Last weekend my husband and I were out grocery shopping together (romantic, eh?) and I commented on how the contents of our grocery cart have changed over the last year and a half. A year ago we started making a lot of foods ourselves (not all, we’re not fanatic about it).
Before, our cart would have included cookies, frozen pizza for quickie dinners, breaded chicken or fish, fries, snack packs of things that could go in the kid’s lunches, boxed cereals and minute rice, juice, etc. Since then, we have begun to make most of these ourselves. We now stick to the outer produce and dairy sections with brief forays into the middle of the grocery store, but mostly just to restock ingredients. We’ve also bought less vegetables this year thanks to the garden we put in last year.
It turns out that making most things from scratch isn’t much more of a time committment than the ready made alternatives. We enjoy being in the kitchen. And homemade just tastes so much better, never mind how much better it is for us.
A few things that we don’t buy anymore because we make it ourselves:
- Pizza – we have a great recipe for quick pizza crust that we top with cheese, pizza sauce, leftover cooked meat that we keep chopped in the freezer and chopped veggies from the garden that we keep in the freezer (or fresh, when the garden is going full-force). We make two large pizzas in order to give us a couple of days worth of leftovers for school lunches.
- Cookies – The Dad makes cookies on an almost weekly basis (perhaps the reason my behind is quickly expanding to an axe handle width).
- Minute rice – I bought a rice cooker. It makes rice quickly and I can make enough to put some in the freezer for quick lunches. I prefer long grain white rice to brown rice, which I just plain old don’t like and it doesn’t like me back.
- Frozen meals – I used to buy these for work. Now, when I don’t have leftovers to take to work, I quickly cook up some couscous, add in chopped spinach, a few veggies and some leftover meat from the freezer, pour some kind of dressing over it and I’ve got a filling five minute lunch salad with protein. Couscous takes only 5 minutes to cook in a container with a lid on it and I can get everything else chopped and ready in that time. Very easy.
- Snack packs – my kids are just as happy with little containers of granola (chocolate), seeds, dried cranberries and the occasional Cheerio (some things you can’t just leave behind).
- Cereal – aside from Cheerios, I make granola now. We all like it. It’s cheaper than store bought too. It also might be contributing to my wider hind end.
- Meat – we don’t buy anything pre-packaged or battered anymore. We just do it ourselves. We’ve often bought local meat in the past and will continue to do so when possible.
- Cleaning supplies – I’m making more of them myself, but truthfully, I didn’t buy many of them to begin with. Dish soap is a pretty good all-purpose cleaner and I use a steam mop on my floors (my mom gave me one she never used – I use it all of the time and love it).
- Bread – we don’t make it all of the time, but we certainly buy less of it than we used to. It’s pretty easy to make yourself, but we also don’t beat ourselves up for buying it. We’re busy. Bread making takes time.
- Juice – we drink mostly milk, water, coffee, tea or iced tea.
- Napkins/paper towels – we don’t use them. We use cloth napkins at the table and rags for cleaning.
- Chicken/beef stock – easy enough to make whenever there are leftover bones – I just keep it in jars in the freezer.
- Tomato sauce – I made up gallons of this sauce last year (we had 32 tomato plants!).
- Frozen peas/beans–we froze as much of these from our garden as we could. We’ve mostly run out now, but will plant more this year to get us through next winter, plus we’re going to try out some corn this time around.
- Zucchini/rhubarb–I still have shredded zucchini for breads, muffins and sauces in the freezer and same with the chopped up rhubarb, though I have plans for some of it this weekend.
- Canned tomatoes – I froze whole tomatoes in freezer bags and am still using them up – they work great in any recipe that calls for canned tomatoes.
- Pizza sauce – I make my own – its really easy to doctor up some tomato sauce with some extra herbs and spice and olive oil.
Added to this is the life saver of having some meals and meal starters already in the freezer. It saves a lot of money and time on rushed kidsport nights. Especially on the nights when you’d be tempted otherwise to just stop and buy take-out. This blog gave me the inspiration to do some cooking for future meals – it has a lot of ideas for easy freezer meals and got me started.
Next up, the dad wants to make cheese. We have the rennet, now we just need to take the time to try it. And I might try making yogurt soon. I eat it most days at work anyway, might as well start making that too.
I’m glad I wrote all of that down. I’m awfully impressed with myself now. Feel free to leave me more suggestions – I’d love to hear any you might have.