We live in a world of convenience and speed. We’ve been programmed to believe that if it isn’t easy to get or takes too long, than it isn’t worth our time. Unfortunately, our meals and the way we make them are no different.
The bread we get in the store definitely isn’t as fresh as homemade and is most likely filled with a bunch of toxins that aren’t very good for us. That can of chicken noodle soup is filled with preservatives, salt and fake ingredients. It may take only 30 minutes to throw a meal together and plop it on the table for our families, but it’s not really the healthiest meal nor is it the most frugal option to be providing for our families.
I hear it quite often and to be honest, I have even said it myself, “But, what’s good for you is always so expensive.” True, it is, especially if we are trying to buy what we need to make homemade food while still buying store-bought bread and other chemically loaded meals. I think maybe the real question should be, “Why is store-bought food and junk so cheap?”
Living a more self-sufficient lifestyle is number one on my Preparedness Bucket List for 2017. In an effort to keep to that, home-cooked meals made from scratch is the task I’ve tackled first. I’ll be honest, I’ve caved a few times and brought home store-bought bread, and the results weren’t pretty. After going a few weeks of making only homemade sandwich bread, dinner rolls and garlic knots, my family wasn’t happy. They didn’t really care for the store-bought bread anymore. What was even better, every meal I’ve made, the entire family has ranted and raved about and I know they aren’t just saying nice things to make me feel good. My family would tell me if my meals stunk. When my 15-year-old looks at me and says, “Mama, no more store-bought eggs. They have to come from the farm!” And my husband tells me that my homemade chicken alfredo is better than his favorite Italian restaurant’s, I think I’m doing pretty darn good. When you make chicken pot pie for the very first time and everyone groans up a storm because they think it’s going to be like what we used to get from the frozen food section, and then you find that everyone is complaining that there isn’t more, that’s a home-run.
The transition was not easy. There were a lot of things we were used to munching on. Crackers, chips, pretzels, dip, cookies and sugar-coated cereals were common items that I’d fill my cart with. It was hard to by-pass them in the grocery store and replace them with the items I needed to bake those things here at home. What was even harder was listening to everyone complain when they realized their favorite snack wasn’t in the bags for them to put away.
So, how did I do it? I could have thrown it all away and started over, but I didn’t want to leave myself with nothing in the pantry. That would have defeated my purpose of being prepared if there was an emergency. In time, I will be able to replace store-bought canned items with items that I home-canned and preserved myself, but for now, although I’m not thrilled about it, they must stay.
Take inventory and make a list of needed items
Go through your cabinets and see how much processed, store-bought foods you have. If you are trying to make the transition to home-cooked, made from scratch meals, you probably won’t want to keep any of it. As long as the food items haven’t expired, you can box them up and take them to your local food pantry. I kept a lot of mine and I’ll tell you why. I don’t have enough home-canned food stored to just give a way all my store-bought fruits and vegetables. All boxed meals did take the fast lane out of my home though.
Make a list of what you are going to need to start creating from scratch meals. Some items that have become huge staples in my home are flour, sugar, baking soda, eggs, bread flour (both white and wheat), variety of spices, healthy cuts of meat that are stored in my freezer, different flavors of broth (they will be replaced as well) and canned tomatoes (diced, crushed, sauce, paste).
Spend some time searching through recipes
I’ve slowly begun adding recipes to the blog, there are only two there now, but over time my hope is that it can become an extensive resource for home-cooked, made from scratch meals. In the meantime, there are countless homesteading websites that have recipes of everything from breakfast and snacks to elaborate meals, all made from scratch that you can use. I strongly recommend looking for recipes that you know your family will enjoy. It doesn’t hurt to add in a few meals here and there that you want to try out, but don’t make something that calls for spinach if your family doesn’t like spinach.
Replace those store-bought meals
Start replacing that boxed meal and canned soups with homemade, from scratch meals that you and your family can make together. Instead of opening up several cans of soup, make chicken noodle soup and let it cook all day. You can even use your crock pot or your Instapot. While its cooking, make a loaf of french bread or if you have a bread machine, start going through the recipes and have some fresh bread ready when your meal is. If your family is used to cereal in the morning or maybe nothing at all, they will appreciate muffins, cinnamon coffee cake, homemade cinnamon rolls or even pancakes and bacon.
Become friends with your crock pot, freezer, and Instapot
So many meals can be cooking all night or while you are at work in the crock pot. The Instapot is perfect for cooking meals in an hour or less, most meals are done in less than an hour. You can always prepare meals ahead of time or save left-overs and store them in your freezer. Bread dough can be made ahead of time and stored in the freezer as well. All of these items can be taken out the day you want to make your meal and you can have a quick, easy, home-cooked meal that you made from scratch.
Start using meal plans
Trust me, meal plans will become your best ally. There is nothing worse than looking at the clock and realizing that it’s a half hour until dinner time and you have no clue what you are going to make. If you are like me, you will grab a few cans of soup, throw it in a pot or tell everyone it’s cereal for dinner. Don’t be like me. Make a meal plan and refer to it often. It does not have to be a rigid schedule. The planner may say it’s meatloaf night, but if you feel like roast beef instead, that’s okay. Meal plans are to just give you a guide and make sure you take something out of the freezer. They also help you to create your shopping list of what you will need to make those meals.