Are the savings really worth the hassle? Yes, more than you would imagine! A couple years after I overhauled our grocery and household purchases, I figured out how much money these changes saved us every year. Homemade foods were a huge source of savings, and removal of extras was another (I factored in the amount of removed items, like not buying paper towels, face soap or juice anymore). The list also included non-food items like homemade laundry detergent and cleaning products. My annual savings was $939! That number made the extra steps of making foods from scratch worth it. My annual savings is even bigger now, since I’ve implemented more changes and our family has grown. It's at $2,924 from the best estimates I can do, but that's a low guess!
You can make homemade versions of staples like yogurt, bread, sour cream, salad dressing, applesauce and cereal (yes, even cereal!). Think about it: people didn’t buy these foods from stores all along. They were made in kitchens, not factories, until our food industry changed. Even the busiest person can mix some oil and vinegar for a salad, or throw chicken bones in a pot with water for stock. The internet is full of blogs that show how to make every food imaginable, from Fluff spread to cider vinegar!
People say, "You make you own crackers? I'd never do that when I can buy a box!" To me, mixing some sourdough starter, flour, oil and salt, then rolling it out and baking it is an easy trade-off. Not only are my crackers quick and cheap, they meet my big criteria (fermented and heirloom, stone ground wheat), which NONE of the healthiest store crackers do. When my kids gobble a whole batch in a day or two, I'm only out a dollar or so, but if I had bought the organic ones at the store, I'd be out $4, as well as cringing about the non-fermented, conventional grains. This way, I don't try to ration out how much they have. When they eat a half gallon of yogurt for breakfast, as they usually do (and then want more food after that!), it only cost me $2, not the $10 I would pay for that much Cabot yogurt.
If you have a kid who is about 6 or older, you can delegate lots of the food-making tasks and save yourself some work! My kids love to measure the ingredients for me, or do the mixing (or both). I can say, "I need to make muffins. Use the regular recipe," and my 8- and 6-year-olds can follow it without close supervision. I just melt the butter and put it in the oven. My oldest can measure, mix and shape sourdough bread alone, and follow the correct rising times. There are plenty of easy recipes that kids can follow, and I'm very happy to give them some of my work! Small kids love to cut easy things, like bananas, hard boiled eggs or peaches. A kindergartener can measure ingredients for simple salad dressings into a bottle, then shake it up.
All in all, homemade food is definitely worth the work! We'd only have a small pittance of food in our kitchen if we spent our weekly $120 on all premade foods and household cleaners.