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Convenience foods you used to buy


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What convenience foods did you previously purchase but now make from scratch? Why did you come to the decision to stop purchasing the convenience food and to start making it yourself?

I used to buy gravy in the jar, canned chicken broth and cake mixes. Now I make all three from scratch.

With the case of the gravy and canned chicken broth - sodium levels were the issue for me. I'm trying to watch my intake (due to water retention and blood pressure issues) so I decided that homemade gravy and stock was the way to go. Plus I realized how easy it was to make them! I always hear about how daunting it is to make homemade gravy but once I started doing it, I didn't find it to be so. If I get lumps, I use a strainer. No big deal with that. In the case of the chicken stock, it's time consuming. But that's what my slow cooker is for. The most time consuming part is roasting the bones for the stock. The rest is easy.

In the case of cake mixes...I always had a problem making a scratch yellow cake. But once I found a recipe that worked for me in terms of taste, moistness and ease, I've stuck with it. I also find that I have more satisfaction in my baking when doing it from scratch.

In the case of all three items - improved taste is a big plus as well! :biggrin:

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Salad dressing. I used to buy the bottled stuff, but now the only stuff I can get is Thousand Island. So I started making my own vinaigrette and Caesar dressings.

Bread stuffing - in my house, growing up, it was strictly StoveTop. Now I make my own with sausage meat, pine nuts, all sorts of lovely things.

The other thing is soup - I find packaged soup too salty, so I make my own squash and carrot, or potato soups. I'll confess I still used packaged stock for them, though. I haven't graduated to making my own yet.

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Don't mind a bit, Kris. Mine is sweet and hot, and I can several gallons worth each summer.

Lucy's Hot Stuff

1 gallon chopped tomatoes

1 1/2 lbs onions, chopped

10 cloves garlic, minced

2 c vinegar

1 cup sugar

peppers to taste--I use whatever I have growing, some sweet and some hot

salt to taste

I chop everything pretty finely in the food processor, and then simmer it on the stove or in a crockpot til it is thick enough. Sometimes, I add a big can of tomato paste, if I think it needs to be thicker.

I can it in half pint jars, in the pressure cooker--10 pounds pressure for 10 minutes. You can also do it in a water bath canner.

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Many, many things, including several already mentioned. One example fresh on my mind is ladyfingers, for charlottes and such.

"If you hear a voice within you say 'you cannot paint,' then by all means paint, and that voice will be silenced" - Vincent Van Gogh

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Pie crust. For years I was convinced it was too hard to make--even my mother doesn't make her own pie crust anymore--but then Ken Haedrich's wonderful cookbook, Pie, convinced me to give it a shot. I was amazed at how easy it is, and how much better a homemade crust tastes. The packaged stuff just doesn't compare.

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Soup. Bread. Pizza. Salad dressings. I am sure there are more but I just can't think of them right now. And most of it I owe to eGullet! :biggrin:

Anna Nielsen aka "Anna N"

...I just let people know about something I made for supper that they might enjoy, too. That's all it is. (Nigel Slater)

"Cooking is about doing the best with what you have . . . and succeeding." John Thorne

Our 2012 (Kerry Beal and me) Blog

My 2004 eG Blog

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I confess I do still buy chicken broth, depending on the usage, even though I also make my own. I like to use mine when it will provide a key flavor component to the finished dish (like risotto).

But I make my own pancakes and waffles, macaroni & cheese and salad dressing.

"I just hate health food"--Julia Child

Jennifer Garner

buttercream pastries

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preserves, jelly, sweet halapano slices. Cakes, bread sometimes, sauces of all kinds.

dressings, wet and dry.


seasoning blends.

wish I could say sausage, but not yet.

On the other hand, there are things that I've tried to make myself that don't do for us. Like peanut butter. Or soft drinks.

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Marinara sauce, all types of pasta or pizza sauce, many types of condiments, mustard, ketchup, chile sauce as well as salsas, sour cream, cream cheese.

"There are, it has been said, two types of people in the world. There are those who say: this glass is half full. And then there are those who say: this glass is half empty. The world belongs, however, to those who can look at the glass and say: What's up with this glass? Excuse me? Excuse me? This is my glass? I don't think so. My glass was full! And it was a bigger glass!" Terry Pratchett


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Marinades and salad dressings. Most other products mentioned require more time then I have for cooking. I also haven't found recipes that taste better than some commercially prepared items just yet. I'm still working on that!


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Stock is the biggest thing for me that I now make instead of buy. Homemade pizza and fried chicken can now be added to that list as well.


Practice. Do it over. Get it right.

Mostly, I want people to be as happy eating my food as I am cooking it.

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For me, it's stock and salsa. I do keep some canned chicken broth on hand in case of an emergency when I'm out of frozen.

But it's hard really to think back to the last time I bought prepared salsa. In fact, through no fault of my own, I find I am usually supplying salsa to the entire neighborhood.

I don't understand why rappers have to hunch over while they stomp around the stage hollering.  It hurts my back to watch them. On the other hand, I've been thinking that perhaps I should start a rap group here at the Old Folks' Home.  Most of us already walk like that.

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Pizza dough. I use different combinations of bread flour, all purpose, whole wheat and yellow corn meal with a bit of fresh rosemary from my garden. Really, there is no comparison between home-made dough and take-out. I also make my own pizza sauce. The current favorite is a roasted red-bell pepper and roasted garlic sauce. I'm going to try my hand at a white pizza sauce soon. Variety, dontcha know. :wink:

Cheddar cheese/jalapeno corn muffins. No more Jiffy boxes for me. And since I now keep corn meal in my cupboards at all times this is a no brainer.

Pie/quiche crusts. This is an ongoing learning experience but even the less than perfect crusts taste better than anything from the store. My current attempt was a graham cracker encrusted crust for a lemon meringue pie. Pretty good.

Stocks. One of my favorite things to make in fall and winter. :wub:

Different kinds of biscuits. Hm. Seems like the majority of my make-at-home stuff is baked goods. I guess that home-made baked goods makes a house a home. :rolleyes:

Last summer I made flour tortillas since I eat so, so very many of them. Eh. I doubt that I'll do it again. It wasn't a difficult task by any means but I really like a few brands out there that I doubt I could top.

Aside from the occasional can of Campbells tomato soup (don't mess with a childhood favorite) I make all of my own soups, stews, chilis, sauces/salsas/gravies, stuffings, marinades, baked goods (except bread, oddly enough) and anything deemed "ethnic." My main convenience foods were Thai, Chinese, Japanese, Vietnamese, Indian etc. and since I don't have access to them anymore I regularly venture into exotic lands in my very own kitchen. Not nearly as good. At all. Seriously. But I've had a lot of fun learning.

I love a nice, sour no-stabilizers-added yogurt which is not to be found in my area. So the last time that I was in Portland I bought a package of yogourmet (freeze-dried yogurt starter) and will soon be attempting the making-of-the-yogurt. The package says it's for "any machine" but I have no machine. Well, make-do-with-whatcha-got has become my motto these past few years.

I'll squeeze my own orange juice and lemons for lemonade but only if there is an incredible deal on citrus at my grocery store. Fresh-squeezed juice is an effort but the flavor trumps the convenience of juice in cartons any day. Plus, my hands smell like summer for hours afterward.

Shelley: Would you like some pie?


Twin Peaks

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Pancakes, bread, pie crusts, pizza dough, in summer- pesto and tomato sauce. I also do my own salad dressings- all brand name salad dressings are too oily for me. The main motivator for me was dollars- I could spend $3 on a big bag of King Arthur Flour and make all sorts of stuff with it, vs. buy one loaf of bread at the store that would get moldy before I could finish it. Same with sauce from my CSA's tomatoes (I mean I'm already paying for them and don't want them to go to waste, right?)

Oh- and I do all of this without a food processor or Kitchen Aid. :biggrin:

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So far, these items number two:

1) Biscuits. I haven't yet gotten the hang of making flaky rolled biscuits (clues appreciated), but I make bang-up drop ones that everyone likes.

2) Pizza. Of course, I'll still order from a pizzeria--there are at least three good ones within a three-block radius--but making your own is so much more fun!

If you looked at my culinary promises for the year ahead elsewhere in this forum, you will see that I'm interested in taking the next steps bread-wise.

I'd put cheeseburger macaroni in this category as well, except my partner really likes the taste of Hamburger Helper. However: He has to watch his sodium intake now, so homemade will be the way to go from here out.

I've made my own pesto once, but since I didn't buy it all that much before I made my first batch (it came out quite good), I don't really count this in this category. But having found out how easy it is to make your own pesto, I can't see why anyone would buy it instead.

Sandy Smith, Exile on Oxford Circle, Philadelphia

"95% of success in life is showing up." --Woody Allen

My foodblogs: 1 | 2 | 3

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salad dressings

cooked beans (versus buying the canned version)


soups (frozen in single serve portions, versus canned or pre-packaged)

char siu

marinara sauce


cakes, muffins, cookies - most baked goods, though not usually bread

Many of the above are more conventient now that I have a deep freeze and can store things until needed. I don't know what I'd do without it.


Cooking is like love. It should be entered into with abandon or not at all. - Harriet Van Horne

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