Category Archives: Budget Cooking

Seven things I like to Cook from Scratch

I have always liked to cook and usually from scratch. Things slipped a little bit with the arrival of kids. Then I became a stay at home dad with a tight budget and I started getting back to scratch way of cooking. Now the budget isn’t as tight and things have started to slip again but for health reason as well as the budget I want to get back at it.

1. Bread

Homemade Bread

I love making my own bread and it is one of the items that I consistently make rather than buy. The recipe has under gone some changes over the years and is currently undergoing another refit. The bottom line is that it cost me 60 cents for a large loaf and I know what is in it.

Baking Bread Revisit

2. Sauces

Chicken Cacciatore Plated
Chicken Cacciatore

Sauces is one I have never done a blog post on mostly because I almost always just eyeball all the ingredients. Some like spaghetti and cheese sauce I had long since learned from my mom. Both of those can be modified to many more. An example is that my recipe for Chicken Cacciatore is pretty much the same as my spaghetti. Other I have picked up over the years mainly by looking on the backs of bottles that I used to buy and breaking it down to the few ingredients it actually is.

3. Pancakes

Margeret making Pancakes

Pancakes are so easy to make, they freeze well and you can reheat them in the microwave or toaster. These replaced the boxes of Eggo waffles. I’m not sure that they are cheaper but I know what goes into them and we can slip in some whole wheat.

4. Cakes

One of the rules that we had growing up was that we could have anything for dessert as long as we made it ourselves. So cakes and cookies were high on our lists of things we need to learn how to cook. The only box my mom allows is for Angel food cake and only because it takes so many egg whites otherwise. I have recently rediscovered one of my favorite cakes from my youth thanks to Google. Wacky Cake is a chocolate cake that I can’t even imagine how many times I have made and it is always delicious.

5. Cookies

Chocolate Crinkle Cookies

The first cookies that I can remember cooking are Toll House Chocolate Chip cookies. I have made those so many times that I can make them without a recipe. I have a set of Christmas cookies that I make every year. I need to post the recipe for two of them as they are naturally gluten free. In university I got the nickname Cookie man as I frequently came with cookies to share. One of those cookies that I must of made for my then wife to be was Chocolate Crinkles. I lost the recipe somewhere along the way and my wife found it again. I did not remember making them for her and though I had lost the recipe before meeting her.

Chocolate Crinkles

6. Mac and Cheese

The next still have store bought equivalents that sometimes come in to the house. They are not as good but sometimes it is what we crave. For my wife and sometimes kids it is KD. I have taught my daughter how to make her own Mac and cheese. With her homeschooling this year it is quite often what she makes for herself at lunch time. Still KD comes into the house through mysterious channels. It is eaten quickly as the kids discover it.

7. Chicken pot pie with Baking Powder Biscuits

Chicken Pot Pie Light Levels Adjusted

My guilty one is frozen Turkey Pot Pies. I can make Chicken Pot pie with Baking Powder Biscuits and that is a great way to stretch leftover chicken to another dinner. However those days that plans go astray the pot pies make a return. Particularly if it is a night that mommy is out as they are ‘Not my favorite’.

Chicken Pot Pie with Baking Powder Biscuits

Overall I feel that we are eating healthier. There is more natural ingredients, more fiber, less salt. I would like to get more veggies into everyone but I am a meat and potato guy myself so it is a stretch. It is also cheaper overall. There are a few things that I spend more on but the health benefits justify the costs.

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Sausage Rolls

One of my daughter’s all time favorite lunch is sausage rolls. They are really easy and fast to make. I also use the same pastry to make Cornish Pasties. I will have to do that recipe next time I do a roast.

Sausage Roll

I use weights when I make this dough as it is more accurate but I did put down the cup measurements. I learned the trick of grating frozen butter in from Chef Michael Smith’s Show on Food Network. It makes it a lot easier. I still end up cutting it in as well.

For the water the least amount you can use the better as long as you end up with a loosely held together ball. Sitting for an hour will allow the flour to fully absorb the water.

I just use frozen sausages I buy in a bulk box. That is why some look a little cooked. I had to microwave then to defrost and as usual that resulted in a little cooking as well.

I roll out half the dough because that fits on my surface and is quicker than rolling out 8 individual pieces. I brush the bottom half to make in stick together when I roll it up. When I am making normal sized one I run my fingers along and it is pretty easy to feel where the sausages end.

I love using parchment paper to keep things from sticking or making a mess. I also brush the tops of the sausage rolls with milk to help them brown.

Sausage Rolls
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Whole Wheat Sausage Rolls
Recipe type: Snack
Serves: 8
  • ½ cup Hard Margarine (110g)
  • 1½ Cups Whole Wheat Flour (220g)
  • ½ to ¾ Cup ColdWater
  • 8 Sausages Thawed
  • Some Milk for Brushing
  • Some Flour for rolling
  1. Measure the Flour in to a bowl.
  2. I keep my Margarine in the freezer which makes the cutting in step simple. I grate the frozen butter straight in. I then cut it into the flour but it takes a lot less work.
  3. For the water you want the smallest amount for it to form into a ball. I start out with ½ cup and cut that in. I add more if needed until it looks like the picture below.
  4. Put into a zip lock bag and let rest of an hour in the fridge.
  5. Divide in half and roll out until it is 4 sausages wide.
  6. Lay out the sausages as shown and brush the bottom half with some milk.
  7. Roll up. Seal up the seam with your fingers.
  8. Here I cut it into site sized ones. You can also find the gap with you finger and cut into normal sized ones.
  9. Bake at 400 for 25 minutes

Sausage Rolls Step by Step

Baking Bread Revisit

I felt it time for me to update my post on baking bread. I have made a couple of changes that have reduced the cost and improved the loaves.

I like making my own bread for a couple of reasons. First it is cheaper than the cheapest loaf I can find locally. Second I know exactly what goes into it. Third it is really easy to do either with a bread maker or without.

Homemade Bread

The recipe I use makes two 700g loaves. Obviously this will not work with baking them in the bread machine. So I only use the bread machine on dough only. It does all the mixing, kneading and rising. When it is done I split the dough in to two pans. This eliminate the odd shaped loaves and the hole in the bottom. The first change I made was was the loaf pans. The original ones were ones I had on hand but I went out and bought 2 longer pans that are meant for 700g loaves. This change made the loaves shorter and a more normal shape.

I always use a digital scale to measure my ingredients. It is more accurate, faster and makes it easier to adjust for differing ingredients. The faster comes from me putting the insert on the scale and zeroing it, then adding ingredients zeroing between each one.

The other changes are in the ingredients. I replaced the milk in the recipe with water. Nobody can tell the difference. I removed the chia seeds. They are good for us and I liked them but everyone else hates them and they were expensive and getting more so. I still put them in my Oatmeal. That is another post from long ago that needs updating.

So the new recipe is:

Baking Bread Revisit
Recipe type: Bread
  • 495g Water
  • 58g Margarine
  • 24g Lemon juice
  • 51g sugar
  • 10g salt
  • 620g Whole Wheat Flour
  • 150g All Purpose Flour
  • 9g Yeast
  1. Add all the ingredients to the bread machine insert in that order. I use a scale with the insert on it and zero the scale between ingredients. Set the machine to dough only. When it is done remove and divide into two loaves. Form into logs and place into greased pans. I use butter for the greasing. Let rise again for 35 minutes. Bake at 375 for 35 minutes


Ingredient Last Purchase Price Cost in Recipe
495g Milk Replace with Water $0.00
58g Margarine $6.49/3lb box $0.27
24g Lemon juice n/a n/a
51g sugar $12.97/10KG bag $0.07
10g salt n/a n/a
620g Whole Wheat Flour $7.97/10kg bag $0.50
150g Flour $7.97/10kg bag $0.12
9g Yeast $8.99/450g Vacu Bag $0.18

That brings my cost for a batch down to $1.16 which is $0.58 per loaf. When you compare that to the cheapest loaf I can find locally at $1.49 per 350g loaf it not even close.

Someone once commented that they didn’t feel they were saving because of the electricity cost. Searching Google I got for where I am, with an average oven, about $0.16. In places with higher electricity rate it could be $0.60. So that would be between and extra $0.08 and $0.30 per loaf.

Sliced Loaf of Bread

Now I am from Canada so all the prices reflect that. The saving should be the same but food usually cost less in the US.