Simple Steps Towards Frugality and Green Living # 2 - Cooking from scratch!
Some would argue that it is much easier to pop into your local grocery store and take your pick of the ready made pasta salad or crumbed chicken schnitzles or even the pasta sauce and use it. However there are 3 immediate reasons this is not eco friendly, healthy or indeed frugal.
#1 ~ Most convenience foods no matter how “homemade” the packaging makes it feel are full of hidden evils like high fructose corn syrup, trans fatty acids, sugar, irradiated spices, preservatives and flavor enhancers like MSG.
#2 ~ Packaging of these products means that somewhere along the line they need to be disposed of and most of these convenience foods have at least 2 layers or plastic or Styrofoam to deal with.
#3 ~ While it seems cheaper, you can be guaranteed that to make, for example, a similar portion of pasta sauce to what you buy you will be able to do it at a fraction of the cost and you can do it in bulk and have for next time you are tempted to rush out to the store because you didn’t plan your dinner. (Just today I priced a jar of pasta sauce - R20.49 for 500ml. For R20 I can buy 5kg's of tomatoes and make 2.5litres of sauce!)
For some, cooking for scratch is a very overwhelming idea. Perhaps it is because they lack basic cooking skills, others may think it is going to add a whole lot more time spent in the kitchen, for others is just to big a “green step” to take.
My advice to woman who say any of the above things is to just start small. Nobody is watching your every move, it’s only you who are judging yourself, so take it slow and easy. I also advise moms to start with just one thing.
The “one thing” should be the food you eat most frequently and in many houses it is bread. If making bread by hand is going to give you brain freeze, then save up and buy a bread machine! Using a bread machine is the simplest thing you can do and soon your home will be filled with the smell of fresh bread, free of any suspicious additives. I have some bread recipes o this blog which you can get started on – with or without a bread machine. We actually only use ours a couple of times per week when I am not using the oven so that we do not have to heat up the whole oven for just two loaves.
If you are not bread eaters, then take a look at what you do eat the most of...pasta? Believe it or not, once you know how, pasta is one of the easiest foods to make. You will need a pasta roller, which you can save up for or ask for as a birthday gift perhaps. One pasta type that does not need a roller is gnocchi and served with a delicious cream, vegetable or meat based sauce is very very more-ish.
Talking about pasta...think about your pasta sauces. If you are in the habit of buying sauce in a jar, I can guarantee you that if you read the label you will see you are buying a highly processed and preserved food. Nothing beats fresh! I have a simple pasta sauce which I use in my bolognaise sauces, or with some lovely smoked bacon, in lasagnas and I even use it in my winter stews and soups. You can keep it in a jar in the fridge if you will use it within 2 weeks or you can freeze it in portions to use over a longer time period.
Once you have these skills under your belt, you can tackle the next food stuff that you eat…cream cheese? Yoghurt? Waffles?
The world is your kitchen! Happy learning and happy cooking.