Why do I cook from scratch? The stores are full of wonderful ready-to-eat products, why make my own?
1) I have time
Cooking from scratch does take more time, though often not a lot more time. In the case of homemade yogurt, the time is spent on waiting. Heating the milk takes only a few minutes, but the rest of the process takes more than 6 hours. Of course, I don’t have to stand there and wait for it, I just have to not forget about it.
2) I can control my ingredients
Packaged foods contain a few ingredients that help to preserve the contents and provide a longer shelf-life for the product. I don’t have to eat those. I’m sure none of them will prolong my shelf-life.
3) Things taste better
I had a package of seasoned coating mix in the pantry. (I think it was there for a while.) It tasted like salt. There were many other ingredients listed, but all I could taste was the salt. If I want my chicken to taste like salt, I can do that myself. I can add more or cut back on one or more ingredients to make it taste like I want it to taste, even if what I want is salty.
6) It’s usually cheaper
I did a cost comparison for baking mix here. While it may not prove to be true every time, overall it is cheaper to make your own.
5) I can’t go back.
Since I started cooking more things from scratch, packaged foods just don’t taste good to me anymore. I prefer what I make.
Another effort to combat the problem of leftovers is to repackage items that you buy into smaller sizes. In this case, I wrapped pork chops from a larger package individually. When it’s time to cook, I can take out what I need.
This is an easy, inexpensive recipe for two that is quick to prepare.
Pork Chops for Two
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 pork chops
Salt and pepper to taste
1 green pepper, sliced
1 small onion, sliced
1 teaspoon dry basil
Heat oil in a small skillet over medium high heat. Season pork on both sides with salt and pepper. Cook pork chops until browned on both sides.
Top chops with green pepper, onion and basil. Cover skillet, reduce heat and cook until vegetables are tender and pork is cooked through.
This is a simple recipe that can be dressed up any way you like. Add some carrots, celery or bell peppers for a different taste. Use turkey or pork instead of the chicken. Experiment a bit with herbs. It’s a blank canvas.
Crockpot Chicken Tetrazzini for Two
1½ cups cubed, cooked chicken
1 can (14½ ounce) chicken broth
½ cup chopped onion
1 clove garlic, minced
½ cup sliced mushrooms
¼ cup cream
1 tablespoon sherry (optional)
4 ounces dry spaghetti
Grated Parmesan cheese
Place first 5 ingredients into slow cooker. Cook on low for 4 to 5 hours.
Turn to high. Add spaghetti, cream and sherry, if using. Stir until mixed. Continue to cook for 30 minutes to 1 hour, or until spaghetti is tender.
Serve with Parmesan.
One of the best cost-saving measures that I have implemented is cutting the amount of food that I cook. Most recipes are for 4 servings and sometimes more. We couldn’t eat the entire recipe, so the left-overs often sat in the refrigerator until they no longer resembled food. (I do miss the fun of guessing what the furry blobs in the container once were.)
Here is a take on stuffed peppers that is a little different. If you want a milder dish, then substitute bell peppers for the poblanos.
Picadillo Stuffed Peppers
1 tablespoons oil
1/2 pound lean ground beef
1/2 cup diced onion
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 cup diced tomatoes
1/2 cup chopped apple
1/4 cup raisins
1/8 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 cup beef broth
2 poblano peppers cut in half, seeds and membranes removed
1/4 cup Mexican-style shredded cheese
Heat oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. Brown ground beef in oil until no longer pink.
Add onion and garlic. Cook until soft.
Add apple, raisins, cinnamon, and beef broth. Simmer until liquid is absorbed.
Arrange the peppers, cut side up, in a baking dish. Fill peppers with ground beef mixture. Bake at 400 degrees for 20 minutes or until the peppers are tender.
Top each pepper with1 tablespoons of cheese and continue to bake until the cheese is melted.
2 Servings, (2 half peppers each)