I’ve said it before, I’ll surely put it out there again: I’m a homemade head. If it can be made from scratch (and very few things can’t, although some are much more of a pain-in-the-rear to do yourself), chances are I’m taking the extra time to do it, and dragging you along with me.
Last week we talked about making your own yogurt. Before that it was handcrafted salad dressings. Pumpkin puree, popcorn, stuffing and icing—it seems I’m always challenging you to make things yourself (and promising you that it’s “so easy!”).
I won’t front, cooking from scratch is not convenient and not always fast. It requires forethought, extra effort, and often times the ability to tweak and freestyle and season on the fly. But it is so very rewarding. And most of the time, it truly is easy. Maybe not compared to tearing open a box or opening a jar, but its benefits are far worth it (and produce less waste in the process!).
Control and Customization
Make it yourself and you have complete and utter control (and, let’s be honest, culpability) for how it tastes. You also have total freedom to create, experiment, and invent new twists, variations and flavors. Can’t find the flavor you’re looking for? Make your own! Wish your raisin bread had a little more cinnamon, or that your chicken broth tasted a little more chicken-y, or that your chocolate chip cookies were heavier on the chocolate chips? Roll up your sleeves, look up some recipes, and easy as that—solved, solved, and solved.
There is pretty much no scenario in which a homemade version of a store-bought product will NOT save you money, because in essence you’re paying a premium for someone else to make it with the packaged stuff. Even if the price difference between a boxed or bottled item and the crude ingredients that went into it seems minimal, the more often you make it yourself, the more quickly that difference will add up. If you get in the homemade habit, you end up saving a boatload as time goes on. And, you’ll probably be more likely to tackle new homemade ventures, which can lead to a snowball of savings.
One of my favorite things about making something myself is knowing, down to the last granule of salt, exactly what went into it. No mystery thickeners, flavor enhancers, dyes, preservatives, non-coagulants (yes, that does exist), or chemicals of any kind. Just what you choose to put into it. This can be especially important for folks with food allergies or dietary restrictions, diabetics, or breastfeeding mothers.
It’s also great for those who go organic. Just recently, my step-mom was pining for an organic marmalade she tasted in Hawaii, and after frustratingly searching the grocery store shelves for another jar in vain, she decided to make her own. She loaded up on organic oranges (and lemons), spent some time with the stove, and ended up with a huge supply, which not only gets lots of use at home, but also makes a great gift in a pinch.
Resourcefulness and Self-Sufficiency
Last but never least is the ‘ole “give a man a fishing pole” concept. You can buy something, eat it, and enjoy it. Or you can learn how to make it yourself, and forever after have that skill in your back pocket. What if one day you find yourself somewhere that just doesn’t have something you’re accustomed to buying at the store? If you know how to make your own, it’s no sweat. If you don’t, you’re up a creek without a paddle, my friend.
Being able to provide for yourself (and those around you) isn’t just cool or impressive or handy. It’s practical. It’s expansive. It’s liberating. It’s smart. Not only will you find yourself saving money, reducing waste, eating healthier and stretching fewer resources into more sustenance, I dare you not to feel good about yourself, proud of your efforts, and inspired to do more.
Those are just a few of the reasons I got hooked on homemade—and why I’ll keep dishing up the details on how you can, too.