From a health perspective, it goes without saying it’s usually better to make your own meals. Think canned soup with with all sorts of preservatives versus a homemade stew of wholesome ingredients.
Health reasons aside, it’s also usually more cost-effective to make you own food. Yet, for whatever reason many people assume making things from scratch is always a time-consuming hassle.
While sometimes this is the case, many times things you think are time-consuming and stray away from attempting to make actually only take 5 to 10 minutes to make, are way healthier, and save you plenty of dollar bills than buying them pre-packaged from your grocery store.
7 things that should always be homemade:
Small container of guacamole from Whole Foods: A whopping $7 to $8. It’s so small, you end up buying two to make sure you have enough, and all of a sudden you have spent $15 on guacamole that your guests will devour in five minutes flat.
Guacamole takes five minutes to make. Maybe 7 minutes, if you’re slow. You’ll spend less money, especially if you find a good deal on avocados, and will make three times as much delicious guac. There are tons of variations, but here’s a tried and true recipe for a tasty guac:
• 4 ripe acovados
• green onion or red onion to taste
• CIlantro and/or fresh basil (chopped finely) to taste
• Juice from a whole lime or lemon
• Salt, pepper (and cayenne pepper if you like it spicy) to taste
•One to two tomatoes (chopped small) to bulk it up a little more
Put all ingredients in a bowl and smash together until smooth.
Again, a small container for $6 versus the homemade version, where you can make three times as much for $5 (a can of chick peas is between $1 and $2) in just five minutes:
Put the following ingredients in a food processor:
• 1 can chick peas (drained)
• Chopped garlic to taste (I’d go with 4 cloves)
• 1/2 cup to 3/4 cup tahini
• Salt and pepper to taste
• 1 Tbsp. Olive oil
• Juice from a whole lemon or lime
You can also add things like roasted red peppers, basil, or other spices like turmeric to mix it up, but I find a simple humous with garlic and lemon is as good as any.
5. Chicken Stock:
Seriously, I swear the price of chicken stock has gone up a ton in recent years. Sometimes it’s $7 to $8 for organic chicken stock, and even more for bone broth ($10.99 at Famous Foods).
You can make your own by boiling a chicken carcass after a roasted chicken dinner (or turkey carcass) in plenty of water. You can also buy chicken thighs, or chicken necks, or other cheap cuts, and throw them into a pot with water.
Then you just bring it to a boil and then turn it down to medium to low heat and let it simmer for 2 to 8 hours. Make sure you add some thyme and/or a bay leaf, or other spices of your choice, as well as some salt.
Boom: You’ve got chicken stock for days. Perfect for freezing, too.
Same deal as the other dips, like humous and guacamole: Super expensive to buy for a small amount. Less expensive to make, and you get way more!
A simple bruschetta needs just five inexpensive ingredients only, is super tasty, and I calculated it to be 30 percent the price of most store-bought bruschetta.
Combine in a bowl:
•5 or 6 tomatoes (cut into super small chunks)
• Fresh basil
• Fresh garlic (press it so the pieces are super small do you don’t have big chunks)
• Juice from a whole lemon or lime
• Splash of olive oil
• As always, salt and pepper to taste.
3. Potato (or other root vegetable) Chips
Yes, you can make your own chips. And they’re much healthier—certainly less processed and without preservatives—and cheaper than a bag of chips fried in vegetable oil from the grocery store.
All you need is a mandolin to slice the potatoes (or cassava or sweet potato or yams) or whatever root vegetable of your choice (parsnip chips are good, too) super thinly.
Then slather (with a brush is the easier way) the raw, thinly slices vegetables in olive oil (or coconut oil or butter or ghee) and toss on some salt and pepper. You can also get fancy and garnish your chips with spices like cayenne pepper or garlic powder.
Place on a cookie sheet and bake at 400F for 15-20 minutes, until crispy. They’re also perfect for dipping in that homemade guacamole or bruschetta you made earlier!
2. Pasta Sauce
OK, so homemade pasta sauce is a bit more time-consuming, but it’s worth it and if you make a huge pot you can freeze a lot of it for later.
Here’s what I do:
Caramelize three or six onions in butter and olive oil (it usually takes 20-30 minutes to get them completely caramelized). After 15 minutes, add some garlic cloves.
Once caramelized, add your tomatoes (8, 10, 12, 15, 20 It all depends on the size of the tomato and how much sauce you want) and 4 to 8 cups of that homemade chicken stock (again, depends on how much you want to make) you have on hand. Cook on medium heat until the tomatoes gets super soft and cooked. Then add spices of your choice: I usually add basil and oregano, as well as paprika and chilli powder (1-2 tsp. of each). And always salt and pepper.
Put the mixture that has been cooking for a good 30 minutes into a food processor (you might have to process it in batches if you made a lot) and process until smooth. If it's too thick, add some water or more chicken stock. Put it back not the stove and continue to cook on low to help the flavours become even tastier.
From there, add your meatballs or whatever protein of your choosing.
1. Whipped Cream
Are you still buying that gross canned whipped cream for your apple pie?
This one is so easy. Use real whipping cream (you can find it in the milk and coffee cream section of the grocery store) instead.
All you do is get yourself a beater and beat until it magically becomes the texture of whipped cream (about 10 minutes of beating with an electric beater). It’s so much tastier, doesn’t have the sugar and the chemicals, and is certainly less expensive.
Start with the above, and pretty soon your confidence to make everything homemade will soar. Both your health and your grocery bill will thank you for it.