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Homemade Recipes: How to Make Your Favorite Ready-Made Meals from Scratch

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No matter what the food corporations want you to believe (It’s hard! You don’t have time for cooking!) you can cook from scratch. The food will taste better, you’ll eliminate some questionable ingredients, and there’s much less waste with these homemade recipes.

au gratin potatoes in a cast iron pan

Homemade recipes galore!

My earlier post entitled 10 Supermarket Products You Can Make at Home really resonated with people. Some were indignant about the “food” we find in the stores. Others were happy to find dinner ideas and DIY recipes to make some of the products they usually depend on from the grocery store.

As we traverse the supermarket we’re bombarded with “easy!” “fast!” and the purely ridiculous. That speed comes with disposable plastic packaging and — very likely — some unpronounceable ingredients.

But good news: Cooking at home is not difficult. If it’s new to you, it might seem daunting, but it’s not hard. Take this collection of homemade recipes, for example. They use whole food and you’ll find you may even have these ingredients on hand.

homemade recipe for bowtie pasta in pesto

Homemade recipes for pasta and grains

Pasta has always been one of my go-to meals for hurry-up nights, and yet someone decided that people might want to make it even faster.

scalloped potatoes in cast iron frying pan - easy homemade recipe!

Related: Easy Meals to Cook at Home (for Less!)

Homemade recipes to replace instant potatoes:

Potatoes—normally a very inexpensive, basic ingredient—have been dried, doctored, and packaged up in convenient boxes that cost more than the original by far. Make them a home for less; plan ahead and use your slow cooker and they can be part of an easy weeknight meal.

fried rice on plate with chopsticks

Homemade recipes to replace ready-made rice dishes

If you’re ready to skip the expensive boxes of flavored rice, these recipes are a good starting place. An Instant Pot is one trick for making quick and easy rice!

homemade chocolate chip cookies on wire rack

Homemade recipes to replace tubes or tubs of cookie dough:

Those tubes and tubs of cookie dough can be enticing, especially when we’re craving something sweet. Blend up some basic ingredients and you’ll have homemade cookies in less than an hour. And in many cases, you can freeze the dough for your own “instant” dessert.

Homemade gluten free cookies

If your family loves cookies but you’re avoiding wheat, try these homemade gluten free cookies!

sliced banana bread

Homemade recipes to replace boxed sweet breads

Just as you’d imagine, these loaves are quick to make. Unlike yeast breads, they don’t require any rising time.

muffins on a cooling rack - homemade muffin recipes

Homemade recipes to replace muffin mix

Muffins are a great grab-and-go breakfast or snack, and they’re easy to make at home without the pre-made mix. It doesn’t take a lot longer to bake a batch from scratch — and kids love them.

carrot cake cupcakes with cream cheese frosting -- homemade recipes!

Homemade recipes for topping cakes and cupcakes

What’s a cake (or cupcake) without frosting? Sad, that’s what. Lucky you, frosting is easy to make at home with just a few ingredients. These recipes are still indulgent, but a smidge healthier than store-bought.

blended cold red drink in a fancy glass - homemade bar recipe to try

Homemade recipes to replace pre-mixed drinks

If you imbibe in mixed drinks, you can make them at home, easy peasy. In the liquor section, we find ready-to-roll drinks. Just twist, and slam shots with names like buttery nipple and whipped cherry, then toss the disposable hard plastic shot glass in the trash. These alternatives are equally fun, but made with fresh ingredients and less waste.

raw bacon in cast iron frying pan

Bacon

People. It’s bacon. You don’t need a recipe. You just need one of these

Originally published March 2014; this post has been updated.

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Meet the Author

Kris Bordessa

Kris Bordessa founded Attainable Sustainable as a resource for revitalizing vintage skills. Her book, Attainable Sustainable: The Lost Art of Self-Reliant Living (National Geographic) offers a collection of projects and recipes to help readers who are working their way to a more fulfilling DIY lifestyle.

24 comments… add one
  • dropofkim Mar 28, 2014, 10:37 am

    Okay, these are all awesome recipe suggestions! Thanks so much but I gotta know, where in the world do you find premade shots?! I have never seen such a thing. Again, great compilation!

    • Kris Bordessa Mar 28, 2014, 10:42 am

      Right?? Those just blew my mind! These are at my local supermarket.

      • Karen Lynn Sep 4, 2014, 3:02 pm

        Wonderful recipes to choose from I need lots of ideas for fall lunches and quick family meals….we are really trying to change things up and have more variety this year…….plus doing gluten free makes things challenging but you shared a ton of variety!!!!

        also thanks for sharing my rice recipe….love me some rice! Thanks so much 🙂

  • heather Mar 28, 2014, 11:52 am

    Who knew that you could make all that stuff at home, right?  I was in my late 20’s before I found out that you don’t have to buy pancake mix in box!!!

  • [email protected] Talk Mar 28, 2014, 11:59 am

    What an amazing list.  I can’t wait to try some of these recipes!

  • Nicole Mar 28, 2014, 2:43 pm

    Some other sites that have good food stuff: unconventional kitchen, deliciously organic, 100daysofrealfood, chocolate covered kate, marathon mom, cook smart…to name a few more :). This is an awesome reference. Thanks!

    • Nicole Mar 28, 2014, 2:47 pm

      Momables for lunch idea…

    • Kayla Aug 23, 2014, 5:15 am

      Wow Nicole!! Thank you for this list, these sites are now all bookmarked on my browser. 

  • Courtney @ Family Gone Healthy Mar 28, 2014, 4:48 pm

    Great list of recipes! Thanks for including some of mine! I can’t wait to try a lot of these.

  • Kate @ Modern Alternative Mama Mar 30, 2014, 11:21 am

    Gravy was the thing that probably stumped me the most, initially.  I couldn’t wrap my brain around actual drippings and spices and, weirdest, adding *flour.*  I don’t know what I thought was in those gravy packets, but flour was for baking, not gravy-making.  Thankfully I’ve been happily making my own gravy now since around 2009.

    • Kris Bordessa Jul 10, 2014, 5:31 pm

      That’s funny. Gravy was always homemade when I was growing up, but pudding? Who knew you could make that without a box??

      • Sherry Aug 23, 2014, 3:54 am

        My three boys have had very little convenience foods growing up.  When my oldest was around 12, he realized that you can buy soup in a can.  However, they all think soup from a can would be gross.  To date, they have never eaten soup from a can.

        • Kris Bordessa Aug 23, 2014, 7:09 am

          That’s funny. My boys were at a party one time – they were tweens – and someone was serving tater tots. They had no idea what they were!

  • Jessica @ConveyAwareness Mar 31, 2014, 6:09 am

    Fantastic overview! So nice to see you work up these gentle reminders that most, if not all (if one is capable), can make their meals at home from scratch & fresh ingredients! This is your second rendition. I’m excited to see what you come up with for the next one. Thanks for including my links, too. =)

    • Kris Bordessa Jul 10, 2014, 5:30 pm

      Thanks, Jessica!

  • sandra Apr 2, 2014, 4:06 am

    one of the dumbest “quick and easy” foods is the oatmeal packets. quaker instant oatmeal: sold as healthy, fast and convenient. here are the ingredients in the packages:  
    ingredients:  WHOLE GRAIN ROLLED OATS (WITH OAT BRAN), SUGAR, NATURAL AND ARTIFICIAL FLAVORS, SALT, CALCIUM CARBONATE, GUAR GUM, OAT FLOUR, CARAMEL COLOR, NIACINAMIDE*, VITAMIN A PALMITATE, REDUCED IRON, PYRIDOXINE HYDROCHLORIDE*, RIBOFLAVIN*, THIAMIN MONONITRATE*, FOLIC ACID*. 

    you can buy a big box of quaker quick oats with ingredient list of:
    100% ROLLED OATS

    it’s just as quick and easy… 1/4 cup oats, 1/2 cup water, 40 seconds in microwave
    add various optional ingred:  bananas, brown sugar, honey, blueberries, etc. etc.

    just as fast just as easy and less packaging and waste and it’s cheaper!

    • Cyndi Apr 7, 2014, 6:33 pm

      I make my own homemade packets. Adding oatmeal, cinnamon, brown sugar or raw sugar and powdered milk. My kids love them. You can add dried fruit and they taste better than the fruit and cream packets by Quaker. Takes 10-15 minutes to make near 25 packs.

      • Tina Marie Feb 6, 2015, 3:34 pm

        My kids don’t like the regular oatmeal. They say it is overly mushy. Is there a way to make it less mushy and more like the packets? it is a waste of money to buy the individual packets but its also a waste to throw away mushy oatmeal.

        • Kris Bordessa Feb 7, 2015, 7:17 pm

          Weeeelllll….. There’s a reason some people call oatmeal “mush.” 😉 The best way to overcome mushiness in my experience is to go a bit lighter on the liquid. You’ll have to report back!

          • Arlene Jan 28, 2016, 6:38 am

            I despise snotty oatmeal! Instead I bake steel cut oats. Soak the oats a few hours (or overnight) in water with a little yogurt. Drain, mix in eggs, milk, cinnamon, sugar (maple syrup, agave, honey…), dried fruit, nuts…what ever your heart desires. Pour into a greased pan, bake (350 degrees, 45 mins or so, depending on how deep your pan is) I don’t have quantities listed because it really doesn’t matter. I always comes out delicious!

  • Amberjane May 10, 2014, 10:20 am

    I do make all of these at home but am bewildered by the cooked bacon – seriously who would buy that ?! The smell of cooking bacon is heavenly.

  • Random Guy Jul 10, 2014, 12:31 am

    As a farmer I have never really bought food at the store without thinking about if I could make it cheaper at home. Some of this stuff takes a little time to prepare but if you make batches it can go in the freezer, canner, or dehydrator pretty easily. I’m thinking of egg noodles from fresh ground dhurra millet, and yard eggs with fresh garden veggies on the side.

    • Kris Bordessa Jul 10, 2014, 7:37 am

      You make noodles with millet flour? Some of us can’t eat wheat here, so I’m always curious about alternatives!

  • Brandy Jan 24, 2016, 5:27 am

    I love this post! For years I have tried to find recipes to replace nasty “store bought food”. It quickly became an addiction for me and still is. We have given up a nearly all convenience foods for the make your own options. Most of my friends n family think we are off our rockers but this was what God led us to and I am taking full advantage of it. It slowly progressed to daily hygiene products. For the last five years, our grocery bills have significantly reduced because of this and I have more time at home and less time running to the store because of the awful forgotten last minute items. My pantry loves the home canned goods and we have a sense of satisfaction of always having a meal at hand. Keep pushing on and thank you for a wonderful post!

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