Twenty Foods You Can Easily Make Yourself, How to Reduce Packaging Waste and Save Money.

As discussed in our previous post - it's easy to fall into the trap of convenience foods.

Making your own is easy, cheaper, and often more convenient. Here's a shortlist to get you started.

1. Bottled water. 

This is arguably the biggest scam of all time, and we're still falling for it.

2. Self-raising flour.

This is simply plain flour with baking powder added.

3. Cake mix.

All you're buying is the dry ingredients of a cake recipe - flour, sugar and flavours (e.g. cocoa powder or vanilla), measured and mixed together. 

4. Pancake mix.

Those "just add water" pancake mixes are ridiculously silly when you know how easy it is make pancakes from scratch.  They also use powered eggs and milk, so are far from fresh. For your basic pancake mix, just think ONE + ONE + ONE. That is, one cup of flour, plus one cup of milk, plus one egg.  Add more milk for a more slightly more runny mixture, or add a teaspoon of baking soda if you want a fluffier style of pancake. Add ingredients like sugar, vanilla, blueberries or chocolate chips for a flavour boost.

5. Popcorn.

Never buy the pre-popped stuff as it's incredibly easy (and so much cheaper) to make from "popping corn" kernels. Microwave popcorn usually has a weird fake butter flavour - better to use real butter, or none at all. Fill your home with the enticing aroma of freshly popped popcorn and save cash in the process.

6. Salad dressing.

You can never go wrong with two parts oil (e.g. olive, or vegetable) plus one part acid (e.g. any vinegar or lemon juice). For flavour, add your favourite herbs and spices, crushed garlic, mustard and / or sugar. Mix well before serving. 

7. Grated cheese and cheese slices.

Buy a block of cheese. Grate it. Or slice it.

8. Ricotta cheese.

Got whole milk, lemon juice, white vinegar and salt? You can make your own ricotta. Mind blown.

9. Dips. 

Did you know tahini is simply toasted sesame seeds blended with olive oil?  Blend it with chickpeas to make hummus, or roasted eggplant for babaganoush. Nothing beats a guacamole made with fresh avocados.

10. Mayonnaise and aioli.

There's a technique to making it, but mayonnaise is simply eggs, lemon juice and oil. Add garlic and you have aioli.

11. Marinades.

It's amazing what you can do with some oil, maybe some soy sauce, herbs and spices.

12. Pesto and pasta sauces.

To make basil pesto, pick some fresh basil from your herb garden and blend with toasted pine nuts, garlic, parmesan and olive oil. For tomato based sauces, start with a plain passata and add your own diced vegetables and herbs.

13. Breadcrumbs.

Got a slightly stale piece of bread? Chuck it in the blender, and voila, you have breadcrumbs.

14. Spice mixes.

Just buy the basic spices separately and you'll be able to use them in an infinite variety of dishes. For maximum flavour, freshly roast spices as you need them and blend in a mortar and pestle.

15. Trail mixes and muesli.

Simply mix your favourite ingredients together for a custom blend.

16. Vegetable stock.

Keep vegetable peels and scraps in the freezer. Then when you have enough, boil them up and simmer for a few hours. Strain, and you have home made vegetable stock. N.B. The Billyboil Thermal Cooker is perfect for this.

17. Non-dairy milks.

Oak milk, rice milk, almond milk, soy milk. If you buy them often, why not try making your own?

18. Preserves and jams.

Jalepenos are sliced green chillies stored in a vinegar mixture. Likewise, pickles are simply preserved sliced cucumbers. Got a fruit tree in the backyard and a surplus of produce? Jam is the answer. Extras make great gifts to impress family and friends.

19. Nut butters.

Simply blend your favourite nut to the desired consistency. Here's a peanut butter recipe to get you started.

20. Potato chips.

Potatoes are as cheap as, well, chips. Their raw form presents so many options. Roast them, mash them, or peel and slice them to make chips or wedges. If you know what you're doing, there's no need to buy instant mash or frozen bags of chips that cost twice as much. Try the sweet potato version for a gourmet twist. 

When in doubt, the recipe is a simple google search away.

By Juliet Guterres |

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