The Kitchen Staples You Should Make Instead Of Buying!
I went grocery shopping yesterday and I guess I was having a nostalgic day because when I got the final bill I nearly cried. Even though I was trying to shop smart I still had to pay over $200!!! When I think about what $50 could buy when I was a kid (i.e. a lot) versus what $50 can buy today (i.e. very little) I can’t help but wonder how on earth anyone feeds their families these days.
I just got invited to my ten year high school reunion by the way, so I wasn’t a kid that long ago either! I don’t know when last you actually had a look at the price of each item on your final grocery bill but if you do, you’ll see that it is usually the ‘convenient’ foods that cost the most. In other words the things that your grandparents used to make at home, but that you buy premade or prepackaged because you’ve never done it any other way!
So here’s some things that you normally buy, but that are cheaper AND better when you make them at home! Still, you need to pay attention when you're buying the ingredients or necessary kitchenware so you take advantage of the best deals. If you use grocery coupons your meal is gonna be a lot cheaper than without them, and a Kohl's coupon from Discountrue can make a new pan all the more affordable! And now let's take a look at a couple of dishes you can prepare by yourself and enjoy more than ever:
Now pizza is first on this list because it is the ultimate convenience food and there is pretty much NOTHING better than a pizza – ever. Whether you pick them up on the way home from work or you’re using the frozen variety you just can’t beat it because even picky eaters eat pizza! But you can make an entire pizza from scratch at home – no shop bought anything, whether frozen or not!
You can make your own pizza dough (the traditional kind or some other healthier variety) AND your own marinara sauce, then customize with whatever toppings make you happy (which you can pre-make and freeze too!). You can freeze the dough and the sauce on their own, or you can prepare your pizzas and freeze them ready to go straight in the oven.
The options are literally endless, although I would suggest investing in a pizza stone to get that perfect crispy pizza crust we all crave! And if you’re freezing the dough without prebaking, then remember that it is going to need to defrost for at least 12 hours in the fridge before you actually use it.
You can also use the homemade marinara sauce when you’re whipping up some spaghetti and meatballs, or for any dish that you would normally use a tomato sauce for!
This is next on the list because again it is pretty much a staple food in every home. I don’t know anyone who doesn’t like French fries in some shape or form. Now I always used to buy oven chips because I don’t own a chip fryer and using that much oil, even when I reuse it, just seems like a massive waste. But now I make my own!
All I do is slice the potatoes into chips, then boil them. You can do this on the stove, but 2 medium potatoes cook in about 7 minutes in the microwave (invention of the gods!) so I do it that way. Then I dry them off – and chill them if I have time (the chilling gives that perfect French fry crispiness). Now you could deep fry them if you like, or drizzle them with oil and pop them in the oven.
And you can freeze them once they’re boiled for even more convenience. Just make sure they are completely chilled, and that there is NO excess moisture before you freeze them or they can go soggy. And by the way, this technique works for any kind of potato that is usually fried or roasted – including sweet potato!
Peanut butter is yet another household staple and also one of those things that you can make at home – even though it probably NEVER occurred to you! Someone, somewhere decided that plain old peanut butter is just too boring though so now you get cashew nut butter, almond butter, hazelnut butter and even sesame seed butter.
And pretty much all you need is your food processor, your nut of choice and salt (additional oil is sometimes necessary). You can even make your own version of that little slice of heaven in a jar or the chocolate nut spread (Nutella in case you didn’t realize!). Nut butters keep for up to a month in an airtight container in the fridge but don’t make huge quantities at once!
Pancakes or Waffles
Whether it is the middle of the week or a lazy Sunday morning (afternoon, evening!) there is nothing better than a pancake or a waffle. You won’t normally have pancakes for anything except breakfast, but waffles can be paired with a wide variety of savory options and used for breakfast, lunch, dinner or dessert. Although no one ever said you can’t have pancakes at any time of the day!
I started out buying frozen waffles and frozen pancakes because, well I was lazy! Then I started buying pancake or waffle mix because I decided that fresh was better. But making my own premade mix at home is so easy a five year old could do it! And I also make and freeze some for those mornings or afternoons where convenience trumps freshness!
Meat or Vegetable Stock
Stock is one of those things that nobody can do without in their kitchen if they want their food to have any kind of depth of flavor and is the base of pretty much every hearty, family friendly meal! Whether you buy stock cubes, canned or boxed stocks all you’re really getting is a WHOLE lot of sodium (i.e. salt) and a vaguely stocky flavor!
And all you need to make your own stock is some bones, a few herbs and a couple of vegetables. As well as time and a stock pot! You can use the bones from your own leftovers or you can get the bones you need from your butcher. And once your stock is made, you can divide it into smaller containers and freeze until you need it!
Now I know that you’re going to ask why you should make your own mayo, your own ketchup, your own salad dressing and your own pesto when it is SOOO much easier to just buy them. But the truth is that while store bought condiments are highly convenient, they have a load of ingredients that taste great together but aren’t any good for you!
Making ketchup requires a little time and might mean you need to invest in some spices you don’t have right now. But imagine the best ketchup you’ve ever had and multiply it by a thousand, then you’ll understand why it’s worth making yourself. The other condiments are infinitely easier to make so long as you have a food processor and some sharp knives!
There are a whole lot of other things that you normally buy from the store because they are convenient, but that you could actually be making at home. But the ones I’ve listed here are, in my opinion, the staples that no kitchen or pantry can do without and that you don’t need to be any kind of culinary professional to make!