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Stretching Your Dough: How to Bake on a Budget

Don't let increasing prices get in the way of your favorite past time - use these tips to help you bake on a budget!
A glass bowl with a hand kneading dough with text "Stretching Your Dough: How to Bake on a Budget" overlaid.

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Hi Bold Bakers!

If you frequent your local grocery stores, you may have noticed increased prices on common household ingredients. Unfortunately, food prices have risen about 11.4% from last August (2021) according to the Consumer Price Index report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Inflation has caused almost every food item to be more expensive than last year, which is not good news for anyone.

At Bigger Bolder Baking, we want to make baking accessible to all, so we want to share some ways to bake on a budget. Baking means more than just putting a few things together and popping them in the oven. Baking requires creativity, innovation, and resourcefulness to work around problems that we will encounter in the kitchen and the outside world. Don’t give up your favorite pastime. Instead, try out these different ways to save money while still enjoying baking.

Homemade Ingredients And Substitutes

As Bold Bakers, we aren’t unfamiliar with challenges. Using store-bought versions of common baking ingredients is one way to bake, but why not try making your own or substituting? Dig out ingredients from the back of your pantry and refrigerator to make some of your own Homemade Ingredients. It’ll be fun to see how your ingredients are made while also not breaking the bank! Additionally, here are some substitutes:

Shopping Smart

Before you even begin baking, you should consider identifying expensive ingredients, seeking out store brand products, looking for freezable ingredients, and bulk buying products.

Identifying Expensive Ingredients

Especially with common baking ingredients like eggs, butter, flour, and sugar, there’s been an exponential jump in prices than before. Egg prices have doubled since July 2021, flour is now 44.8% more expensive than last year, and butter has gone up about 24.6%. These are just some baking ingredient statistics, but ingredients such as butter, vanilla extract, cream cheese, flour, chocolate, whipping cream, and more are following suit.

It can be difficult to find alternatives to expensive baking ingredients, but there are a few resourceful methods that still result in delicious baked goods. To name a few:

  • You don’t have to be vegan to swap out your eggs in recipes. Feel free to use bananas, Condensed Milk, tofu, and Applesauce.
  • Don’t crack an egg for an egg wash! I know the name “egg wash” requires an egg, but you can use buttermilk or milk and the results will be just the same. 
  • If a recipe calls for buttermilk but you don’t have any, mix equal amounts of milk and yogurt or sour cream. You can also mix 2 cups of milk with 2 tablespoons of lemon juice. Check out a more in-depth recipe here!

Seeking Out Store Brand Products

You may be inclined to buy name brand products because they seem more legitimate, but generic brands are cheaper and the quality is essentially the same!

Store brands are usually cheaper because there are no development costs and there are lower marketing costs. Most of the time, store brands stick a label on already developed products, so there isn’t much research or development adding to the cost of the product. Additionally, name brands spend a lot of their time and money on advertising their brand. Store brands do not promote their brand, although it’s highly likely the same product.

The question now is about the quality. Customers are more likely to steer clear of store brands because lower prices could equate to lower quality. However, this could not be more untrue. They are almost always the same in quality and are simply a difference in price and packaging. The next time you go grocery shopping, try out some store brand items! 

Looking For Freezable Ingredients

Shopping smart also means looking for ingredients you can use in the long run. One of my ultimate hacks for shopping, especially for fruits, is to go to the freezer aisle instead of buying fresh. Frozen fruits are considerably cheaper and typically much better quality. This is because frozen fruit is picked and bagged during peak season so the flavor stays intact. They are often flash-frozen on the farm which also helps retain the nutrients better.

You can freeze virtually any ingredient as long as you keep it in freezer bags or airtight containers. Take it out and defrost it when needed, and you’re good to go!

Bulk Buying Products

Another great way to shop smart is by bulk buying products. Usually, buying in bulk is cheaper because you are not paying for excessive packaging. Similar to store brand products, buying in bulk cuts down on the prices because companies are not charging you for the extra branding and packaging that comes with individual units. 

A good way to know if you will be paying less is by checking out the unit price on the tag in the grocery store. It will tell you exactly how much your product is by unit so you can decide which product suits your budget better. This way, you are cutting right to the chase of the product, which means extra dollars you get to keep in your pockets.

The best ingredients you can bulk buy include butter, leavers, sugar, and flour. Essentially, most common baking ingredients are great for bulk buying and will typically last you a long time. Look for grocery stores near you where you can bulk buy products package-free. 

Tips To Avoid Food Waste 

Do you ever have ingredients or leftovers that go bad really quickly? It feels like you’re flushing your money down the drain since you’ve bought them just to end up throwing them away. In situations like these, here are some ways to preserve your ingredients and leftovers for longer:

  • Don’t throw away your old butter wrappers! If you find yourself out of butter to grease your pans and baking dishes, the wrappers usually have some product left on them. It’s a great way to get full use out of your butter, the wrapper included.
  • Some recipes call for just the egg yolks leaving you with the whites. Good news! You can freeze them in airtight containers. They last for months and can be easily defrosted to make meringue, roulades, pavlova, and angel food cake.
  • When you use buttermilk, it’s likely you’ll never use the entire carton ever! So measure and freeze the rest for soda bread, pancakes, and yellow cake.
  • Buy fruit in season and freeze it to use throughout the year: Cranberries for my Cranberry Orange Cake with Lemon Glaze, summer fruit for crisps, rhubarb for crumbles, and more!
  • If you have lots of eggs but aren’t planning on using them soon, you can whisk them up and freeze them in an airtight container.
  • If you bake bread and have any leftovers, use them to make Homemade Breadcrumbs.

Preserving Ingredients

A great way to bake on a budget is by simply not buying more ingredients! I know it sounds odd, but a lot of the time we end up throwing away ingredients because they have gone bad or from improper storage. Get the most use out of your ingredients. Here is a chart that outlines the shelf life of common baking ingredients and how you can preserve them for longer.

Preserving Ingredients Chart

Recipes With Few Ingredients

Baking on a budget means using fewer ingredients, but still getting great results. Save yourself the stress of complicated, ingredient-heavy recipes and opt for simple recipes. Good thing I’ve got plenty of few-ingredient recipes that range from ice creams to cookies. Check them out:

Zero Waste Baking

For those of you who may not know, zero waste encourages waste prevention and resourceful methodology when it comes to reusing products. The main goal is to avoid sending trash to landfills, incinerators, and the ocean. 

With that said, did you know you can go zero waste with baking? It’s a great way to use up all of your baking ingredients to their fullest potential while also being able to reuse and recycle packaging.

Off the top of my head, a few pantry staples I always seem to have leftover and have recyclable packaging are baking powder and baking soda. If you want some delicious recipes to use these ingredients up, try some of these:

I hope these tips will help you bake on a budget during increased food prices and that you’ll take some of these into account on your next baking adventure. Happy baking!

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Joy Sleeman
Joy Sleeman
1 year ago

Hi Gemma, I’ve followed you for at least a couple of years now and love the tips and recipes. I’m moving into a new role at my school and was wondering what the rules are with using them. I will be family liaison/ welfare and would like to compile a sheet of easy, budget recipes for families , some will be using ingredients I can source for them from Foodbank but I want to encourage basics as well . I am in Australia if that makes any difference to copyright. Thanks for all you do.


About Us

Meet Gemma

About Us

Meet Gemma

Hi Bold Bakers! I’m Gemma Stafford, a professional chef originally from Ireland, a cookbook author, and the creator of Bigger Bolder Baking. I want to help you bake with confidence anytime, anywhere with my trusted and tested recipes and baking tips. You may have seen one of my 500+ videos on YouTube & TikTok or as a guest judge on Nailed It! on Netflix or the Best Baker in America on Food Network. No matter your skills, my Bold Baking Team & I want to be your #1 go-to baking authority.


Weeknight Family Favorites Chapter from the Bigger Bolder Baking Every Day Cookbook