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Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Make it From Scratch

by Chiots Run

Here are Chiot's Run we don't buy much manufactured food. Our pantry is filled with dry goods, home canned items, and spices. We make our own pasta, butter, cheese, bread, granola bars, salad dressings and try to stay away from food that contain long ingredient lists, preservatives, artificial colors and flavors, and any weird unpronounceable ingredients.


We occasionally buy pretzels, those big sourdough niblets that have a short ingredient list; the same things I would use to make them myself (we do make soft pretzles at home, but haven't mastered the art of crunchy ones yet). Other than this however, our pantry is devoid of boxes and bags of items made in a factory somewhere far far away.

If you're trying to eat healthfully and avoid preservatives it's much much cheaper to make things at home than buy them at the health food store. It does take some time to learn to make all the different things you enjoy. Sometimes it takes a palate adjustment to learn to like and prefer a homemade version of a store-bought item (like ketchup).

This is something you probably don't want to do all at once. A great place to start is by replacing items in your pantry with homemade versions when you run out. This way you don't waste food you've already purchased, and you aren't overwhelmed by trying to learn to make everything homemade at once. Once you learn and make something a few times it becomes much easier. Start with something simple as well, like homemade salad dressing or made from scratch pancakes, muffins or a cake.

Pretty soon you'll wonder why you ever bought mixed and pre-made items from the store, especially since you'll notice the homemade version taste so much better. Not to mention all that extra cash in your wallet and think of all that packaging you'll be saving from the landfill!!

How much of what you eat is made from scratch at home?

32 comments:

Kerry said...

I'm still trying to convince my mom that it's better in the long run to make things from scratch, just for the less preservatives, additives, salts, and sugars. She's getting better about things, but she still wants to buy the cheapest stuff out there.

I think it's really great that you make a lot of things.

Tree Huggin Momma said...

I just mastered bread. Who knew the key was heat and time. I love homemade bread, always have, and I don't mind spending a part of my Saturday to have fresh bread for the whole week.
Next on my list are tortellini, unfortunately for me, at this point in time my most significant limitation is time. I work out of the home, and that would leave me baking, cooking and mixing into the wee hours.

MystikMomma said...

We make our own kombucha, spatzle, muffins, cakes, cookies. However, we are trying to make our own yogurt and breads. My husband has a severe case of IBS and we are trying to tailor his diet and ours too only to whole foods, things that I can make.

Things on the horizon, almond milk or hemp milk. Trying to figure out the best bread for his condition and that has caused some pause.

Kimberly said...

I love making everything from scratch. It does take time and planning, but I am also saved a lot of time and money avoiding "quick trips to the store" as I can make all sorts of things from bread to bagels to tortillas and crackers with basic ingredients I keep on hand and buy in bulk. My basic rule is that if I can't pronounce an ingredient, I don't buy it.

Leslie said...

treehugginmomma - Ask for a bread machine for your next holiday gift. Trust me.

Michelle said...

We are doing more and more things from scratch all the time, not nearly to the point you are, but for me I feel like I've come a long way! I can sauces and veggies from the garden, make all of my own salad dressings, pizza dough, cookies, cakes, seasoning mixes (ala taco seasoning), etc.

pasta is my next challenge.

cpcable said...

I think your suggestion of "taking it slowly" is key! I tried to take on way too much at first and found myself overwhelmed and frustrated. So, I've dabbled in almost everything (yogurt, bread of all kinds, pasta, etc.) but have yet to get those things into the regular rotation of my life. I have, however, been able to make the complete switch-over to "from scratch" for sauses, dressings, and soup stock. I take the small victories as they come!

-Courtney

Anonymous said...

I'm getting there, although I don't have a garden (we've recently moved to a new rental) so I've nothing fresh to use/store except the herbs on my windowsill.

I make stocks, all meals except the monthly Indian takeaway, muffins, muesli bars, all baked goods except bread (we get day-old bakery bread from our church for a donation; it would go to landfill otherwise), and sauces. I've recently begun making pasta and am looking into cheesemaking and pickling.

Cath

Simply Authentic said...

Not enough of what we eat is from scratch unfortunately---although we've gotten better at cooking from scratch our bread & pizza dough (using a maker) and our newest investment in a crock pot has led to some great meals. There aren't a lot of resources for local, organic food where we are and it's difficult to grow as much as we'd like in our current housing---but ideally I'd like to can more of our own stuff!!

Bethany said...

How long did it take you to get to this point?

We make our own butter, bread (most of the time) pasta (some of the time), marinara sauce (but didn't have enough tomatoes this year to make ketchup or simple tomato sauce.

Some weeks I do pretty good, other weeks not so good. Today I'm searching for taco meat sauce mix because I didn't like what I read on the label. But after a grueling day collecting sap for maple syrup I just wanted something quick and easy (and, in my book, nothing's easier than tacos).

But I'd like to get there. What's the key of getting from halfway there to there? How do you keep yourself away from frozen pizza, taco dinner, can of soup nights?

Lily Girl said...

I make our granola, dressings, sauces, non-dairy milks, quick breads, and jams/preserves. I have started dabbling in home fermentation, cheese, and pasta, but have a long way to go before we are 100% homemade in those. I don't make our yeast bread or tortillas as regularly as I should.
My to-do list: homemade condiments, yogurt, komobucha (my first attempt at growing a SCOBY got contaminated), miso, butter, beer, mead, wine, expanded vegetable fermentation, sourdough, and aged cheeses.
My challenge in all of these is TIME (as I'm sure is true for many of us). I want to be doing all these things but am torn away by work and school demands. In many ways I feel like those obligations are negatively impacting my ability to pursue the things I enjoy and think are important. ::End Rant::

Thanks for talking about this!

Julie said...

All bread products, jams, nut butters, crackers, muffins, granola, apple sauce, tomato sauce, salad dressings, pickles and chutneys, kim chee,tofu, mozzarella, cream cheese, yohurt, really bad cheddar heck I've even been known to make my own salt from seawater. I
can't help it I need to know how things are made!

Jess @ Openly Balanced said...

I am getting there. I embarked on a 28 Day Real Food Challenge for the month of February (organized by Nourished Kitchen) and I have learned so much! Bread, pasta, tortillas, pizza dough, kefir, mozzarella, and sauerkraut. I agree with you - probably not something to try all at once, especially if you want it to stick. It's a (sometimes steep) learning curve, but so completely worth it!

I've also been absolutely amazed at how affordable it is to eat this way, in spite of spending more money for raw dairy and grass-fed meat.

House Mother said...

I'm learning to do without appliances and convenience foods, and I'll never go back. Benefits include control over ingredients; the true taste of raw milk, yogurt, and cheese; fresh baked bread. Not to mention the peace and satisfaction of working with my hands, slowly and deliberately -- like gardening in the kitchen, I never knew what I was missing! I think this is key -- I never learned how to make things from scratch. I have a wonderful, intelligent and supportive mother but making things from scratch is undervalued in a fast-paced life style. I'm trying to include my children in everything I'm learning to do and make by hand so that they'll have a fundamental understanding of why it's worthwhile to slow down and prepare food with thought and love.

p.s. The first step is the hardest but once you've made your own yogurt, for example, cheese doesn't seem like a big step. From there you move on to dressings, sauces, bread, etc., as you gain confidence and appreciation for the process.

Chookie said...

I've never understood bought salad dressings; they'd make everything taste the same. I make vinaigrette-type dressings at home using sunflower or olive oil or sour cream as the fat. For the sour component I can choose from balsamic, apple cider, wine or rice wine vinegar, or lemon or lime juice. Add salt, pepper, garlic and other herbs and it's different every time.

Diane said...

I have started making from scratch all of our baked goods. Bread, cookies, brownies, muffins, pizza dought, etc. I am slowly trying to transition to other from scratch items.
Blessings
Diane

Chiot's Run said...

Tree-Huggin Momma - I also work out of the home.


Bethany - I would say it took us about 2 years to get to the mainly homemade from scratch stuff. I've always cooked most of our food from scratch though.

I never buy frozen quick store-bought meals and mixes so they're never an option for me. I like to make extra of things like soup and keep meal sized portions in the freezer for those times I need a quick meal. We often eat eggs when we need a quick meal as well. The key is finding meals that you can prepare quickly. Perhaps if you like frozen pizza for a quick meal some Saturday you can make up a few homemade frozen pizzas, then they're just as quick and easy as the store bought items.

House Mother - so true, I don't have a microwave and things taste so much better warmed up on the stove. Learning to enjoy the art of making food is wonderful. Having that connection with your food is wonderful!

Chookie - so true - I love homemade salad dressings. I don't like that thickness of store-bought.

Hathor's Bath said...

Most things I make from scratch are for me; my son won't touch them (but that's mostly due to his sensory issues). He does however love my pancakes and when I make fairy cakes for him. I've been making bread since I was a kid, and I make my own regularly. All my meals are from scratch, I rarely open a packet.

The one thing I have not sussed is yoghurt; sort of a shame as sprog loves this with honey and fruit on top, but I still buy this in the store.

Rachel B. said...

Sadly, I'm still subject to whatever my mom buys but I'm slowly trying to learn to make things. My lastest ventures are soda, pretzels and bagels. So good!

localnourishment said...

We're about 80% homemade. We have certain foods that I don't see us making at home any time in the near future: peanut butter, for example. I know it could be done better and more healthily at home, but I don't really have an appliance that could handle the load. Because of our large family, we would need peanuts sprouting, roasting and grinding on a near continuous basis.

I've been switching us over from storebought to homemade, one item at a time, one week at a time. I have the luxury of being at home full time, so time really isn't an issue for me.

Anonymous said...

I loved this post! I have mastered the art of making bread and I am so proud of myself!!! It took me several years to get it down but my family and friends rave about my homemade breads! I grow a huge garden every year and put up salsa, tomatoes, green beans, etc. I love cooking!

Kristina

Surviving and thriving on pennies said...

Can I live at your house? Or just come over and peek into your pantry? Oh how I wish I had yours! I have a weird thing with looking into peoples pantry.:)

Maureen said...

You HAVE to do a post on making pasta.....really....you HAVE to...pretty please :)

polly's path said...

We rarely buy anything packaged. Living on a small farm we try to utilize our garden for many of our fruit and veggie needs. We make our own granola, pasta, bread,rolls, pancakes,cheese, yogurt, etc.
Same for laundry detergent and household cleaner.
We are about to have goat milk which I plan on using raw.
I don't remember the last time I bought anything frozen other than an emergency pack of vegetables in a pinch. We do can from our garden's leftovers, and make plenty of jams in the summer. Our honey comes from neighbors who believe in the same type of lifestyle as we do-I am too chicken to have our own bees(yet).

Hopewell said...

You'll love this post--a work of art based on the ingredients of "Hot Pockets" http://greenlagirl.com/horrors-in-hot-pockets-an-illustrated-ingredient-list/

I don't make my own pasta or cheese [tried pasta--not worth it] (want to try cheese) but I try to make most things. If I buy them I look for ingredients I would use and not much else. I've switched to sea salt and unbleached flour [and mostly whole wheat]Little steps. Happily I was raised by a Mom who cooked from scratch and a Dad who worked in the food industry and wouldn't allow a lot of "crap" food in our house. Thanks Mom and Dad--that WAS very smart and I'm grateful.....

Oldnovice said...

I'm just getting interested in how to make things from scratch (at 62). Yesterday, I made copycat White Castle cheeseburgers that tasted pretty damn close. Used King Hawaiian Savory Butter Rolls to make them, though, so I still need to find a copycat recipe for those.

I'd be interested in Hopewell's recipe for copycat ham/cheese hotpockets, but I need to know how long to cook them. It's not just the recipe we need, but the instructions for how to freeze them and then cook them as fast as the original (or close to it). That's the key, IMO, to converting people who think they haven't the time to make from scratch. They have the time ... they just don't have the time when it's needed.

Andrea said...

Maybe about 40 to 50 percent - but I am learning more and more every day! Next item on the list - homemade gluten free pumpkin bread!

Sense of Home said...

Excellent post! I feel strongly about homemade living. I want to know what is in my food and feel good about serving it to my family.

-Brenda

Gina said...

I too love knowing what is in the food I'm serving my family! So many things are really not that hard to make from scratch. Once I learn how, I wonder why I never tried before! The key for me is to just not purchase them at the store, then when I'm hungry for something, I have to make it myself. I still have some processed food in my cupboards, but less then there once was!
Thanks for the encouragement!
Gina

Sustainable Eats said...

We are 100% from scratch but it's hard with young kids who want cereal and bunny crackers. They want things I never would bother with if it were just us but those little things can really throw you quickly from sane into insane territory.

I just love all your containers! Mine are all glass canning jars since they're cheaper.

Bel said...

What a great list of things you make yourselves!

We make our own jams & jellies, cordials, bread rolls, pizza bases, pasta sauce (also used for meals other than pasta), pickled cucumbers, stock concentrate, mayonnaise, salad dressing, vanilla extract, icing sugar, dried fruit (some) and some dried vegetables, yoghurt, butter, nut butters...

We grow our own milk, honey, some fruit, some vegetables, eggs, meat (chicken)...

I love it and wish we would product more ourselves!

Cher said...

We are getting close to 60 % or so from scratch. I can all fall and make all of our own bread, cakes, cookies and snack mixes. Even made a smoked ketchup that we canned last year..

I've tried salad dressing but just can't find a decent one. If you have a good recipe or two would you mind sharing?

We are taking steps to make our own cheese, just trying to decide where to start.

I didn't think about Pasta! I used to make it as a kids but stopped when I was a teen... this would be so much fun to do with the kids! Now to see if mom still has the pasta cutter hiding in her cabinet :)