To the overworked housewife in the 1950s, convenience foods were a fun novelty that gave her more time to do other things besides cook. To the working women of the 1980s, convenience foods offered them a way to juggle their responsibilities of career women and wives and mothers. Now, in our generation, convenience foods are seen as a necessity, especially since many men and women never learned how to cook from their parents.
However, there are many convenience foods that we buy today that are unnecessary. Many of these items are just as easy to make at home and will save us money. In addition, the at home versions are often healthier than the store bought counterparts.
Chicken or Beef Broth
For years, I thought the only way to get broth for recipes was to buy it at the store. Making broth was a mystery. Then, a guest poster on my blog shared her simple recipe for homemade chicken stock. This is so easy! You simply toss the bones, some veggies and herbs and water in a slow cooker and let it do its thing.
And the taste? The taste is phenomenal–so rich and full of flavor. I’ll never use store bought broth again. After having the homemade version, store bought tastes devoid of flavor, like water.
A packet of taco seasoning is a convenient way to season meat for tacos. But have you looked at the ingredients? Many of them contain fillers and other products you would never think of. When I became dairy intolerant, I was shocked to see how many taco seasoning packets contained milk products. Who would think?
But then I found a recipe for Sweet Cumin taco seasoning, and now I just make a quadruple batch and save it in a jar. Any time I need taco seasoning, it’s there waiting for me. It’s just as convenient as buying a pack at the store, and it’s cheaper and healthier.
Pancakes and Waffles
Nothing beats the convenience of buying some frozen waffles from the store and putting them in the toaster for breakfast. The problem is that they are often tasteless.
We bought a large griddle and now make all of our pancakes on the weekend. We make a large batch and freeze the extra ones. For breakfast, we just reach in the freezer and microwave or toast them. They are just as convenient as the store bought ones, but they taste better. Not to mention how much cheaper they are.
Lunchables are fun for kids. They can have a variety of small foods like crackers, cheese, cookies, and yogurt. But have you ever looked at the ingredient list? If so, you were likely shocked by how long it is and how many chemicals are in there. You may begin to wonder just what exactly you are feeding your children.
Plus, Lunchables are not easy on the wallet, especially if you have several kids who would like these for their lunches.
Instead, my husband created his own Lunchable for my son’s lunch. Unlike the store-bought version, this version is easy on the pocket book and is much healthier. My son was happy because he got several snack-type foods for his lunch.
These are just a few of the convenience foods that we make at home rather than buying at the store. Some other convenience foods we no longer buy include oatmeal breakfast packets (instead we just put oatmeal and milk with a dash of maple syrup in the microwave), granola bars, and freezer meals.
If you make some of these items in bulk, you may spend anywhere from a few minutes to an hour or so making them yourself, depending on what you’re making. However, that is about the amount of time I have to spend running to the grocery store to pick up little convenience items, so I find it worth my time.
What is your favourite convenience item that you can easily make at home?
I make burgers. You can start by buying the buns but now I make the bread too. Much healthier than the fast food version. I also freeze lasagna and other diners in portions to avoid buying ready meals.
Pauline–great tips on the homemade buns. I also love homemade freezer meals. So easy!
Yesterday I made homemade guacamole and falafel wraps. They were delicious!
Salad and salad dressing. I’m always amazed that people are willing to spend $9 on a salad when it’s literally 5 minutes to make it yourself!
So true! Plus, homemade often tastes better.
Nice post Melissa. Some good suggestions 🙂
As a guy who eats out a lot…I’ve begun to cook more at home to save money and to eat better. I pretty much gave up convenient processed foods a while back and try to make healthier food choices. I love the stock recipe and will make that soon!! The Taco seasoning also sounds like it could be doable for me 🙂
Thanks again and take care. All the best.
Lyle–Start with the easy recipes like stock and taco seasoning, and soon you’ll be making even more. Now we prefer to eat at home rather than going out. I find restaurant food too salty now.
I love the suggestion of making lunchables. Not only is it cheaper, but you can use a much higher quality of food. We also make a lot of seasonings at home, as like you said, the majority of combination seasonings are really just a few simple, cheap ingredients in one jar.
Good call on the taco seasoning… we made one once (we don’t eat tacos all that often) that was both cheaper, and way tastier than a store bought one! Not to mention cheaper, as you mention.
We make smoothies using fresh fruits and vegetables and love them. They are faster, cheaper and healthier than the smoothies you can buy at Jugo Juice, Java Juice, Booster Juice etc and they don’t have the sugary taste because we don’t add anything as a sweetener
Making taco seasoning is a good idea. That sweet taco seasoning sounds really good. I will have to try that sometime.