Make or buy?

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How is it already April? Where is this year going? I thought it would drag on forever, but in a little more than a month I’ll be in Baltimore. Just typing that gave me some butterflies.

Something I’ve been thinking a lot about is how I’m going to cook when I’m in Nursing School. I’ve mentioned before that I’ve never had an apartment before, so when I think about how it’ll be, I tend to refer to my summer in Utah, living in the bunk house, and I really didn’t cook very much. Or eat very well. We spent a lot of time spiked out, so we ate a lot of Ramen, and boxed mac and cheese, and prepackaged oatmeal, but even when we had dinner at the bunk house it was usually thrown together. There was a lot of grilled cheese, and even more pasta. We didn’t have a lot of time to cook (we were very busy doing trail work and having drama), but I won’t have any time when I’m in school either. I’m going to be in the same boat time (and money, we got paid next-to-nothing-per-hour)-wise, but this time around I want to make better decisions, and shop and cook smarter. To that end, I’m wondering what kind of things are better to buy, and what stuff I should make myself.

I think if you do the math with ingredients, it is cheaper to make your own bread (if you do it on a regular basis), but the time factor makes buying it more efficient. I don’t care about that though, because I love baking bread, and while it rises and bakes I can do other things. There are other things though, like cheese, yogurt, pasta sauce, hummus, tortillas, even things like mayonnaise, ketchup, and vinegar, that I could make, but I don’t know if it’s better to just buy them. On the one hand, I like the idea of making everything from scratch. It sounds very green (I know it isn’t necessarily, but there would at least be less packaging), and I think it would make me more mindful of what I eat. Ideally, I would like to be somebody who grows their own food, and raises chickens (and maybe a goat or two), and renders their own lard (seriously, so cool), but I’m not sure grad school is the time to start doing all that good stuff.

What kinds of things do you make from scratch? <- (Emily, I’m looking at you)

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About turntowardsthesun

I'm a 23 year old Smith College grad, living in Buffalo, NY, and trying to figure out my life. I love to cook, and craft, and work out, and this blog follows my adventures while I do all of those things and more. Enjoy!

11 responses »

  1. These days, I do not do a lot, but I did a lot more when I was in Indiana. Here are some of my observations, YMMV:

    Worth it:
    – Bread
    – Dried beans
    – Pesto and hummus
    – Popsicles
    – Mayonnaise (though it doesn’t keep)
    – Pasta sauce
    – Soup (freeze single portions for quick lunches)
    – Waffles
    – Cookies
    – Cutting up whole chickens instead of buying chicken pieces (it’s at least $.20/lb cheaper for a whole chicken)

    Not worth it:
    – Yogurt (very hard to do, probably not much cheaper)
    – Ketchup
    – Pumpkin (from a can tastes fine, doesn’t take hours)

    Haven’t tried but would like to:
    – Mustard
    – Cheese
    – Hamburger
    – Tortillas

    I’m on the fence about jam, because it’s cheaper and healthier to buy (Smuckers reduced sugar strawberry jam is SO DELICIOUS), but satisfying to make and nice to give as gifts.

    • I’m making yogurt right now! I’m trying to keep positive, but it’s possible that I just wasted a gallon on milk.
      Do you mean using dried beans instead of canned, or drying your own beans? Would making your own hamburger just be grinding up a steak?

      • Using dried instead of canned. Much less expensive, though it’s not a bad idea to always have a can of black beans in the pantry in case of a supper emergency. And yes, someday I’d like to grind up steak (or other cuts) to make my own hamburger, because packaged hamburger weirds me out a little.

  2. It is a little sketch, and if you ground it yourself you could eat it raw, which I always kind of want to do (it just smells really tasty).
    I just checked on my yogurt, and it’s still very liquid, but it smells really good. And now I have lots of whey! I’m not sure what I’m going to do with it, but it’s supposed to be special stuff, so I’ll figure something out.

  3. If you want, I can give you a crash course on cookies before you head south. I know you won’t have much time for such frivolities, but it’s good to know. I wish I could offer food economy advice, but I lack the life experience. Good luck with the yogurt though!

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