Small Steps to Big Changes: Homemade vs. Processed

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So, I haven’t kept up with this series (or the blog in general) in a very timely manner. The house is such a big project and while we have been maintaining most of the real food changes we started a couple years ago, I haven’t really written about them. So I figured I’d write about some of the changes that we’ve made and stuck to even during our crazy busy schedule. I’ve written about this once before (stocking the pantry) but I think it’s good to see where that goal has ended up two years later. My goal is to have the majority of our family’s food (and cleaning products) be homemade rather than store bought. While there are several benefits to homemade versus processed food the main reasons for us are cost and ability to control ingredients. I maintain two lists of homemade items.  One is the permanent list of things I will never buy store bought again. The other is more flexible, things that I make myself when I have the time and energy, but am OK with buying when the DIY version is just not feasible at the time.

Small Step: Replace store-bought, processed foods with homemade equivalents (and maintain those standards)

Why: Processed foods are almost always more expensive than homemade versions. Also, I can’t control all the ingredients in a pre-made item, and even the better (organic, non-GMO) versions still contain more sugar and preservatives than the homemade version.

Difficulty level: Ranges. My permanent list of homemade items is mostly full of minimal difficulty things, which is what allows me to keep making them even during stressful life seasons. The flexible list includes things that are much more labor-intensive which I drop during times when life is just too busy.

My results: Here’s my permanent list of homemade items:

  • Vanilla Extract
  • Dish Soap (I use this recipe and it’s perfect)
  • Chocolate syrup
  • Granola (I usually just do a Pinterest search and use whatever recipe sounds good that day)
  • Taco Seasoning
  • Chili Powder
  • Buttermilk (I use the Heirloom Buttermilk Culture from Cultures for Health)
  • Pizza sauce
  • Chicken broth/beef broth
  • Pizza dough
  • Beans (I buy dried beans, then cook them in a large batch and freeze smaller portions for use in recipes)

Here’s my flexible list, things I DIY when I have the time and energy:

  • Bread
  • Almond butter
  • Tortillas
  • Jam/preserves
  • Pop tarts
  • Barbecue sauce
  • Cleaning products

Worth it? Definitely. I enjoy making things myself, the taste and quality is higher than storebought, and I feel like an awesome homekeeper when I have DIY success. I’m much happier now that I’ve separated my projects into the two lists. I don’t stress out or feel guilty when I buy bread or jam every now and then and the items on my permanent list are such a part of my routine now I barely even think about it.

Conclusion: Switching to homemade is a long process, and one that will look different to everyone. Some people are only happy if they cut out processed food entirely. That approach doesn’t work for us, so I’ve found a happy medium where I feel comfortable about what I make and what I purchase. Once the house is done I’m looking forward to attempting more homemade projects, like cheese, yogurt, pressure canning, and growing and preserving herbs.

What about you? I’d love to hear your thoughts and experiences about switching to homemade!

* This post contains links to other sites/blogs with which I have no affiliation and whose content I do not guarantee nor endorse.
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