Sometimes when I meet someone who has had a chance to read Sharpen Your Scissors for a while, they share that the pictures of making food from scratch is nice to see on my blog, but that it is NOT necessarily a reality for their family. In their mind, making food from scratch = having all the time in the world!
I find the idea of making food from scratch inspiring! I LOVE to know what ingredients (and how fresh they are) are making their way into our meals. I actually owe my savvy coupon spending skills the praise for getting me in the kitchen more often than I ever have been in my life!
You see, I've learned to stockpile 'casual' ingredients that can easily be made into many different meals... pasta, rice, canned tomatoes, frozen vegetables and cheese. Just from this simple list, the opportunities can be endless (OK, maybe not endless, but you get the idea!).
The key for my family, to successfully making food from scratch, is to prepare our most used items in bulk. Lets take my homemade spaghetti sauce for example, when I prepare to make spaghetti sauce, I make enough for 10 traditional jar sized portions.
One of the ways that I enjoy showing people that I care about them is through making food for them. Taking the 15-ish minutes to get the tomatoes and spices ready to be simmered for a few hours on my stove top isn't a huge deal to me. I love the way my house smells, I love that I can occasional stir (and taste test) and I especially love to see the final product placed in container after container ready to be made into something delicious later.
HOMEMADE vs. JAR
So, taking into consideration that both the ingredients for homemade sauce and store bought sauce both require me to make a trip to the store, here is the time break down:
Getting my ingredients ready and into the pot, occasionally stirring and packaging the sauce for freezing takes me less than half an hour.
Purchasing 10 jars of spaghetti sauce requires me to watch/wait for a sale, clip my coupons, make sure I take my coupons with me to the store, make sure I'm purchasing the correct product specific to my coupon and spending a few extra minutes at the check out having my coupons scanned, probably 20-25 minutes.
I'd say, both avenues take about the same amount of time.
Looking at the cost factor, making 10 jars worth of spaghetti sauce costs just pennies over $1 per 'jar,' and this week's sale + coupon price for a jar of Ragu is $1.37.
If cooking some of our frequently used grocery items means that I can tweak the flavor to just how I like it, that it isn't going to take longer than just making a purchase and that I can, the majority of the time, make our meals at a reduced price... than I'd like to keep making that my reality!
Here are some of our families favorite make ahead recipes:
Salad dressing, pizza dough, dinner rolls, spaghetti sauce and Alfredo sauce.
Do YOU 'Make Ahead?' If you do, do you find that its less expensive and/or worth the time?