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Thursday, April 30, 2009

Cooking from Scratch--When Is It Worth It?

I wasn't really surprised yesterday when every single person who commented on my post said that they thought that cooking from scratch is almost always worth it because everyone who commented is a food blogger. I know I have some non-blogging lurkers out there. (I see you, Mom and Shannon!) So, I want to take this idea a step further. The article from Slate.com focused on some strange choice, I think, for from-scratch cooking. Bagels, okay, but cream cheese??? I have a two year old and am not taking the time to make that when it comes in a nice little tub already whipped at the grocery store. But there have to be some really great things that we all think are totally worth it to make from scratch...

So, when is it worth it to cook from scratch? Penelope inspired this question when she mentioned in the comments that biscotti is one of those foods that is surprisingly easy (and better) to make from scratch. I've found recently that tarts and quiches are pretty easy to make, but I'm really wondering what you have found is surprisingly easy to make.

In that same vein, what has been surprisingly difficult to make from scratch? One of my first posts was about how difficult I found it to make truffles--now that I've tried to make them, I'd much rather just buy them! I'd love to hear your stories as well.

Please leave links if you've posted about any of these easy/not-so-easy-to-make-from-scratch foods!


Allison Lemons April 30, 2009 at 5:42 PM  

Tortillas are totally worth it! Really easy to make, and you can freeze the extras so you always have them.

Brenda Campbell April 30, 2009 at 6:34 PM  

Mindy, I think cooking from scratch whenever possible is the best way to go. The food tastes better and looks better than commercial mixes etc (I do use those but not often) by the way, I think your blog is awesome and left you a little award over at my blog.

penelope,  April 30, 2009 at 8:48 PM  

I have been baking for a long time. I have even sold a few of my wares over the years, but I ruined crackers to the point that I will not be bothering in the future. Pita bread should not be made at home unless you are trying to heat your home with your oven. I tried it in Louisiana in July...never again.

Chef E May 1, 2009 at 12:26 AM  

Great post again! I like that dish, and I think in the long run making from scratch is a heart, love, and passion thing bottom line. If you have kids it is so worth it. I love what you are doing...

Jamie May 1, 2009 at 5:37 AM  

Most things are better made from scratch, once you have got the hang of it! Part of that is the satisfaction of having made it from scratch. I do not make sandwich bread or the pains au lait that I eat every morning from scratch, but special breads, scones and muffins, pizza and focaccia dough, cakes, cookies, etc are all so much better from scratch! Hummous and guacamole may not necessarily taste better, but it is fun to have homemade on the table.
I started cooking ethnic foods when we ived in Milan and there were almost no ethnic restaurants. I started doing more baking from scratch when hubby was unemployed and we wanted to save money. Now we know that some things taste better at home than the same in most restaurants EXCEPT - as hubby said, steak tartare. Part of the joy of a good steak tartare is having made and served to you in a restaurant!

Shannon May 1, 2009 at 12:06 PM  

Cooking from scratch is worth it, when it doesn't break the bank. My favorite from scratch is pasta sauce...why buy the jarred stuff when you can simmer all of your favorite veggies with some canned tomatos and your favorite blend of spices for about the same price, and without the preservatives? Especially because you can spend all day letting the sauce simmer, and freeze enough for at least two more servings.

I made pot pies from scratch, including the dough and the roasted chicken. Who knew it could be so easy, and taste SO much better than the frozen pot pies!

I don't bake, but if I did..it'd be from scratch =)

Pete Eatemall May 1, 2009 at 3:46 PM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Pete Eatemall May 1, 2009 at 3:47 PM  

Everything from scratch...its soul satisfying! To much consumerism and packaging is another reason for me. I think everyone needs to check their diet and life priorites and treat their bodies well!

Lori May 1, 2009 at 3:49 PM  

Catching up on your posts. :) I was so excited to begin cooking more from scratch when we moved abroad and for the most part I love it and always feel it is worth it for health. However, there have been times when I would love some black beans and wish I didn't have to soak and cook them. :) Regardless of how important of worth it the process is, there is no denying that it requires a time investment.

I'm finding it is easy to preach to people to make things from scratch, but I also have to remember that I'm working from home now and don't have a 40 hr a week office job. If I did, I'm not sure how much I could do even though I feel it is so important. I think if we want to help others to understand the importance we have to show them the most efficient ways (crockpot, etc.).

I plan to keep making things from scratch when we go back, but when I don't have the time I plan to look for more natural sources. For example, I doubt I'll be baking bread every few days, but I will make sure I purchase it from a local baker using real ingredients instead of from the store shelf. Great topic!

Angela May 1, 2009 at 10:38 PM  

I have tons of food allergies, so I have to make everything from scratch. I love to cook, but there is no way that I would cook EVERYTHING from scratch if I didn't have to.

Mindy May 2, 2009 at 4:34 PM  

Allison--I've never made tortillas from scratch, but I'll have to try now!

Brenda--Thanks! I really appreciate it!

Penelope--Hmmm...good advice. I think I would have tried crackers at some point, but good to know that they may not be worth it.

ChefE--Awww, thanks!

Jamie--I think I'll leave the steak tartare to the professionals! I've not had much experience with yeast-based breads in the past, but maybe I'll take that up when I get back to the States!

Shannon--Glad you commented on this! I love to make fresh pasta sauce, but I admit, I don't always do it. I've never tried to make potpie, but Ian would love that experience!

peteeatemall--I agree, and it will be interested to go back to the States where it may be harder to avoid the ease of pre-made food.

Lori--Exactly! I've been thinking a lot about returning home where I'll be working full-time in an office. I've made some great changes to our diets here in France, but I'm working part-time from home, so can devote the time necessary to cook from scratch. I've been making mental notes about how to double recipes to freeze or how to speed up the process when I return so I can keep it up!

Angie--I understand...it's just so hard to do it all! It's a full-time job in itself to make everything from scratch!

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