Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Cooking From Scratch

 I've been missing in action due to my daughter Coco and her family had come down to stay and visit. I'm back now!
 In the past I have been talking about cutting down on the costs of living and for me food is a biggy. I love to cook and I also love to eat. My family seems to like my cooking so this all works out great received my monthly news letter on Monday from Homestead Happenings.  
 Crystal Miller who's blog Homemaking on the Homestead has given me permission to share this article with you.  Crystals was one of the first blogs that I started following when I was introduced to blogging. She also has her other site called The Family Homestead . She has so much wonderful advice, recipes and knowledge to share. She also makes soap,shampoo bars (I  LOVE these) and many other products to help the homemaker. Crystal is one of those ladies that I really wish was my neighbor. 
 This article puts into words some of what I knew to be but couldn't say it as well as Crystal has. 
 Cooking from Scratch ( Used with permission by Crystal Miller)
Crystal Miller

Cooking from scratch has quite a few benefits for your family. The food is healthier, it saves money, and it can make shopping more streamlined. 

Cooking from scratch can be healthier if you use good quality foods and avoid as many processed foods as possible. When shopping for food with health in mind making choices such as whole grains, and beans, fresh fruits and vegetables is a must. 

You can save money by buying foods in bulk, especially foods such as beans, grains, spices, pasta, etc.. However, simply buying the individual items to make a meal is typically going to be less expensive than buying prepackaged, frozen or canned meals. 

So, how does cooking from scratch make your shopping more streamlined? When you stock your cupboards with basic foods, the list is not that long. It is not difficult to keep a supply of basic foods in your cupboard to be able to create a huge amount of variety. 

I wrote down a list of the most common and basic foods I try to keep in my house at all times. Obviously we sometimes run out of things a day or two before grocery shopping day, especially things like fresh veggies and fruits. But overall this would have to be what my basic list of staples and supplies would look like… 

1. Beans
2. Brown rice
3. Oats
4. Wheat
5. Popcorn for snacks and dried corn for grinding into cornmeal
6. Some type of fresh veggies, preferably salad veggies
7. Onions 
8. Fruit: fresh & canned
9. Olive oil
10. Meat (hamburger, chicken, canned tuna & salmon, and pork, such as sausage or kielbasa or ham)
11. Cheese
12. Sour cream
13. Milk
14. Mayo
15. Eggs 
16. Spices and basic baking supplies such as baking soda, baking powder, salt, etc.. and yeast for making bread
17. Potatoes
18. Pasta: I try to keep on hand spaghetti noodles, macaroni noodles, lasagna noodles and one other type of pasta
19. Sweeteners: brown sugar, white sugar (or better yet, Sucanat and cane juice crystals), honey
20. Canned foods such as tomatoes and olives 

This list alone does not look like much.. no prepackaged type foods, no ready to go meals.. However it has enough variety for me to make many, many meals; breakfast, lunch or dinner as well as desserts and quick breads and yeast breads. Grocery shopping becomes more simplified when you think in terms of restocking the basics. 

When I menu plan I examine my basics and see what type of combinations I can come up with from this list. 
For breakfasts I can make:
Pancakes http://www.thefamilyhomestead.com/wwpancakes.htm  
Waffles http://www.thefamilyhomestead.com/wwwaffles.htm  
Coffee Cakes http://www.thefamilyhomestead.com/favcoffeecake.htm  
Oatmeal http://www.thefamilyhomestead.com/bakedoatmea1.htm  
Granola http://www.thefamilyhomestead.com/granola1.htm  
Scrambled eggs

Sandwiches: grilled cheese, tuna, chicken salad, ham salad, egg saladhttp://www.thefamilyhomestead.com/lunchessnacks.htm  
Soups: bean soups, vegetable soupshttp://www.thefamilyhomestead.com/souprecipes.htm  

This would be a huge never ending list as there is so much variety in the ingredients listed above.. so many so that I have my website simply filled with recipes that use basic ingredients..http://www.thefamilyhomestead.com/recipes.htm#Homestead%20Kitchen%20Recipes!  

Soups, stews, casseroles; coupled with quick breads, pasta, potatoes, salad, etc.. 

Being able to cook from scratch enables you to simplify your grocery lists and save money. It also makes grocery shopping quicker because you learn the stores and aisles to hit that have the items you need. 

When I get ready to plan out my menus I first think of starches. Do I want potatoes, rice, pasta or beans for this meal? Then I look at the meats I have on hand and go from there. 

Chicken and pasta can be made into chicken n’ noodles, chicken cacciatore, chicken lasagna, chicken alfredo, chicken tetrazzini, chicken noodle soup, and so on..

I go through my recipes and do the same for beef or ham (whatever meats I have or were on sale) and see what meals can be coupled with the starches I have to serve. 

Then I add a vegetable. Most always this is a basic green salad. I use romaine lettuce, spinach and add other veggies such as tomatoes, cucumbers, mushrooms, carrots, peppers… whatever I have in my fridge. From the above list of staples I also make salad dressing (http://www.thefamilyhomestead.com/makeyourownsaladdressings.htm ), typically ranch or Italian. 

The one thing cooking from scratch can lack is convenience. The best way I have learned to solve this is to think ahead, and be prepared. I keep cooked chicken, hamburger, rice, beans, etc.. in my freezer at all times so when I need something quick I have prepared food ready to go. This is the basic idea behind my ebook “Freezer Cooking with Meal Starters”. 
http://crystalscountrystore.com/freezercookingebook.htm  )
Cooking from scratch does take time, but I have always figured my husband spends his time earning the money and I can spend my time in the kitchen being a good steward of that money. Enjoy your time in the kitchen making food that saves you money, improves your family’s health and simplifies your shopping! 
  Crystal has a love for her family and Heavenly Father that shows in her blog posts. It is one of those blogs that makes you want to be a better homemaker, wife and mother. So I hope you will be able to use some of this advice if not all. Please check out her blog and site and sign up for the great newsletter that is delivered to your email each month free. It has homemaking ideas, recipes, tips and a menu planning sheet for the month that is so cute! 
  Hope everyone has a great day. Hugs, Bobbi Jo  

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