This was first posted on the old “The Bee Writes…” in January 2018
It is nothing new that most of us live on a budget. Constant rising prices of everyday products make it more and more difficult to make ends meet. That is a constant worry for many of us.
I am not different. I am a worrier. Always have been and having to count every penny doesn’t help. However, I am also someone who often looks into history to find solutions that modern day people often do not think of.
When I started to worry about the money again a couple of years ago I suddenly thought: Well, my grandmother started literally from nothing after the war and never was rich but managed to save up quite a sum so if she could manage I can!
My grandmother was a brilliant cook and baker. She did enjoy to go out for a meal every now and then but ready meals were not her thing. She made pretty much everything at home and I learned a lot of what I know in the kitchen from her. Besides our wish to not let corporations dictate what goes into our food it was her example that made me wonder what we could make ourselves rather than buying it.
I have already shared with you my husband’s easy bread making recipe and our favourite cookie recipes but one ingredient can be rather expensive and might make you stop baking if you are on a budget: Vanilla Essence. Now I know you do not need a lot of it in many recipes still it does add to your grocery shopping once you run out.
However, making vanilla essence is a doddle. Really! You just need two ingredients: Vanilla beans and vodka. I admit both are not too cheap either, however, the amount of vanilla essence you get out of it makes your homemade vanilla essence a lot cheaper than the shop bought one.
But first, a video that shows you how easy it is:
One thing the video does not tell you is the fact that you do not need to throw the vanilla beans away once you have used up your homemade vanilla essence. Just top them up with more vodka and re-use them. We use ours at least twice and only add some new beans to make sure we still get enough vanilla taste.
If you are worried about the alcohol: it does evaporate and just leaves you deliciously smelling vanilla. However, I know there are readers out there who do not buy alcohol for various reasons. Here is another video that shows you how to make vanilla bean paste without alcohol:
To make sure you find the best price for the vanilla beans and the vodka do a google search and buy online. However, if you do not feel confident doing that MySupermarket.co.uk offers a comparison of prices of 15 supermarkets in the UK. That is also helpful for buying other ingredients for your baking.
And last but not least bulk shopping is a huge hit in the UK lately. It does make sense if you stay with products that do not go off easily and you buy things you really use. There is no point in buying lentils in bulk if you hate them and never cook with them.
So far I have not found a page where I could get all our groceries we could buy in bulk in one place. However, we do buy our flour at Shipton Mill in 25 kg bags for roundabout 24£ plus VAT. We do bake a lot so it makes sense to do it that way. Shipton offers smaller amounts too if you do not bake that much.
Do you have any money saving tips when it comes to baking? Please let us know!