Six Foods I’ll Never Buy Again

how to cook real food

We’ve heard it said before: real food is a journey. You can’t expect it all to happen overnight. It’s a process. A lifestyle change.

However, as passionate as I am about whole foods, I still compromise sometimes. I have to, for the sake of sanity. For example, even though I love making homemade pasta, I usually keep a couple boxes of whole wheat spaghetti on hand, just in case. Or, while I make many batches of homemade yogurt in the summertime, I often grab a carton of whole-milk yogurt when the cow is dried up.

That being said, there are a few food items that I will never, ever buy from the grocery store again. Not just because they are filled with chemicals or preservatives, but because their homemade counterparts are so frugal, so easy, and so far superior in taste, that I simply can not think of any reason to buy them, even in my weakest moment.

So, in no particular order-

Six Foods I’ll Never Buy Again

1. Bread Crumbs. I’m embarrassed to admit that back in the day, I frequently bought those little cans of seasoned bread crumbs. Yes, I paid money for bits of stale bread. Not mention the fact that they are filled with all manner of strange ingredients (monocalcium phosphate, anyone?). Now, I save back my dry or stale bread (we have no shortage of failed bread experiments around here) and use my food processor to grind them into crumbs. They are practically free and so much healthier than store-bought!

how to can stock

2. Canned Broth. This is another “bonus food” that can be made from things that would normally end up in the garbage. It’s easy to create wholesome, nourishing broths and stocks with leftover bones and veggie scraps. Not only will you avoid the MSG found in conventional broths, but it’s frugal and incredibly easy, especially if you let your slow cooker do all the work for you. And then use your trust pressure canner to stow it in the pantry for later!

homemade vanilla extract

3. Vanilla Extract. Fake “vanilla” may be cheap, but it is nothing more than a bottle of artificial flavoring. Unfortunately, real vanilla can be costly, especially if you do a lot of baking. Thankfully, it’s a no-brainer to make vanilla extract in your own kitchen. All you need are vodka and vanilla beans. It practically makes itself!

 

homemade french fries

4. French Fries. Yes, I used to purchase those bags of frozen fries and tater tots every single time I when grocery shopping… UNTIL I figured out how easy (and delicious) it is to make your own. Potatoes, beef tallow, and sea salt are all it takes to make legendary homemade french fries.

french bread recipe

5. French Bread. Don’t laugh… But I think I was approximately 24 years old before I finally realized that French bread didn’t have to come from the store… Learning how to make it myself has been life-changing… OK, maybe life-changing is a little dramatic, but it’s sure nice to be able to whip up a quick batch of French bread anytime we are in the mood for creamy tomato soup or spaghetti.

homemade hot cocoa

6. Hot Cocoa Mix. If you still think making the switch to real food is a sacrifice, then you’ve never had a cup of real hot cocoa. It’s rich, decadent, full of healthy fats, and there is absolutely no comparison to the powdered stuff. So unless you have an attachment to those Styrofoam-like marshmallows, I suggest you try making it yourself. You can find my favorite cocoa recipe here– I love using raw milk, real vanilla, and a tiny drop of Peppermint essential oil.

So compromise is totally acceptable (at least in my book!), just choose your compromises wisely.

The farther I venture into real food, the more I am amazed at how so many of the foods that I once assumed impossible to make, are in reality, some of the simplest.

What are some of your “never buy again” foods?

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Comments

  1. I agree with your feeling on buying things. However I’ve never tried to make homemade vanilla!! I am so excited to try this. Thanks for sharing!

    • Niecey- I think you will love the homemade vanilla! Can’t wait for you to try it!

    • Home made vanilla extract is so easy, just go to Olive Nation and order the vanilla beans. Then go to the whiskey store and get the cheapest bottle of vodka.

      I split 2 beans and put them in a half pint canning jar, put the lid on and once a week shake the jars.

      I waited for a full month before I tasted it and wow, the longer you wait the better it is.

      You will have enough to give for presents and your friends and family will think you are great.

  2. These may be a no brainer to some, but I will never buy shortening, “vegetable” oil or other dead/damaged fats. I haven’t bought bread in I can’t remember how long. Most of my meat is now bought local from neighbors, instead of in the store.

    • Laurie- absolutely! I totally believe that replacing the dangerous fats with the good ones is one of the most important changes a person can make. And isn’t just awesome to buy local meat? :)

  3. Just some week ago chatting with a friend we were talking about this same subject.

    I will never buy canned veggies, salsas,anything that says “helper” in the name, cake mixes, frozen ready to eat food. Well, there is a whole world out there in the middle section of a supermarket that is strange to me.

    Great post, thanks for sharing at Simple Lives Thursday.

  4. Great post! There are so many things I will never buy from the grocery store again. I haven’t made my own vanilla extract yet, so thanks for the tip!

  5. I enjoyed this post a lot! I haven’t tried homemade vanilla either. Is it really cost-effective? If it makes larger quantities, how do you store it conveniently?

    • If you compare it to the fake stuff, then homemade vanilla is definitely more expensive. However, compared to store-bought real vanilla, making it at home really is more cost effective. Check out this great post over at Tammys Recipes. She has a great tutorial, as well as a cost break-down.
      I make mine in mason jars and then keep some in a smaller jar for frequent use. No need to refrigerate it, or worry about it going bad. The longer it sits, the better it gets!

    • I make homemade vanilla – it’s one of the few things I do make from scratch (I know, I know…I REALLY need to work on this!!).

      I did it the easiest way I could think – I took 2 or 3 vanilla beans (can’t remember how many) – buy them in bulk, they’ll be 1/2 price, but still expensive – sliced them the ‘long’ way (not all the way through though) – kind of turned them ‘inside out’ so the gooey part is on the outside, and simply put them in a bottle of vodka (buy the cheapest – it doesn’t matter the brand). Put them in the back of my pantry for 3-6 months, taking it out and shaking every week or so (when you remember!).

      That was about 4 years ago – I have probably 7/8 of a bottle of ‘vanilla vodka’ (as my brother likes to call it to tease me) in my pantry – it darkens over time and tastes wonderful.

      Some recipes tell you to remove the beans – I do NOT do that. I don’t mind ‘flecks’ of vanilla bean in my desserts and stuff when I use it.

  6. It really is amazing how simple some things are to make – often as simple or just a bit more time consuming than store bought! I made vanilla last fall and just keep adding a bit of vodka to the jar as I remove some (I keep one in the cupboard and one in the spice cabinet.)

  7. I’ll never again buy the fake shake Parmesan cheese. At first I thought that real Parm was way too expensive but I did it once and now I’ll never turn back. Not only is it soooo much better, you end up using half as much because you can actually taste the cheese! Now I think it’s the less expensive option because you can really stretch it and it lasts for months in your fridge. Great post!

    • I really need to see if I can find some real parmesan around here. I must confess that I still buy the shaker stuff, mostly because I didn’t think I could afford the real deal. Thanks for the idea!

      • The real stuff is so much better than the fake! My tips: save the green shaky-lid! My husband and I buy a bunch of real parm when it goes on sale, then use the grater attachment and store it in the freezer in mason jars. When ready to use, put the green lid on the mason jar– it fits perfectly!! :)

  8. Fantastic list! I need to get on it with the hot cocoa!

    • As a single mom with three kids and a long commute everyday, I do not always have time to stand at the stove whisking hot milk. Also cocoa powder is expensive, as are most of the things on this list. I was raised on powdered hot chocolate and I turned out ok and one of the things my kids love about it is that they can make it themselves!

  9. It’s funny you should mention the homemade vanilla extract. A couple of my friends are trying it. I guess it has to “steep” for quit some time. One of my friends LOVES baking, so she’s making it because it’s better than store-bought :) :)

    I don’t use breadcrumbs often. I still have a can with some left in it..bu t after reading this article. I’m going to make my own :) :) I’d read somewhere you can take a frozen roll, for example, and grate it…and voila, breadcrumbs :) :)

    Now the homade cocoa idea I WILL do…because I like cocoa but not all that fake sugar stuff that goes i nto it…and I avoid anything with high fructose corn syrup in it.

    Hmm…I’m really trying to avoid pre-packaged foods in general. I know that’s a broad category..but I’m really just trying to shop the perimeters of the store. I do avoid hot dogs, for sure!!! No more hot dogs. However, I did find a brand at my local Fred Meyer…that are certified organic beef hot dogs.

    I’ll be adding to this list as time goes on :) :) Thanks for this article. I think it’s important to be aware of foods that are not good or can be harmful!!!

    Love and hugs from Oregon, Heather :)

    • You know, I saw a recipe for homemade hot dogs the other day and it piqued my interest. Will have to put those on the list of things to try for sure. Yes, the only drawback to the homemade vanilla is the waiting time, but it’s sooo worth it! :)

  10. I will never buy packaged bread again.. that’s the first thing we changed when we started our whole foods journey and I can’t imagine going back to that squishy stuff in plastic. It is a time investment, but so worth it.

  11. Spray oil. It’s such garbage. I’d rather put oil into a pan than spray it in.

    • They sell those pump spray bottles for oils of your choice at high end chef supply stores. It’s pretty good to know what you’re spraying onto your food, if you choose to commit such an atrocious act. :)

      • Yes! I actually have one on order from Pampered Chef as we speak! Hopefully it will work for my olive oil.

      • Check TJ Maxx or Ross stores. Theyhave the high end kitchen utensils from Williams-Sonoma and Bed, Bath& Beyond. VERY inexpensive.

  12. I grew up on the cheap vanilla stuff. I didn’t realize the difference w/ real vanilla until I bought a bottle in the DR on vacation. SOLD! No imitation vanilla for me.

  13. Annie Waugh says:

    I will never buy ready-made mayonnaise again. I make mine from coconut oil/olive oil mix or organic cold pressed sunflower oil or safflower oil. Simple ingredients and only seconds to make with an immersion blender. Tastes so good it’s hard not to eat it by the spoonful.

    And Greek-style yogurt; so easy so good using your own home made yogurt or a good quality organic store-bought one.

    And corned beef. Now that I’ve made my own and found out how easy and good it is I’ll never buy a commercially prepared one.

    There are so many more things we can do at home and by-pass the inferior mass marketed stuff.

    I make the best (excuse the bragging) sourdough whole wheat bread that is so much like the fresh bread I had in Denmark 40 years ago–delish!

    Cook on!!

    • Good list Anne! Hey, you wouldn’t want to share you whole wheat sourdough recipe, would ya?
      I have a good starter going and have played with it quite a bit, but have yet to find an whole wheat bread recipe that I love!

  14. Annie Waugh says:

    Jill,
    I don’t know how experienced you are with sourdough baking so I left a lot of details here just in case you can get something out of them.

    Whole Wheat Sourdough Bread
    Adapted from: http://www.io.com/~sjohn/sour.htm

    You’ll need the following:

    2 Cups of sponge (proofed starter—see instructions for the sponge below)

    3 Cups of whole wheat flour (I’ve been getting excellent results with King Arthur White Whole Wheat which is simply ground from a slightly softer wheat grain but not as soft as pastry flour which wouldn’t give good results)

    2 tablespoons of olive oil or softened butter

    4 teaspoons of sugar

    2 teaspoons of salt

    First, about leftover sponge; you should have some. The leftover sponge is your starter for next time: Put it into the jar, and give it a fresh feed of a half-cup each of flour and warm water. Keep it in the fridge as above; you’ll have starter again next time.

    Now, for the recipe: To the sponge, add the sugar, salt, and oil. Mix well, then knead in the flour a half-cup at a time. Knead in enough flour to make a good, flexible bread dough. You can do this with an electric mixer, a bread machine on “dough cycle,” or a food processor. I (Annie) do it with a big bowl and my bare hands; it’s a nice little workout and peaceful.

    Keep in mind that flour amounts are approximate; flour varies in absorbency, and your sponge can vary in wetness. Use your judgment; trust your hands and eyes more than the recipe, always.

    Let the dough rise in a warm place, in a bowl covered loosely with a towel (if you’re using a bread machine’s dough cycle, let it rise in the machine). Note that sourdough rises more slowly than yeast bread; it could take anywhere between 1 hour and 3 hours. Let the dough double in bulk, just like yeast-bread dough. When a finger poked into the top of the dough creates a pit that doesn’t “heal” (spring back), you’ve got a risen dough.

    Punch the dough down and knead it a little more. Make a loaf and place it on a baking sheet (lightly greased or sprinkled with cornmeal) or put it in a loaf pan. Slit the top if you like, and cover the loaf with a clean towel and place it in a warm place to rise again, until doubled in bulk. This won’t take as long as the first rise but still might take 1 to 2 hours.

    Bake at 350ºF for 30-45 minutes. The loaf is done when the crust is brown and the bottom sounds hollow when thumped with a wooden spoon. Turn the loaf out onto a cooling rack or a towel and let it cool for an hour before slicing.

    You can double the recipe for 2 nice loaves

    PS: Sometimes these loaves rise nice into a softer bread appealing to USA tastes. Other times it doesn’t rise quite as well but comes out a little more like a Scandinavian rye. It is still VERY tasty if that happens; you just have to slice it thinner. I’m crazy about this bread and I get many compliments on it when I share with others. ENJOY and happy baking!

    Sponge:
    Several hours before (or the night before) you plan to make your dough, you need to make a sponge. A “sponge” means warm, fermented batter.

    Take your starter out of the fridge (or wherever you keep it). Pour it into a large glass or plastic bowl. Meanwhile, wash the jar thoroughly and dry it.

    Add a cup of warm water and a cup of whole wheat flour to the bowl. Stir well, and let it proof (set it in a warm place for several hours). Proofing overnight is best for bread making the next day.

    Watch for Froth and Sniff. When your sponge is bubbly and has a white froth, and it smells a little sour, it is ready. The longer you let the sponge sit, the sourer flavor you will get.

    The proofing-time varies. Some starters can proof up to frothiness in an hour or two. Some take 6-8 hours, or even longer. Just experiment and see how long yours takes. If you’re going to bake in the morning, set your sponge out to proof overnight.

    More notes from the original author:

    There are lots of factors that can lead to a starter sort of “petering out,” including heat damage, changes in the flour used (some brands of flour seem “hostile” to sourdough due to chemical treatments in their processing), etc. Many causes are just environmental, though, and beyond your reasonable control. The best remedy is to keep two or three going at one time, discarding the weakest, splitting the strongest into multiple batches, and so on until you end up with a kind of Super-Starter. Then you can preserve flakes of that by spreading some on wax paper with a rubber spatula, letting it dry, flaking it into a baggie, and then freezing it. If your other starters ever wimp out, you can restart your super-starter with those flakes. Handy!

    • Annie- thank you SO much for going to all the trouble to type this out for me! It looks wonderful and I can’t wait to try it. Will let you know when I do! Thanks again.

    • where do i get starter from? Thanks! :)

      • King arthur flour sells a few different kinds of starter. They also have recipes for making your own starter from scratch. You can order online and they have a wonderful recipe selection. Check it out, Kim

  15. I love the idea of homemade vanilla extract!

    I make homemade yogurt in the crockpot and add a little honey or fresh fruit. It is super easy and very cheap compared to store-bought yogurt. The recipe I use is here: http://crockpot365.blogspot.com/2008/10/you-can-make-yogurt-in-your-crockpot.html
    It can be substituted for sour cream in any recipe or as is.
    this saves money too.
    How about making your own croutons as well?
    Cut old bread into cubes. Shake in a bag with a little olive oil and seasonings and Voila!

  16. Another reason to eschew the fake vanilla – as I understand it, vanillin is a chemical by-product of paper manufacturing! What is *wrong* with our culture?!

    From http://www.gourmetsleuth.com/Articles/Exotic-Herbs-Spices-and-Salts-639/vanilla.aspx:

    “Artificial Vanilla Flavoring
    U.S. manufactured artificial vanilla is produced from synthetic “vanillin”, Lignin Vanillin, which is made from a by-product of the paper producing industry. This by product is chemically treated to mimic the flavor of vanilla. The product help take care of a ecological problem with paper producers and created an “affordable” vanilla flavoring for the public.

    The other synthetic common in Mexican artificial flavorings is Ethyl Vanillin derived from coal tar.”

    Mmm, coal tar! Delicious. [facepalm] Since discovering that little tidbit, I only use the real stuff. Have pondered making my own, but wasn’t sure it was worth it – heading over to Tammy’s site in awhile to see the cost breakdown, then perhaps heading to the store to buy beans. :)

    • Ah, THANK YOU for sharing this link! I had heard that it was a by-product at one time, but I couldn’t find any sources for it recently. But now I have the cold, hard facts. Ha!

  17. Debbie in MI says:

    Is making vanilla cheaper than buying it in Mexico – not counting airfare! :-) ? I’ve been managing for years on vanilla purchased there by my parents but I know that won’t last forever, either.
    I never buy cake mixes or, in fact, most pre-packaged items. Never, ever buy tortillas – my home made ones are so much better (and cheaper). I do buy pasta for the convenience although I like to make it myself, too. I’ve been baking most of our bread for almost 27 years and have become a terrible Bread-Snob.
    I confess I do love the processed peanut butter but my husband would be happier with the real kind. One of these days I’ll make some for him…at this point we’re still buying the natural stuff for him.
    Oh, and I never, ever buy English Muffins, either. Mine are far superior. Told you I was a snob!

  18. Amen! I love homemade vanilla and will never pay ridiculous amounts of money for the tiny bottles in the store ever again. Ditto on the breadcrumbs… it is kind of embarrassing to admit I ever money for someone else’s stale bread. Lol.

  19. Great post!! I figured out the bread crumbs trick when I ran out of bread crumbs for a recipe and didn’t have time to run to the store. Because I was in a hurry, I threw a couple of pieces of bread in the toaster and then whirled them through the food processor. I never bought another canister of bread crumbs again! I’ve been making vanilla for years, too. Although, I’ve found that I prefer rum over vodka. We also make our own yogurt, laundry soap, dog biscuits, granola and granola bars, and a whole host of things I can’t think of right now.

    Thanks for the motivating post!

  20. My foods that I never buy again are:

    - Bread: because I keep kosher and they tend to use lard in bread where I live, I make and bake my own. Sure, it goes stale quickly because of its natural goodness (no additives!) but if you freeze it (or toast it), it’s not so bad. And it is soooo satisfying to have your own bread, piping-hot from the oven.

    - Jams and lemon curd: lemon curd I always make myself, and it is far superior to the store-bought variety. Same applies for jams. And you get to experiment by adding exotic ingredients in the jams!

    - Fresh basil (and other herbs): it is TOO easy to have a few potted herb plants by your kitchen counter. And always fresh herbs at your disposal!

    - Eggs: well, only partially true. My mother and brother have some free-range chickens running around, so when I visit them, I get fresh eggs.

    - Broth: I always make mine from scratch from left-over chicken bones. But then again, keeping kosher is an impetus for making more stuff myself! :)

    Thanks for sharing, and what a great blog.

    Blessings,
    This Good Life

  21. I just found your blog today and am thoroughly enjoying reading your posts. I began my real food journey almost 3 years ago. Once the light goes off that you need to do this and change the way your family eats, there’s no going back. I make pretty much everything from scratch now, including what you’ve listed above. Thank you for the continued inspiration :)

    • Absolutely agree Sarah- I don’t know how I could ever go back to eating the way I did “before”. There is NO way!

  22. Cookie dough
    Rolled oats- they steam all the nutrients out, I roll my own for less than $0.50/lb
    Cereal- we make muesli and granola
    Jams and Jelly
    Bread or any other flour products
    Meat

    To be honest the grocery store freaks me out these days.

  23. MarceyMae says:

    Does anyone that makes all their own stuff work outside the home? Years ago, when I was a stay at home mom, homeschooling my children, we did it all. We had a small farm and 75 percent of what we ate came from my hands. About 4 years ago my husband became disabled and I had to go to work. I can’t seem to find time to do anything. I come home tired on the week days and weekends are filled with catching up for the week ahead.

    • MarceyMae, this is how I feel, too! I love perusing all the do-it-yourself homesteading-type blogs, but man, how does anyone who /doesn’t/ stay home all day have time?

      I guess what I’ve found is that, no, I can’t do it all, but I /can/ do something. It’s amazing how much you can get done even in fifteen minutes! Even when I’m tired, I can usually convince myself to set a timer for fifteen minutes and tackle one project–weeding the garden or making a batch of cleaning supplies or prepping a make-ahead meal. Sometimes just doing something that I know I want to do and that I know is improving my family’s life gives me energy and I end up working longer than fifteen minutes–but other times I head off and collapse on the couch as soon as that timer beeps!

      I also keep a list of projects I want to try, and assign them to a weekend when I know I’ll have an hour or two to give them (so, not the weekends when I have to work, or have twenty other commitments to get to). Sometimes they don’t work out, but at least I tried, and it feels good to check things off a list! I can often get the family involved with these things, too.

      Some things work, some things don’t…I suspect that even if I were home all day, there’d still be things I’d wish I had time to do!

      • Katie, some great pointers here. And you hit the nail on the head when you said “I can’t do it all, but I /can/ do something”. That is really the key to the whole homesteading/whole foods lifestyle/everything! It’s all about baby steps and just doing what you can. Good job. ;)

  24. MarceyMae, I agree. I always start a garden, intending to grow & can or freeze all our veggies for the year, but by this time of the year it is overgrown & some stuff has died for lack of water. We have adult rabbits that we were supposed to eat last year, but I never had time to process them. I lost most of my fruit trees to gophers because I didn’t spend enough time looking after them. By the time I get everyone fed, milked, dishes going, etc., I’m running late to leave for work, and it’s often dark by the time I get home, with dinner to make, evening milking to do, etc. Thankfully I discovered the book “Artisan Bread in 5 Minutes a Day”, so we have homemade bread again, but trying to keep up with making everything from scratch is exhausting. Those of you who can afford to stay home & make it all are very fortunate.

  25. Great post! it’s fun making things from scratch, especially things that most people would never imagine you could do. I started making my own vanilla last year (makes good christmas presents too!) If anyone is worried about the price of vanilla beans, look on ebay! Much, much cheaper than buying the beans from the supermarket, plus you can use the beans when making custard or ice cream too. A couple things I’ll never buy from the store again – ketchup (I make mine from tomato paste, super easy and cheap), and chocolate syrup for chocolate milk and sundaes :) It takes about five minutes on the stove, and I know everything that goes into it :)

    So happy I found your site..
    Cheers,
    Meg

  26. I can not WAIT to try the new vanilla method! Wow, my mind is blown! LOL :) We’re also planning on growing vanilla in a greenhouse…now if only I could actually make the vodka! We are only in our first year of homesteading, so there are lots of things we buy from the store. As we become more self sufficient, we’ll begin to remove those things.

    • You will have to let me know how growing your own vanilla goes!! I’d be very curious about that- what a great idea!

  27. I will NEVER buy canned soup again! My own home canned soup is absolutely unbelievably good….cheaper and WAY …I do mean WAY better tasting! NEVER again. Never again on spaghetti sauce, chili beans, jams, green beans, carrots, yogurt, and laundry soap. The list will get longer…OH…and cottage cheese and bread!

  28. I will never buy laundry detergent, canned tomatoes grocery store spices. I found a great omish place for spices I haven’t grown yet.

  29. After finding out my position was being outsourced I found ways to cut the money we spent at the store just in case I did not find another job. With that said I will never buy laundry detergent, bread, canned beans, all purpose spray, hand soap, fire starter logs, vanilla, bread crumbs, salad dressing and dressing mixes.

  30. A lot of what has already been mentioned, but also Hummus. YUM

  31. So… I just found your blog… and I must say… I’m in ruv!
    My husband just medically retired from the Marine Corps, and we have been planning to “get back to basics” with our own homestead farm. Of course, we have to wait until we get some of our debt paid off and then we are going to start looking for about 20 acres. We think that should be more than enough to have cows, goats, garden, orchard, chickens, house, and all the other things that we want/need! But for right now, we have (soon to be 8) 5 raised beds for veggies, 1 for strawberries, 2 blueberry bushes, 2 apple, 1 pear, 1 mulberry, 5 raspberry, and 4 grapes! Hopefully in June we will be able to get our chickens, and maybe a couple beehives!

    • Sounds like you have a WONDERFUL start Jacque! Keep up the great work- hope you can get your chickens soon! :)

  32. This article and all the comments are so inspiring! I’ve been trying for the last few years to make healthier meals and snacks – baking all our own cookies, muffins etc and not relying on convenience meals, I love making our own yogurt, too! I recently starting straining out the whey and love it even more. I’m going to make my own laundry soap for the first time this week, and even my husband is excited to try making vanilla! Also on my to-try list is making my own almond milk. I’m going to hang a list on my fridge of things that I switch to making completely from scratch to keep me motivated!

  33. I make my own cleaning products with vinegar. The glass cleaner works so much better, no streaks. I also use it in my washing machine. I posted all the benefits and ways to use it on my blog. Here’s to healthier living. I feel so at home with all of you. :)

  34. I made vanilla ice cream from scratch and there is no comparison. So much more decadent. I also recently started canning (last year I had more tomatoes than I knew what to do with. Salad dressing- I always make my own in a mason jar (lemon juice, crushed garlic, olive oil, salt pepper and mustard -sometimes I add a little vinegar too) and you just shake. So much better than the crap in a bottle. I also make my own ranch dressing with Buttermilk.

  35. WilliamB says:

    Never except in emergencies:
    - meat stock (I buy bones if necessary)
    - bread crumbs
    - laundry detergent (the recipe I use takes 5 min and is less mess to clean up than making cookies)
    - glass cleaner
    - fruit wash
    - plain canned beans (a pressure cooker makes all the difference)
    - instant rice
    - cake mix
    - ground meat (the more I learn about CAFO, the more I grind my own from whole pieces)

    Rarely or sometimes:
    - soup
    - bacon
    - bread

    Always:
    - yogurt
    - surface cleaner (haven’t found a recipe that works for me yet)
    - vegetable stock
    - brown sugar (mixing white sugar and molasses doesn’t work for pancake topping, and its messy, and the cost saving is minimal)
    - brownie mix (still haven’t found or created a recipe as good as box mix + chocolate syrup)

  36. I’m impressed, I need to say. Really rarely do I encounter a weblog that’s both educative and entertaining, and let me tell you, you’ve hit the nail on the head. Your thought is excellent; the difficulty is something that not enough individuals are speaking intelligently about. I am very pleased that I stumbled throughout this in my search for something relating to this.

  37. Just found your blog and love it – can’t wait to make my vodka vanilla.
    Never again:
    Canned coconut milk – since I found out how easy and cheap it is to make my own (even during supper prep, when I usually need it) from dried coconut which I buy in bulk, boiling water, a blender, and a strainer. Total time – 5 minutes!!! I save the squeezed-out coconut, freeze it and add it to granola or other recipes.
    Yogurt – Think it’s healthy? Think again! Commercial yogurt is made by pouring the hot milk into the plastic tubs and allowing it to culture there? The most UNHEALTHY thing is to have your hot food come into contact with plastic!!!. I have a yogurt maker w/glass cups, bought some powdered starter culture, and make my own, using some of the homemade batch as the starter next time.
    ANY food packaged in plastic or cans that I can buy in glass or make myself like mustard, ketchup, mayonnaise tomato paste, tomato sauce, etc. Pretty much have eliminated foods packaged in plastic, and don’t miss ‘em.

  38. I will never buy Vaseline or any kind of petroleum jelly. Hence the word “petroleum”. Don’t want motor oil on my lips! I don’t buy any kind of bread. I just stopped eating it. Even store bought whole wheat has sugar in it.
    the canned broth has an odor when opened. Wonder why? It has been canned for months! Haven’t tried homemade broth yet, but I will.
    I will never buy cake mixes. Just as easy to make from scratch.
    Grits (for us Southern girls) either! We grind our own non GMO corn for grits and cornmeal. The difference is amazing. I don’t eat them anymore from anywhere else.

  39. Hey thanks for sharing a link to my post: “Eating Clean – Breaking Through the Weight Loss Plateau.” I hope you and your readers find it helpful. I have several other posts on nutrition you may be interested in also if you’d like to browse the archives sometime.

    This is a great post. Have you read “Nourishing Traditions?” A lot of this stuff is what they would recommend in their book.

  40. John-Marc Ventimiglia says:

    We are a family of 3 (including the cat) and I have found the best way to make stocks (broth) is to freeze the chicken, duck bones after every meal – carrot, celery and onion trimmings after every prep session and make the stocks monthly when I get enough stuff to make it worth the while.
    Then I can freeze or can for the future.

  41. Excellent post! Thanks for the ideas, these fit in perfectly with my ideals. I’m really enjoying your blog from across the pond!

    I already make my own crisps, salsa, guacamole and cheese (not that I’ll ever stop buying cheese- far too much variety!). I plan on starting with my own butter and will also be refusing to buy bacon or sausages again and will be making my own with pork sourced from a local farmer.

  42. Oh and salting and roasting your own nuts is far superior and much cheaper than buying them already done!

  43. Thanks for the ideas! They’re great! I just had one question. Can you substitute the vodka, in the vanilla, for something else like carbonated water? I doubt it, but i thought i’d ask just in case because we never buy vodka, and buying it solely for the purpose of making vanilla would probably cost more than the real natural vanilla! Have any ideas?

    • Hi Katie,
      I don’t think that would work. However, I know that there is a method to make extracts using vegetable glycerin instead– so you might google that. (We don’t use vodka for anything else, either… I hate going to the liquor store just for that!)

  44. Thank you for sharing.
    I was considering making my own vanilla when I found Pure Vanilla Extract at Costco (large bottle!) for the price of a couple of vanilla beans…

    About stock though, I ALWAYS save veggie scraps in a bag in my freezer. When the bag is full, I boil them for veggie stock. I NEVER chuck meat drippings but instead, use a ‘gravy separator’ to remove as much fat as I can and freeze that. EVERY TIME I boil veggies, I save the boiled water for soup stock also!
    Then I get amazing homemade soups that are rich AND full of nutritional value, not chem-crap…

    Thank you for your awesome blog! I’m loving it!

  45. Tamra Parask says:

    Pound of vanilla beans on amazon comes to about .50 cents a bean!! About 54 beans in a pound. You can split the order w someone if that is too many for you:). Also, as you use the vanilla, you can replace the vodka/rum and it will continue to steep, until at some point you’ve exhausted the beans(you can determine when that is by your own taste). Splitting the beans releases more flavor. I also make almond extract. And have experimented by putting vanilla and almonds together in the vodka this last time. That worked ok, but the vanilla seems to be overpowering the almonds so far:). But it’s only been about a month, so we’ll see down the road a bit how that goes:) Probably a reason they sell them seperately:):). The beans on amazon are THE best vanilla beans I have EVER seen/felt/smelled!!! SO moist and plump!!

    • That’s a great price! I’ve never even thought of trying to make my own almond extract. What a great idea!

  46. I love the hot chocolate recipe SOOOOOOO much!!!! I made it so many times a few months ago……But now it’s spring (and a hot one too!). I was wondering, (Since I’m pretty sure you don’t buy that gross nequick stuff……) Do you have a chocolate milk recipe? ‘Cause I have the awesome-est one ever! Fill a microwavable cup half-way up with milk and microwavew it for approx. 30 seconds. Then, stir in one T. of cocoa powder and two T. of powdered sugar (Powdered sugar makes it more chocolate-milk-y, rather than sugar make it chocolate-drink-stuff-y :-) ) If it’s not mixing well, put it in the microwave for 30 more seconds. Then, fill the rest up with cold milk! Simple right? (If it’s not cold enough, you could put it in the freezer for a few minutes. But I like it not super super cold anyway ;-) )

  47. I love your website completely! I just wanted to share the recipe I discovered to make hot chocolate the “real food” way. The recipe is to add one tablespoon maple syrup and one teaspoon cocoa powder to one cup milk and heat through. My kids love it and 3 ingredients we always have on hand couldn’t make it any easier! I may try adding some vanilla next time though, sounds like a nice addition.

  48. I make my own balms and oils for my skin. I don’t buy lotions with petroleum products, alcohol and artificial fragrances. I want to figure out my shampoo someday. I use essentials oils as much as I know how.

    I don’t buy spaghetti sauce, cookies (except ginger snaps… Sometimes…), doughnuts, cakes, salad dressing, shortening, vegetable oil, margarine, artificial sweeteners, fruit drinks (not juice), sweetened cereals… I rarely buy prepared foods, except tomato products and canned beans, corn, pineapple, pasta. I have a long way to go…

    Thank you for sharing!

    • I agree! I really try to avoid petroleum-based body products as well. So silly to use petroleum when there are so many other quality food-based oils for skin and body!

      • I just made my first batch of facial moisturizer out of green tea, calendula flowers, oatmeal, coconut oil, grapeseed oil, vitamin B3 (niacinimide), emulsifying wax (or you can use bees wax) and germall plus (to keep the bacteria in line). It is amazing!!! AND no petroleum products!!!

  49. I always say there are three main things that I can’t comprehend why *anyone* would purchase, because the homemade versions are SO easy and SO superior!, and they are 1. Mashed Potatoes, 2. Applesauce, and 3. Salad Dressing. That said, I make as much of everything from scratch as possible. I’ve gotten to where, as much as we love going out, I’d just as soon eat at home, as our food is so much better, and doesn’t make me feel as bad. (Challenging, because we travel a lot!) I always take my own popcorn to the movies – not because of the money, but because mine is SO MUCH better than theirs!! Organic popcorn, popped on the stovetop, in coconut oil, topped with Kerrygold, & RealSalt, how can you beat that? I get requests for it – my friends will say, “We’re having a party, can you bring your popcorn?” which of course I’m always happy to do, but it cracks me up – we all got so used to micropop for so long that people have forgotten what REAL popcorn tastes like! We just put in some plants (I can’t quite call it a garden, as it’s a bit random, LOL) so I’ll get to learn to can later this year, I hope. It all started from the volunteer cucurbits that are going crazy in our backyard – will be fun to see what we’ve got – no idea if they’re summer squash, pumpkins, melons, cucumbers, or some inedible hybrid, but the vines are all sizes and all starting to flower – fun! For a few years we’ve practiced “passive composting” – which just means if something goes bad, we toss it into an area of the backyard. Now that all these cucurbits came up on their own, we may have to stop that practice and do a real compost to avoid being completely overrun! Once those came up & we decided to tend them, we started adding purchased plants. So far, we have 3 tomato plants, four pepper plants (green, yellow, & red bells, and a jalapeno), basil, mint, 2 strawberries, blackberry vine, sage, lavender, and a fig tree. I have a BROWN thumb, but Husband has a very green one, so he’s been having fun putting stuff in the ground and tending it. We also bought a BUNCH of seed packets (Seeds of Change brand) but we shall see if we do anything with them this year. It’s HOT here in Texas, so we get 2 planting times a year for most things. It’s so much fun learning to grow and make your own stuff, isn’t it?!! Such an adventure! My friends definitely think of me as a crazy hippie, but I’m okay with that! :-)

  50. lisalyn says:

    List of never buy :
    bisquick, cake mixes, pie crust, Crisco, egg noodles, ( laundry soap, dishwasher detergent, ) Yogurt , I heat mine in the microwave :-0 place in mason jar ,IN a hand knit ‘sweater’ I knit , then into a small insulated lunch bag, set in the warm kitchen window..
    NOW : :_) sausage ! I think I will use a combo of turkey & pork.. we’ll see,
    Thanks for your posts ! I learn SO much..

  51. I thought I saw a recipe on you site for making cocoa coveres almonds… Am I going crazy?

  52. I hardly know where to begin with things I will never purchase again. I have a dairy allergy so the list of store-bought/packaged things I can’t have is endless. I am amazed at the things that have both sugar and dairy in them unnecessarily: cereal, frozen fruits, pastas, supposedly “healthy” frozen entrees and everything in between.
    Not to mention the things that can kill you in “organic” foods or things that seem straightforward, like TBHQ in just about all major brands of chocolate candy, and things like carageenan in so many milk alternatives (almond milk, soy milk, plus ice creams and other treats). My diet is very Asian-based now (lots of veggies and rice along with fish and meat). I came here looking for a cheesecloth alternative so I can make some real almond milk-and like everything else I’ve made after trying it store bought, I know I’ll never go back.
    I look forward to trying some of your recipes, especially the real vanilla. :) Thank you so much for such a helpful blog.

  53. I make all six of these things at home too! I always feel so much better making stuff for my fam from scratch. Nothing weird in the list of ingredients.

  54. I’m going to have to start making vanilla and my own stocks. I don’t have a pressure canner but I have a big empty freezer so I think I’ll just freeze it all. :-)

  55. I make most of my own bread crumbs, but I like to have backup in my pantry, and varieties like Panko.

    I make lots of homemade veggie stock because I save the remnants and they pile up quickly, but I do not cook enough chickens to make enough broth when I need it, so I do buy some chicken stock, same with beef stock.

    I LOVE good high quality vanilla, and I do not mind paying for it – a baking weakness. I wouldn’t dream of buying vodka to make my own vanilla – personal choice.

    I definitely make my own fries whenever possible. One good size Russet goes a long way, and you can cut them to your liking. I do the same with sweet potatoes.

    I try to make homemade bread, but I just don’t have the best results. I am much better at cooking than baking, but I still continue to try, and I know that I can get a wonderful hot loaf of French bread at my local bakery for only $1.25.

    It is so easy to make your own cocoa, and lots of fun to do if you have any kids to help. You can use cocoa powder or baking chocolate. Add any kind of flavored extract. My favorite it to put a candy in a cup of the hot chocolate.

  56. Let me add ranch dressing/dip mix. Onion powder, garlic powder, parsley, salt, pepper, and dry dill in a mason jar mixed with yogurt, mayonnaise, or whatever you like! I can’t believe I use to buy that crap!

  57. I will never buy canned tomato soup again! I make a tomato bisque that is simple, and delicious, and I can make big batches and can it for the pantry. I can’t believe that for years I would buy the tomato bisque at the grocery store, in the refrigerator section, thinking it was too “gourmet” to make at home. One day I noticed that it’s expiration date was at least 2 months away and then I read the ingredients. Good heavens there was a bunch of preservatives and junk in there !!! Homemade is so much tastier, and you can control the fat with how much cream you add :-)

  58. So, I have an anaphylactic allergy to beef (and pork, and lamb, and dairy, and tallow, and gelatin, and lanolin,…really anything that comes from a mammal at all). SO what would you recommend as a substitute for the tallow with french fries? We would love to make them, but the allergy has thrown a monkey wrench in it. I keep hearing that olive oil shouldn’t be used to saute or fry, and grapeseed oil is pretty stinkin’ expensive. Canola is just not healthy, so….any ideas?

    • Hi Ashley,
      You could easily use palm oil to fry. We use it when we don’t have a good source of tallow or lard. Depending on what we are frying, we have even added in coconut oil or ghee, especially, if we are low on palm oil.
      Good luck, I hope you find something that works for you! :)

  59. Jessica says:

    My dad freezes his broth and pasta sauce.