15 Grocery Store Purchases You Need To Start Making At Home

You're not alone if you've ever spied pantry items at the grocery store that give you a serious case of sticker shock. There are likely heaps of ingredients you customarily purchase from the supermarket that could easily be made in your own kitchen at a fraction of the cost. Aside from saving yourself some cashola, everything tastes infinitely better when it's homemade. With that mind, here's some foodstuffs you need to buy at the store no more!


Once you make your own buttercream, there is no returning to store-bought frosting. For all future cake decorating needs, try creaming together softened, unsalted butter and confectioner's sugar until the mixture's light, fluffy, and irresistibly creamy. Enjoy the moment, then add a splash of vanilla extract and a bit of milk or heavy cream. And that's it! Swirl your fresh frosting all over a cake and (most importantly) lick the bowl when you're done.

You can't go wrong with this basic buttercream recipe from Food Network. It provides a great base for improvising other flavors and colors. You can turn it into chocolate frosting by adding unsweetened cocoa powder and reducing the amount of sugar slightly. For a more textural fruity frosting, try throwing in some mashed blueberries. We also love buttercream frosting with a bright lemon zest, and almond extract in place of vanilla.


If you love the tangy, subtly sweet, and comforting taste of ketchup, then you'll love making your own simple version at home. We promise you'll savor the taste of ketchup even more when it's made with ingredients you can actually pronounce, and sans the sugar and preservatives you'll find in most store-brand ketchups.

Since our favorite red sauce goes with basically everything, you won't regret adding this easy ketchup recipe from SeriousEats to your repertoire. The natural sweetness of tomatoes comes through vibrantly here, whereas it would be lost to the overpowering sugariness of bottled ketchup. The long simmer time allows the flavors to meld with the aromatics and spices, resulting in ketchup that's a perfect amalgamation of cooked-down sweetness, saltiness, and tang.


Homemade mayo is so far superior to the store-bought variety, you'll be downright flabbergasted. What you get at the store doesn't even come close when it comes to taste and flavor. Thick, smooth, creamy, and bright, the kind you whip up in your own kitchen will turn you into an even bigger fan of this rich condiment, especially when you use it to take your BLTs, egg salads, and sriracha aioli to the next level.

Try this streamlined mayo recipe from epicurious for delicious results. Made with inexpensive pantry staples, this homemade mayo produces results that taste artisanal—and you're the artisan! It calls for a raw egg yolk, which some people may not feel altogether comfortable with. In that case, use a pasteurized egg yolk for safer results. One thing, though: this mayo is cheap and quick to make, but it won't last as long as the kind you get at the market (no sketchy preservatives, after all). Only make this if you plan to use it up quickly. But don't worry—once you have a taste, you will use it quick!


Having a last minute gathering with some friends? Impress all of them when you casually put out some homemade hummus like it's no big d. This ubiquitous chickpea dip is a staple of house parties and office meetings. Homemade hummus tastes like a nutty, creamy, savory dream, and with just a few simple and inexpensive ingredients, you can take pride in making your own irresistible version.

Food queen Ina Garten's version makes us weak in the knees. You'll be able to taste the distinct sesame flavor of the tahini paste and the fresh lemon juice much more than with anything you buy at the store, even if the overall texture might not be as thick and smooth. Slightly cheaper to make than to buy, hummus is good to make if you have a few minutes and you want to serve some on the fly.


Zesty pesto is surprisingly easy to make at home. This versatile sauce shines brightly when it's tossed with pasta, dolloped in a bowl of soup, or slathered on some crusty sourdough bread. (You can also eat it by the spoonful, if that's your kind of thing.) Made with a handful of ingredients, your version of pesto can be customized to your liking. Throw some basil leaves, Parmesan cheese, pine nuts, and olive oil together and blend. Voilà!

Start with this classic recipe from epicurious and experiment from there. While expensive pine nuts make the cost of this version about the same as the store-bought equivalent, we like the fresh taste so much better, and think you will too. Without the processed aftertaste, you can really enjoy the peppery, herbaceous notes of fresh basil.


Butter is a culinary miracle, and it's made with literally one ingredient. In the bowl of a stand mixer, you simply whisk heavy cream until it gradually transforms into thick, creamy butter, like magic before your very eyes. The cream will turn into whipped cream before becoming butter. Voodoo stuff. For some guidance, here's a straightforward butter recipe from Tori Avey that you can adapt as you like. As an added bonus, the liquid that remains after whipping is actually buttermilk you can use for all your baking needs. You win!

This may take slightly more effort than buying already-wrapped sticks from the store, but you'll find the creamy taste well worth it. Cheap and easy, you can whip up more than you need and store the extra in the freezer for another day. And, because of the buttermilk bonus, you're really getting two products for the effort of one.

Salad dressing

Salad dressing is one of those purchases that seems convenient at first, but almost always disappoints once you factor in the trip to the store and the cost. Luckily, if you have oil, vinegar, and maybe some mustard and lemon juice in the pantry, you're basically halfway finished with making your own vinaigrette. With the advantage of tasting more vibrant and fresh than its store-bought counterpart, homemade dressing is always a good idea.

Try making this quick vinaigrette from Serious Eats, and your greens will always stay well dressed for all the days to come. It utilizes the trust 3-to-1 ratio of oil to vinegar, which you can adapt endlessly by using different types of vinegar or just fresh lemon juice. The oil can be olive, canola, peanut, or whatever other oil you have on hand (except motor. Don't use motor). This particular recipe adds shallots for natural sweetness, and mustards keep the dressing from separating.


Croutons are essentially seasoned chunks of toasted bread, meaning you can make your own using any stale bread you might have on hand. Nothing goes to waste. Cut the bread into cubes, toss them with oil and seasonings, and bake them in the oven (or cook them in a skillet on your stovetop) until they're golden brown. Yes, it's that easy! If you want to jazz it up, you might like this cheesy, garlic-forward crouton recipe from The Pioneer Woman.

If you have extra bread lying around, we'd say making your own croutons is well worth the time and effort, since little of both are required. We also like these croutons cut large and tossed with seasonal veggies for a rustic panzanella—a Tuscan Italian salad traditionally made with leftover ingredients.


Like croutons, breadcrumbs are easily made at home using day-old bread. Toast your stale bread until it's crisp, then break it into fine pieces or pulse it into a food processor for finer crumbs. Once finished, you can throw your homemade breadcrumbs atop a casserole, use them to bread chicken breasts, or add them to your mac and cheese at a moment's notice.

It doesn't get any simpler than this breadcrumb recipe from allrecipes. You'll never feel the need to buy them at the store again, especially since this homemade take allows you to season them as you like, depending on what you're using the breadcrumbs for.


Granola is pricey when you grab a bag at the supermarket these days, yet it's one of the easiest foods to make at home. Whether you're a big fan of nuts, can't get enough dried fruits, or love the warm toasty flavor of maple syrup, this breakfast staple can be customized to your liking when you bake up a batch in your own oven. Chowhound's basic granola recipe is perfect as is, but can also be adapted to your specific taste preferences.

This granola is as good or better than most expensive store-bought varieties, and it's simple to make. Lightly sweetened oats are baked to crisp, golden perfection, mixed with oil and honey for a delicious foundation, and then tossed with ... anything you like! We're fond of a mixture of nuts and dried fruits, but you can also throw in chocolate or peanut butter chips if you like more sweetness.

Peanut butter, almond butter—all the nut butters

If PBJ is your favorite food group, almond butter and apple slices are your go-to snack, or you just love nut butters in general, we have good news. Considering the exorbitant costs of ready-made nut butters, you should try making your own! It takes fewer than five minutes and you get to skip the not-so-great additives. Woohoo!

To get you started, take a look at Pinch Of Yum's stellar example of homemade peanut butter. After we recently spied a $15 jar of peanut butter at the grocery store, you'll be relieved to discover that this DIY version is a lot cheaper and just as delicious. (It's also much cheaper than the more common $5 jars you see on shelves everywhere.) If the result is thicker than you prefer, you can use a splash of neutral-tasting grapeseed oil to thin out your nut butter.

Tomato sauce

Leave store-bought jars of tomato sauce for the college dorms, and graduate into adulthood by making your own—like, in a pot, with your own seasonings and everything. The perfect accompaniment to your al dente strands of spaghetti or cheesy pizza pie is invariably zesty, perfectly seasoned homemade sauce. When it can be ready in under 45 minutes from start to finish, why the heck not?

Try chef Mario Batali's basic tomato sauce and never turn back. Like making ketchup at home, simmer the ingredients helps the flavors blend together to create a thick, luscious sauce. This one is infinitely adaptable but gives you a rock solid base, with classic aromatics like onion, garlic, and thyme. Try adding your favorite spices to enliven the sauce and make it suitable for anything from pasta, to pizza, to a delicious alternative condiment for your burgers.

Whipped cream

Like homemade butter, homemade whipped cream is a must. It's light, fluffy, and slightly sweet—nothing like the processed stuff, and that's a very good thing. In a chilled glass bowl, whisk together cold heavy cream, confectioner's sugar, and vanilla extract until the mixture has formed soft peaks. In the words of Rachael Ray, "Yum-o!"

Speaking of Rachael, let's try a whipped cream recipe from her publishing empire. As with buttercream, you can adapt homemade whipped cream in countless ways. Add a blend of frozen berries for a fruity version, or incorporate mascarpone for some thickness and tang.


We can't quite wrap our brains around store-bought guacamole. This perennial party time favorite only requires the cook to mash ripe avocados with a fork, so why would you try it any other way? Traditional seasonings for guacamole can include — but are not limited to — onion, tomato, lime juice, fresh cilantro, and pepper flakes. Easy breezy.

This zesty guac recipe from Food Network fits the bill. The key to great guacamole is choosing ripe avocados that are still green on the inside. To see if the avocado is good, remove the little knob at the end. If you see green underneath, then you'll know that it's perfectly green inside, too. You also want to taste your guac often, so you can adjust the seasonings as needed.

Pancake mix

There's no legitimate reason to buy pancake mix when it takes such little effort to make your own from scratch. Mix together flour, leavener, salt, eggs, butter, and milk, and you're done! Make a little extra of the dry mix, and you can store indefinitely for all your pancake emergencies.

Martha Stewart's version promises to hit the spot. This recipe calls for everything you most likely already have on hand, which is always a good thing. You can give your pancakes fun twists, too, by folding in blueberries, chocolate chips, oats, or whatever else your heart (and stomach) desires.