May 5, 2009

To make or not to make?

I just read an article on Slate, that talked about the writer's experiment with homemade versus store-bought pantry items. She tried a few specific items (like crackers, jam, bagels) and did a cost-analysis to see what was cheaper to make and what was better to buy at the store. I found it pretty interesting, especially that she chose an item like cream cheese which I would never have thought to make at home.

I've actually touched on this as well in my Bricklaying series. I try to do the same thing when I am looking at my pantry - is it better to make myself, or is the store bought version good enough? Here's what I have determined:

- if I make it myself, I know exactly what has gone into it. I know there are no preservatives or chemicals (usually added to make things shelf-stable) and I can control and adjust the recipe to my family's needs and tastes.

- SOME baked goods are cheaper at the store. I have yet to find a homemade bread recipe that I can make for the $0.79 per loaf that I pay at Price Rite, but I'm still looking! I often make my own biscuits but they are a bit more expensive than buying the canister of biscuits from Price Rite at $0.35. But there's no harm in trying a homemade version and comparing the cost to make it with the store version! You may save a ton of money - or you may find the quality is worth the extra cost.

- It is surprisingly EASY to make things at home. I keep a healthy stockpile of muffins on hand for breakfast and snacks, because I can make them in the time it takes one load of laundry to go through the washing machine. I can have fresh, homemade pizza from scratch (including the dough) on the table in 25 minutes. I have been experimenting with buns and rolls (without using a bread machine!) and have found numerous recipes that take very little time and are worlds better than the store bakery's! I'll be trying a homemade yogurt recipe I found a while back that uses the crockpot, so very little work will need to be done on my part.

The bottom line is, don't be afraid to try - homemade is a scary word, especially for folks that are already juggling full or part time work with family management. But it's not impossible! Make baking time a family affair - kids adore the process of baking and it can be a great teaching time. Recipes move faster the more you make them - what takes you 45 minutes today may only take 20 minutes after a few tries!

Some of my resources - what are your favorite recipes and sites?

The Homesteading Housewife's recipe box

The Pioneer Woman Cooks

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maryb said...

Ok I want that 25 min pizza recipe!!! We often make our own, but it takes about an hour for it all including the dough.

It is tough to balance homemade vs convenience. We do use some convenience items when time is more precious than cost.

SavvySuzie said...

Mary - it's actually the Pizza Dough recipe on my recipe site...the dough takes me about 10-12 minutes tops to put together, and once it's pressed in the pan I just top it with canned crushed tomatoes and cheese and it bakes in about 12 minutes! Voila!