You'd be hard pressed to find a 500g block of butter in the supermarket for under $5 these days.

In fact, New Zealand-made butter is now as expensive as French butter.

Tired of idly watching as their grocery bills climb month after month, Kiwis are looking at alternative ways to cook and bake for their families, without breaking the bank.

Kiwis on the popular Facebook group Cheaper Living (NZ only!) often debate cheaper alternatives to common products. One of those products now off many people's shopping lists, due to the skyrocketing prices, is the old faithful block of butter.

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But how do you cook when a staple ingredient costs more than you can afford?

Butter-free recipes
Dairy-free baking is on the rise with a number of people choosing to remove dairy from their diets altogether, not just for financial reasons. This means recipes that don't call for butter or any milk-based products are easier to find.

Amelia Bone shared a recipe for oat cookies that does not require any butter. Photo / Facebook
Amelia Bone shared a recipe for oat cookies that does not require any butter. Photo / Facebook

Alternative ingredients

There are a number of alternatives for whenever a recipe calls for butter. The most obvious (and possibly healthiest) one is olive oil - you can use 3/4 cup of olive oil for every cup of butter.

Other alternatives include vegetable oil, margarine, coconut oil, applesauce, unsweetened yoghurt, mashed banana, cottage cheese, or avocado (although you probably wouldn't use some of these for their money-saving qualities).

Making their own in bulk
Members of the Facebook group are sharing their best recipes for making butter in bulk quantities and making it last further.

One of the recipes suggests using a 500g block of butter to make 2kg of the same product, adding 1.5 cups of oil and 1/2 cup of boiling water, then beating for 10 minutes.

Another recipe suggests beating cream until thick then roll it into logs, wrap in cling film, refrigerate and then cut off slices as needed. If you fancy an upper-body workout, you can also just put the cream in a jar and shake vigorously until it turns to butter.

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These two recipes are popular with Kiwi city dwellers who can't own cows and make their own milk but still want to stretch their dollar further.

Why is Kiwi butter so expensive if it's made right here?

As Fonterra's head of farm source Mark Robinson told NZ Herald in June, the high price of NZ butter can be blamed on the demand for the product overseas.

"We need to set our prices based on what we can sell our product for abroad because otherwise you would question why wouldn't you just go and sell it abroad," he said.

"Our model in New Zealand is export-driven and that's not just dairy, that's all of agriculture, so we rely on our global markets to set the price in New Zealand and that's for a lot of things not just dairy, beef and lamb."

According to ASB, the high price of butter is a "global phenomenon" caused by high demand.

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