I was raised on home cooking. It was the 70s, so sure, there were new-fangled shortcuts, occasional TV dinners, and Jell-O pudding. But most nights our meals were cooked right at home and often with home-grown ingredients. I’m lucky. I learned at the hands of an excellent cook. Not everyone has that kind of knowledge to fall back on, though. In an era when McDonald’s and Boston Market and Taco Bell dominate the landscape, the latest generations have simply missed out on the opportunity to learn old-fashioned skills like…cooking.
If you’re aiming to live a more self-reliant lifestyle (and I have to assume you are, since you’re here and reading) my vote for the number one place to start is the kitchen. Go look in your cupboard. How much of what’s there would be considered ingredients? How much has an ingredients list? I’m not suggesting that you get rid of everything with a label. But I firmly believe you can learn to make an awful lot of what your family eats, resulting in better food, less packaging, and (bonus) a lower grocery bill. Instead of counting on Campbell’s, learn to make your own soup. Instead of falling back on prepackaged spreads, learn to make your own hummus. I would never be confused with a five-star chef. But I can cook from scratch with the best of them, putting wholesome food on my family’s table. You can, too, with a little bit of practice. Here are a few links to get you started:
Ditch the packages:
- Ridiculous supermarket products you can make at home
- More supermarket products you can make at home
- Eating healthy for less
- Start by swapping out one ingredient
- Sourcing foods in bulk
Cook from scratch – a few recipes to get you started:
- Homemade chicken broth
- DIY refried beans
- Homemade pizza (with a shortcut!)
- Easy (but not instant) oatmeal in a jar
- Granola bars and bites
Revamp your pantry:
I have a collection of recipes for home canning and food preservation here on the site, too, but since you’re just getting started, let’s not push it. When you’re ready to delve into canning, you can find those recipes here.
Want to learn to make your own pantry staples?
50+ recipes from some of the web’s top real food bloggers.
100 pages featuring gorgeous photos and simple instructions.
Replace your favorite supermarket “cheats” with simple homemade alternatives.
Discover just how easy it is to make your own.
Save money and eliminate wasteful packaging.