…holidays and strawberry season. Secondly, I make horrible pie crust and spend a lot of time piecing and patching! And I make a terrible mess. Saving all the time and frustration is well worth the cost of the packaged kind! Lol

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