5 Surprisingly Easy Essentials You Can Make At Home That Will Save Money & Taste Delicious
The opinions expressed in this article are the author's own and do not necessarily reflect the views of Narcity Media.
With the cost of groceries in Canada skyrocketing over the last year or so, I've been thinking about creative ways to save money, especially in the kitchen.
Luckily, I enjoy making dishes from scratch, and there are some really easy but surprisingly effective things I've been doing that have really amped up my meals… while also saving me a few bucks in the process.
Making these small kitchen staples from scratch might take a bit longer than just buying them from a store, but they last for quite a bit, need only five ingredients or less (not counting salt and pepper!) and also give you that satisfaction of being 100% homemade.
So, here are some extra-but-delicious food items I've been making recently that are reasonably easy to put together, will save you money and that taste amazing.
Hummus, made with a can of chickpeas.
I've seen ready-made hummus in just about every big Canadian grocery store and it seems like a super popular option in the grab-and-go section for about $5 to $8.
But, honestly, hummus is such an easy dish to make at home and all it needs are five easy-to-get ingredients: chickpeas, sesame seeds, garlic, olive oil and lemon juice.
For a quick fix, grab a can of cooked chickpeas (they're usually under $2 and readily available), drain and empty it out into a blender.
Add in a teaspoon of sesame seeds (you can toast them if you have the time, but it's honestly not a crime if you don't), the rest of the ingredients mentioned above, salt to taste, and water for blending consistency.
And that's it! Not only is it so much fresher, you also get almost double the portion available in grab-and-go packs, and you can adjust the taste according to preferences.
And, if you're really keen, you can experiment with varieties like roasted pepper and so on.
I like a little hit of spice now and then, and I recently found out that it's super easy to make your own chilli oil with just a handful of ingredients.
There are loads of recipes online, but the essence is to mix together three to five tablespoons of red pepper flakes with additional seasonings of your choice (like a teaspoon of salt and a few cloves of garlic, minced).
Then, all your have to do is heat up your oil (I usually use canola) over medium heat for three to four minutes and pour your flakes and seasoning in.
It'll sizzle, so just make sure this is all taking place in safely in a heat-proof bowl!
Once it cools down you can stow it away for your next meal.
It's super simple, and way better than forking out over $10 or more for a readymade jar of chilli oil.
Granola can be surprisingly pricey in many Canadian grocery stores, but rolled oats are still pretty cheap.
I usually buy a few cups of rolled oats from Bulk Barn, along with raw nuts and chocolate chips (although these are add-ons!).
To make granola, all you need to do is mix rolled oats with oil (you can use olive oil or coconut oil) and a sweetener (like honey or maple syrup). The amount of oil and sweetener is usually in equal portions.
Add in a pinch of salt and toppings you love, like nuts, chocolate chips, vanilla essence, cocoa powder and more. Mix, spread on parchment paper and bake it.
I usually pop it into the oven at 300F for 20 minutes, mixing it half way through. It's super simple, easy to customize and stays fresh for so long.
Just be mindful that granola further crisps as it cools. You want to take this one out in time or it'll burn quite quickly!
It's ridiculously easy to make garlic butter at home, and this levels-up just about any dish.
All you have to do is keep your regular butter out until it's softened.
Then, grate up some garlic and (if it's unsalted) you can add some salt to taste. I usually use a clove for a stick (1/2 cup) of butter, but it completely depends on personal taste.
You can then pack it back into parchment paper, roll it up and place it in the fridge to solidify again.
And once you get confident with this, you can experiment with other herbs and spices like Italian seasoning, paprika and more.
Like many people, I discovered bread baking during the pandemic, and now my go-to is focaccia.
I'm not going to lie, this one is more time consuming than the rest, but it's totally satisfying to make, requires only a few ingredients and stays delicious for a good week.
All you need to do is mix a packet of yeast in warm water with some sugar or honey. After about five minutes, you can add it into regular all-purpose flour. Throw in some salt and olive oil, and knead to create the dough.
After the dough has risen (about 45 minutes), you can add it to a pan, top up with more olive oil and bake.
I like to heat garlic in the olive oil for this recipe, but there are so many other ways to customize it too, from sundried tomatoes to freshly sliced olives.
Even better, this will cost you so much less than readymade focaccia in bakeries too.
Have fun and happy cooking, Canada!