March 28, 2013

13 Items I Never Buy At The Grocery Store


<Digimax S1030 / Kenox S1030>
As I have mentioned before, one of my goals in my home is to buy as few processed and commercial products as possible.  As we are moving toward a healthier lifestyle, my goal is to make as much as I can from scratch.  I am not completely there just yet.  This type of lifestyle takes baby steps, but I feel that we are moving in the right direction.

I grew up on mostly home-cooked food.  I can’t recall my parents buying very many processed foods, especially when I was really young.  I spent a lot of time with my grandmother in her kitchen as well, and I can remember her whipping up a cake or a batch of homemade biscuits like it was nobody’s business.  She never used frozen cookie dough or cake mix.  She always had everything she needed on hand to make those things from scratch.  I have been adopting that lifestyle in our home, especially since I left my job six years ago.  Not only are we healthier for it, but we save money as well. 
1. Cookies-  I almost always make my cookies from scratch.  It is very rare that I have cookie dough mix or frozen cookie dough in the house.  To me, there is nothing better than freshly baked cookies in the oven.  They are really quick to make, and if you plan ahead you can have some cookie dough pre-made to keep in your freezer. I always have chocolate chip cookie dough in my freezer.  I make it quite often, because it never lasts very long!
2.  Sauce-  You will never find a jar of spaghetti sauce in my pantry. The only exception is if it was given to me or I got it completely free with a coupon.  Even then, I would likely add other ingredients to it.  I used to buy the jar all the time, until I developed a spaghetti sauce recipe that tasted better, was less expensive, and was better for us. If you add it up, you can make almost twice as much sauce for what one jar would cost.  Cost is a big factor, as it would easily take two jars to feed my family of five.  I also make my own pizza sauce and have been experimenting with my own barbecue sauce as well.
3.  Seasoning Packets-  I quit buying seasoning packets a few years ago.  It all started when I found myself without a pack of taco seasoning and a lackluster desire to go to the grocery store for one item.  So, I got online for a few  minutes, found a few recipes for taco seasoning, tweaked it to our personal tastes, and bam.  We had super easy taco seasoning for very little money.  And, I didn’t have to make an impromptu trip to the store.  If you keep the basic spices in your pantry, you can make nearly any seasoning packet.  I also make my own chili seasoning, fajita seasoning, spaghetti seasoning, and meatloaf seasoning. 
4.  Chicken Stock- I always have chicken stock in the freezer.  It is a rare occasion that I don’t.  Anytime I make chicken, I always save the bones, throw in some veggies, let it simmer for a while, and I magically have chicken stock.  It tastes so much better, and it comes from bones that otherwise would have gone in the trash.  It’s a win-win.
5.  Instant Anything-  I don’t keep much of anything with the word “instant” on it.  No instant potatoes, oatmeal, grits, etc.  Potatoes are so inexpensive, so we always have fresh mashed potatoes.  I make my own instant oatmeal packets, and grits are made on the stove.  All that instant stuff is way too expensive, and who knows what is in it. 
6.  Microwave Popcorn-  We almost never have microwave popcorn anymore.  I either make a big pot on the stove, or I make brown bag popcorn.
7.  Condensed Soup-  I have slowly but surely moved away from any recipe that calls for a “cream of something” soup.  I have never been completely happy with the flavor, and I never have it on hand anyway.  Instead, I make my own “cream of something” soup mix.  It easily takes the place of any cream soup.  I don’t buy any other condensed soup either.  I will often have soup in my freezer for those days when the mood for soup strikes.  I will freeze it in individual servings so I will have it ready for whoever wants it.
8.  Household Cleaner-  It’s not food- related, but I have journeyed into making my own household cleaners.  I will do whatever I can to get as many chemicals out of our house as I can.  I have tried several different types of homemade cleaning products, and I have been happy with all of them.  I will do a more thorough post on this soon.
9.  Laundry Soap-  I began making my own laundry soap soon after the birth of my first son almost six years ago.  I experimented with several different recipes over the years.  I started out making the liquid version, but I have found greater success with the powdered version.  It makes a ton, which is helpful since I do at least six or seven loads of laundry a week.
10.  Muffin, Brownie & Cake Mix- Just like cookie mix or dough, I find it just as easy to make my own mixes for muffins, cakes, and brownies.  I can have a batch of homemade brownies made in the same amount of time as it takes to open a box of mix.  If you keep the ingredients on hand, it will take no time at all to make your own from scratch.
11.  Bagged Salad-  I decided long ago to stop buying pre-chopped bagged salad.  It seems like every time I bought it, it would turn brown before I could use it.  It wound up being a big waste of money.  Instead, I started buying heads of romaine, chopping it myself, adding some baby spinach, and storing it in a big bowl with a lid in my fridge.  It lasts such a long time this way, and it never goes to waste.  
12. Any Pre-Chopped Produce- This only refers to fresh produce, as I buy frozen chopped fruit and vegetables all the time.  Unless it is on rock-bottom clearance price rack, I never buy pre-chopped produce.  It is such a mark-up in the store, and it takes just a few moments at home to prep all of your produce yourself.  On the same token, I also don’t buy baby carrots.  When you compare the price per ounce, they are more expensive. I cut up carrot sticks for my kid’s snacks. 
13.  Salad Dressing-  I have never found a bottled salad dressing that I like.  I make our own ranch dressing as well as different vinaigrettes.  My next mission is to find an Italian salad dressing that we will like. 
As you can see, there are many things that we make ourselves.  It feels like a gift to my family.  With a few minutes and some organization, you can make changes to your family’s health for the better.

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