Easy Things To Bake On A Budget

By Meghan Woolley / November 23, 2014
Easy Things To Bake On A Budget

Contrary to some beliefs, baking does not have to be expensive. While there are plenty of expensive ingredients and tools out there, you can bake many recipes using simple ingredients you probably already have in your kitchen. There are plenty of easy things to bake that will taste delicious and help you save money over buying baked goods from a store. By choosing your ingredients and recipes carefully, you can stay true to your budget and still impress all your family and friends with some fantastic baked goodies.

You can bake like a five star baker with a one star budget.

Keep Your Equipment Simple

I’m as tempted as the next person by all the flashy and colorful kitchen equipment in a department store, but the truth is that you don’t need all that. A $200 Kitchenaid mixer might look great in your kitchen and produce some great results, but as a beginning baker on a budget, you can get by just as well with a whisk and a little muscle power. The following basic equipment should get you through most recipes:

  • 2 mixing bowls (one large and one small)
  • A liquid measuring jug
  • Measuring cups or a kitchen scale
  • Measuring spoons
  • A baking tray/cookie sheet
  • A spatula
  • A sieve
  • A cake tin if you want to bake cakes
  • A muffin tin if you want to bake muffins or cupcakes

If you’re missing any of these tools, try stopping by a local second-hand store. They often have used kitchen equipment that will work just as well as something new, plus it will only cost you a couple of dollars.

Choose Reusable Ingredients

When you start baking, you may be tempted by fun and exotic-sounding recipes. Cookies with flavorful spices and colorful dried fruits might be delicious, but you can end up spending a lot on ingredients that you’ll never use again. It’s a terrible feeling to look through your cabinet and have to throw away the expired remains of something you spent $15 on. Instead, focus on ingredients that you’ll use again and again. The ingredients you’ll need for most easy things to bake are:

  • Flour
  • Granulated sugar
  • Brown sugar
  • Eggs
  • Baking powder
  • Butter
  • Cocoa powder (if you’re a sucker for everything made with chocolate, like I am)

With just these ingredients, you can make scones, sugar cookies, brownies, and more. With a few extra ingredients, such as oats, chocolate chips, or nuts, you expand your possibilities even more.

Buy In Bulk

If you’re planning to bake frequently, you can save a lot of money on ingredients by buying in bulk. Ingredients such as flour, sugar, dried fruits, and baking powder will last for a long time. If you know you’ll use them, it makes sense to buy a larger quantity in the first place. Most grocery stores have lower prices for bulk quantities, but make sure to check the price per pound. You may even want to look into ordering ingredients online, if you want to bake all the time.

Once you’ve gotten a start in baking, you’ll probably know which ingredients you tend to use a lot of. You can find all sorts of things in bulk, including rolled oats, nuts, spices, and flaked coconut. Plus, buying in bulk means you’ll always have ingredients on hand whenever you need them for a last-minute baking session! Just make sure that you really like a certain ingredient before buying it in bulk.

Be Resourceful

Part of baking on a budget means using what you have. If you have leftover fruit or other ingredients, try incorporating them into your baking. You’ll save money that you would otherwise use on buying new ingredients, and you won’t waste anything. You can also probably try out some new recipes. If you have some overripe bananas, for example, try making banana bread.

You might be surprised by how many different foods can be incorporated into your baking. Leftover rice, for example, can make a delicious rice tart, and mashed potatoes can make a surprisingly tasty cookie. If you’re stuck for ideas, try out the website Supercook. You can enter in any ingredients you want to use, and it will provide you with recipe ideas.

Being resourceful also applies to making the most out of your kitchen equipment. You don’t necessarily have to skip a recipe because you don’t have all the tools it calls for. A wine bottle, for example, can serve as a perfectly functional rolling pin. You can cut a hole in a normal sandwich bag to use it as a piping bag and make beautiful designs with frosting. If you get a bit creative, being on a budget won’t limit what you can do with baking.

Choose Your Recipes Well

There are lots of easy things to bake out there. You can be budget-conscious by choosing recipes that use the ingredients you already have available and recipes that use seasonal produce. Fruits, vegetables, and other produce will be cheapest (and taste the best) when they’re in season. Try to make your apple pies in the fall and strawberry tarts in the spring and summer. This way, you can use the freshest and cheapest ingredients, plus you’ll be able to try out a few new recipes every time the seasons change.

With a combination of simple, classic recipes that reuse your favorite ingredients and seasonal recipes that use perfectly timed ingredients, you’ll be baking delicious things without breaking the bank all year long.

Some Easy Things To Bake On A Budget And Inspire You

Now that you’ve read all of this advice, you’re probably itching to get started. Here are a few ideas for delicious, easy things to bake, with links to full recipes. If these aren’t quite your slice of cake, you’ll be able to find infinite variations online or in cookbooks. The great thing about baking, even when you’re doing it on a budget, is that there’s infinite potential for new things to bake (and, of course, to eat!).

1

Scones

Scones are the quintessential simple baked good, with minimal and very simple ingredients. You can spice them up by throwing in fruit, nuts, chocolate, or anything else you like.

Depending on how much to decide to dress them up, these simple baked goodies can be made in under 30 minutes!

2

Sugar Cookies

Sugar cookies are a classic favorite, and you can usually make them with ingredients you already have in your kitchen cabinets. Don't worry if you don't have cookie cutters. For round cookies, try using a simple water glass, or look around for anything else you might be able to use to make other creative shapes.

You can make these sugar cookies with less than seven ingredients!

3

Sweet Muffins

Muffins are perfect for any breakfast or brunch, and these ones are deliciously simple, with only six ingredients. They'll also taste great if you want to add in nuts, bananas, chocolate, or anything else that strikes your fancy.

Depending on the size you'd like to make, Wilton makes a highly rated baking pan for both regular and mini sized muffins.

The great thing about baking is that there are infinite possibilities. Even on a budget, you can find many different recipes to suit your tastes and work with the ingredients you have on hand. Home-made baked goods are the perfect favor to bring to a party or give as a gift, and of course, you'll probably want to eat them all the time yourself. As long as you follow the simple guidelines outlined above, you'll be whipping up batches of cookies, cakes, brownies, and muffins in no time at all, and saving money while you do it.

About the author

Meghan Woolley

Meghan is a graduate of Hamilton College and has a Masters from the University of St. Andrews in Scotland. She enjoys trying new foods, exploring tasty recipes, and writing about her experiences.

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