Sometimes we buy a product to eat that is quite expensive yet would be quite easy to make yourself .
In my case I would go to the local hot bread shop nearly daily and buy a vegetable pasty which cost $4.50. It became an afternoon ritual with my afternoon tea break .
The cost started to add up . I was at Coles and noticed frozen mixed vegetables for about $4.00 for a 1.5Kg bag . I picked up a box of Antonios puff pastry sheets for around $4.00 and made my own pasties .
I think the cost was about 80 cents each . A large saving .
FOR THIS MONTHS CHALLENGE LET US KNOW A FOOD PRODUCT YOU USED TO BUY BUT DECIDED TO MAKE IT AND IF POSSIBLE THE SAVING ON THE PURCHASED PRODUCT
Mostly it comes down to convenience versus quality and flexibility. If I am making a trifle store-bought unfilled sponge cake will do fine, I doubt I could make it for much less, especially if taking into account my time. If I want a fresh lahem bageen (or lahm bi a’geen) and want to avoid a 200km drive and have it hot out of the oven then it is DIY. There are plenty more examples in both categories.
However there are the things that you really can’t make well yourself from scratch without going to a ridiculous amount of effort and practising for weeks, such as filo pastry or croissants.
I never understood the convenience of a packet of cake mix: the leavening agent in the flour has gone flat more often than not, we can’t be sure what kind of fat has been used in the mix (notwithstanding what the food labels say) and we have to add eggs and milk anyway.
Why not just get fresh s/r flour (or add baking powder to plain flour) and use a ‘good’ fat, and add eggs, milk, sugar, flavours, to make a better and cheaper cake?
In Oz we consume ever greater number of cook books, cooking shows and magazines that are devoted to food (or at least have a section on food and recipes). Not to mention a deluge of wellness articles and directions that we must have freshness, less processing and that by taking responsibility for our nutrition we will live better and longer lives. Add to this the popularity of show kitchens which are resplendent with expensive equipment, every gadget known and cost a bomb. We clearly love our food.
Yet many claim they do not have time to cook. Highly processed food, pre-prepared meals and containers of pre-processed ingredients take over more and more aisles of every supermarket each year. Many people reach adulthood and cannot cook the basics. Some will not entertain at home for fear of exposure as only an ordinary cook. If I say that cooking for those you care for is one of life’s great cheap pleasures they nod and smile and change the subject. The cost of food is a never ending source of complaint yet when faced with evidence that cooking for yourself and family is cheaper and potentially more nutritious they sigh that they haven’t got time to learn.
Glossy images of improbably complex dishes are often termed food porn. I reckon there is much more to that metaphor. Looking at pictures of barely dressed media stars and influencers and soaking up period dramas of the kings of yore, or those same public persons, jumping from bed to bed is easier than having good sex. Watching Monsterchef and having all the shiny gear is easier than leaning how to actually cook.
The answer to both challenges is to remember it is an acquired skill, to take your time, learn from your mistakes and to do it face to face (or other as preferred) rather than face to device.
Good nutrition does not need to be expensive or require complex cooking skills. Practice whether preparing a meal or creating a memorable metaphor makes perfect.
Apparently missing on both counts in one of a recent series of mind dumbing TV fried chicken adverts.
Preserved lemons, ghee, Greek yoghurt, popcorn, biscuits, peanut brittle, stocks, apple sauce to name a few are all easy to make, taste better, are healthier and cheaper than the same manufactured ‘food’ and take very little time and/or attention to make.
I feel sad when I look at supermarket catalogues because of the number of processed ‘food’ items they are selling to time poor, exhausted people. It’s not surprising that diseases such as diabetes are on the rise in our society.
A few years ago, I started baking my own bread. I have a very easy recipe which calls for little kneading and makes a nice loaf of whole-wheat bread in a few hours. I can use whatever flours I fancy and usually have a mix of rye, wholewheat flour, multi-grain flour and white flour. It’s much cheaper than bought bread; tastes better; I can control the salt; and I’m not bringing any plastic bags into the house as I would if I bought bread from Colesworth.
And what about sourdough baking, begun during COVID lockdowns? That too. I never used to buy sourdough because good bread was so expensive, so I make my own now. Wins all round.
As others have said, I usually bake my own cakes, slices, muffins, etc - I enjoy doing it and it’s cheaper and better tasting.
We generally bake where we can as we like to be able to control what goes into our foods (e.g. lower salt, lower sugar, unwanted ingredients etc).
Possibly the main food item we have shifted from buy to bake is biscuits. We used to buy biscuits regularly but haven’t bought any for a number if years. We now find if we eat bought biscuits (say at friends or family for morning tea), many biscuits have the same underlying background flavour which is a sweet, vanilla type flavour. Whilst the favour isn’t offensive, it seems to lack ‘imagination’…unlike flavours which can be added to home cooked ones.
The high content of fibre in popcorn makes it a very healthy food…except ready made popcorn which contains high quantities of salt, fat, and some sugar.
Popcorn bags are also lined with toxic chemicals to make them grease proof. Diacetyl, which has been linked to lung disease, is still being used by some manufacturers to give it a buttery flavour.
I also have no idea what the smell compares to @wraith_oz
They used to contain PFAS/PFOA compounds in the coating within the lining of microwavable popcorn bags. PFAS/PFOA has been phased out and should be no longer used in microwave popcorn bags from European, Australian, US (or other developed countries) origin.
Only when added to e-cigarettes or if one works in a microwave popcorn factory (the illness called ‘popcorn lung’). I would be concerned about inhaling diacetyl if I worked in a microwave popcorn factory or used e-cigarettes.
Diacetyl is very safe for the consumer and is a compound allowed in foods by many food regulators such as the US Food and Drug Administration, the European Commission and Food Standards Australia. It is also commonly found in natural foods such as butter and honey.
It is extremely unlikely unless you create an environment like a microwave popcorn factory…almost near continuous exposure for many hours each day over many months/years. One would also possibly need exposure to diacetyl dust and vapour/fumes. At home a extremely high intake of vapour unlikely unless you are addicted to microwave popcorn and produce it regularly at home during the day, every day…or use e-cigarettes containing diacetyl.
Reported increase in incidence of popcorn lung is from factory workers and e-cigarette users, not from home consumers.
There are many websites overstating the risks at home from microwave popcorn, but their conclusions are based on any exposure is bad. This isn’t the case and risks exist for high exposures over long periods, such as in a microwave popcorn factory.
Edit: The US Popcorn Board, yes one does exist, states that diacetyl is no longer used as an ingredient for microwave popcorn in the US. In Australia, the main microwave producer Poppin is diacetyl free. It appears the information available on many health food blogs is wrong as any risks, if they ever existed, associated with Diacetyl and PFAS/PFOAs no longer exist.