With all of today’s modern conveniences and endless variety of products available to us, it can be very easy to get into a routine of eating pre-packaged foods. While buying these items may save time in a busy schedule, what are we sacrificing in return? Packaged foods contain many ingredients that we would not normally include in our diet if we were preparing the same thing from scratch. Ingredients like preservatives, added oils and excess salt are hidden within these brightly-colored, attractive looking packages that companies are paying top dollar to convince us to purchase. What many people fail to realize is that many of the food items littering the grocery store shelves can be made at home so easily – and considerably more healthfully.
As I write this list I realize that I’m probably very biased towards homemade foods since that is primarily what I was raised eating. However, even if you are used to eating pre-packaged versions of these foods, once you taste a great recipe it’s hard to go back! I can’t think of a better way to become encouraged to cook more food at home with whole, healthful ingredients. So here are 3 foods that are better homemade along with some recipes to try at home.
1. Salad Dressing
Salad dressing has always been at the very the top of my “must be homemade” food items. My mom always made our salad dressings from scratch and I grew accustomed to using fresh ingredients such as basil and garlic to flavor salads rather than relying on oils and salt. Homemade salad dressings not only taste better and are arguably healthier than bottled versions, they are also really easy! At any given time I have the ingredients on hand to make a delicious Balsamic Vinaigrette which makes this my go-to salad dressing in a pinch. But with just a little bit of planning ahead for appropriate ingredients, it’s easy to create a wide variety of delicious salad dressings like my favorite thai-style Peanut-Ginger Dressing or southwestern style Avocado Cilantro Dressing.
2. Pasta Sauce
Any Italian knows that pasta sauce from a bottle is ludicrous. Though I’m not Italian, our neighbors growing up were and they taught us a thing or two about making authentic pasta sauce! The flavor achieved from using fresh tomatoes, herbs and spices is unmatched by anything that has sat on a shelf somewhere for who knows how long! Even though the process of making homemade sauce can take a while, it is still pretty simple and easy to make in large batches. One great thing about homemade marinara sauce is that it’s usually better the day after making it and it freezes well. So make a large pot in advance and freeze leftover portions for later use. Pulling a container of sauce from the fridge in the morning and letting it defrost for dinner later that night is just as easy(and tastier) as purchasing a bottle of sauce from the store! Sometimes, making homemade sauces allows for a little more creativity like this delicious Sweet Potato Alfredo.
Nothing compares to a warm, gooey chocolate chip cookie fresh out of the oven. Simply put, this is the main reason that homemade cookies will always be better than store bought. When I think of cookies I think of an item that is made with love and with the intention of comforting those who end up enjoying them. Needles to say, these are not qualities that can be found in most packages. Since going vegan, my newest reason for shunning store-bought cookies is that most of the time they contain animal products like butter and eggs. By preparing cookies at home, I can choose to omit and replace these items – and of course, pack them full of love!
Looking to make some vegan cookies? I’ve found this book to be very helpful at replacing unwanted ingredients: The Complete Guide to Vegan Food Substitutions