Convenience Food Recipe to Make at Home - Little House Living (2024)

Trying to stretch your grocery budget? Make these Convenience Food Recipes from scratch to stock your pantry at a fraction of the cost!

Convenience Food Recipe to Make at Home - Little House Living (1)

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Convenience Foods That You Can Stop Buying and Start Making

If you’ve been following the Little House Living for any amount of time, you already know that I’m a big fan of from-scratch recipes. In fact, I make just about everything from scratch when possible! As I’m sure you already know, there is a price we pay for convenience. Here are a few reasons to start making your own convenience food recipes:

It’s healthier.

When I get to make my own foods instead of letting someone else make them for me, I get to decide what goes in them. That means I can adjust the amount of salt, or sugar, or anything I might be concerned about. Since I’m making it from scratch and it’s not going to sit on a store shelf for a long time, I also have the power to leave out any preservatives or other added ingredients that don’t really need to be in my food.

It’s cost effective.

Not only am I able to produce healthier food, but it’s going to save money on my budget as well. If I went to the store to buy a bag of frozen, natural/organicchicken nuggets, I would probably spend at least $6 or more, depending on the size of the bag. I can make my own chicken nuggets at home for roughly $2.69 per recipe. If I were to make one recipe of chicken nuggets per week instead of buying one bag per week, it would save me over $172 per year. That’s a lot of leftover money for my budget!

It doesn’t have to be time-consuming.

One of the arguments for buying conveniencefoods is that they are, well, convenient! This is where you really need to take a look at what you are considering making at home before you make a judgment call. Homemade Salad Dressing takes me just a minute or two to make and costs less than $0.75 per bottle. Now let’s have some math fun… if a bottle of regular salad dressing costs me $3 from the store, I’m saving $2.25 for every bottle of dressing I make. If it takes me 2 minutes to make the dressing (and for that recipe it literally does), I’m saving $1.13 for every minute of making dressing or $67.50 an hour. Not that I would be making dressing for an entire hour but you get the idea… I’d be happy to have a job that was “making” me $67.50 an hour!

Convinced yet? Now I’ve got some fun recipes to share with you so that you can get started with all the making and less of the spending. Your budget will thank you!

Convenience Food Recipes

Convenience Food Recipe to Make at Home - Little House Living (2)

Homemade Cheese Crackers

One thing that I’ve really enjoyed learning how to make over the years is crackers of all kinds. They take a few extra steps than some of my other “make your own recipes” but they taste wonderfully fresh. Something you just can’t buy from the grocery store.

You can add in various spices to this recipe to change up the flavor profile if you like, or they taste wonderful as the original recipe is written. Some fun add-ins could be cayennepepper, parmesan cheese, or garlic powder. This fun snack has only 5 ingredients and about 15 minutes hands-on time.

Approximate Cost to Make Recipe = $1.50

–Need Gluten Free Crackers? Try this delicious recipe for Make Your Own Crackers (Gluten-Free!)

Homemade Mayonnaise

It’s becoming more popular to make your own mayonnaise lately so it wouldn’t surprise me if you’ve already tried this recipe. Mayonnaise can be a little bit tricky to make but if you follow the steps outlined in the recipe you will end with a deliciously creamy mayonnaise that is perfect for sandwiches, chicken salads, or anything else you can think you use mayonnaise on. (We even like ours on pizza!)

Approximate Cost to Make Recipe = $1.50

Instant Oatmeal Packets

One of my little ones absolutely loves oatmeal. He will come downstairs in the morning for breakfast, give me his morning hug and then promptly ask if I made oatmeal today and if we can add in blueberries. I’m so thankful that it doesn’t take much to please my children!

I love to make a good breakfast in the morning. It’s become something of a tradition at our home. Sure, on occasion we eat something quick, but most of the time my little wake up to a nice breakfast table with a candle or two and some gentle music to greet the day. On the days when I may not have as much time to pull together my from-scratch breakfast, these Instant Oatmeal Packets and handy to have in the pantry. With just 3 ingredients and an endless possibility for add-ins, you can hardly go wrong.

Approximate Cost to Make Per Packet: $0.15

–Looking for more convenient breakfast ideas? Your family will love this Homemade Granola Recipe.

Homemade Tater Tots

Who doesn’t love a warm bowl of tots topped with a bit of cheese sauce or a nice comforting dish of Tater Tot Casserole? Truth be told, I haven’t even looked at a bag of frozen tater tots at the store in a very long time. Not only are most of them not quite up to my health standards but they are $$$.

With just 3 ingredients, you can make your own Homemade Tater Tots in the comfort of your own kitchen. If you grow your own potatoes, this recipe will be even cheaper for you. The best part is that these tots freeze well so you can make a big batch at one time and then freeze into smaller packages to use as needed.

Approximate Cost to Make Per Recipe = $1.50

–Looking for more convenience food recipes like this one? Check out the huge Make Your Own recipe page here on Little House Living!

Homemade Ketchup

Ketchup is one of the things that is so easy to make at home that it’s almost laughable. Once you take a look at the recipe you will wonder why you ever bought it from the store!

You can preserve my ketchup recipe if desired, you will just need to add the correct amount of acid to make the canned tomatoes safe for processing. This Homemade Ketchup with Fresh Tomatoes recipe will walk you through making your own. When you have a little one that enjoys eating a mountain of ketchup with every meal (although is surprisingly anti-tomato in its regular form! 😉 ), this recipe is a life (and budget) saver.

Approximate Cost to Make Recipe = $3 (much cheaper if you use homegrown tomatoes!

–Looking for more canning and preserving recipes? I recommend the book Putting Food By for even more delicious recipes.

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Make Your Own Soda Pop

While I will admit that making your own soda pop may not be as cost-effective as some of the other recipes on this post, this is by far a healthier alternative to the store version. Plus it’s totally customizable. Who wouldn’t want to make their own signature, craft soda? (Now that I think about it, you could put together the ingredients for this and make a really cool gift basket for someone. Now there’s a homemade gift they won’t soon forget!)

If you are up for a little experimenting, you have to give this fun recipe a try.

Approximate Cost to Make = Varies

Hot Sauce Recipe

Another delicious condiment that you can make yourself is homemade Hot Sauce. Again, this recipe is much less expensive if you are growing the peppers yourself as well! If your family enjoys Mexican dishes or if you just like to have a touch of hot sauce to go along with any meal, this is definitely a recipe that you need to consider.

Approximate Cost to Make Recipe = $2.50 (much lower if you grow your own peppers!)

–Looking for more recipes just like this? Check out the huge Make Your Own recipe page here on Little House Living!

Homemade Queso Dip

Ok, so homemade Queso isn’t something you might enjoy often, but it sure is a fun treat to make! Most recipes that I’ve seen call for Velveeta cheese which can get pretty expensive, not to mention being full of some interesting ingredients. This version of Queso uses a standard cheese but still provides the same creamy results.

If you are looking for the homemade version of white queso, you may also want to check out this recipe for White Cheese Dip. It’s also delicious and has a spicy twist!

Approximate Cost to Make Recipe = $8 (for a VERY large recipe)

–Turn this typical snack food into dinner by making Chicken and Cheese Queso Recipe

Homemade Pizza Sauce

If you aren’t making pizza for your family at least once a week, are you sure that you are even cooking? Just kidding! 🙂 Pizza is such a staple in so many US households that most of us that meal plan (myself included) like to have it on our menus once a week. It’s fairly simple to make, just takes a pizza dough and some toppings, and you have a meal that the entire family will actually enjoy. You can even make an entire pizza in just 30 minutes if you are short on time but still want a tasty homemade meal.

Homemade Pizza Sauce is very simple to make and although my recipe calls for canned tomatoes, you could just as easily use fresh from your garden if that is available to you (which would make this recipe even cheaper!). Now that you have this recipe in your collection, you won’t have an excuse to not do Friday Pizza Nights.

Approximate Cost to Make Recipe = $3 (enough for 2 pizzas at least)

–Freeze a batch of this sauce and keep it and the dough in the freezer for an easy and quick pizza night with this Make Ahead and Freeze Pizza Dough!

Homemade Onion Rings

Onion Rings probably aren’t one of the top convenience foods on your current grocery list, but they definitely are a fun one to enjoy. Who doesn’t like a freshly grilled burger with a side of onion rings? Yum!

These are really easy to make, and like most of the other recipes above, cheaper if you are growing your own onions.

Approximate Cost to Make Recipe = $1.50

–Looking for more convenience food recipes like this one? Check out the huge Make Your Own recipe page here on Little House Living!

Homemade Gelatin

I’ll be honest, when I first started making things from scratch, I had no idea that you could make delicious gelatin treats without having to buy those little colorful boxes from the store. True, you still have to buy gelatin. But it can be purchased in bulk and you can add any flavor to it that your heart desires. Plus…it needs no added sugar and is a healthy burst of protein that the whole family, down to the youngest one, will enjoy!

What’s even better is that with a slightly different ratio of the two ingredients involved in making gelatin, you can make your own homemade gummy bears and gummy worms (again, with no added sugar!). My boys can’t get enough of these.

Approximate Cost to Make Recipe = $0.50

–Try these Strawberry Orange Healthy Homemade Fruit Snacks too!

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Homemade Sausage Patties

Yet another recipe that you will look at and wonder why you haven’t already made it because it’s just so simple! If you have ground beef (or pork or turkey, or any ground meat!) you can make your own sausage patties. Add your choice of spices to fit the flavor profile that you want and you’ve got a deliciously easy protein that is ready to add to your breakfast or other meals. You can freeze these uncooked or fry them in advance to have them fully prepared.

We like just adding the basics (onion, garlic, salt) to these, but I’ve mixed it up on occasion, I’ve even done some blueberry sausages (blueberries and maple syrup) that were delicious!

Approximate Cost to Make = $3.50 per pound

–If you like this recipe you may enjoy this Homemade Turkey Breakfast Sausage recipe too!

Slice and Bake Cookies

I will end this post off on a sweet note (although I apologize for the old tiny picture, new one coming soon!) and share my recipe for Slice and Bake Cookies. These are one of the ultimate “convenience foods” in my opinion and every holiday you will never fail to see the latest flavors and designs of these little things in the nearest store refrigerator.

But they can easily be made at home and they will still provide the same great convenience of the store version. Especially during the busy upcoming holiday season, these are wonderful to be able to pull out of the freezer and pop into the oven. Yum!

Approximate Cost to Make Recipe = $5.50 (will make 4 “rolls” of dough)

–If you’re short on freezer space, you might enjoy this Homemade Oatmeal Cookie Mix Recipe that you keep in the pantry. Just add a few liquid ingredients and you’re ready to bake!

I hope that this list of Homemade Convenience Food Recipes will give you the inspiration to go and make your own convenience foods at home. Isn’t it wonderful that we can still enjoy the convenience of the dish or condiment without having to make a run to the store? Most of these recipes can lighten our budget (especially if you grow a garden!) and I can almost promise that all of these recipes have better ingredients in them than their store-bought counterparts.

If you are looking for some fun, pre-made Mix recipes that you can use to create your own shelf-stable convenience food recipes, be sure and take a list of my top 10 Mixes You Need in Your Pantry or our full page of Homemade Mixes.

Convenience Food Recipe to Make at Home - Little House Living (15)Convenience Food Recipe to Make at Home - Little House Living (16)If you love these Convenience Food Recipes you will absolutely love my book, Little House Living: The Make Your Own Guide to a Frugal, Simple, and Self-Sufficient Life. It features 130 recipes just like these that are perfect for your household!

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Which of these recipes do you already make? Which doyou want to try next?

This post on Homemade Convenience Recipes was originally published on Little House Living in September 2017. It has been updated as of September 2019.

Convenience Food Recipe to Make at Home - Little House Living (2024)


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What food is worth making at home? ›

Bread but not butter: which foods are worth making from scratch?
  • Pickles and preserves: worth making. View image in fullscreen. ...
  • Salami: buy it. ...
  • Stock: worth making. ...
  • Ice-cream: buy it. ...
  • Yoghurt and fresh cheese: worth making from scratch. ...
  • Butter: buy it. ...
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What food can be made easily at home? ›

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What are 3 manufactured convenience foods? ›

Convenience foods can include products such as candy; beverages such as soft drinks, juices and milk; nuts, fruits and vegetables in fresh or preserved states; processed meats and cheeses; and canned products such as soups and pasta dishes.

What are 6 examples of convenience foods? ›

Convenience food definition
  • Candy, chocolate and lollies.
  • Soft drinks and juices.
  • Nuts and snacks.
  • Fresh or preserved fruit and vegetables.
  • Processed deli meats and cheeses.
  • Cans and jars of product, like soups and pasta sauces.

What cheap food can you live on? ›

Cheapest Foods to Live On:
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  • Eggs.
  • Bread.
  • Rice.
  • Bananas.
  • Beans.
  • Apples.
  • Pasta.

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65 Easy And Cheap Dinner Ideas That You'll Want To Make On Repeat
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Dec 21, 2023

Is homemade food cheaper than store bought? ›

For those who want a quick and easy answer: It's generally cheaper to cook food at home than eat out. The reason so many people can get stuck on the question is the human psychology variable. People don't always spend wisely, and it isn't as if prices are always the same at a supermarket or a fast food restaurant.

Is it cheaper to buy or make your own food? ›

"Most food is much cheaper at home. I can cook a lot of basic Asian foods, and its easily 1/4 to 1/3 the cost for some dishes.

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Is it cheaper to make your own food or buy it? ›

"Most food is much cheaper at home. I can cook a lot of basic Asian foods, and its easily 1/4 to 1/3 the cost for some dishes.

Is it cheaper to make your own food or eat out? ›

Determining how much your time is worth and how much money you save can be difficult. It's also important to note that some meals at home are much quicker to prepare than the time you'd spend waiting in line at a restaurant. So according to the data, it's pretty clear you will save money cooking your own grub.

Is it always cheaper to make your own food? ›

So, is it always cheaper to make your own food at home? Not necessarily. There are some situations where takeaways might be the more cost-effective option. For example, if you're shopping at a high-end grocery store or using a lot of specialty ingredients, your homemade meals might end up costing more than takeaways.

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