Sometimes I find my mind wandering to a dark, dark place. A place where I begin mentally calculating the dollars upon dollars upon DOLLARS I have spent at places like Sweetgreen and HipCityVeg and—the worst of them all—Whole Foods on stuff I could have easily made myself. (I have no deeper financial regret than my Whole Foods Mediterranean tuna addiction, circa 2012.) This spiral always ends with me screaming, “I could’ve bought a house!!” Dramatic? Maybe. But also not wrong.
Now, of course, there are always going to be foods that I could feasibly make myself but will buy for convenience’s sake (hey, jackfruit taco meat and smoked salmon), so before you think I’m about to instruct you to go full-on urban homesteader here, relax. Below are just six (a measly six!) common fridge staples in healthy folks’ kitchens that you can easily (seriously, they all require roughly second-grade-level cooking skills to make) start making yourself in order to save a whole lot of dough. That way, you have more money for takeout on nights when unadulterated laziness calls. Because, if there is anything I know in life, it’s that those nights will call.
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Sauerkraut is perhaps the least sexy food around. Personally, I find it calls to mind a nursing home salad bar. That said, it is no doubt a healthy person’s fridge staple thanks to its high probiotic count. (Psst: probiotics help to keep your gut in tip-top shape, which pays off in all sorts of places, from your digestive health to your skin’s glow.) And instead of buying an $8 jar of it from the grocery store, you can easily ferment your own with a head of cabbage, some salt and some ginger for an added anti-inflammatory kick. Jolene Hart, the author of Eat Pretty, has a great recipe here.
Who else gets sticker shock whenever they hit up the nut butter aisle? My favorite almond butter runs me $12 a jar. Twelve dollars. But as long as you have a food processor and some time on your hands, nut butters—which require no other ingredients besides nuts … really!—are pretty darn easy to make at home: just roast some nuts (or seeds, if you’re feelin’ wild) then throw ‘em in your food processor for a good 10 minutes and watch them get creamy. Simple as that, folks. The Minimalist Baker has a step-by-step guide here. And the nice thing about making nut butters at home, aside from saving some money, is that you can get creative with them: add stress-busting adaptogens! Add coconut butter! Add protein boosters, like hemp and chia seeds! Your options are endless, really.
Coconut Probiotic Yogurt
I have been lusting after the Coconut Cult’s probiotic yogurt for years. Literal years of my life. Call me a victim of superior marketing, but when I see at least seven health bloggers per day Instagramming about the dairy-free yogurt’s creamy deliciousness—no #spon hashtag in sight—I’m sold. Well, almost. No matter how many Instagram posts come across my feed, I simply can’t bring myself to pay upward of $20 for a jar of yogurt. I. Just. Can’t. If you feel similarly, this knock-off probiotic coconut yogurt recipe from Minimalist Baker—made using just a can of Whole Foods’ brand coconut milk and two probiotic capsules—works as a stand-in for a creamy smoothie topper or granola base.
Trainers swear by Avocado’s Number Guacamole To Go (sold at Trader Joe’s) for an on-the-go, healthy-fat-filled snack, but let’s be real: Those are a waste of money. Guacamole is way cheaper to make on your own—and it tastes WAY better than the stuff designed to sit on shelves for weeks. A simple go-to recipe is here, but you really don’t need a recipe to pull off a good guac. Simply throw some avocado, lime juice (heavy on the lime juice if you want to keep the avocado from oxidizing for a day or two), salt and red onion together in a bowl, mash it together, and BAM: you’ve got a great go-to healthy snack that can hang in the fridge for a couple of days.
Who else has fallen prey to the ease that is Daily Harvest delivery smoothies or ready-made smoothie packs from the grocery store? They work so well as an easy post-workout snack and require basically zero effort. But what I’ve realized is, ringing in around $8 a pop, they are really no different from DIY smoothie bags, an OG Pinterest staple, just in prettier packaging. So, here on out, I will be making DIY smoothie packs—this consists of throwing your choice of cut up fruit, veggies, and greens into a freezer-safe bag and pulling out to throw into your blender when you’re ready to chow down—for myself, and saving buckets of money. Who’s with me?
Okay, so there is some investment when it comes to making hummus at home because you have to buy a jar of tehina (that’s sesame seed paste, which is filled with all sorts of nutrients like zinc and B vitamins), which can ring in around eight bucks. That said, that tehina will get you through countless homemade batches of hummus, the perfect protein-rich sandwich spread or dip for veggies and chips, and will also serve as a great tool to make salad dressings and even brownies. (Yes, brownies!) It’s a simple fact that Mike Solomonov’s Dizengoff slings the best hummus in town, and lucky for us, he shared his hummus recipe with the New York Times. (And this might be sacrilegious, but I’m going to go ahead and say you can take the shortcut of using canned chickpeas to save on time.)