Most of us consume far too much processed food and it’s easy to see why. In today’s modern, busy world, the vast majority of us don’t have the time or the energy to spend hours slaving over a hot stove — we have jobs, hobbies, interests and other demands on our time, so why not save time and effort and get some readymade food? It used to be a woman’s job to clean and cook, while the man went out to work and feed the family. In the Western world, this is far less common now, not only because of changing gender roles, but also because many families simply can’t afford to live without two paycheques. But what if I told you that there are things you could make yourself at home that are not only healthier for you and your family, but also cheaper? The following are some ways of reducing processed food and taking control of your own diet. You’ll be surprised at how easy it is to save money while actually consuming better quality food. And the best thing about it is that you don’t need to be a master chef to do any of them!

Make your own bread

The price of bread varies quite greatly depending on where you live.  It can be pretty cheap, making you wonder why you need to bother with making your own. The truth is, most store-bought bread is packed full of preservatives and made with white flour, which is not exactly the healthiest. Invest in better quality bread and the price begins to steadily rise. If you want really healthy bread or have gluten intolerance, you’ll be paying through the nose. So why not bake your own? Yes, you can actually bake really good bread at home in your regular oven, and if you do have the time and patience to do it, it’s highly recommended. If, however, you prefer simplicity, you can cut pretty much every corner by simply buying a bread machine. A good bread machine will do everything for you. All you need to do is pour the ingredients in. You can even time it so that the bread is ready for breakfast when you wake up! A bread machine may seem like an unnecessary investment, but if you consume a lot of bread, you will quickly make the money back with the money you save on buying store-bought bread. Flour is cheap and goes a long way. Of course, the other obvious advantage to using a bread machine is that you are in complete control of what ingredients you put in the bread. You can make it as healthy as you like, adding seeds, specialty flours and even olives, dried tomatoes and herbs. Homemade bread doesn’t last as long as store-bought bread because it has no preservatives in it, but don’t worry – it’s usually so good that it won’t be around for long anyway! If you’re new to the world (or even concept) of bread machines, you can find some more information on Oven Shopper. It reviews a whole range of popular models.

Grow your own food

If you have a garden, you could do well converting it into something that can feed your family. Even cold climates allow for some crops, such as kale, which actually improves after being hit with frost. Buying or even making a small greenhouse can allow for other types of vegetables to grow throughout the year. But even if you don’t have a garden you can still grow herbs, salad leaves and even tomatoes on a balcony or even indoors. Even growing a few things can save you money in the long run. Another advantage is knowing your crops are organic and not sprayed with any nasty insecticides.

Make your own sauces

Are you a curry or pasta fan? Do you normally buy store-bought sauces? Better check the ingredient list! You’ll be surprised at how much nasty stuff goes into innocent-looking sauces. You can easily make your own using fresh ingredients and save money, while looking after your health. Don’t have the time to cook? No worries! All you need to do is cook once, make a large quantity and then freeze it in small bags or containers. Fill your freezer with a variety of ready-made sauce and you can simply reheat it whenever you’re ready. Because many sauces have salt, sugar, vinegar or chili in them that act as preservatives, you can even get away with buying large quantities of reduced price vegetables that are about to go off. Turn them into sauce, freeze and save!

Make your own desserts

Nothing hides more nasty ingredients than desserts and store-bought spreads. But you can easily make your own peanut butter, Nutella clone and chocolate spread at home with a food processor. Also, there are plenty of fast, simple cookie and cake recipes online you could whip up in 10 minutes. Apart from being healthier, they are also cheaper than what you’d find at the supermarket – yet another reason to save!