Save Money By Making It Yourself

Pin now to save for later! Money saving, healthy recipes for snacks, soap, bread and more @ blog.jaxinthebox.comAs a stay-at-home mom, I think it’s my responsibility to save our family as much money as I can — after all I’m not contributing much to my family’s income (let’s face it, my adjunct professor gig is practically a volunteer job).  But, if you know me, I’m not all that frugal. I like nice things and sometimes splurge on them. But the cash I stash via making things I used to buy helps ease my buyer’s remorse.

I sometimes post pictures of and links to my homemade snacks, soap, etc. on the Jax in the Box Facebook page, and many folks ask if I’d share other make-at-home ideas. So here here you go …

When it comes to meals, I make pretty much everything from scratch. I don’t buy processed mixes, boxed or frozen meals (save the occasional pizza when I don’t have time to allow pizza crust to rise). But for a long time, I bought pre-made snacks and other things before I discovered I can whip them up on my own. So these are the things I regularly make instead of buy. Not only do I save money, but I control all the ingredients. Because I’m a control freak when it comes to what my kids put into and on their bodies, I love that doing it myself fits my values on both of these counts.

Hand Soap

Pin now to save for later! Money saving, healthy recipes for snacks, soap, bread and more @ blog.jaxinthebox.com Hand soap gets expensive, and its ingredients are often questionable. So for about $5, I make a year’s supply. I use this {basic recipe}. If you try it yourself, keep these things in mind:

  1. Ms. Myer’s soap matters. I’ve tried using other brands and the end result isn’t as thick and is a bit too jelly-like for me.
  2. I use 14 vs. 16 cups of water.

Once I have kids out of diapers, I plan to make my own laundry soap too. I’ve heard too many horror stories about the effects of Borax on cloth diapers, so I’m putting this money saving tip on the back burner.

Snacks

With three kids, we do a lot snacking. But buying natural and organic snacks can break the bank, so I make my own. I have one really picky eater, so you’ll notice right off the bat that these recipes  contain lots of the same ingredients. While there are amazing recipes out there that will offer your family greater variety, these are winners with my family — picky eater and all.

Now, you know this isn’t a cooking blog, so while I’m posting downloadable recipes when links aren’t available, they are not fancy like those posted by my favorite food bloggers. But they’ll do the trick. (You know while I may have fancy ideas and opinions, not much of what I post here is all that fancy. Maybe some day I’ll even learn to use my camera so I can treat you to some higher quality pics.)

Energy Balls

healthy-energy-bites2 This is a very forgiving {recipe} for which I use lots of substitutions depending on what I have (or don’t have) in my pantry. I always use old-fashioned oats (vs. quick oats), I’ve used flax seed or wheat germ instead of chia seeds, honey and maple syrup work equally well, Nutella mixed withe the peanut butter is a special treat, and I find miniature dark chocolate chips work best. Make a double or triple batch — it freezes well.

Chewy Granola Bars

Chewy Bars2 My twins love this one so much they asked that I make it for their school birthday snack. Here’s the {recipe}, but I alter it a bit:

  1. I always triple the recipe and spread the mixture on a parchment paper-lined jelly roll pan (vs. baking dish per the recipe).
  2. Make sure to sprinkle the mini-chocolate chips on the mixture when it is still warm so the chips melt a bit. I also press them into the mixture gently with the bottom of a measuring cup. Otherwise the chips will roll right off the bars when cooled. Alternatively, stir the chips right into the warm mixture. They will melt, but you won’t risk run-away chips when biting into them.
  3. When I don’t have chips on hand, I mix about 1/4 cup of dark chocolate cocoa directly into the liquid mixture when on the stove top. This results in a “chocolate” chewy bar that my gang adores.

Crunchy Granola Bars

I snatched this {recipe} from our local fresh food market. All my variations are included in this {downloadable recipe}. (Sorry, I don’t have a pic of this one.)

Larabars | Cliff Bars

Larabars2 The foundation for these {bars} comes from 100 Days of Real Food. If you haven’t checked them out yet, you should! They are full-time food bloggers who provide a wealth of information and delicious recipes. I make the Cashew Nut and Granola varieties with these modifications:

  1. I add dark chocolate chips to both. My kids consider anything with chocolate chips a dessert, so I’m happy to indulge them. I add the chips at the end so they are still a bit chunky in the batter.
  2. I often add old-fashioned oats to the mixture — especially if it seems a bit too moist.
  3. I process the dates by themselves first, then add the other ingredients. I find that if I process the nut  ingredients (like cashews or granola with nuts) for too long, the bars taste a bit waxy.
  4. I always double or triple the recipes. I’m not sure how she gets the yield she claims unless her bars are super thin.

Homemade Granola

Granola

This granola is so versatile! Use it in the Granola Larabars above, as a breakfast cereal, as a yogurt topping, or pour it in a fancy jar to offer as a hostess gift. I mix up a huge batch, bake a quarter of it, and freeze the rest to be baked later. Here’s the {downloadable recipe}.

Bread

Pin now to save for later! Money saving, healthy recipes for snacks, soap, bread and more @ blog.jaxinthebox.com I started baking my own bread when I became particular about the ingredients my kids were ingesting. The bread that met my criteria was SO expensive that making my own just made sense.

Don’t be intimidated by baking yeast bread. With a bit of practice, it’s so easy. And once you’ve smelled the sweet aroma of fresh baked bread in your kitchen and smothered a bit of butter on a warm slice, you’ll be hard pressed to go back to the store bought versions.

This {recipe} is my foundation for almost all the bread I bake. It is very versatile, easily adapting to a variety of flours. I bake it in loaves for traditional sandwich bread, but will add rye flour, oats or Bob Red Mill’s 7-Grain Cereal, shape it in a round loaf, and add a bit of sesame seeds on top and serve as an appetizer with olive oil or bring a hostess gift to a dinner party. Really, you can do just about anything with it.

The recipe yields two loaves (or rounds). I double it and bake four loaves at a time. For sandwich bread I use King Arthur (the brand matters) white whole wheat flour. It results in a lighter, fluffier bread that my kids like even more than white bread. They’ve named it “Mommy White Bread.” The baked loaves freeze beautifully. Here’s the {downloadable recipe}.

Salad Dressing

Pin now to save for later! Money saving, healthy recipes for snacks, soap, bread and more @ blog.jaxinthebox.com Salad dressing is expensive too, but mixing your own is cheap. I love my {Norpro Salad Dressing Shaker}. It has six healthy salad dressing recipes printed right on the bottle! While I Google other recipes when I’m in the mood for something different, these six keep me pretty satisfied!

Seasonings

Taco Seasoning2 I always have a pantry full of spices, so I rarely buy prepackaged mixes. If you need Jamaican Jerk, pumpkin pie spice or taco seasoning, just Google it and you’ll quickly find a recipe you can mix together in a matter of minutes.My kids love tacos, so I’m always mixing this {homemade taco seasoning}.

That’s probably enough for now! Healthy cookies, muffins and crackers are other homemade goodies that regularly turn out of my kitchen. Maybe I’ll just have to post a Part 2 in the future.

If you have a favorite recipe that saves you money over the store bought options, please share in the comments. I’d love to add to my go-to collection.

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