As long as you're a frugal grocery shopper and don't opt for expensive ingredients, making meals at home will usually be cheaper than buying prepared meals -- and much cheaper than eating out at restaurants. This is one area where working a job can put you at a disadvantage. Many people have little time and energy to cook after a hard day at the office. As a stay-at-home mom, you can take advantage of your time at home to prepare meals that are cheaper and even healthier. Also, be familiar with everything in your pantry before going to the store. Don't let things expire, and plan meals around food items you already have.
Experts say that before you buy anything, ask yourself if you can make it at home. But it can be difficult to determine sometimes if something is cheaper to buy at the store or make yourself. According to author Jennifer Reese, who crunched the numbers, she concluded that making bagels and yogurt was cheaper, but not cream cheese [source: Reese]. She has also said that making vanilla extract is one of the best things to do at home to save money.
Buying potted herbs can also be a real money-saver for at-home meals, too; just remember to keep them up. Do you have a yard or community garden area? Consider growing a vegetable garden.