This 10 Things to Make to Save Money guide is NOT sponsored and was written based on our honest experience as a mom and dad who strive to spend less and become more self-sufficient every day!
Times are tough and it feels like prices are going up with every visit to the grocery store.
Not to mention that the quality of many things has gone DOWNHILL!
I was really upset to see a box of cookies my kids received for Christmas contained bioengineered ingredients and a pack of lovely-looking macarons was colored using cochineal extract – if you weren’t reading labels before now, it’s time to start.
Keep reading this DIY guide for:
- easy food to make from scratch
- tips to save time and money
- things you can do to make your dollars go further and even earn some cash!
Disclosure: Affiliate links are used throughout this post. You can read our full disclosure here.
10 Things to Make to Save Money (Starting Today!)
How can I save money by making things at home?
Becoming a producer instead of a consumer will shift your mindset and could save (or even earn) you thousands of dollars a year.
Instead of relying on the grocery store or big brands for the things you want, you’ll find yourself coming up with creative ways to extend your dollars further and learn tons of new skills in the process!
Daily Habits of Gen Z versus Millennials
In August 2023, Home Run Inn conducted a really interesting survey.
They compared various cooking habits of Gen Z (18 to 26) versus those of Millennials (27 to 42).
While 27% of millennials claim they don’t cook at home because of their lack of cooking skills, nearly half (45%) of Gen Z struggles with this skillset.
Interestingly, 75% of Gen Z and 72% of Millennials claim their lack of time is an issue when it comes to cooking at home.
CivicScience found that 24% of Gen Z and 22% of Millennial social media users spend between two to four hours a DAY on their favorite platforms. Another 24% of Gen Z (and 20% of Millennials) spend MORE than four hours a day on social media!
Can you imagine how different your day would look with four extra hours of time in it?
In addition to social media usage, The Current found that Gen Z viewers spend an average of 1 hour and 51 minutes streaming and 38 minutes watching live television.
Millennials spend about 1 hour and 58 minutes streaming and 1 hour and 3 minutes watching television daily.
Looks like we found another 3 hours!
Stop Wasting Time to Start Saving Money
I was mortified when I first started monitoring my screen time with the iPhone app.
There were days between 3 and 7 hours of phone time spent on apps like Instagram, Facebook, and YouTube.
This wasn’t just costing me time though, it was costing me money!
Three to seven extra hours in a day means more time to:
- spend with my kids
- work on my business
- tidy up my home
- and learn new skills
And then there’s TV and streaming.
These services are expensive – looking at the packages available on Telus right now, I see that a mid-tier option is $75 a month!
A standard Netflix membership is $16.49 a month.
Disney is another $11.99 a month.
And Amazon is ANOTHER $9.99 a month.
I’m sure there are other streaming apps out there but these are the ones we had two years ago before we ditched ALL cable and streaming services!
That works out to $113.49 a month or $1,361.88 a year before taxes.
What would you do with an extra $1,300?
What would you do with 3 or more extra hours in your day?
Things to Start Making at Home
Here are 10 things we started producing at home that changed our health and financial lives for the better:
- Laundry Detergent
- Cleaning Products
- Mixes and Seasonings
The first thing I’m going to recommend getting is a bread maker!
I’ve been using this one for almost 10 years and it’s still going strong.
I love that it can make a 2.5-pound loaf and always use this option for our little family of four – we usually devour it in 3 days or less.
I pre-bag my mixes in advance so it’s really quick to put a loaf on as well.
Here is our bread maker and standing mixer at work!
Here’s my bread mix recipe:
- 5 cups flour
- 2 1/2 tsp salt
- 2 1/2 tbsp sugar
- 3 1/2 tbsp whole milk powder
To use it:
- add 2 cups of filtered room temp water to your bread pan (we use this filter)
- add 2 1/2 tbsp butter to water
- pour your combined bread mix (listed above) over the water and butter mixture
- sprinkle 2 1/4 tsp bread maker yeast over mix
- pop it into the bread maker
- select Basic
- select Light crust
- select 2.5 lb loaf
- click Start!
It’s ready in 3 hours and 15 minutes and takes a grand total of 3 minutes to pop in.
Each loaf costs me around 75 cents to make compared to the $4 it costs to buy a similar loaf in-store!
On average, we eat about two loaves of bread a week.
So, we spend $1.50 instead of $8 a week ($78 instead of $416 a year for a savings of $338 annually).
Here in the suburbs of Vancouver, BC, the regular price of butter is about $8.29 for 454g (1 pound) these days.
We ditched seed oils last year and cook everything with butter now but we’re not willing to pay that much for it!
Instead, we make our own butter from whipping cream now.
Here’s what you’ll need:
- Standing mixer – here’s what we use
- 1 quart of whipping cream
- 2x 16 oz Mason jars or similar-sized snap-lid glass containers
- Standing mixer splash guard and/or kitchen towel to cover mixer
Here’s how to do it:
- Remove your whipping cream from the fridge about 45 to 60 minutes before you plan to make butter to bring it to room temperature – warming it speeds up the process
- Pour whipping cream into the standing mixer bowl
- Use a wire whip attachment and run your machine at a medium speed (I use a 4 on my Kitchenaid mixer)
- If you haven’t attached your splash guard, cover your mixer with a medium “drying” sized kitchen towel
- You’ll see your whipping cream go from liquid to beautiful whipped cream but keep going!
- Eventually, it’ll look like wet snow that’s had a lot of foot traffic through it (Canadian much?) – you guessed it, keep going past this stage
- When you hear splashing, it probably means you’ve got a clump of butter in your whip, yay! It’s time to take it out
- Stop your machine and pull out your beautiful ball of butter
- Squeeze the butter as much as you can over the mixing bowl to save your buttermilk
- Next, run it under some cold water and squeeze it as much as you can to remove any remaining buttermilk
- Add salt or herbs if you’d like and then pop it into your favorite container and place it in the fridge
- Pour the remaining buttermilk into a mason jar and save it for pancakes or fried chicken!
I scored five quarts (five 946 mL containers) for $1.83 each last week and made 5 containers of butter with them, each a little over 1 pound.
Fresh butter doesn’t last as long as store-bought though, so you can expect a shelf life of about 1 week in your fridge.
That said, you CAN freeze it.
So, at the $8.29 price point, you’d be paying about $431.08 a year for butter but making it yourself for $1.83 a pound works out to a cost of $95.16 a year for an annual savings of $335.92.
Can you believe we’ve already saved $673.92 this year just making bread and butter at home?
Buttermilk usually goes for about $3.98 a carton here and we’re getting it as a byproduct of our DIY process.
Purchasing buttermilk every week would cost $206.96 annually where we live!
Check out this amazing article by Zero Acre to see why you need to quit seed oils too.
There are a couple of different ways that you can make yogurt at home.
In a saucepan, heat a quart (1 L) of whole milk on medium to 160°F then let it cool to 110°F.
Transfer your cooled milk into a container (these glass ones are great) and stir in 2 tbsp of yogurt starter to your milk – be sure to mix thoroughly!
Place your glass containers in your yogurt maker and set the temperature to 110°F.
Choose the time you want to cook your yogurt for – usually between 12 and 20 hours depending on how firm you like your yogurt.
Pick up some whole milk and your favorite yogurt with active culture from your local supermarket.
Heat a quart (1 L) of milk in a saucepan on medium to 160°F then let it cool to 110°F
Transfer your cooled milk into a container (like these glass ones).
Then transfer a cup of your cooled milk into another small bowl and stir in 2 tbsp of your favorite active yogurt to temper it.
After you’ve mixed it thoroughly, add your milk and yogurt mixture back to the larger container.
Gently cover your container so that it’s able to breathe and put it in a warm place for 4 to 6 hours.
It should be set when you come back to check on it and can be moved to chill in the fridge for 3 or so hours.
Be sure to save half a cup of yogurt for future batches so you can use it as a starter over and over again and not have to buy it at the store any longer!
Wine, Juice, and Vinegar
You can make wine by either growing your own grapes (we’ve had success with Cayuga and Zinfandel grapes in growing zone 8) or purchasing a box kit like this – it’s a great option for getting started and includes all the tools you need to see if this process is right for you.
Making wine from grapes just adds a step – you’ll need to crush and destem your grapes to get juice from them.
Investing in these two pieces of equipment is only worth it if you’ll be working regularly with large quantities of fruit (you can make apple juice and cider using these tools as well).
So, if you grow a lot of your own food or can get a great discount on bulk quantities from a local farmer, it’s worth it.
Now that we have fruit juice, we’ve caught up to the starting point of box kits.
Next, you’ll need to add sugar (to homemade juice) and yeast to your liquid to start the winemaking process.
Then, pop an airlock onto your fermenting container (a food-grade bucket with a hole in the lid works fine) and leave it for 14 days.
We have one like this and LOVE it – the spigot makes transferring liquids SO easy!
We use it to make bottling much easier as well.
Here’s a look at the wine center I created downstairs – I managed to get a ton of box kits on sale at a local discount store.
Using a siphon ensures that all yeast and particles stay at the bottom of the bucket and only clean liquid is transferred to the carboy.
Once your future wine is in the carboy, you’ll need to degas it – we use a drill with a degassing attachment.
Then, leave it for another 14 days.
After this, you’re ready for bottling!
You could also recycle old wine bottles for corking but you’ll need to pick up fresh corks and a corker (we found this one way more reliable than the hand corker but it does take up a decent footprint – if you’ll be bottling more than 10 bottles, it’s worth it though).
If you plan on drinking your wine within 6 months, we recommend carboys and swing-top wine bottles since it makes for a faster bottling process.
But for long-term storage, nothing beats a cork!
More Self-Sufficiency Tips to Save Money:
- How to Turn Your Home into an Urban Homestead
- Cheap and Easy Seed Binder Storage Idea
- Do’s and Don’ts of the Costco Garden Center
Gardening doesn’t always mean a dozen beautiful raised beds and a massive property!
We originally started homesteading in an apartment before moving into a suburban neighborhood with a medium-sized backyard.
All you need to get started is some:
- potting soil
- watering container
- drip trays or small rectangular plates
- windowsills or grow lights
Here are some cherry tomatoes I started under a grow light this month!
You can use a lot of different recycled containers for starting seeds indoors! This means things like:
- store-bought yogurt, sour cream, or cottage cheese containers
- milk jugs (you can actually turn these into a little greenhouse)
- plastic egg containers (I like the organic free-range pack from Costco)
- asking family to save their containers as well
Check out your local gardening store or Costco for potting soil.
This is a great little heirloom starter seed kit with everything you need to create an awesome year-round small garden and if you learn how to save seeds properly (you can see how I do it in this post), you won’t need to buy them again!
Growing and preserving your own vegetables is a lifelong skill that will save you thousands a year – if you spend an average of $50 on fresh veggies for your family a week, that’s $2,600 a year.
So even if you invest $100 on soil and $100 on seeds to get started, that’s potentially over $2,000 in savings a year once you figure out a garden plan that suits your family (you’ll want a nice balance of fresh to preserves).
Once you get good at the growing part, next is preservation (things like dehydrating and canning) but for now freezing your homegrown vegetables is a fantastic starting point.
From that seed starter kit, you could freeze the following homegrown veggies:
- tomato sauce
You don’t need an orchard to start growing your own fruit!
We started with grape vines and three dwarf fruit trees on our condo balcony (peach, pear, and a fig).
We have a family friend who’s had an apple tree on his condo balcony for nearly two decades and I think he said that he gets about 50 apples a season now.
That’s just one tree!
The trick is to keep it maintained and eat or preserve what you harvest.
Strawberries are another easy fruit that comes back every year – a couple of hanging baskets from Costco are a super easy and inexpensive starting point.
We hang strawberry baskets in all of our outdoor dead space (nooks and crannies that would otherwise be unused).
A super frugal way to start growing fruit is to save seeds from store-bought fruits – here’s some cantaloupe I grew from seeds I saved from a Costco cantaloupe two years ago.
I started them in May but probably could have done them in April to get bigger fruit!
The trick to saving seeds is cleaning and drying them as much as possible before storing them.
Then, place them in a cool spot to preserve them.
Every time you grow new fruit, save the seeds again and again so you don’t have to buy seeds at the store anymore!
Big brand-name laundry detergents have all sorts of awful ingredients in them not to mention how expensive they’ve gotten!
When my oldest was first born, we cloth diapered because she was very sensitive to the chemicals in disposable diapers.
We also used Nellie’s Laundry Soda because of her sensitivity to the liquid soap we were using at the time.
While I still think Nellie’s is a good option, making your own laundry detergent is even better.
Here’s a basic recipe:
- Large mason jar
- 1/2 cup Magnesium Sulfate (Epsom salt)
- 1 1/2 cups Sodium Bicarbonate (baking soda)
- 1 1/12 cups Sodium Carbonate (washing soda)
- 1/4 cup sea salt
- 20 drops of essential oil (we like lavender and citrus)
Making your own cleaning products at home is simple and inexpensive!
Most homemade all-purpose cleaning recipes you’ll find online use either vinegar or castile soap as the cleaning agent and essential oils to add a lovely scent.
To create a vinegar-based all-purpose cleaner, you’ll need:
- 16 oz glass bottle (plastic could degrade essential oils)
- 8 oz filtered water (this countertop water filter is a great option)
- 8 oz white vinegar (this is a good option)
- 20 drops of your favorite essential oil (thyme is a potent but powerful choice – lavender, eucalyptus, and tea tree oil are two other great options)
Fill your spray bottle with filtered water, vinegar, and essential oil and shake well.
To make a castile-based all-purpose cleaner (better for stone surfaces as vinegar-based cleaners could damage them), you’ll need:
- 16 oz glass bottle (plastic could degrade essential oils)
- 15 oz filtered water (this countertop water filter is a great option)
- 1 oz castile soap (we like this one!)
- 20 drops of your favorite essential oil (again, we recommend thyme, lavender, eucalyptus, and tea tree oil for their natural antimicrobial properties)
Simply fill your spray bottle with filtered water to about 7/8 full and then add 2 tbsp of castile soap.
Add 20 drops of essential oil and give it a good shake!
Want to ditch yucky ingredients like Sodium Lauryl Sulfate and save some money in the process?
Consider making your soaps at home!
A decent handmade soap can go for about $10 but learning to do it yourself can help to build up your stockpile and fill your wallet.
There are a couple of methods to do this but the easiest way to get started is with a melt-and-pour soap base like this one.
You won’t have to work with sodium hydroxide (lye) this way so it’s a little easier for beginners and those who are with small kids full-time.
Now, if you’re comfortable with lye, cold-process soap making is the most popular DIY method and takes about an hour to complete.
After that, you’ll need to let it cure for about 30 days before you have an abundance of soap bars at your disposal!
You don’t even need fancy oils to get started – in fact, you might have a couple in your kitchen already:
- olive oil
- coconut oil
- castor oil
- avocado oil (we use this one exclusively since it’s the cleanest option around)
That said, you will need safety equipment like glasses and gloves to work with lye.
This is a fantastic comprehensive guide to soap-making for beginners!
Mixes and Seasonings
Here’s a recipe for Italian seasoning:
- 2 tbsp dried basil
- 2 tbsp dried oregano
- 2 tbsp dried parsley
- 1 tbsp dried rosemary
- 1 tbsp dried sage
- 1 tbsp dried thyme
- 1 tbsp dried marjoram
You could actually grow all of these herbs in an indoor windowsill garden too!
Final Thoughts: Things to Make to Save Money
Learning to produce your own foods, cleaning supplies, and more will save you thousands of dollars.
What will you try first?
Happy making, friend!