Share on Facebook

A Trusted Friend in a Complicated World

DIY Pantry Staples You Can Make for Less Than $1

Why buy products packed with preservatives when fresher is cheaper?

1 / 6


When you make mayo at home, you know exactly what you’re getting. In a blender or food processor, mix four egg yolks, a tablespoon of white wine vinegar, and two tablespoons water. Slowly add 1.5 cups vegetable oil (or a mix of vegetable oil and extra virgin olive oil) while the blender’s motor is running to combine. Add a pinch of white pepper—or cayenne for some heat—and store in the fridge for up to five days. For more recipes like this, grab a copy of Homemade: 707 Products to Make Yourself to Save Money and the Earth.

2 / 6
Various mix of pasta on wooden rustic background, sack and wooden spoons. Diet and food concept.Eugenia Lucasenco/Shutterstock


Wow your guests (or family!) by making fresh pasta instead of resorting to a box. Add 2.25 cups plain flour, two eggs, ¼ cup water, a tablespoon olive oil, and a teaspoon salt to a food processor. Using a plastic dough or metal chopping blade, process for 20 to 30 seconds, until the dough rides up in the center. Knead the dough on a lightly floured surface for about five minutes to make it smooth and elastic. Cover with plastic wrap and let sit for 30 minutes, then roll out the dough using your hands or a pasta machine. When it’s ready to cook, boil a large pot of salted water and add the pasta. It will cook quicker than dry pasta—a minute or two for thinner strands or six minutes for ravioli—so keep an eye on it.

3 / 6
Homemade Vinaigrette with Thyme by fresh ingredientsvanillaechoes/Shutterstock


Turn a basic salad into a gourmet side by making your own dressing. In a small bowl, whisk together ¼ cup extra virgin or virgin olive oil, one tablespoon vinegar (whatever kind you prefer, including white wine, red wine, or tarragon) or lemon juice, ½ teaspoon salt, and black pepper to taste. If you’d like, add one tablespoon finely chopped fresh herbs, such as chives, basil, or parsley. Check out these other 11 smart ways to eat healthy on a tight budget.

4 / 6
Jar of homemade creamy ranch dressingB Sanderson/Shutterstock

Ranch dressing mix

No ranch mix? No problem. You can whip it up with ingredients you already own. In a small, airtight container, add 2.5 tablespoons onion flakes, one tablespoon dried parsley, 1.5 teaspoons garlic powder, and two teaspoons each of paprika, sugar, salt, and black pepper. Shake until blended, and keep in a cool, dry, dark place for up to a year. To turn it into dressing, whisk the dry mix with a cup of mayonnaise and a cup of buttermilk or low-fat yogurt. DIYers–these personalized gifts go the extra mile. 

5 / 6
close view on fresh herbs bunchmarcin jucha/Shutterstock

Italian herb blend

Don’t bother buying yet another jar for your spice rack. In a ziplock bag, add six tablespoons dried basil, three tablespoons dried oregano, two tablespoons dried parsley, two tablespoons dried thyme, and one teaspoon dried garlic. Shake to blend, then store for up to three months.

6 / 6

cooking French bechamel sauce macro vertical.AS Food studio/Shutterstock

White sauce

This versatile recipe can be made thinner (for soups) or thicker (for casseroles or soufflé bases). In a small saucepan, melt a tablespoon of butter over low heat. Add a tablespoon of flour and whisk for two to three minutes so the mixture is smooth, not brown. Gradually stir in a cup of hot milk, then increase the heat to medium, stirring constantly for three to five minutes. Remove from heat, then add a pinch of white or black pepper. If you need to refrigerate the sauce until later, reheat it with a double boiler. Don’t miss these other 27 foods you should never buy again.

Originally Published in Homemade: 707 Products to Make Yourself to Save Money and the Earth

Marissa Laliberte
Marissa Laliberte-Simonian is a London-based associate editor with the global promotions team at WebMD’s and was previously a staff writer for Reader's Digest. Her work has also appeared in Business Insider, Parents magazine, CreakyJoints, and the Baltimore Sun. You can find her on Instagram @marissasimonian.