Homemade is always better, and often times it’s cheaper, healthier, just as fast and just as easy (if not easier) than making a trip to the store to buy the processed version. Not to mention it’s better for the planet as you use much less packaging, make less gasoline-fuelled trips to the grocery store and choose not to hand over your hard-earned dollars to goliath food-manufacturers who care much more about their bottom line than they do about your family’s health and well-being.
Not too long ago, everything was made from scratch. You either grew your own food or bought basic ingredients like sugar and flour and then made what you needed out of these ingredients. Nowadays, cooking from scratch is becoming a lost art, let alone making your own pantry staples like sauces and spice mixes.
But getting back to a simpler way of living, cooking from scratch and becoming more self-sufficient are all making a comeback as people become more conscious of what’s in their food and where their money is going. It’s a positive trend that I hope will continue to spread as more people strive to take control of their food and finances.
So without further ado, I present to you 7 of my favourite basic pantry/kitchen staples that, I admit, I used to buy from the store, but that I now make from scratch (and wonder why it took me so long).
There is nothing quite like homemade bread fresh from the oven. Not only does it just taste better, it is super cost efficient and beyond easy to make as long as you have a little patience. It’s also healthier because it doesn’t contain any preservatives and can easily be made without sugar.
You can keep it extremely simple or get as creative as you want. And you don’t need a big kitchen or any fancy ingredients or gadgets to do it (no, you don’t need a bread maker).
To get started on your bread-making journey start with this Basic Bread Recipe. Then try your hand at different types of sandwich bread, rolls and even natural sourdough: bread the way nature intended!
I would be willing to make a bet that once you try making mayo at home, you will not only never buy it from the store again, but you’ll wonder how anyone ever got tricked into buying it in the first place! It is one of the quickest, simplest condiments you can make at home and you can make it healthier by taking control of what type of oil you’re using (I love using avocado oil in mine for the flavour and the health benefits!)
Save your money and go whip up a batch right now. It will literally only take you one minute and you almost certainly have all the ingredients you need on hand right now. Here’s a basic Homemade Mayonnaise Recipe and here’s a great One Minute Homemade Mayo recipe.
Sauces, Marinades & Salad Dressing
While you will need to stock your pantry with some basics (like oils, vinegars, soy sauce, honey, mustard, sugars, maple syrup, hot sauce and spices), you can make a huge variety of sauces and dressing from scratch using these basic ingredients alongside fresh ones like garlic, ginger, fruits, veggies and herbs.
Ditch store-bought honey-mustard sauce by making your own with 3 simple ingredients: honey, mustard and mayo. Whip up a quick honey-garlic sauce with honey, minced garlic and soy sauce for your homemade chicken wings. And forgo expensive store-bought salad dressings for fresh, homemade alternatives. You can save yourself money and calories by making homemade dressings by combining simple ingredients like lemon juice, olive oil, vinegars, fresh and dried herbs, spices and even muddled fruit. The possibilities are endless! It’s all just a matter of taste.
If you have a well-stocked spice-rack in your pantry arsenal, you are already equipped to whip up almost any spice mix you can dream of in your kitchen right now. And again, you’ll be saving yourself money (those individual spice mixes can get really expensive!) while controlling the amount of sugar or salt in a recipe and ensuring there are no sneaky ingredients like MSG lurking.
Get started by whipping up a batch of Homemade Taco Seasoning, Ranch Dressing Mix or make your own Pumpkin Spice by combining 2 teaspoons of cinnamon with ½ teaspoon each of ginger, nutmeg, cloves and allspice. You can even make a bigger batch, throw it in a Mason jar in your pantry (with a label, of course), and just grab as much as you need as you need it.
Use these seasonings as intended or get creative! You can use the taco seasoning in your breakfast burrito, add ranch seasoning to your homemade kale chips and dip into your pumpkin pie spice all year round by adding it to smoothies and oatmeal for a healthy yet comforting treat.
A good quality tomato sauce will run you a good chunk of change at the grocery store, and while you can find some pre-made pasta sauces that boast healthy ingredients, these tend to be the pricier sauces. The cheapest ones often contain sugar -or worse: high-fructose corn syrup!- as one of their main ingredients.
Making and preserving your own tomato sauce from scratch when tomatoes are in season will save you money and ensure there are no evil ingredients hiding in this otherwise highly nutritious and delicious sauce.
There are many variations of homemade tomato sauce you can make, from thicker tomato paste and pizza sauce to pasta sauce with herbs and spices, but if you start with a basic tomato sauce like this one from Ball Canning, you can use it as a base for everything from pasta sauce to homemade ketchup.
Just crack open a jar and add your extra ingredients, or eat it as is. No sugar, no preservatives, no fat and no fuss. Just a small time investment at the right time of year to keep your wallet, your belly and your waistline satisfied.
Chicken Stock (or beef, veggie, turkey, etc.)
While it is convenient to forgo making your own stock at home and opt for the boxed stuff instead, homemade stock is lower in sodium and full of healthy vitamins and minerals that you just can’t get from a box. And it doesn’t cost a thing!
Just use the carcass from your next whole roasted bird (chicken, turkey, goose, etc.), the bones from your next ham or cut of beef, or veggie scraps that can be frozen until you have enough to throw in a pot for homemade veggie stock.
Making stock at home is a great way to keep food waste (and therefore food costs) low as you are using the byproducts from your other meals to make a base you can use in everything from soups and stews to roasts and sauces. Simply simmer the bones in a pot of water for a couple hours with some veggie scraps and herbs (optional) and a little salt (also optional). Then, turn the broth into a base for all sorts of different soups like chicken noodle (chicken stock), broccoli cheddar (chicken or veggie stock), french onion soup (beef broth), or split pea soup (ham bone broth).
Have you ever bought a jar of Almond Butter from the store? Often it’s tucked away in that dreaded, expensive “health food” section and it will cost you more than you should ever pay for a single jar of anything.
And peanut butter? It’s usually not quite as pricey but often contains added ingredients like salt, sugar and soy. Making your own from scratch will save you some coin and will ensure you are getting nothing but nuts in your nut butter.
Just roast your peanuts or almonds in the oven for a few minutes to start releasing some of the oils, then dump them in a high-quality food processor and blend until smooth. It’s really that simple! You can find a full tutorial on Homemade Peanut Butter here.
Now that’s just a sampling of all of the things you can stop buying and start making from scratch. The list could go on and on. One of my favourite ways to replace store-bought foods with homemade ones is to preserve food when it’s in season, so I make my own strawberry jam when strawberries are in season and never buy strawberry jam from the store. And I put up a year’s worth of jars of dill and bread and butter pickles when cucumbers are in season and have now eliminated those items from my shopping list as well.
What about you? What pantry staples do you make from scratch instead of buying from the store? I’m always looking for more ideas so be sure to leave a note in the comments section below!
My name is Anna and I’m a modern homesteader blogging at The House and the Homestead. I began homesteading a few years ago and it changed my life! I am passionate about growing and preserving food, making as much
as I can with my own two hands, and living a more frugal,
sustainable and self-sufficient life. I love to help and inspire others
to do the same & prove that the simple life doesn’t have to be
So in my head I was thinking I wanted to create a no-bake cheesecake. The recipe that came out of that idea pretty much tastes like cheesecake but it’s almost better. This little cake is so good, between me and the hubby, we finished it off in 2 days. Oh well, that’s what holidays are for right?
Just wanted to take a picture of these pretty ingredients. Chocolate + cream. Does it get any better?
Warm the heavy cream in a saucepan. You want it to almost be to the boiling point. Once it gets that warm, remove from heat and stir in the chocolate chips. I used a whisk to not leave any clumps of chocolate. Refrigerate this for several hours or overnight. It will not whip when it’s warm.
Crush up the graham crackers or vanilla wafers. Melt 2 T. of butter and mix with the crushed crackers. I used about a cup of crushed crackers. I’m not a huge fan of crust. If you wanted a bigger crust you could use more. Spread the butter/crumbs mixture in the bottom of a pie plate or a cake pan.
Take the chilled cream and chocolate mixture and whip it until it forms soft peaks.
Whip in the cream cheese and vanilla until well blended. (Don’t you just want to stick your finger in that and have a taste?!) Drop the mixture onto the crust and spread evenly.
You can eat this right away or you can chill it again for a while. If you can wait that long….
In the middle of a recipe and just realized that you are all out of baking powder? No worries, that’s where this easy substitution for homemade Baking Powder comes in!
Homemade Baking Powder
As you might already know, I don’t live near town so running to the nearest store to pick up a missing ingredient at all hours of the day isn’t something that I’m able to do. Substitutions are such an important skill to learn if you want to keep a frugal pantry. Not only will it save you a trip to the store (gas & time), it will save you money on the item and on whatever other items you might happen to pick up while you are there!
I recently ran out of Baking Powder while in the middle of my Pantry Challenge month and had to make my own homemade baking powder all month long. I’m happy to report that this recipe works very well in a variety of baked goods and I always had luck with using it in whatever I was making, from pancakes to quick breads.
Homemade Baking Powder
What You Need:
2 tablespoon Baking Soda
1/4 cup Cream of Tartar
Combine ingredients together in a small bowl and mix until well combined.
Store in a jelly size mason jar until ready to use. You can use this as a 1:1 ratio substitute in any recipe that calls for baking powder. Example: if a recipe calls for 1 teaspoon of baking powder you can use 1 teaspoon of this blend.
You can find a full list of easy recipes substitutions on my Frugal Substitutions post. These types of recipes are always good to have on hand in your kitchen because you never know when you will be in the middle of a recipe and run out of something! Each substitution can save you a trip to the grocery store.
If you are looking for more recipes similar to this one, you can find them in my Make Your Own page.
Looking to expand your homemade condiments? Making this homemade Soy Sauce recipe is no harder than making your own ketchup. It uses simple, everyday ingredients and tastes delicious!
Homemade Soy Sauce Recipe
I’ve been wanting to make my own homemade soy sauce for a long time but put it off because it seemed so much more intimidating than Homemade Ketchup or even Homemade BBQ Sauce. Now that we’ve been making it for several months I have no idea why I was so scared of it in the first place. It’s SO easy and uses simple ingredients that you most likely already have in your pantry.
I will start by saying this isn’t traditional soy sauce. It doesn’t have soy, it doesn’t have wheat, and it’s not fermented. But it does make a wonderful, frugal substitution when you are trying to make your own foods AND you have the benefit of knowing exactly what’s in it.
Homemade Soy Sauce Recipe
What You Need:
1 cup Beef Broth (can be homemade)
1/4 cup Apple Cider Vinegar
1 tablespoon Blackstrap Molasses
1/2 teaspoon Garlic Powder
1/4 teaspoon Ground Ginger
1 teaspoon Salt
In a saucepan, combine the beef broth, cider vinegar, and molasses.
Add in the garlic, ginger, and salt. Mix well.
Let the entire mixture simmer on the stovetop over a medium-low heat for about 10 to 15 minutes or until the sauce begins to reduce. The best flavor is when you’ve let it reduce to about half of it’s original volume.
Store the finished sauce in an air-tight container (I like to use a glass jar with a plastic lid) in the fridge until ready to use. You may need to shake slightly before use. For most recipes, you can use this as a 1:1 replacement for soy sauce.
Homemade Teriyaki Sauce with Homemade Soy Sauce
When I make my homemade Soy Sauce recipe, I like to take it a bit further and use half of it to make a homemade Teriyaki sauce as well. This is so easy and works perfectly for stir-fry.
What You Need:
1/2 cup Homemade Soy Sauce
2 tablespoons Honey
1/4 cup Water
2 teaspoons Arrowroot Powder or Cornstarch
In a small saucepan, combine the soy sauce, honey, and water. Heat until the mixture is simmering. Sprinkle in the arrowroot powder and use a whisk to combine until well mixed. Let the mixture simmer for another minute or two to thicken. Use right away in a dish or stir-fry or place in an air-tight container to save for later.
Both the Homemade Soy Sauce Recipe and the Homemade Teriyaki Sauce recipe will last for a week in the fridge.
My favorite thing to do with these sauces is to make the homemade soy sauce recipe first and then the homemade teriyaki sauce recipe. Then I place the rest of the soy sauce in the fridge to use for the rest of the week and use the teriyaki sauce for supper the night that I make it.
If you are trying to make all your sauces and condiments at home, you will want to check out these recipes as well:
Want to begin making your own homemade Mayo recipe? It might just be easier to do than you think! Follow this simple, step by step tutorial to discover how wonderful fresh homemade mayo can be!
Homemade Mayo Recipe
This Homemade Mayo recipe is easy to make. It is a great alternative to store-bought mayo, as you can know what ingredients are in it and best of all, you can make it and have it on hand on very short notice. It is also very economical than buying in the store. Here are the simple ingredients and directions to having your own homemade mayonnaise!
Homemade Mayo Recipe
What You Need:
1 whole egg (I use fresh from the hen house)
1 cup Sunflower oil (or another mild tasting oil)
1 Tablespoon apple cider vinegar or lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon dry mustard powder
salt to taste
dash of cayenne pepper (optional)
2 Tablespoons honey (optional)
Use a food processor or blender for the best results. In the processor, mix together the egg, vinegar, and dry mustard. While the machine is continuously running, add in the oil. Do this at a steady, fine stream, taking your time. This needs to be done at a steady, fine stream so that your mayo will thicken up. Take time in doing this and you will get favorable results.
When you have completed adding all the oil (it should take a few minutes to add the oil since you are doing it slowly), add the remaining ingredients.This homemade Mayo recipe will keep in the frig for approximately one week.
Enjoy! Until next time, Julie
Have you ever made a homemade mayo recipe? How did it turn out?
Looking for a natural diaper rash cream that you can make yourself? This tutorial will help you make the best diaper rash cream out there!
The Best Diaper Rash Cream
Have you been makingHomemade Lotion, Homemade Vaseline, Homemade Lip Balm, Homemade Shaving Cream, and other natural health and beauty products for yourself? I’ve been enjoying all my homemade goodies ever since we started making/using them. But what about natural products for baby? He deserves the best too and if you are already making them for yourself, you will have most of the ingredients needed to make this best diaper rash cream for your little! This recipe is cloth diaper approved (even for cheap cloth diapers!). It shouldn’t build up and if you are having problems with it you can run your diapers in a vinegar and baking soda wash to clean them up.
Ok so a note…most recipes I’ve found for homemade diaper rash cream use zinc oxide. This is supposed to have antibacterial properties. I’m personally not 100% convinced on the safety of zinc oxide since it will be absorbed by the skin (and especially on my baby!) but I encourage you to do your own research on zinc oxide before you make a decision. If you do decide to add it to this recipe you will add 1 tablespoon per batch. The coconut oil in this recipe has antibacterial properties, either way you decide to go.
Love having a weekly pizza night? This easy homemade Pizza Sauce recipe is just what you need to top off your homemade pizzas with a delicious from-scratch sauce.
Easy Homemade Pizza Sauce Recipe
Pizza is a staple meal at our house. I am fairly certain that many Little House Living readers are serving pizza to their families, maybe as often as once a week.
I love having a pizza sauce that makes the pizza great. This recipe is one of those. Pizza sauce can be made as an “as needed” ingredient, or also a canned sauce that you have available when needed year round, by using up your garden goodies and having pints sit in your pantry ready to go!
Easy Homemade Pizza Sauce Recipe
Here is the recipe for a yummy sauce, small batch and large batch, to fit your needs. See below for a larger recipe for canning pizza sauce.
Per Quart Pizza Sauce (or approximately 3-4 cups for 3 to 4 pizzas)
1 quart of home canned tomatoes or 1 – 28 ounce can of tomatoes
Spread on pizza crust and bake follow your pizza crust directions. Top with all of your favorite toppings and enjoy your homemade pizzas!
Large Batch Pizza Sauce ( for canning pizza sauce)
1 gallon of tomato chunks (peeled and quartered) OR….if you have a high-speed blender, you can eliminate peeling.
1 large onion
1- 6-ounce jar of tomato paste
1/4 cup plus 2 Tablespoons sugar
1 Tablespoon salt
1 teaspoon paprika
1 1/2 teaspoon oregano
1 teaspoon chili powder
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon onion powder
1 Tablespoon minced garlic
1 teaspoon basil
Plus 1 tablespoon lemon juice per jar for canning.
Let fresh tomato chunks sit in a colander to drain extra fluid out of them. In a blender, add the tomato chunks and onion to pulverize. Place in a large stockpot. Add the remainder of the ingredients and let simmer for up to one hour. This amount makes approximately 8-10 pints.
You can preserve this homemade pizza sauce recipe in pint jars for 20 minutes in a boiling water bath to seal jars or you can also freeze the sauce in 1-2 cup quantities. Se sure and add the lemon juice to the jars if you are canning pizza sauce. These Freezer Containers are the perfect size for the right amount of sauce for a pizza.
Delicious!!! Enjoy your next pizza night with this simple, easy homemade pizza sauce.
Here’s my recipe for Homemade Pizza Dough from scratch (and how to make a big batch of that as well!). (Here’s a Wheat Pizza Dough as well.) You also might want to check out some of these other “make your own” recipes to make even more versions of common store-bought foods.
Need a baby gift that you can make in a hurry? This simple tutorial will show you how to make a receiving blanket in about 10 minutes from start to finish. So simple!
10 Minute Simple Baby Receiving Blanket Pattern
I love blankets for my babies. I’m not sure what my obsession is about, but there is just something about snuggling a warm little baby in that soft blanket that makes me want to have a whole bunch of them! Blankets that is….
For our little ones I’ve picked up some blankets here and there at rummage sales and been passed down a few, but the receiving blankets are always so thin. They don’t do much to protect my babies from the floor and they aren’t much for wrapping them in so that we can cuddle.
Making your own custom receiving blankets is so easy! All you need is a few yards of fabric and some thread and you are good to go. If you are ambitious or don’t have a sewing machine you can do these by hand but it’s much quicker if you have even a basic machine. Plus, you can make these super cute if you, or your machine, can do some decorative stitches.
All you need for this blanket is:
2 yards Flannel Fabric
If you aren’t able to get fabric locally you can buy online as well through places like Fabric.com. If you are on a budget, you will want to check out my post on Finding Cheap Fabric. Make sure to wash, dry, and iron the fabric before sewing.
Start by cutting the stray ends off your fabric pieces so they are the same size when put them together. I tried to get an exact measurement, but it will depend on the width of your fabric and how crooked it was cut! You also might choose to make your blanket a little bigger or a little smaller…it doesn’t matter, either way. Mine ended up being roughly 31 inches wide by 36 inches long.
Place the right sides of the fabric together and sew around all four edges. Make sure to leave an opening of several inches so that you can flip the blanket right side out. When you are done sewing around the edges, cut off any excess fabric to prevent bulk.
Turn the blanket right side out.
Iron the blanket and make sure to press all of the edges well so that they are flat and even. If you can’t or choose not to do a decorative stitch at this point, all you need to do is whip stitch the opening shut and you are done!
I decided to do a decorative stitch around the edges. To do this, simply choose your stitch and sew around all 4 edges!
I love this little stitch. It’s cute and fits with my blanket. I have this Brother Computerized Sewing Machine and I LOVE it! I upgraded when my basic machine broke last year and I’m not sure how I lived without this machine. It doesn’t need to use a foot pedal which is perfect for me since I don’t really get along with machines with them.
Then you are done! If you choose to do the decorative stitch this baby receiving blanket pattern will take a little longer to finish, but then it makes such a cute blanket for you or for a gift! If you don’t do the extra stitch this blanket will be done in 10 minutes and you can make several if you need them. I love these. They are so soft and much thicker than receiving blankets that you buy from the store.