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Thursday, October 10, 2019

My Fall Baking Ingredients Price List



Since fall is the season to stock up on baking ingredients at rock-bottom prices for the year, I find it helpful to make a price list for all of these items. Prices on various baking ingredients fall to their lowest levels from October through December each year. By stocking up, now, I can save a substantial amount of money compared to buying these items in winter, spring, or summer. Making a price list for these items may sound tedious. However, this is a component of keeping my grocery budget to a super-low $125 to $135 per month for 4 adults.



In early October, I create a price list for all of the baking ingredients for which I'd like to have a good supply. This sort of list can be as simple as notes written on a sheet of lined paper or, if you're like me, a detailed spread sheet to be printed out. 



I use an app that came on my Mac to make a table. I include all of the stores at which I am likely to shop across the top of the table and all of the items that I need to buy along the side of the table. 



Once the table is made, I go online and find as many of the prices as I can for each item and enter them in the blank boxes, along with brand name and unit price (per ounce/pound, etc). For those prices that I can't find online, I take a printed copy of my sheet with me when shopping during the early weeks of October, filling in the blocks as I shop. Because I gather so many prices from the different stores in my area, I feel confident that I can identify those rock-bottom prices for the season when I spot them. 



I stick to items and ingredients that I can't easily make at home. I've discovered that I can make a reasonable facsimile to a few baking ingredients, including graham crackers, sweetened condensed milk, and brown sugar. Depending on my budget and the amount of time I estimate I'll have for the current holiday season, I may or may not include those items in my price list. 


In addition to listing the name of each item, I make a guess at how much of the particular ingredients that I would like to have. I think through all of the coming holidays and birthday celebrations for which I'll bake treats and desserts. (For example, I bake birthday cakes for anyone who has a birthday, so I know that I will need several bags of powdered sugar for making cake icing.) This is my baking ingredients wish-list. I may or may not be able to buy each ingredient in the quantities that I desire due to store limits or my budget, but I try. I've never had a grocery budget as low as I do this year. Stocking up will be something of a challenge.

This year, my price list includes:

  • milk, semi-sweet, and white chocolate chips
  • butterscotch baking chips
  • flaked coconut
  • marshmallows, mini and large
  • dipping chocolate
  • powdered sugar
  • peanuts
  • mixed nuts
  • almonds
  • pecans
  • butter
  • canned pumpkin
  • fresh cranberries
  • raisins
  • dates
  • dried cranberries
  • cream cheese
  • whipping cream

In addition, I have some items on hand for which I do not need to shop. These are items that I would otherwise have on my list. Those include: 

  • corn syrup 
  • molasses
  • granulated sugar
  • maple, vanilla, almond, lemon, peppermint, and butter extracts
  • paste food coloring
  • colored sprinkles in many shapes and colors (green and red included)
  • cocoa powder
  • spices, such as cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, cloves, allspice, cardamom, mace

As mentioned above, some baking ingredients I can make from what I have on hand. For this year, those include a substitute for sweetened, condensed milk, brown sugar, and baking powder (this super easy substitute is in this link).



By keeping a stock of some basic ingredients, I should be able to make candies (such as toffee, chocolate and fruit bark, sweet and spicy nuts, and dipped pretzels), cookies (bar, drop, and rolled), cakes, quick breads, pies, cheese cakes, and sweet yeast breads and rolls not only this fall, but throughout the year. And I can make all of those foods at my lowest, possible cost. 

Frugal living sometimes requires tedious work. From my perspective, these sort of chores can pay big dividends and allow my family to live large on a small budget.

Do you stock up on baking ingredients during the fall and holiday season? What's on your list? Do you compare prices on stock-up ingredients between stores?


You'll find this post, and many others like it, just a click away on this page -- a compilation of my recipes, shopping lists, and menu plans that illustrates how I feed my family of 4 adults on $125 to $135 per month.

9 comments:

Sheri said...

You are so thorough, and your sweets look so tempting.

Lili said...

Thank you, Sheri. Have a wonderful weekend!

Denise said...

Lilli, this is a terrific list. I love how methodical you are in your approach and I can see how you've managed to be so successful with your budget. I look for the sales on baking supplies in the holiday season, too. But I don't compare prices between stores. That may change.

Lili said...

Hi Denise,
I guess when I don't know what else to do, I find some sort of process or system to figure things out. I guess that's what I've done with seeking out the best possible prices on my baking ingredients. It's what works for me.
I hope that you find some really great sales on baking ingredients this fall. It's such a nice feeling to have laid in a good supply of everything one could want to mix up some goodies.
Have a great weekend!

Denise said...

You have a great weekend, too, Lilli.

Anne in the kitchen said...

I am a serious stocker. I buy butter twice a year, once during the holiday season and again at easter because Aldi has super sales each season. Though they have a 6 pound limit, TheHub's office in right down the street from Aldi. He is more than willing to stop and grab 6 pounds. I just stick the boxes in the freezer and have never had a problem with thawing and using it for both table use and cooking.
I do the same with chocolate chips, butterscotch bits, flours, cocoa powder, oats, and sugars (brown, white and confectioners). I think I still have a 4 pound bag of sugar left from last Christmas, so I probably need to rethink amounts.
My SIL has pecan trees on her farm and is very generous if the trees bear well. It is hit or miss, but I freeze lots of shelled pecans on a heavy bearing year.

Live and Learn said...

I, too, stock up during the sale seasons. However, I'm not as methodical as your are. I try to keep the information in my head as I compare things instead of in a spreadsheet. And I must admit that that method does not work as well as it used to as I age. :)

Lili said...

Anne in the kitchen said...
I am a serious stocker. I buy butter twice a year, once during the holiday season and again at easter because Aldi has super sales each season. Though they have a 6 pound limit, TheHub's office in right down the street from Aldi. He is more than willing to stop and grab 6 pounds. I just stick the boxes in the freezer and have never had a problem with thawing and using it for both table use and cooking.
I do the same with chocolate chips, butterscotch bits, flours, cocoa powder, oats, and sugars (brown, white and confectioners). I think I still have a 4 pound bag of sugar left from last Christmas, so I probably need to rethink amounts.
My SIL has pecan trees on her farm and is very generous if the trees bear well. It is hit or miss, but I freeze lots of shelled pecans on a heavy bearing year.


Hi Anne,
That is wonderful that you SIL has pecan trees. My guess is that shelling the pecans is a it of a pain, though. You probably know this, but pecans are super expensive for the rest of us. I think I paid about $13 a pound a couple of years ago. I'm allergic to walnuts, so any recipe that calls for walnuts, I sub pecans and that gets expensive.
I'm still waiting for Aldi to come to the PNW. I hear such great things about their prices. I'm glad that you can find so many fantastic deals for baking.
Have a lovely weekend, Anne.

Lili said...

Live and Learn said...
I, too, stock up during the sale seasons. However, I'm not as methodical as your are. I try to keep the information in my head as I compare things instead of in a spreadsheet. And I must admit that that method does not work as well as it used to as I age. :)


Hi live and learn,
Age is taking its toll on my memory, too. I just hate this aspect of getting older.
You know, if money were not so tight for me right now, I'd just do my best to get good prices and figure sale prices in the fall are still better than regular prices the rest of the year. For now, I'm just trying to stretch our grocery budget as much as I can, so I'm willing to be methodical and do the tedious work.
Have a wonderful weekend, live and learn.

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