It's been on my mind, this tendency of people to try and save money by buying things or recreating more expensive things, or getting them for free by spending 70-plus hours a week clipping and organizing coupons.
One way I save money when it comes to stuff like convenience foods is to scale back what I eat. No, I still eat a lot. Ask any friend or coworker, they'll tell you that I'm quite the grazer. But there are some things that I just plain refuse to buy, or only very rarely buy.
First, breakfast tends to be basic with me. It's either eggs or an omlette with toast or an english muffin, or oatmeal with either some honey and cinamon or frozen fruit stirred in. That's it. I used to eat a lot of cereal--and I confess to the odd craving for it occaisionally still--but a container of quick cooking oats will last a lot longer than a box of cereal, and it's less expensive per serving. And eggs--well, they taste good, they're ready pretty quickly, and they have a decent amount of protein in them. I don't tend to get too hungry later if I have eggs or an omlette for breakfast. (Especially an omlette; I tend to go a little crazy with the vegetables and herbs with them.) So I do not get why you'd make fake Grape Nuts or fake cereals or whatever.
Second, while there are processed foods I like and crave (mac and cheese with the orange powdered cheese YUM), I normally stick to the basics. Again, they're easier, they're less expensive (in most cases), and they're versatile. Sure, I can make some sort of imitation rice side dish with dried vegetables and bullion and broken vermaccelli noodles, but that's an awful lot of work when I can boil up some rice, or I can cook it in stock for extra flavor. I can make a pilaf by sauteeing it with some onion and garlic and then boiling it up with other ingredients. Same with things like homemade biscuit or cake mix. Do you have any idea just how easy it is to cook these things from scratch? When I realized how easy it was, I about fell over. You don't need to buy a cake mix--or make a fake one. There are only something like two, maybe three extra ingredients in a totally from-scratch baked good, and it's not as if they are difficult to get or onerous to use. (I suppose the exception to this is bread, but baking your own bread isn't that hard either. You just need time to let it rise, and I don't always have that.)
And then people want to make homemade beauty or grooming products. Lord, don't do that. Unless you're really good at making soap and very careful, it's a waste of time and money. You know what I do? I use sunblock a lot, I use lotion a lot, and I use normal shampoos. I think there's a way you can make a rinse with vinegar, but I break out with exzema pretty much anytime something even slightly acidic hits my skin, so I will not be doing that. No, thank you. Exzema on my scalp just sounds gross, not to mention extremely unpretty.
Don't get me wrong--if you love the idea of say, making a homemade cake mix to have onhand and it works for you, well, I'm not one to say you shouldn't do it. Whatever makes you happy. I'm just lazy, and saving work with simple solutions is very appealing to me.