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Published on December 16th, 2013 | by Guest Contributor


Top 5 Foods to Always Make at Home (and Never Buy)

Homemade living is the great lost art of the past few generations, although in cities, towns and rural areas the skills of homemade food and living are thriving. Bakeries thrive selling artisan bread, homebrewed beer and wine are increasingly popular, and handmade sweaters and DIY gardening are slowing becoming more popular across the country. But if you aren’t ready to quit your day job and move to the country to raise your own chickens, these homemade recipes will make you feel like a great homesteader, knitting needles or not!

Though homemade food always tastes and feels better than food that is mass-produced, we don’t all have time to make everything from scratch. But if you do have some time, I encourage you to try to make these five best homemade foods at home. Not only do they blow away the mass produced stuff in flavor and nutrition, they can save you big bucks.

homemade granola

homemade granola + homemade yogurt!

5 Foods to Always Make at Home

Homemade Granola: Most boxed or bulk granola brands are loaded (LOADED!) with sugar and oil. While some sweetener and some oil is needed for this homemade granola recipe, it’s a very modest amount. Best of all, homemade granola is very easy: just oats, some nuts or seeds, some raisins, and a little honey and oil. Bake. Done. Homemade granola is a great breakfast or snack, and it can even be shared as a homemade gift during the holidays!

Homemade Kombucha: If you consider yourself a fan or kombucha, you should do yourself a gigantic financial favor and start making your own! All you need is some black tea, some sugar, water and a kombucha SCOBY. Find a SCOBY locally (one of our local cafes sells the SCOBY in little jars!) or check out Google for how to purchase online. Get a large glass carafe and get started! With just this small investment in time and money, you can be drinking homemade fizzy awesomeness in no time. Here is a tutorial for Homemade Kombucha, and here’s another for kombucha’s caffeine-free cousin, water kefir.

homemade kombucha

homemade kombucha

Homemade Vegetable Broth: Not only is homemade vegetable broth infinitely more flavorful and healthful than those boxed or canned versions, it’s a great way to make the most of your veggies. I like to keep a big jar in the freezer and save all my carrot tops, kale stems, onion skins and other vegetable peelings. Once the jar is full, add the frozen veggies (and maybe a few fresh, like carrots, onions and celery) to a big stockpot. Cover with water and boil for one hour. Season with a tiny bit of salt and store in large jars up to a week. You can also add nutrition and flavor to your broth with dried mushrooms, kombu seaweed or fresh and dried herbs. Learn all about how to make homemade vegetable broth here on Vibrant Wellness Journal.

homemade vegetable broth

Macaroni and Cheese: While boxed macaroni and cheese may have a place in all our childhood memories, most of the the boxes that line the grocery store shevles are filled with chemicals, preservatives, colorings and other gross ingredients. Choose homemade macaroni and cheese instead. It doesn’t take much longer than the boxed stuff, but the flavor is out of this world. Choose your favorite noodles (I like gluten-free brown rice noodles) and your favorite cheese and away you go. Check out the link above for Eat. Drink… Better’s classic mac and cheese, and find 10 recipes for vegan macaroni and cheese here.

Homemade Salad Dressing: Just like granola (and almost all packaged foods), bottled salad dressings are usually loaded with sugar, oil, ‘natural’ and artificial flavors and thickeners and other not-so-nice ingredients. Furthermore, they cost a bunch of money and come in glass bottles that need to be recycled later. How about making your own salad dressings? It’s super easy: take equal amounts of oil (good olive oil, sesame oil and/or coconut oil) and mix in something sour (vinegars or lemon juice). Stir in a pinch of salt and pepper, add any herbs you might like, and then drizzle away!

There are infinite variations on this simple theme, and trust me, it’s impossible to mess up. If you don’t like the flavor of what you’ve initially created, try adding in something sweet (honey, maple syrup, or agave) or something bitter (tahini, lemon zest, turmeric) or something salty (miso, salt or ume vinegar) until the flavor balances out. Make big jars and keep in your fridge for salads, wraps, marinades and more! Here’s a basic marinade recipe to get you started.

basic marinade

a basic marinade with olive oil, soy sauce, balsamic vinegar and mirin

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