Cooking From Scratch?

by Merissa on January 13, 2011

in Thrifty Living

I read a statement last night on another blog that I completely disagree with. It said that our generation isn't interested in making things from scratch because it doesn't make financial sense. Me and the hubby had a talk tonight about my tortillas I made the other day...I could get preservative soaked flavorless tortillas from the grocery store for $1 on sale. It cost me between .25 - .50 to make 14 fresh, preservative-free, homemade tortillas the other day:) I cannot afford to buy organic tortillas all the time(which would be my only option because of my allergies) so I have to cook from scratch but...

What do you think? Is it not financially worth it to cook from scratch?

I love making cheese crackers at home. A box of organic cheese crackers goes for at least $2 - $3. I pay around $1 or less to make a big batch of fresh crackers.

I do think our generation is less likely to cook from scratch but I think that has to do with the way kids are being raised in this day and age. In the same blog article I read they said that cooking everything from scratch is completely unpractical in this day and age. I think this is just the way of thinking for this generation and it's not true. As you know we've been going through the Little House books and learning frugal living tips from them. If you told Ma that she should pay an arm and a leg for a little box that was basically a mixture of flour, sugar, and other cake making ingredients, she would look at you like you are crazy. What puts us in the mindset where the beautiful art of keeping the home is unpractical in this day and age? Why should we buy things put together in a box, frozen and ready to be baked, or food out of a little window.

What do you think? Is making everything from scratch unpractical?

Maybe I'm out on a limb here but I can't wait to teach my children about the art of homemaking and especially cooking from scratch. I'd love to hear what you all think!

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4:01 pm

{ 28 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Susan Fullerton January 13, 2011 at 4:09 pm

I think that things are coming around, back to the simple homemade things that are important. What could be better? Keep giving us the recipies, advice and money saving ideas that make your site so great!

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2 Jo C January 13, 2011 at 4:26 pm

I think that with Mothers working outside the home, it is not so much a matter of not “wanting” to provide homemade nutricious meals, it is simply a lack of time, and often energy. I personally struggle with this one. I hate what is in the ingredient list on the back of the boxes, and generally don’t bring them home. My way of handling this has been to take time to do things in bulk, when I can find the time. The other day I devoted to bread making. 2 loaves, 1 pizza crust, tortillas and some rolls. We now have bread for meals for days. I take 2 bags of dry beans and throw them into the crockpot (while i am at work) and then I have beans for everything for the week, and freeze what I won’t use this week for a later time. I make my pancake mix up in a big gallon size baggie, all at once, including the directions on the outside of the bag so I have quick homemade pancakes whenever we want. Whe I make my “milk” I make a large enough batch that it will last for a week or better. Same with cheese. Takes a like pre-planning, but I have found making big batches, as I have time, and freezing etc has made a HUGE difference in how we ultimetly eat. I save a lot of money, and all eat healthier, by having stuff ready and handy to grab for on the fly meals, reducing our eating out budget.
Thanks for the great article!

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3 Merissa January 13, 2011 at 4:31 pm

You make a great point! I know that feeling too even though I don’t work outside of the home. I put in my hours a day at my home office and some days get very long and I don’t have alot of time to get things whipped up for supper. I love getting things done in bulk! I wish I had the freezer space to do freezer meals but since I don’t I’ve started to work around that and make the mixes in a jar that I just started posting. I have pantry room so this little solution works for me.

Thanks for the great comment Jo!

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4 marci357 January 13, 2011 at 5:25 pm

Unless you are buying everything at a very very discounted scratch and dent wholesale place, it is less expensive to make from scratch – with few exceptions, in my opinion. Lots of disclaimers there. Some people feel that they need to factor the cost of their time in to scratch cooking, or canning – but if you are not taking away from an actual paying job, then how can your time have a monetary value? It doesn’t – it’s just precious time – no money in it.

Single working parents will find a lack of time and energy = yes. Bulk cooking does solve a LOT of that problem, if you have freezer space, and if you can stay organized.

Basically – I think it comes down some to hectic lives, but secondly, to laziness, and third to empathy. Some people just don’t care that what they are eating in the boxes is crammed full of “stuff” besides the main ingredient. Or even lack of know-how as people haven’t seen it done before.

I usually make a double or triple batch of soups, stews, cassaroles, and freeze the extras. Canning I figure costs me 20 cents a jar – electricity cost and lid cost. When can I buy canned goods for 20 cents a jar??? Rarely anymore.

I like your idea of putting ingredients in a glass jar for the “next batch”…. That would be a good use for all the extra small mouth quart canning jars I don’t use very often. Thanks.

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5 Merissa January 13, 2011 at 5:33 pm

Great comment! I love that you figured out how much a home canned item costs! Me and the hubby worked on that a little bit last night while I was thinking about ordering canning lids in bulk. (I think I’m going to start buying the reusable lids though)

I have seen alot of people that say yes it’s not worth it because you are not getting paid for your time. Well I never get paid for my time so….lol. Plus I feel like baking and making things IS my job so I should be doing my job:)

I agree with what you said that people just don’t care anymore what is in their food or where it comes from. We are very spoiled in this day and age to have all this boxed stuff for us to buy. Easy to make everything pretty much. I do think cooking everything from scratch can be alot of work but I really think it’s worth it. I feel like I want to provide the best I can for my family and if that means cooking everything from scratch, well then I’m doing the best that I can by cooking from scratch;)

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6 Valerie Z January 13, 2011 at 6:08 pm

I love to cook, so most everything in my kitchen is from scratch. Honestly, I don’t see that much of a time difference in making most of these items. I am currently a sahm, but before we had kids I had a full time job and still enjoyed cooking from scratch.

For example, if you are making mashed potatoes.. It might take an extra 5 minutes to peel and cut the potatoes. But the water still has to boil whether you end up throwing the potatoes in there or the box mix in there…

I will admit I save the more time consuming things like soups and sauces for the weekend when hubby can keep a better eye on the kids… but I never make less than 3 meals worth.

As far as costs, I think I can understand whether the article was trying to go.. If someone has to buy the flour, baking soda, baking powder and whatever else to make a cake, then yes this is going to be more of a financial outlay than picking up a $1 mix… Especially if they don’t plan on using the ingredients again…

But I agree with Susan, I think for the most part my generation is trying to go back to basics. I know more and more of my friends are breastfeeding and making their own baby food. And cost of formula and jar foods are a major factor in their decisions. But, once you start to makes changes like this in one part of your life you realize how easy it is and slowly can incorporate them into other parts of your life.

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7 Merissa January 13, 2011 at 6:17 pm

Another great comment! You guys are on fire today!

Something I should mention is that I agree that some generations are trying to get back to the basics, however I feel like certain generations are getting further and further away from it. And like I said in the article I think it has alot to do with how kids are being raised these days. For example, all kids in this day and age will have grown up with a computer. they won’t know what it’s like to not have a computer(unless their family didn’t have one). So if we raise our children with the knowledge of cooking from scratch, hopefully it will be a life skill that they can carry on. 🙂

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8 Leigh January 13, 2011 at 8:17 pm

I have really been reading your blog lot lately, not just skimming through. I told my husband about your home made cheese crackers and gummies. He was so happy that we could do this together and bring in our 2 yr old to cook who loves “helping” mommy and daddy in the kitchen. I am one of the few friends in my group that does cook from scratch. Most cook from a box or go out to eat all of the time. We have reallystarted to see the savings from cooking more at home and are striving to do more homemade things. Merissa, you are such an inspiration to me; thank you so very much!

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9 Dawn January 13, 2011 at 8:25 pm

There seems to be a perception among many people that cooking isn’t worthwhile because of all the time it takes. While I agree time is one of themost valuable commodities, there are ways to feed yourself and your family without an enormous expeenditure of time and to do it much more healthfully than eating out or buying prepared or what I call “novelty foods.” Your blog is proof of that! Another prejudice I’ve come across is related to coupons. I recentlywon a $50 Visa gift card from a personal finance blog. I wrote to the blogger to thank him and mentioned that I could feed my husband and myelf for almost two weeks with the card as our weekly grocery budget is $30. He was shocked and made the subject his next blog post. He had more comments on this subject than on any other in the hisotry of his blog! You would not believe how many people posted that there was no way anyone could spend so little on gorceries and people even went as far as to say we must eat horribly unhealthy food and would “have to get our colons replaced in 20 years.” We live on a farm and use many of the same strategies you do to keep our grocery bills low but it amazed me how many people just assume our way of life is not possible and even got defensive about why they spend hundreds of dollars a month on food. Just like cooking from scratch, it comes down to priorities and, if you are committed to using coupons, creating a stockpile, cooking from scratch, eating a simple,wholesome diet, and using food wisely and limiting waste, it can be done.

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10 Lyn January 15, 2011 at 12:34 am

I would love to read that post, care to share? 🙂

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11 Debbie January 13, 2011 at 9:16 pm

Tortillas from scratch are the best! I do not buy prepackaged anymore since most of them contain aluminum and I was diagnosed with aluminum poisoning! Who needs that in a tortilla??

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12 Lana January 13, 2011 at 11:16 pm

I make most everything from scratch but I have never done flour tortillas. I would love it if you could do a post with your recipe and pictures. I know the homemade ones have to be fabulous!

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13 Merissa January 13, 2011 at 11:18 pm

They are a little time consuming but totally worth it. Me and the hubby think they taste nothing like ones from the store. In fact we just like to eat them! I will work on getting the recipe posted as soon as I make them again. I’m borrowing my mother-in-laws tortilla press to see how much time it saves and to see if I want to get one in the future!

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14 Wendy January 14, 2011 at 12:53 am

I believe cooking from scratch is very important. I hear about all the kids that are under 12 with diabetes 2, I know that has to do with all the processed foods out there. When I was a child we had a snack night one night a week not every night. We also did alot of walking if wanted to do anything or go anywhere we walked. So going back to basics really isn’t a bad thing it’s a wonderful thing. Please post the tortilla video I’ve never made them and love to know how. Thanks.

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15 hannah January 14, 2011 at 3:41 pm

I did not grow up in a household that usually cooked from scratch. I was just talking about this with my hubby last night and how i wanted to start learning more about cooking from scratch and making a lot of things homemade to get rid of the perservatives and extras that we don’t need in our diet. What a great article…do you have from scratch recipes on this site? Where do you find a lot of your recipes?

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16 Merissa January 14, 2011 at 4:32 pm

If you click on the link underneath the logo that says “Recipe Index” you will find the entire list of recipes that I’ve posted. Enjoy!

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17 Sheri January 14, 2011 at 7:22 pm

I think another factor that needs to be considered is “knowledge”. Younger folks sometimes genuinely don’t know that you can make things like yogurt or cheese or tortillas at home . . . . it wasn’t until I started staying home with my children that I realized that I could make some of that myself! If they haven’t seen it growing up and their friends & family don’t do it, it’s easy to overlook it!

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18 Lyn January 15, 2011 at 12:44 am

The misconception about cooking from scratch or cooking in bulk is that it all has to be done at once. I cook several times a week, and try to maximize what I am making at that time – sometimes it’s enough food for 2 dinners – or an extra dish to put into the freezer. I do what I can with the limited energy I have due to health issues. If I can do it, I believe a lot of people can. It doesn’t have to be an all-day thing. Do what you can and it all adds up.

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19 K February 16, 2012 at 4:50 pm

I just want to relate some first hand experience in this area. My mother taught me to cook everything from scratch. She fed a family of four, herself, my sister and I and our dad, who refused to eat leftovers, during the recession in the 70’s, on $30.00 per week. We did not use box mixes or prepared items. Fast forward to about 3 years ago. My husband and I had become “parents” to a group of college students in our church. I would cook things to take to parties and they would love it. When I offered to share the recipe with them, I was astounded to learn that they didn’t know how to cook. Needless to say, we started holding cooking classes shortly after that. The students have been so enthusiastic and eager to learn, they just needed someone to show them how. Now they’re calling me and asking me questions about recipes. So, I guess the whole point of this rambling comment is to ask, if those of us who know how to do these things don’t stand up and teach those who don’t, who will? Love your website, you’re doing an awesome job at sharing both your practical knowledge and your grateful spirit.

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20 Rebecca Chavez September 14, 2012 at 8:58 pm

I really enjoy cooking from scratch. I’m not working full-time at the moment, but even when I was I tried to make at least a couple things from scratch on my days off, such as speciality breads & tortillas. I’ve always cooked our regular meals from scratch…it just wasn’t an option financially to do otherwise. One thing I found I missed at first once we moved to the mountains was Coffee House coffees, but I’ve since realized it is so much cheaper to buy the additives to reproduce the same coffee house flavours. I completely agree with you & I feel there is a move toward cooking from scratch.
Dawn, I can completely relate to your post…your weekly food budget is the same as ours ($25-$30) weekly. Like you I stockpile on seasonal/sale items, use coupons every opportunity I get, & I too have used giftcard wins to stock up on groceries…I loveeee giftcard wins combined with coupons :):):)
Merissa, I really enjoy all your recipes & canning tips…You really have a unique & helpful blog. Thank you for all the great information:)

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21 tm142259 June 20, 2013 at 6:50 pm

I was so glad to find your blog today! I’m starting a blog on getting healthy, and the first thing I’m working on is cooking everything from scratch. I’ve found in my family, it’s not only cheaper in the long run, but my family also likes the food better! Keep up the good work!

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22 Ann August 31, 2013 at 11:31 am

Those big food processing companies use the cheapest ingredients so they can make maximum profits for their stockholders. They couldn’t care less about your health. Think: pink slime in hamburger meat. Since I found out about THAT, I buy cheap roasts and grind my own hamburger meat. I also cook nearly everything else from scratch.

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23 helen October 16, 2013 at 5:58 pm

I am so new at this it scares me. trial and error seem to be costing me more than my husband and I can spare. but I keep telling myself to keep plugging away at just one thing until I am happy with the final product. so i’m still hanging in there. info to newbies are a great help and inspiration, keep them coming.

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24 Dawn October 31, 2013 at 7:48 pm

Have you seen what is in the processed mixes?? I mean really understood it?? Who wants some beaver butt secretions for dinner?? How about some flame retardant? Or some other chemical banned in other countries because of its ill side effect. Practical? Well I would not call it easy, but it can be done. We are moving in that direction as a family unit. Money saving? YES! It is much cheaper to make from scratch and better for you!

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25 Alli February 20, 2015 at 8:29 pm

I know this article was written a few years ago, but i thought i’d go ahead & comment. fixing meals from scratch is not unpractical. I think a lot of it actually boils down to many people don’t know “how to” do cook, make things from scratch. I know many kids from my generation (70’s)their parents started buying more & more from the store & less & less from scratch so the practical skills of cooking started falling by the way side. Some of it is also because our parents were tired of raising food & it was just easier to go to the store for meat & veggies.
I know that if my parents wouldn’t have caved in, I’d be farther ahead of where I am at, if we wouldn’t have gone to the “convenience” of life.
Now, we’re in a “rush rush” that we can’t (& don’t) take time to cook properly & as one person previously wrote we have flame retardant, radiator fluid, etc. and then we wonder why we have major health issues, weight issues, behavioral issues, etc.
We need to get the source of our health & behavioral issues, which is our food source before just putting a band-aid on it by medicating us to where that kills us too.
I am working on making many things from scratch, my kids kind of belly-ache, but i tell them that this is what real food without chemicals will taste like, so they are going to have to suck it up & deal with it LOL
I would LOVE to learn how to make corn tortillas from scratch & have them turn out. Everything i’ve tried so far never worked & those are my most favorite shells 🙂
Thanks for sharing your info.

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26 nancy April 16, 2015 at 9:01 pm

I enjoyed all of the comments. I had planned to ‘cook more from scratch when I retired.’ Food allergies have forced me to change my cooking habits NOW. I have found I cannot trust any packaged foods or even a simple can of beans. I read labels. I look for simple recipes because I need to I try to ‘can’ my own salsa every year that I can also use as a pizza sauce, spaghetti sauce etc. this is the closest I have come to ‘fast food.’ There is something to be said for spending one day a week cooking. (still learning).

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27 Hilde May 10, 2015 at 2:00 am

Awesome site, as many of thr people here I too try to cook more from scratch. Made my own flour tortilla’s last week and they turned out great, even made a second batch for in the freezer. I also make my own spice mixes, got these nice little glass containers and i put one servings in them so when I want to make let’s say chicken tandori, I just have to empty the container.
Lot’s of people my age(31) like they idea of eating healthy and from scratch but think it’s to much work. But like a lot of people here know, it’s not! And with a little planning it can be even faster and way tastier then the prepackaged stuff.
So keep up the good work!
Greetz from the Netherlands

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28 Foile May 18, 2015 at 2:02 pm

While I also cook a mostly from scratch save things like pasta, cheese and cold meats and bread which I purchase at a proper bakery. I think there are some problems with beginning to cook from scratch which deter a lot of people, and still brings me some difficulties. For once to start cooking from scratch you need a kitchen with some space, both in terms of worktops and storage space, if you have a tiny appartment you share with someone else, then buying and cooking in bulk to save time and money is not always an option. Then having to invest in cooking items and ingredients is especially at the beginning an expensive undertaking. Then of course time and money as things go along are not often as readily available as a takeaway dinner. Also I do live alone and I don’t want to eat the same meal all week.
I wish there were more tips on how to really start cooking from scratch, including attending to time and space constraints as well as a small budget, for busy single people.

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