10 tips for frugal baking + buckwheat & oats muffins



For today’s frugal Tuesdays post I thought we’d talk baking, specifically frugal baking. As you know, baking can get pricey, especially if you’re using vegan, gluten-free, & unrefined ingredients.


Here’s a quick list of 10 tips
I’ve gleaned over the years of my experience with being a vegan & gluten-free (& frugal!) baker.


1. Buy in bulk. Costco (they now carry gluten-free all-purpose flour) & Azure Standard, as well as Amazon (I have a Prime membership–so free shipping!) are my go to places for most all of my baking needs.

2. Make your own flour. I use my Blendtec to make my own flours & have done so with great success for years.

3. Bake in batches & freeze half for later. Most baked goods freeze well for up to 3 months if sealed well in a freezer bag. This saves on time & energy–yes!

4. Use cheaper stuff (even if more refined), for parties. When baking for parties or get togethers, save your expensive ingredients like coconut oil & coconut sugar, unless of course, all the people at this gathering eat like you. Most people are fine with eating white sugar, & your baked goods will be a vast improvement over the alternative just by using whole grain flours & making it vegan.

5. Store perishable flours in the fridge or freezer. No use buying in bulk if it will go bad faster than you can use it.

6. Focus on using less expensive ingredients. For gluten-free flours, the cheapest grains/seeds to make flours I’ve found are: white rice, brown rice, buckwheat, quinoa, garbanzo beans & old-fashioned rolled oats, so I focus on using these when I can. Save the almond & coconut flours for extra special occasions. For sweeteners, I’ve found sucanat (in bulk) to be less expensive than coconut sugar, but more expensive than white sugar. It’s a good middle-of-the-road choice for a lot of my baking.

7. Use flax seed + water  to replace eggs in baking. Cheaper, vegan, & works very well in most baked goods. I like 1 tablespoon + 1/4 c. water for a large “egg.” A lot of people think you have to use eggs in gluten-free baking. While this may be true with some recipes, I’ve found a good majority of recipes can utilize a flax “egg” just as well, as long as there is enough fat & the right combo of flours.

8. Use applesauce. Applesauce is a cheap way to replace up to half the oil in many recipes (like this one!). It also reduces the overall fat content. But be aware, a lot of gluten-free goods need fat as the binder, so don’t replace more than half the oil or non-dairy butter, with it.

9. Use bottled, not fresh. When a baked recipe calls for fresh lemon juice, use the bottled stuff or, if it’s not a lemon flavored baked good & you just need something acidic, use apple cider vinegar. No one will notice a difference. Save your fresh lemons for salads or fresh stuff where you can really appreciate it.

10. Use reconstituted dried fruit in place of fresh. I’ve done this primarily with craisins & figs (like in my fig-a-licous bread). For craisins, I let the craisins sit in water that has been boiled for 10 minutes or so. I can usually get dried fruit on sale & it lasts much longer than fresh–so no wasted money on fruit gone bad. Plus, no one knows the better for it!


On that note, I have a frugal baking recipe to share today. The kind of recipe that’s awesome for sharing with all your non-vegan, non-gluten-free friends.


As a Mormon, we’re often asked to serve in various non-paid capacities.

Things like Sunday school teachers, nursery workers, Boy Scout leaders, youth leaders, even our bishop (essentially the preacher/pastor of a congregation) is not paid. These service opportunities are referred to as callings. My most recent “calling” was as a nursery leader.

Which means, Joseph & I watched the 18 month-2 year olds for 2 hours each week. I think we were asked to do this because our hellion angel/princess/sweet pea 2 year old, Salem was in there & would scream bloody murder any time we tried to leave so the only way to get her to stay is if we stayed too. After 10 months there, we got “released” (no longer had to do the calling any more) & there was a dry spell for me where I didn’t have a calling. But recently I was asked to be the youth Sunday school teacher. My response was I would be thrilled to do it.

The advice given to me was to bring treats of some sort, most Sundays. Since, you know how teenagers, I mean, you know how humans are. We respond well to food.

No problem.

I love nothing more than an excuse to bake (or cook).

The tricky thing is, though, I’m sure you’ve run across this, is that a lot of gluten-free flours & vegan baking items (like agave or maple syrup–liquid gold!) tend to be on the pricier side. Not quite frugal items, let’s say.

Though I love to use coconut oil & coconut sugar, agave & maple syrup in my baking, I simply can’t afford to use these things when I’m baking for a crowd. I still keep the goods vegan & healthy-ish, but I have to bring the kosher level down a bit. In other words, white sugar, canola oil, & the like.

So, here’s what I made for my youth this past Sunday:

Buckwheat oat muffins. 

Did you notice I’m on a buckwheat kick of late?

Yesterday it was my buckwheat milk chocolate cake, a few posts back, my buckwheat berry superfoods porridge.

The reason why? I love buckwheat, but also, I’m a cheapskate frugal, so I buy in bulk which means I have to figure out how to use 50 pounds of buckwheat before it goes bad.

I didn’t tell them they were vegan.

I didn’t mention they were made from buckwheat.

And, somehow, there were no complaints.  In fact, I’m going to go so far as to say they were a hit.

To be honest, I think it was the sparkly sugar on top that made all the difference. Sparkly sugar makes everything so much prettier. I suppose if you want to go healthy-ish, you could sprinkle with oats, but I figured, hey, I’m already using white sugar, why not add some sparkles?

buckwheat oat muffins -- vegan + gluten-free

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: 20 minutes

Total Time: 30 minutes

Yield: 24 muffins

Serving Size: 1 muffin

Calories per serving: 130

Fat grams per serving: 6 g

buckwheat oat muffins -- vegan + gluten-free

hearty muffins made from old-fashioned rolled oats & buckwheat flour--vegan + gluten-free


  • 2 c. buckwheat flour
  • 1 c. all-purpose flour (gluten-free or white wheat)
  • 1 c. old-fashioned rolled oats
  • 1 1/2 TBS. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 2/3 c. sugar
  • 3 TBS. ground flax seed
  • 2/3 c. water
  • 1/2 c. canola oil
  • 1 1/2 c. non-dairy milk
  • optional:
  • bright white sparkling sugar or additional old-fashioned rolled oats, for topping
  • blueberry option:
  • fold in 1 1/2 c. fresh or frozen blueberries (I like wild blueberries for muffins, they're smaller) to batter


  1. Place muffin liners in 2 dozen muffin cups. Spray liners with non-stick spray.
  2. Sift buckwheat & all-purpose flours. Add oats, baking powder, salt, & sugar & mix. Set aside.
  3. Whip flax seed & water until thickened.
  4. Combine oil, milk & flax seed mixture.
  5. Make a well in center of bowl with flours. Pour in wet mixture. Stir until all flour is absorbed.
  6. Using a medium large cookie scoop (about 3 tablespoons), scoop batter into cups.
  7. Over tops of batter, sprinkle bright white sparkling sugar or additional old-fashioned rolled oats.
  8. Bake at 400 F for 20 minutes, or until a wooden toothpick can be inserted & comes clean.
  9. Cool on wire rack for a 5 minutes, then if possible, serve warm.

Additional nutrition info: 17 g carbs, 2 g fiber, 3 g protein, 6 g sugar, 55 mg sodium, 4 WWP points

Do you have any frugal (vegan &/or gluten-free) baking tips to add? 


This post contains affiliate links. You purchase anything via these links (except for Azure Standard), I earn a small commission. Thanks for supporting bring joy!


  1. Coleen
    on July 20, 2015 at 7:50 am said:

    I converted your recipe to what I had available. I had half the buckwheat needed, so I made up the balance with flaxseed meal. In lieu of sugar I finished off a jar of fruit jelly that I knew I was not going to finish. I threw in a banana, a chopped apple, candied ginger, & walnuts. In lieu of non milk I used buttermilk. Thanks for the inspiration.

  2. Jeehye
    on November 26, 2014 at 6:18 pm said:

    It looks great. Just one question, can I use banana instead of sugar?

    • Janae Wise
      on November 28, 2014 at 11:31 am said:

      Probably. BUT it will alter your liquid to dry ratio (sugar is dry, banana is wet). To replace, I suggest omitting sugar & replacing the 2/3 c. water with 2/3 c. banana. It won’t be as sweet, but it *should* work. If you try it, let me know how it turns out & I’ll make sure to add it in the recipe notes.

      Good luck!

  3. Richa
    on March 27, 2014 at 6:49 pm said:

    great tips. i store some of the less frequently use d flours n the fridge too. also since there is limited space, it a good reminder to use them up before its been years:) those muffins look fabulous

  4. Emma
    on March 27, 2014 at 2:56 pm said:

    Great tips Janae. Although I’m usually cooking for one and smaller quantities which means I can get away with using more expensive ingredients, it’s definitely good practice to be able to cook on the cheap for events and so forth.
    Love the look of these muffins and will make them with coconut sugar and coconut oil for myself 😉

    • Janae Wise
      on March 27, 2014 at 3:30 pm said:

      “Although I’m usually cooking for one and smaller quantities which means I can get away with using more expensive ingredients,”
      Just wait until you’re a mom of 10 🙂 J/K.

      I would love to shower the world (or at least friends at church or parties) with my coconut sugar, coconut oil baked goods, but for now, I think vegan & gluten-free are good enough 🙂 Maybe once we’re out of debt…

  5. Kelli
    on March 26, 2014 at 11:10 pm said:

    These look wonderful, and so easy to make! I’ve never made my own flours either, but now I’m inspired to try it. What a great way to make fresh flour!

    And thanks for your tips on “frugal” baking ~ it’s all so good to remember. Sometimes it seems like there’s a lot of judgment around what we do – types of ingredients/organic/etc., whether it’s self-imposed or from outside. I’m sure we’d all love to use the best of everything all the time, but that’s not always realistic. Choosing which things to “slack on” and for which groups makes so much sense.

  6. Ashlee @ Plant Infusions
    on March 26, 2014 at 3:24 pm said:

    I have just recently fallen in love with Buckwheat. I eat it in Angela Liddon’s Raw Buckwheat porridge recipe, and would love to try it in other recipes.

    So, I tried to buy some on Azure Standard cuz I want a ton of it now. But the shipping for a 50 pound bag was $50 through UPS! I make it a rule to not pay for shipping since I have Amazon Prime. However, through Amazon, buckwheat costs 3 dollars a pound instead of 1 dollar a pound through Azure. So, with that steep shipping cost, Azure is still a dollar a pound cheaper. But, they have other ways of delivering, right? How does that work? How much did you pay for shipping for your 50 pounds of Buckwheat through Azure? Did you just suck it up and pay $50 for shipping?

    Also, had to say, my kids and I tried and LOVE your Vegetable Noodle Soup with TVP in it. I made it the same day you posted it, and made it again yesterday at the kids’ request. My husband and I also love your Roasted Red Pepper and Quinoa Lentil Soup. YUM! Anyway, do you have any more of these recipes up your sleeve? (Low calorie, easy, family friendly?) Especially like the Noodle Soup one? My kids call it chicken soup cuz they love how it tastes like chicken! Thank you SOOOO much for posting and sharing that awesome recipe!!

    • Janae Wise
      on March 26, 2014 at 3:40 pm said:

      Oh DEAR! Call them, & find out where the nearest drop point is. That way you only pay a small shipping cost. Call them & ask about how the drop points work & they’ll explain how it all works. I would *never* pay for that kind of shipping either!

      “Anyway, do you have any more of these recipes up your sleeve? (Low calorie, easy, family friendly?) Especially like the Noodle Soup one? My kids call it chicken soup cuz they love how it tastes like chicken! Thank you SOOOO much for posting and sharing that awesome recipe!!”

      YES! It’s killing me. I actually have 150 recipes & photos that I had worked on last year for my ebook but I haven’t gotten around to finishing that yet (you know baby, then I did my diet ebook, now I’m trying to finish up my fitness one…). If I had a nanny &/or more time I could churn that baby out in no time. But alas, I don’t, so hopefully by summer I’ll have my family-friendly cookbook complete. Again, it makes me sad because I have all the recipes & photos, it’s just putting the darn thing together that takes a ton of time & work. ALSO, I’m working on a super-duper exciting project with another blogger friend that will be taking up my time for the next month or so.

      Also, funny you mention it tastes like chicken. I thought so too, in fact, I thought it tasted an awful lot like chicken noodle soup, but tvp noodle soup doesn’t quite have the same ring to it, ya know? 🙂

      P.S. I don’t know if I commented on your “taking care of yourself” blog post, but I read it, & hope you’re taking care of yourself! I definitely know where you’re coming from. It’s the worst when the husband is away for stretches at a time & everything falls on you. Joseph has been essentially gone for the past two weeks because of a huge trial he’s on, so, the house is messier than I’d like it to be & I’m getting less sleep than I’d like to.

  7. Gabby @ the veggie nook
    on March 26, 2014 at 2:17 pm said:

    I’ve never gotten into making my own flours except for oat and the occasional buckwheat but I should definitely start doing more! Bulk grains are definitely cheaper than flour, I don’t know why I haven’t been doing this all along…

  8. Susan
    on March 26, 2014 at 9:12 am said:

    Great idea of buying the flour on Amazon- I have a prime membership too. Are there certain brands/ sizes you’ve found to be the best deals?

    • Janae Wise
      on March 26, 2014 at 9:18 am said:

      Hi Susan! I get my potato & tapioca starches from there. Also, coconut flour & almond meal. I don’t know if Bob’s Red Mill is the cheapest, but I like the brand–it’s always high quality, often organic, & never GMO. I order most of my grains/seeds for making flour from Azure standard.

      • Susan
        on March 26, 2014 at 9:20 am said:

        Thank you!

  9. Alanna
    on March 26, 2014 at 12:30 am said:

    They look fabulous. I love that you share recipes with common ingredients. I find myself keeping these staples onhand to bake for crowds too. I’ll be interested to see what else you make for your class. Have fun with it! 🙂

    Do you like Azure Standard? I just heard about it. Any tips for a first timer?

  10. Rebecca @ Strength and Sunshine
    on March 25, 2014 at 6:21 pm said:

    O yum! These look amazing! So simple and perfect for a light breakfast <3