What foods do you NEVER buy now that you've learned how to make them?

This is a sister to this thread.

What kinds of food do you make yourself that are usually bought?

For me, once I got good at making a vinegarette, I rarely use store-bought salad dressing. It’s not that it’s more convenient, it’s that it’s just so damn much better. I make a salad and open the fridge door to pull out the dressing. All of them seem sad and depressing. I think about salad; I think how salad will taste if I get off my ass and throw together a real vinegarette. I bitch at Mr. Athena about snooty tastebuds and get to work.

It’s even worse in the summer when I have fresh herbs.

I’m also getting goofy about mayonnaise. It’s the same as the salad dressing phenomena: I know that whatever I’m making will taste SO MUCH better with fresh mayo. Even non-cooks can tell. My devilled eggs are the toast of every gathering, and really the only non-standard thing I do is make homemade mayo.

I’m considering banishing store-bought cookies from the house as well in favor of homemade, but that hasn’t quite come to fruition for 2 reasons: I eat less of the store bought ones because I don’t like them much (Mr. Athena buys 'em, not me) and who wants to turn the oven on in the summer?

Pie Crust.
Ever since I lived in upstate New York and learned about Grape Pie, I have to make them every fall. You can’;t buy the damned things (unless you’re near Naples, NY, or some other enlightened place that sells them). They’re too labor intensive to be mass-produced. And it’s too easy to have them made too sweet, anyway – you’ve got to taiklor your recipe to the sweetness of the grapes you’re using.

So, no matter where I’ve lived, I’ve sought out concord grapes and made pies. Sometimes I got the grapes by promising the growers a pie as payment. I did this out in Utah, and the sole comment I got back was “You used a box crust, didn’t you?” Not a word about the pie itself. (And, for the record, I’m talking about boxed pie crust mix or sticks – I never use those already-in-the-pie-tin prepared crusts)

Until I hooked up with Pepper Mill, and her Pennsylvania Dutch upbringing. Her mother never bought pie crusts. She showed me how to make a proper crust. Haven’t bought a crust since.

I rarely make spaghetti sauce anymore. The stuff in the jar has evolved into a mini-masterpiece. I mean, when you add up the time and cost of ingredients, it’s just not worth it for the occasional times I even make it anymore. Mr. K isn’t big on it, so I only make it a couple times a year.

Whipped cream. I used to always get whipped cream in the spray cans until I learned how easy it is to make it from scratch.

I would always choose to make the following from scratch: pasta sauces, custard, muesli, salad dressings, cakes and soup - I’m learning to cook sourdough bread at the moment, hope to add that to the list!

I always make my own salad dressing. Shit, just whisking together balsamic vinegar and olive oil and adding salt & pepper is an improvement over most stuff from the store.

We rarely buy salsa anymore. I make damn good salsa.

I never buy spaghetti sauce. I mean NEVER. I do buy “crushed tomatoes in puree” and use that as the base of my sauce, but mostly I’d rather just put that on pasta with garlic and herbs than stuff from a jar.

We occasionally get pizzeria pizza, but never store bought anymore. It too easy and so much better to make my own.

Cookies, especially those large iced sugar cookie clones that sell in most grocery stores in the little plastic boxes. YUCK! They taste like cardboard iced with wallpaper paste.

Cookie dough in the tube and baked at home will do in an emergency, but I’d still far rather make my own. It’s not that hard, and the difference is SO worth it.

Tomato Sauce is definitely another vote for me. Bottom line is…its so easy to make your own sauce! Even if you do use canned tomatoes (which I always do), all you need is a few other household staples, 30 minutes of time, and you get something way better than anything premade could ever be.

It was only a couple of months ago that I learned how to make beef stew from real ingredients. The kind where you brown a pound and a half of floured stewing beef and add a packet of stew seasoning and some water, simmer for an hour, then add potatoes, carrots and onions and simmer for another 45 minutes. It’s such an improvement over Dinty Moore or any other brand, we will never eat stew-in-a-can again.

I agree with Kalhoun on the spaghetti sauce. It costs too much and takes way too much time to make my own anymore. Ragu has a brand called Rich And Meaty that comes in a few varieties. If I add some oregano, garlic salt and ground pepper to it, it tastes at least as good as, if not better than, any sauce I could make myself, and is way less expensive.

Any type of nut butter. The natural types are WAY overpriced for what can be made with nuts & oil in a blender for five minutes.

I’m another crushed tomatoes and add my own ingredients person for spaghetti sauce.

I will never buy boxed pound cake - I make my own sour cream pound cake that beats any other I’ve tasted.

I make lemon merangue pie - I do use a frozen pie shell. (easier than rolling to me)

Salad dressing and spaghetti sauce, me too. When I’m making a non-vinagrette, I do use a powder from Penzey’s, which is much better than bottled. I also don’t understand why people buy things like iced tea when they’re so much easier to make.

Oh, and mixes for things like pancakes and cornbread. Why? You already have the ingredients anyway.

I bake almost all our own bread. I will never buy pizza dough again- it’s easy to make.

I don’t think I’ve bought tortillas since I figured out that homemade ones are worth eating, and not just doughy floury tasteless things to wrap filling in. I haven’t tried corn ones yet, because getting masa involves a compicated long trip, but my flour ones are really good.

Hummus. There’s no point in paying $4 for something I can make for fifty cents, and is way better than the commercial type.

merengue? I can’t spell for beans!

Pasta sauce, definitely. I’ve made a few salad dressings, but don’t make them exclusively yet (just bought some walnut oil from Trader Joe’s this week for a salad dressing base). I also make my own hummus and prefer it over store-bought.

One thing I will keep buying - pre-made gnocchi. Made gnocchi from scratch ONE time at home and completely trashed out the kitchen, flour everywhere. I’m dying to try a sweet potato gnocchi but I just can’t handle the mess.

Guacamole. I can make twice as much for half the price, and it’s miles better than the store-bought stuff.

Pasta sauce
pizza (well, hardly ever)
chinese stir fry
iced tea
whipped cream
ice cream
pasties (no, the food kind)

It’s a nice side effect of once being a chef that you learn how to cook anything you want if you like cooking. And I like cooking.


I make my own liqueur, mostly because it’s so low-effort: put the stuff in the brandy/sugar/water mix, turn it every day for a few weeks, then come back in six months and drink it. Much cheaper than buying the stuff.

I also make my own pizza, using Boboli crusts. I don’t usually have the time to make my own crust, but when I have, it’s noticeably better.

I used to be a homebrewer, but my time is worth enough to me that it’s not really worth it–local breweries make the kinds of beer I want to drink at not much more than it costs me to make it.

Hell, some days, I even buy ice…

Challah. We used to buy one loaf every Friday for about four bucks. With a very little effort, we get two big loaves (which is the tradition for Sabbath dinner) for about a dollar’s worth of ingredients. And it’s way better.

We still buy sandwich bread, though.


Mashed taters.

What’s hard about them? Peel some taters, boil them, drain them, add hot milk and a pat of butter and salt, and mash them. Takes about 15 minutes, tops, and most of that time is just waiting for them to cook. And they taste a kabillion times better than the instant stuff. Even Mr. brown can make them, and he is no cook.