Can you really save by making pudding from scratch?

Pudding: From Scratch Vs. Purchased

by Penny Saver

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Let me just say that I have never made pudding from scratch before this test, and my husband asked, "You can make that from scratch?" as though no alternative to Jell-O pudding has ever existed. Not only can you make it from scratch, but also, as you'll see, it's worth doing!

I used the Chocolate Cornstarch Pudding recipe found at with minor edits based on the reviews.

Yield 6 servings, 1/2 c. each

1/2 c white sugar ($.08)
3 T unsweetened cocoa powder ($.41)
1/4 c cornstarch ($.13)
1/8 t salt
2 3/4 c milk ($.52)
2 T butter ($.12)
1 t vanilla extract ($.20)

In a saucepan, stir together sugar, cocoa, cornstarch, and salt until it is lump free. Place over medium heat and add milk. Bring to a boil and cook, stirring constantly, until mixture thickens enough to coat the back of a metal spoon. Remove from heat and stir in butter and vanilla. Let cool briefly and serve warm or chill in the refrigerator. If you refrigerate it, use a layer of plastic wrap pressed down onto the pudding so it doesn't develop a skin.

Cost Breakdown:

Jell-O Cook & Serve chocolate pudding cost $1.55, plus 3 cups of milk at $.56, for a total of $1.81, or $.35 per serving. The homemade version cost $1.46 total or $.24 per serving. At about 30% less, the homemade version could easily cost more if pudding was on sale or you had a coupon.

Taste Test:

I preferred the homemade, which has a rich but not overpowering chocolate flavor and is a little sweeter. I'll cut the amount of sugar by a tablespoon or two next time. Mr. Penny preferred the store bought version because it had a slightly bitter chocolate flavor and was a little less sweet. Both were tasty, with a nice creamy texture, and both would fulfill a chocolate craving.

Time Factor:

The time factor for both was almost exactly the same. The homemade version had an extra minute or so for measuring out ingredients, but they took the same amount of time boiling and stirring.


Both were prepared with 1% milk, and the nutritional information is for 1/2 c. prepared pudding.

Jell-O Cook & Serve chocolate fudge pudding: (Milk), Sugar, Dextrose, Cornstarch, Cocoa Processed with Alkali, Modified Cornstarch, Contains Less than 2% of Salt, Calcium Carrageenan (Thickener), Polysorbate 60 (Prevents Scorching), Fumaric Acid (for Thickening).

Calories - 141
Fat - 1 g
Sodium - 168 mg
Carbohydrate - 28 g
Fiber - 1 g
Protein - 4 g

Homemade: Milk, Sugar, Cornstarch, Cocoa, Butter, Vanilla, Salt

Calories - 173
Fat - 5 g
Sodium - 126 mg
Carbohydrate - 28 g
Fiber - 1 g
Protein - 4 g

The homemade version was higher in fat because of the inclusion of butter (mmm, butter), which did give it a nice rich flavor. Otherwise, they're fairly similar.

Scratch vs. Store Bought Winner:

I'm calling this one a draw. On sale, the store bought pudding mix would be comparable if not cheaper. Nutritionally, they're comparable, with the homemade losing narrowly because of the higher fat content. That said, I'll make it from scratch in the future to keep the additives and preservatives out of our pudding.

Penny Saver is a frugal mom who is making the most of meager means, saving her quarters to save a quarter of her income in 2010. She posts a new Scratch vs. Store Bought comparison each week on her blog, The Saved Quarter.

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