With so many convenience foods on offer at our local supermarket, it’s all too easy to get into the habit of reaching for a jar, container or packet without a moment’s thought. However, when it comes to saving money, maintaining your health, controlling your weight and minimising your environmental impact, making food yourself will always be a preferable option. The following 18 foods are all so simple to make yourself that there’s really no excuse not to give them a crack.
Not only is microwave popcorn full of dangerous chemicals, it really doesn’t taste that great, while pre-packaged popcorn is often full of salt. Besides, why take the joy out of one of the most fun cooking experiences you and your kids can ever have? Popping your own corn is so easy, all you need is a pot with a lid. Simply put a few tablespoons of high heat oil like coconut, safflower or organic canola and pour in enough kernels to cover the bottom of the pan in one layer. Put on medium to low heat and cover. Wait for the popping joy to start. Once the pops have all but finished, take it off the heat and top it with melted butter, coconut oil, olive oil, parmesan cheese, or whatever you like.
2. Pizza dough
Not only is making your own pizza dough easy, vastly cheaper and much more tasty than a pre-made crust, it’s also heaps of fun! The only special ingredient you need is dry yeast, which is readily available in grocery stores. Pizza dough is actually just bread – once you’ve learned how to make pizza dough, you are really just one step away from making your own bread. It’s also a much easier way to control the salt content of your food. Do I knead to say more?
- Try a basic pizza dough recipe here.
Don’t spend $5 on hummus from the shops when all you have to do is put a couple of cheap ingredients into your food processor and press ‘on’!
- Here’s an easy hummus recipe to get you started.
4. Salad dressing
Store-bought salad dressings are filled with trans fat, GMOs, high fructose corn syrup, and artificial flavours. Why do that to your lovely self when making your own salad dressing is so easy (and tastes so much better)? Doing it yourself can save a ton of money over time, too. There are many delicious options but starting with oil and vinegar recipes are a common sense choice. If you make too much, you can always freeze the leftovers in ice-cube trays so you have some on hand whenever you need it.
- See here for a delicious lemon vinaigrette recipe.
5. Hot chips
Have you ever read the ingredients on most store-bought hot chips? There’s a whole lot more than just potatoes going in there, none of it good for you. Making hot chips at home is a no-brainer. All you need to do is take a potato, cut it into rustic strips, toss in a light coating of oil and salt, and bake at 210°C (190°C fan-forced) until golden brown. Voila, it’s that easy!
A basic mandolin can turn just about any root vegetable into delicate, thin chips, perfect for snacking. This gives you control over the ingredients (potato, sweet potato, parsnips, you name it), method of cooking (fry or bake) and amount of salt. Not to mention the fact that it’s much cheaper than the store-bought kind.
- Try a basic potato chips recipe here.
Why buy breadcrumbs when you have it on hand with that old bread you were about to throw away? Just a quick whiz in the food processor will give you perfect and much better quality breadcrumbs. Or if you’re feeling really inspired (don’t worry, they’re a cinch) you could even go ahead and make your own croutons, too!
Stock is a kitchen staple and can help add flavour to any dish. It’s pretty much as simple as throwing some things into a pot and letting it sit. Better still, most chicken and vegetable stocks can be made with ingredients you were just going to throw in the bin anyway – or made using fresh ingredients of which you can turn the leftovers into any number of different dishes. You can also freeze what you don’t use in ice-cube trays and just pull it out whenever you need it, meaning you’ll never have to waste any, and you’ll be saving huge amounts of money.
9. Nut butters
Whether it’s almond, peanut, hazelnut or any other nut of your choosing, making your own butter is incredibly easy. It also has half the amount of salt and sugar and is much kinder to your wallet. You can let your imagination go crazy and create every flavour your tastebuds have dreamed of.
Set your own yoghurt that’s lighter, easier to digest and much cheaper than that you get at the supermarket. It’s so easy to do!
- Find our yoghurt recipe here.
A simple combination of oats, nuts, seeds and dried fruit, muesli gets quite a mark-up at grocery stores. Select your own raw ingredients and make it at home in bulk instead.
- Here’s a recipe for toasted muesli to get you started.
12. Muesli bars
Just like muesli itself, muesli bars are much healthier, tastier and cheaper to make yourself. Not to mention a cinch!
There’s something so wholesome about making your own jam. And there’s something nice about knowing that you are in control of just how much fruit and sugar are going into your conserve. Plus, it’s cheaper. And it’s the perfect excuse to put on Bob Marley and sing Jammin’ really loudly in the kitchen. What more reason do you need?!
- Here’s a recipe for a sugar-free strawberry chia fridge jam.
14. Baby food
When it comes to baby’s first tastes, there’s no match for homemade. When whipping together a puree is this simple and can be frozen into perfect little portions for whenever you need them, there’s no excuse not to get your puree on.
- Try this roasted pumpkin puree recipe to get you started.
Do not even think about buying guacamole dip ready-made. The flavour and freshness of what you can make yourself leaves anything pre-prepared for dead. It’s also virtually impossible to stuff up.
- Try this super easy guacamole dip recipe here.
16. Ice cream
When you discover how quick and easy it is to make your own ice cream that has so fewer additives (and so fewer dollars attached) than those at the supermarket, you will hang your head in shame that you haven’t been making your own all along. Cheer up, we forgive you. Just start now!
- Here’s a ridiculously easy two-ingredient ice cream recipe.
Making your own bread isn’t the easiest thing to master, but once you do you’ll reap the rewards of a healthier loaf with far fewer additives, a delicious and superior taste and a lot less bread of the monetary kind. Besides which, it’s a very enjoyable experience and a great activity to do with your kids.
- Try a soy and linseed bread recipe here.
18. Semi-dried tomatoes
If you weep silently in the supermarket aisle at the cost of semi-dried tomatoes, dry your eyes, my friend. Making your own couldn’t be easier and you’ll wonder why nobody ever told you so before. Hey, that’s why I’m here.
- See here for how to make your own semi-dried tomatoes.