I was contacted by a gal writing an article for some magazine to be interviewed about frugality. Specifically, my comments on one particular message board about saving money on food by buying ingredients, not finished foods.
One of her questions was “aren’t there some foods that you can’t make for cheaper than you can buy?”
I had to really think on that one. I decided that there may be foods I can buy cheaper than I could make, but I don’t think I’d really want to be eating those foods. Because they’ve got to be either really cheaply made or really bad for me.
But really. Even candy bars, we have awesome recipes for knock-off snickers and knock-off reeses peanut butter cups and stuff like that. They’re not hard. I mean, we don’t make them often, we did the snickers once and decided that for the good of everyone we know, we wouldn’t do it again. (seriously – they are so good that a person could just keep eating and eating and eating them. dangerous.) But they’re also INEXPENSIVE when you look at cost per serving. Even the things that come out even financially, still come out ahead because you know that you’re using only ingredients that you can name.
But I also pointed out that that doesn’t mean that I think that it’s worthwhile to make everything. For example, I used to make graham crackers. They were really really good. But they were also very time-consuming, and the payoff wasn’t that great IMO. Making bread, on the other hand, is totally worth it. In the bread machine, all I have to do is toss in the ingredients. Making it by hand is so very satisfying, it’s also worth the time invested. Some things, I currently lack the skills or a really great source for the ingredients, so it’s not worth the time that I’d have to invest – like making jam. My grandfather makes great jam. I don’t know how to do it, and I also don’t have a giant strawberry and raspberry patch like he does. So I don’t make jam.
Then she asked “how do you justify making food from scratch?” I replied with something along the lines of – how do I justify taking time to make nourishing foods for my family? What better way is there to spend my time? I mean, this is part of why I’m a SAHM. To do things to take care of my family. To cook. To teach my children how to cook. To prepare food that’s not only nutritious, but is also made with love and with an attitude of gratefulness. How better to spend my time, really?
Not that I spend all day in the kitchen, I mean, I’m all about things that are quick. And making food from ingredients doesn’t have to take time. I mean, how hard is it to cut up meat and veggies for stirfry instead of buying stir-fry-in-a-bag? How much time does it take to dump Hummus ingredients into a blender and press “blend”? How hard is it even to cut up a whole chicken? I can do two chickens in 20 minutes. Not hard. Shorter if I’m going to cook the meat right away and use/freeze it cooked instead of raw, because then I don’t have to get the raw meat from the bones, nor do I have to cut all the pieces up.
Mmmmm. roast chicken. Add that to my “Foods for cooler weather” list.