Food & Drink

The Worst value cheat ingredients: Preparing your own garlic is 850% cheaper

Ocado delved into how much time and money can be saved by using convenience ingredients and the results were surprising.

While it can save money to prepare ingredients from scratch – it can be just as valuable for some people to save on time and hassle.   Here’s what they uncovered:

Top 10 best value DIY ingredients

Fresh ingredient

% cost difference

Garlic (frozen)














Garlic (granules)






  • Garlic is the ingredient where it pays to prepare it yourself – a great hack is preparing it in bulk and freezing it yourself rather than buying pre-prepared
  • Making your own breadcrumbs gives you a 638% saving and is a relatively easy kitchen task
  • Ginger is another ingredient we use frequently –  if you’re looking for an easy and great value way to prep ginger then simply keep it in the freezer and grate it when needed
  • Carrots are one of the cheapest vegetables – but if you want to buy them prepared you’ll pay a whopping 525% extra
  • Watermelon will cost over 400% more if you buy it already pre-prepared

Top 10 best value convenience ingredients

Fresh ingredient

% cost difference



Dried kidney beans




Tuna Steak




Dried black beans


Gouda block


Mackerel Fillets






  • The best value convenience ingredient you can buy is tomatoes – which is great news as they form the base for many of our favourite meals
  • In second place are dried kidney beans – it saves you time and money to buy these in tinned form (as well as being much more convenient)
  • Cauliflower is surprisingly much cheaper to buy pre-prepared which is great news as it can be very challenging to cut up

Further findings from the study:

  • 45% of respondents said they were not willing to pay extra for convenience ingredients compared to buying raw ingredients to cook from scratch
  • 26% said they use convenience ingredients three times a week, while 20% said four times a week
  • Respondents said it takes typically 20-29 minutes to make a midweek meal with convenience ingredients, and 30-39 minutes without
  • 70% of respondents rated themselves a savvy cook – defined as a cook who takes shortcuts but doesn’t compromise on taste
  • 25% of respondents said they cook a home meal seven times a week
  • Tinned tomatoes are the UK’s top-rated shortcut ingredient, with 22.5% of respondents claiming this is the best ingredient to have on standby in the cupboard
  • Gravy granules is the second favourite convenience ingredient (missing the top spot by a narrow 0.03%),  with 22.2% believing gravy granules were the best thing since sliced bread

To read the full survey results, check out:

About the report

The report looked at 101 convenience ingredients from carrot batons to pancake mix. A survey 2,054 UK adults was conducted via Censuswide.

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