While it’s always convenient to just step inside a store and buy everything you need for whatever you’re cooking, making stuff from scratch is often better. After all, freshly prepared ingredients will have no preservatives compared to those instant variants. They can be also cheaper and better tasting than store-bought options, without taking hours to prepare.
So which items should you just make on your own? Here are eight of them:
- Trail Mix
When your kids are going camping with the rest of their scout troop, you’d probably buy a bag of this pre-mixed snack and just pack it in with their belongings. However, you can make a healthier version of this treat in minutes—and it can be cheaper as well!As the name suggests, making trail mix only means buying the ingredients you like and combining them all in a Ziploc bag. This allows you to customize what goes in your trail mix and avoid the extra sugar from the store versions. For example, if you want a healthier version, you can put in less chocolate and add more dried fruit. Hate raisins but love cranberries? Then simply don’t add them to your trail mix. Making your own mix will definitely spare you from the pain of picking out the ingredients you don’t like from a store-bought bag.
At first glance, pesto seems like a complicated sauce to make. But if you have a food processor, it’ll only take you a few minutes.This pesto recipe from Tomas Test Kitchen only requires you to throw in basil, pine nuts, peeled garlic, and a cup of olive oil into a food processor. Blend until smooth, add parmesan, and you’re done! With the entire process only taking minutes to prepare using easy-to-find ingredients, you’ll never reach for another jar of store-bought pesto again.
Just like pesto, salsa seems so hard to make at first glance. Here’s where the food processor comes in to save the day again. Like the pesto, you’ll only need to combine tomatoes, onions, cilantro, and lime or lemon juice using a food processor. And then you’re done! Lining up to pay for a jar of salsa at the supermarket can take even longer. You can also add chilis to your salsa for an extra kick.
If there’s one other thing to use your food processor to make, it’s hummus. This dip is essentially pureed chickpeas, mixed in with olive oil, lemon juice, garlic, and tahini (sesame paste). And like the two aforementioned recipes, you only need a few minutes to make this.
- Mashed Potatoes
Sure, adding hot water to a yellowish powder and mixing them to create mashed potatoes is very convenient. But really, that’s not too difficult when compared to making real mashed potatoes.To do so, simply boil peeled potatoes in salted water for around fifteen minutes. As you wait for the potatoes to become tender, you can melt butter and mix it with milk in a separate saucepan. Once the potatoes are done, just use a masher or electric beater into the potatoes. And you’re done! This recipe takes less than 30 minutes to complete, yet allows you to avoid all the preservatives and artificial flavoring in the instant mix.
- Fruit Juices and Smoothies
Yes, bottled or boxed fruit juices are a-plenty in supermarkets. However, many of them have added sugar or are just artificially flavored. To get the real deal, it’s better to buy the fruits themselves—say, oranges or bananas—and use available kitchen tools to transform them into drinks. Citrus fruits such as oranges can be easily squeezed for their juice, while bananas can be blended with milk and ice to make a smoothie.
- Salad Dressing
If you’re looking for a light and easy dressing for your greens, ditch the store-bought Caesar salad pack. You can just mix together a batch of honey and mustard to make a honey-mustard mix. Or if you prefer a vinaigrette, you can mix one part cider vinegar with three or four parts of olive oil.
- Baby Food
You don’t need to buy jars of baby food at the grocery anymore. Start your kid’s healthy eating journey by making food from fruits and vegetables in season. Like the mashed potatoes, all you need to do is to buy a batch of fresh produce, cook them if necessary, then mash or puree them. Good options include bananas, mangoes, carrots, and sweet potatoes. Just make sure to focus on a single ingredient every day, especially for younger children.
As you can see from this list, many things that we buy at supermarkets can be easily made at home, for only a fraction of the cost. With these food ideas, you can start your journey to healthy, frugal living today!