The cost of whipping up fresh goodies (to gift or to serve) can add up fast! Here, food experts dish up their best tips to finding unbeatable savings for holiday baking.
Buy in bulk for a bargain.
“I get my flour and sugar at warehouse clubs, where you can score a 25-pound bag of flour for $6.48 (26 cents per pound) and a 25-pound bag of sugar for $13.28 (53 cents a pound) — whereas at supermarkets, it costs more like 60 cents per pound of flour and $1.80 per pound of sugar. You can store it in airtight containers or split it with friends or family for savings all around!”— Annette Economides, co-founder of MoneySmartFamily.com
Get 20 percent off pan sets.
“You may not think of them when it comes to baking sheets, cake pans or rolling pins, but I buy mine at Michaels! You can almost always find coupons on their app or at Michaels.com for 20 percent off — sometimes they even have ones for 50 percent off. The coupons are usually for one item, so instead of buying one cake pan, I‘ll use the coupon on a set of cake pans and get more for my money!”— Samantha Adler, baker and blogger at FrostingAndFettuccine.com
Stir up gourmet nuts for pennies.
“My secret weapon for gifting over the holidays: spiced nuts! They’re cheap, take minutes to make and one 16-oz. bag of shelled walnuts (just $6) can yield about 4 gift bags’ worth! To do: In a dry skillet over medium heat, add 2 cups of chopped walnuts, 1⁄3 cup of maple syrup and a pinch of salt or red pepper flakes. Move the pan around until the nuts soak up all the syrup (about 3 minutes), dump on parchment paper; let cool, then pack into ribboned bags to gift!” — Stacy Lyn Harris, author of Stacy Lyn’s Harvest Cookbook
Go ‘international’ for a discount on spices.
“Need cinnamon sticks, vanilla beans or dried ginger? You’re certain to find big deals on all spices and extracts at international and ethnic markets, where they sell them in bins rather than in jars for at least 50% less than the supermarket. For example, at these markets you can fill a bag with 8 oz. of cinnamon sticks for $2, while at the supermarket, an 8-oz. jar will run you around $10!” — Mee McCormick, chef and author of My Pinewood Kitchen: A Southern Culinary Cure
Save cash on this convenience.
“It may seem like we’re cutting costs by baking everything ourselves, but that’s not always the case. In fact, some premade products are big money savers. One example: It costs about $3.52 to make two of your own piecrusts, but you can buy a two-pack of readymade Great Value Crusts for just $1.98 at Walmart. Other smart bets: Buying sale priced pumpkin pie filling can be cheaper than buying canned pumpkin, evaporated milk and eggs to make your own, or opting for canned yams saves you time and costs about 25 percent less than a pound of fresh ones.” — Teri Gault, author of Shop Smart, Save More
Score baking candy for 70 percent off.
“The week after Halloween, candies marketed for the holiday are discounted up to 70 percent off! Last year, Walmart marked down Halloween bags of M&M’s to $1 similar-sized bags in the regular candy aisle cost about $3. The only difference? Themed packaging, which you’re tearing into in order to melt or chop up the chocolate to put into your sweet creations anyway!” — Annette Economides
Create fancy ‘foodie’ gifts for less.
“No time to make home baked goods but love the personal sentiment sans the steep price? Simply print up a family recipe or find one on Allrecipes.com and attach it to a Mason jar filled with the dry ingredients. While similar readymade ones retail in stores for $10 or more per jar, you can make up to a dozen yourself for about $2 each! Also smart? You can snap up a cookie tray at Costco at a cost of about $20 for an array of 84 cookies. Then separate them into festive bags or boxes as hostess gifts or presents for your neighbors — you’ll save up to 300 percent by skipping out on buying those prepackaged baked goods platters!” — Andrea Woroch, savings expert at AndreaWoroch.com
A version of this article originally appeared in our print magazine, First For Women.