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How to make your own sushi at home and save money

Last weekend me and my girlfriend tried to make sushi ourselves for the first time. It was an amazing and fun experience. We had a lot of fun discovering the joy and pain of making our own sushi from the comfort of our own home. To top it all of we saved some money (by not going to a restaurant).

To be fair, the first reason to do this wasn’t a money-saving one. We did it to have something else for dinner and do something without going out.
Still, how much did we actually save compared to a restaurant visit -which we actually did a couple of weeks prior- in the city center?

Sushi close-up
Some of the sushi pieces we made by ourselves at home!

The competition

Before getting into the details of our sushi making adventure, it’s interesting to see how much sushi costs in a decent restaurant. It’s definitely not the cheapest dining experience.

We went to a sushi restaurant a couple of weeks earlier so we have a very good idea of the cost for two. Two soups, a sushi promo and a couple of drinks cost us 52.40 EUR. We didn’t get any dessert but from what I remember this would have set us back about 8 EUR per dessert.

We didn’t set out to get the same experience or the same amount but I can already tell you we ended up with 50 sushi pieces, larger than the once we got at the restaurant, though of course not as special or extravagant, we were able to create some diversity.

What you need to make your sushi

To be able to make that deliscous sushi at home you first need to have the material to actually roll the sushi. There are a few options to go with if you search online.

The most extreme is making your own bamboo mat but good luck with that. More realistic is to, like we did, buy a bamboo mat. Bamboo isn’t needed though, there are now silicon mats, and to make it even easier, you can get freaking bazookas.

I’d just go for the tried and tested method with buying the bamboo mat. You can’t go wrong with that. It’ll only set you back 2 – 3 EUR.

Starter kit

Besides the mat there are a few other things you need. The basic sushi starter kit consists of:

  • Sushi mat
  • Chopsticks
  • Sushi rice
  • Soy sauce
  • Ginger
  • Sushi vinegar

Filling the roll

We actually got all of the above through a starter kit that you can buy online. We bought them on Amazon.de for the reasonable price of 18.99 EUR. You can of course opt to check out your local asian (super)market and see if they sell the above items.

With the basics out of the way it was time to see what we wanted in our roll. Creating some diversity for your own sushi isn’t that hard, if you don’t go too exotic.
Heck, the shopping list is straight forward, whatever you fancy inside your roll can be put on your shopping list. OK, that is a bit too broad; here is a list of what we got to make ours this weekend:

  • Salmon – 8.25 EUR
  • Surimi sticks – 1.75 EUR
  • Cucumber – 0.69 EUR
  • scampis – 3.82 EUR
  • Tayaki – 1.90 EUR(/piece)
  • sweet soy sauce – 3.20 EUR
  • 500 gr sushi rice extra – 4.08 EUR
Asian supplies in local supermarket
Some of the Asian specific ingredients you can buy at Carrefour. They clearly cost quite a bit more compared to more “local” products.

Adding it all up gives us a total of 46.67 EUR. This includes soup we didn’t make ourselves. We got some from the supermarket: 2.09 EUR for 500 mL. It further includes the dessert in the form of two Tayaki and of course the starter kit from Amazon.

This doesn’t look like a huge saving but important to note is that we had quite a bit of extra sushi left and were able to eat left-overs the next day. On top of that, you have the reusable stuff such as the mat, the chopsticks and leftover condements such as the wasabi and ginger.

Two Tayaki on a place
A local waffel house makes Tayaki the traditional way for only 2 EUR a pair!

Where to get it

Store front of hard-discounter Lidl
You can get lots of good food for cheap at Lidl or other hard-discount stores (e.g., Aldi).

With this shopping list in hand, we were ready to gather all the ingredients for a cosy night. But where to get the ingredients to make our own sushi? Easy, just go wherever they have a wider variaty of food and brands.
In Belgium we have a couple of grocery stories that specialize in bulk and have more of the staple Belgian foods and less of the more special stuff such as sushi rice.

Of course, we also have stores like Carrefour where you even have specialized corners for “world” food. Other even more specialized stores work as well of course, but it’s possible that it will cost more due to lower demand.

I ended up getting most of the needed ingredients from the Germany-based hard-discounter Lidl and the rest from the French multi-national chain Carrefour.

Roll the sushi!

After gathering all the ingredients from our local Asian supermarket we were set to make our very own sushi! The work was split between me and my girlfriend.

Most of the stuff we got was easy to prepare. The thing that really took the longest was those damn scampis. They were boiled but not cleaned yet. I still had to clean their intestint and remove the shell. We had 30 and since it was my first time it took me a over an hour to get them all cleaned!

While I was busy with the damn scampis, my girlfriend prepared the cucumber and some avocado we still had laying around. She also cut the salmon, surimi, and cucumber in strips.
Another part that took some time was making the sushi rice. We already had the rice vinegar or sushi-su since it was part of the starter kit.

Making the rice

To get the proper rice texture we had to wash it, rinse well and drain. Then we put the washed rice in a cooking pot with a tight-fitting lid and added water according to the ratio mentioned on the package.
We had to let the rice soak for approximately 2 hours while on a small fire with the lid closed. When the whole boild up, we let the rice simmer for 15 minutes. Afterwards, we removed the rice pot from the heat and, without taking the lid off the pot, let stand for another 15 minutes. Finally, we put the rice in a wide bowl and mix in the sushi-su and let it cool.

Putting it all together

With the rice prepared and the ingredients cut we put it all together in massive rolls. The rolling itself actually wasn’t that difficult. You just take a look at a few youtube videos like the one on the side, and in a matter of minutes you have a nice thick roll.

The fillings can be almost anything. we used all the ingredients we bought and a few things we had lying around: cucumber, fried scampis, salmon, avocado, and cream cheese.

Finally, you present everything on a place and have a small plate with the (sweet) soy sauce or any sauce you’d like to have with your sushi and nigiri.

And that's a wrap

There you have it, anything you need to make your own sushi from the comfort of your home.

Adding it all together we did put in quite some working hours to make it, but that was the entire point, cooking together. As far as saving goes, the money we saved was more than the difference between ingredients. While we “only” saved 52.40 EUR – 46.67 EUR = 5.73 EUR at first glance, as we were able to get another meal out of it  and got material to reuse the savings are more but those are harder to quantify. It won’t really do much for this month expenses though. you’ll get what I mean once I post the update 😉 .

I’d highly recommend you do it with your SO or even with friends. It can be a fun evening activity: everyone shares a list of the things they want and get what the majority likes. By sharing the costs you can get a lot of  of sushi for very cheap; the tighter bonds you create are a beautiful bonus.

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Mr. FightToFIRE

Writer at Fight To FIRE
I'm the owner and the main writer of FightToFIRE, a personal finance blog focussing on Financial Independence and Retiring Early. During the regular working hours, I'm a developer for a major financial institution in Belgium. During my off-hours, I write. do some weight lifting and other stuff to keep me healthy and fit.
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