Before prepackaged meals invaded the grocery aisles, our grandparents made almost all of their meals from scratch. We’d never tell you to give up pre-made foods completely, but their convenience is soured by the preservatives and sodium they contain.
So why not try making some of your own convenience foods to ease the strain on your health and wallet? Don’t worry – all of our ideas are simple to make and won’t force you to spend hours slaving away in the kitchen.
Big Food has a habit of tossing sugar into savory foods, and tomato sauce is no exception. But tomato sauce is fantastically easy to make yourself, especially when you use the wildly popular Marcella Hazan recipe.
You just need canned tomatoes, butter, an onion and some salt. Love the convenience of jarred tomato sauce? Make a double batch and freeze the extra in an ice cube tray.
Store-bought bread is full of preservatives and unpronounceable ingredients. Homemade bread is cheap, useful and easy to make even if you’re not a big baker. There are several recipes online.
Making your own salad dressing essentially involves mixing oil, vinegar and some spices in a jar. If you have an almost-empty jar of fruit jam, add equal parts oil and vinegar and shake for a delicious salad accompaniment.
Hummus is a great way to get some protein and encourage more vegetable consumption – but it’s expensive. Making it at home is much cheaper and easier, as long as you own a food processor or a blender.
Love a little granola with yogurt for breakfast? If you frequently eat granola, it can add up fast – but it’s so easy to make, and completely customizable to your own tastes. Allergic to nuts? Leave them out. Really want chocolate chips? Add them in.
Hamburger Helper and Bisquik might not be the healthiest choices at the grocery store, but who could expect you to forego them on a busy day? We do, by pre-making your own mixes. Breakfast, dinner and even hot cocoa can be improved without sacrificing the convenience.
Pizzas can be reasonably healthy if you select the right toppings – more vegetables, less cheese. They’re also cheap and convenient if you make a few extra and freeze them on your next pizza night.
Sure, the pizza dough is the hardest part, but store-bought is acceptable if you’re impatient.
On your next movie night, skip the microwave popcorn. Popping popcorn in a pan is cheap and takes just a few minutes longer than Orville Redenbacher’s. Popcorn is also one of the healthiest snacks out there when it’s not swimming in butter.
If you’re a fan of Greek yogurt, making it yourself can reduce the amount of industrially produced whey, which is difficult to dispose of in large quantities and harmful to the environment. If you enjoy regular yogurt, homemade is cheaper, healthier and tends to taste better too.
Stock and Broth
It’s easy to open a can of Campbell’s soup when you’re sick, but you’re exposing yourself to preservatives, unhealthy levels of sodium and BPAs. Don’t forget to make some extra chicken noodle soup and save it for a rainy day – we don’t expect you to cook when you’re sick.
Have you ever made any of these foods at home? Are there convenience foods we missed? Let us know in the comments.