Since starting this blog five years ago, I make a lot more food from scratch. Perhaps it’s because my kids are older and less demanding and no longer require me to be within two feet of them at all times. Perhaps it’s because I started paying much closer attention to ingredient lists. Or because my palate is becoming a bit more refined, preferring the taste of from-scratch to the taste of shelf-stable.
That being said, I also know my limitations. There are plenty of foods I’d like to make from scratch all the time, but I don’t want to spend my whole life in the kitchen (read: From-Scratch Cooking Confession: I Can’t Keep Up!). There are many foods I’ll make if I have extra time and energy, like bread or spaghetti sauce. Then there are the foods I always make myself, because compared to the store-bought version, they’re tastier (and usually cheaper) enough to make it worth my while.
Here are my top five:
1. Vinaigrette Dressing: We eat salads almost every night, and I used to buy a lot of bottled dressings. But it only takes minutes to make it ourselves.
2. Taco Seasoning: Tacos are practically a weekly fixture in our house, so we used to be stocked with seasoning packets. But when I started reading the fine print, I found questionable items like preservatives and even hydrogenated oils. Now I make a triple batch of this homemade seasoning and keep it in a jar in the pantry.
3. Waffles: My kids (and husband) love waffles. Years ago, Eggos were a staple in my grocery cart. Then I upgraded to Van’s. Then I got a waffle iron and everything changed. I make double batches of these on lazy weekend mornings, then squirrel them away in the freezer for weekdays.
4. Barbecue Sauce: My kids, like all little people, love to dip their food into various sauces. Many jarred barbecue sauce contains high fructose corn syrup, caramel coloring, and preservatives. So we started making it ourselves and now prefer the taste.
5. Pizza Dough: I’m a little obsessed with homemade pizza. Ever since tasting a friend’s dead-ringer-for-delivery homemade pizza, I’ve been experimenting with different crusts, techniques, and toppings (current parent favorite: spinach and sausage).
Here are the three pizza doughs in heavy rotation here: