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Thursday, March 11, 2010

Thrifty Thursdays - Saving Money by Cooking from Scratch

When we started changing our diet to more natural and organic foods almost 11 years ago, one of the first things we did, was to decrease and eventually eliminate some foods. When I say eliminate, I need to clarify. We eliminated the processed, boxed version and replaced some of them with a homemade, made-from scratch version when possible. The others that we couldn't replace, we simply quit eating.

With the power of the internet at your fingertips (either in your home or at a local library) you likely will be able to find a recipe for almost anything. Not only will you save money by making it yourself, instead of paying someone else for making it, packaging it, marketing it, transporting it, storing it and selling it, but you will you save yourself from all the additives and preservatives that extend shelf life. In other words, you will know what is in your food, because you made it and you know the source of your ingredients (not some "natural flavorings" or other catch-all terms).

While we don't make everything from scratch (I am still trying to find a suitable replacement for canned tomato soup, etc), we keep looking. Next on my list is to find a good ranch dressing. I also have some great cracker recipes to try that a friend gave me. Much of the delay in me trying these things, is having a schedule that is too packed to allow time for trying them out. We have begun to cut back on outside commitments to really focus on what is most important to us and our family. My hope is that simplifying my life will free up more time to do these type of things that we desire to do.

One of the first websites I found with recipes for cooking almost anything from scratch was Hillbilly Housewife The site has extensive amounts of recipes in all categories. Other sites I have used are:

Be aware that some of these sites will have recipes specifying canned, boxed or other processed items as ingredients. I look at recipes and base my decision on whether to try or not, by taste. If I think it looks tasty, then I will go about changing the source of ingredients. For example, it it calls for chicken broth, I will try to replace it with homemade chicken stock if I have it, or use an organic chicken base and water, or thirdly canned chicken stock (with a SHORT ingredient list).

Of course, there are tons of cookbooks out there to make nearly anything from scratch as well. In fact you may have a few of them in your kitchen. Some that I have are: Better Homes and Gardens Cookbook, More With Less, Whole Foods for the Whole Family, The Maker's Diet and Nourishing Traditions. Most likely the older versions of the Better Homes and Gardens Cookbook will be what you are looking for. Sometimes older church and/or community cookbooks can be a good source of from scratch recipes. Most current ones rely heavily on a can of this, a package of that, or a box of this.

I hope this will give some food for thought and I look forward to your comments and suggestions on cooking items from scratch.
I avoid recipes that require non dairy whipped topping, high fructose corn syrup, etc. If I end up using one of those recipes, then I will use whipped cream or honey in place of the two ingredients I just listed. Automatic replacements are butter for margarine (won't eat that). While margarine may be cheaper to buy, my health is not. I will pay for and eat butter.

Not only does cooking from scratch save you money, it will likely save your health. We spend almost nothing on health care and choose to spend a little more on certain food items which cost a bit more (like the butter I mentioned above). We tend to rely on whole foods for our diet, that is not to say that we don't eat any junk food because we do. Our health has improved dramatically and the only time we see a medical doctor is for regular checkups or stitches.


Melody said...

Will this link help?


Angie said...

I have a couple tomato soup recipes that start with canned tomatoes if you're interested.
I grew up with a mom who cooked from scratch, for which I'm thankful! It takes more of my time, but is generally cheaper and the more I read the more I realize how much healthier it is.

Kristi said...

The dressing recipe looks good. I will try it soon. Angie, yes, I would love the tomato soup recipes to try. Thanks.