My sister has this lame joke that she makes brownies from scratch—“I just scratch open the box…” Back before I got serious about 25% living, I bought just about everything prepared and ready-to-eat at the store. Silly me! Here are five things that are cheaper to make at home and that taste infinitely better than the store-bought kind.
Bread: Figure that the cheapest, mushiest white bread you’ll find at the lowest price will generally cost at least $1. The decent mass-produced bread, with whole grains and lots of yummy delicious additives and stabilizers, runs about $2 a loaf. The good bakery stuff at my local Publix is about $3.80 a loaf. If you buy your supplies in bulk or deeply discounted you would spend about $1.25 a loaf for bread that tastes better than bakery. Trent Hamm of The Simple Dollar has an illustrated tutorial here.
Tortillas. I make corn tortillas using masa—corn flour that I buy in the ethnic section of the grocery store. Making the tortillas is a snap: equal parts water and masa, divide the dough up and roll each future tortilla into a ball. Press the tortillas flat using a tortilla press if you want to be fancy or a couple of books if, like me, you don’t believe in having kitchen tools that only do one thing. Fry the tortillas until they are brown and enjoy, enjoy! You can even cut them into strips and bake them for homemade tortilla chips, which go great with…
Salsa. Contrary to popular belief, good salsa is not the red stuff that comes in a jar. Good salsa has hearty tomato dices, onions, a bit of bite, fresh cilantro and whatever else you want to put into it. Check out these salsa recipes from Cremedelacrumb.
Pasta sauce. You will never go back. Even though there are only two of us, I make a huge batch of this stuff and we eat like kings. Tastes amazing, costs very little, and you can doctor the recipe according to your tastes and nutritional preferences. I prefer mine meaty, but you could easily adapt this to vegetarian tastes. Try this recipe–I like to add about a quarter-pound of Italian sausage to it for even more meaty zest.
Mashed, baked, or fried potatoes. I’m still not sure how we got convinced that prepared potatoes are better in any way. Sorry, there is absolutely no comparison between home-made mashed potatoes and the stuff that comes in flakes in a bag. And really, cutting up potatoes isn’t all that hard. You can get all fancy by slicing potatoes and sprinkling with the spices of your choice, then baking them in the oven. Better for you, better tasting, much cheaper.
What’s your favorite “better from scratch” recipe?