Friday, May 8, 2009

The cost-benefit of making your own household staples

I read an article on this topic the other day on Slate. Personally, the things the author mentioned in her article I would not consider staples in my house. I mean, we like bagels and all, but it's not the same as not having bread in the house. The same with granola. We like it, but it's not what I would consider a staple.

There are a lot of things that I make at home because I think they are cheaper and/or taste better. Other things, I continue to buy generally because although I think my homemade stuff is better, the time it takes to make them makes it it too prohibative to make them at home. I do think I'm going to try to keep track of the cost of making things at home. Including the time it takes to make them, although my time isn't incredibly expensive right now, other people's might be.

Things currently made at home as a "staple":
  • peanut butter. This is a big one. It is incredibly easy to do, and I'm hooked on it now. Couldn't imagine it any other way.
  • corn chips. Less fat, not fried, damn crunchy, and can control the amount of salt.
  • jam.
  • pickles
  • cookies. Bags of dough ready to go at all times in the freezer.
  • croutons. We eat a lot of salads and soups. In fact, i need to make a batch today.
  • salsa. Made with canned tomatoes, but better than the processed stuff.
  • tomato soup. Again, always kept in the freezer.
  • coffee beans. We are using our roaster heavily, and I think we will be weaned completely off purchased coffee beans except in case of emergency.
  • stock. I am addicted to making chicken stock now. It tastes much better, and not as salty.

Things that I have made, but decided it was not worth the trouble:

  • bread. Just can't keep up with the demand. Fresh bread does not make as good of sandwiches. It goes bad quickly.
  • english muffins. Tasty, but I don't have the process down pat enough to make it worth the effort.
  • Indian food. I know this is kind of broad, and I do make Indian on occasion, but usually it's just a whole lot of prep, and doesn't taste all that much better than our frozen dinners. We stick by our favorite takeout place and our frozen dinners.

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