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Ontario, Canada
I am a wife, mother and grandma who enjoys the many aspects of homemaking. A variety of interests and hobbies combined with travel keep me active. They reflect the importance of family, friends, home and good food.
Cook ingredients that you are used to cooking by other techniques, such as fish, chicken, or hamburgers. In other words be comfortable with the ingredients you are using.
--Bobby Flay

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  • [January 15, 2016] - It's National Soup Month so this month's posts will focus on soups. Yum!
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Monday, April 09, 2012

Frugal Kitchens 101 - Getting the Homemade Groove On

Frugal Kitchens 101The overall mantra for this blog is homemade meals and food products are healthier for you yet less expensive.  In short, every single time you are able to replace a commercially made, store bought food or food product with a homemade version, you are getting a superior product for less money.  You may even see an improvement in your health by eliminating the preservatives, excess salt, excess sugar, artificial colourants and flavours, and HFCS found in so many store bought products.  You can custom tailor the homemade food product to your tastes not what the food manufacturer determines the taste should be.  Not only that, but you reduce your carbon footprint by needing less trips to the grocery store as well as using less packaging that either ends up in the recycle bin or landfill.  But it gets better!  Developing a homemade philosophy for meal preparation builds self confidence and self sufficiency.  It's one thing to know you can stop at a grocery store to buy a loaf of bread but it can be a real ego booster seeing a loaf of freshly baked bread just out of your oven.  But wait, it gets even better!  Making meals, dishes and food products for your pantry provides the perfect learning moments and bonding time for families members of all ages.  Hopefully by now I have convinced you that homemade is better, here are a few tips to get you started on the homemade is better pathway:

  • start slow - I am certainly not suggesting that you go from using store bought convenience foods, fast foods and take-out to suddenly not using any of them.  That would be a bit of a culture shock and definitely is something that is felt the worst when someone suddenly finds themselves having to give up these thing due to a change in their financial situation.  What I am suggesting is to look in your cupboard or pantry and find one product each month that you could make yourself.  For example, you have spaghetti sauce in your pantry.  Homemade will come it at about 10¢ per 500 ml (pint) jar if you have a free source of tomatoes or grow your own.  In comparison, that same amount of spaghetti sauce in the store will cost you $1.29 for plain to $4.50 for gourmet.  If you have once a week, that works out to $67.08 to $234 per year verses $5.20 (minimum cost) per year for homemade spaghetti sauce.  Make a large batch of homemade spaghetti sauce then either can or freeze it in meal sized portions.  The following month look for one more store bought product to replace that could be made at home.
  • think globally - I can buy a cake mix at the grocery store or I can buy the flour to make the cake mix.  The cake mix will give me cake, cupcakes and cake mix cookies.  The flour will give me everything from various breads, dumplings, noodles, pastry products, baked goods and so much more.    In perspective and on a global level, the flour then is the more frugal choice because of it's versatility.
  • think real - Go through your refrigerator and pantry to see all the foods you use that really aren't real like processed cheese spreads, coffee whitener, processed cheese slices, anything in an aerosol can (eg. baking spray, whip cream), margarine, imitation/artificial anything (eg. imitation vanilla extract) and boxed convenience foods.  These are the products to get rid of.  Replace with real foods like cheese, cream, oil, butter and 100% pure vanilla extract. You get much better cooking results using real foods which encourages you cook more.  Did you know making homemade mac & cheese is just as easy as making the boxed version.  The only difference is you use fresh cheese instead of dried cheese AND it tastes so much nicer AND it is less expensive.
  • become analytical - Check those food ingredients.  If the first ingredient is water, you are paying for water as that is the main ingredient.  Aren't you already paying for water through your water company?  I'll bet it is cheaper than the water in that product.  Are you sure you want sugar in your peanut butter?  It only takes a few minutes to blend whole peanuts into peanut butter without any sugar added.  Do you really want sodium benzoate, a known carcinogen yet common preservative, going into your body.  If you see an ingredient on the label that you don't know what it is, do a bit of research.  Find out if that ingredient can have negative side effects.  For those looking for certain ingredients to avoid, if the ending is ose, it is a sugar so while the product might not specifically list sugar (sucrose) it may be laden with other sugars.  Sodium is a salt so while salt (sodium chloride) might not be listed sodium bicarbonate (baking soda, a salt) or sodium benzoate (a preservative)  may be.  If it says sodium and you are on a restricted sodium diet nix these products. 
  • make cooking fun - Involve family members and use KISS.  Home cooking doesn't mean you have to put together a 7 course dinner every night.  Find novel excuses to do a bit of cooking like hosting a cooking get together with a couple of friends.  One of our kids holds a dinner get together with another couple twice a month.  The visiting couple bringing the homemade meal.  It's a great way to find new recipes while learning about home cooking.   The more you cook the more you will want to cook.

2 food lovers commented:

LindaG said...

Thanks again for all the good tips, GG! :o)

Also, thought I should mention that 3 posts showed up on my dashboard, supposedly from you, but for Indonesian sport shirts, or some such.

Perhaps you're thinking of buying them for your husband, or are you still having problems with your blog?

Garden Gnome said...

Thanks Linda :)

What you are seeing in your email is phishing where the spammer harvests email addresses then makes it look like they are coming from that address. Unfortunately there isn't much you can do about that. They would have lifted my email address from the blog contact information.

All the problems with my blog have settled down which is nice. That means I can get back to cooking and sharing what I cook :)