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There are some foods out there that are so easy to make that you should never buy them unless you absolutely need to. Why make them yourself? Well… why not make them? It’s usually cheaper; the quality is better; you’re choosing your own ingredients so you can customize to your own tastes; and you can avoid a lot of the dyes, preservatives, and other not-so-great things processed foods include. Here’s my top five always-make-yourself foods:

  1. GRANOLA. It is silly easy to make, and it is completely customizable. Nuts, berries, grains, sugars, syrups… less than 10 minutes (not counting cook time) you can make a fiber-rich, amazingly delicious batch of granola that will cover your breakfasts and snacks for a couple of weeks!
  2. BEANS. Why buy mushy, salty canned beans when dried beans are so easily accessible and simple to make? Rinse, soak, simmer, done. I make them by the pound (sometimes two pounds — we eat a lot of beans!), then separate out dinner-sized portions and freeze them. Black beans, pinto beans, kidney beans, garbanzos, canellini beans, black eyed pea … I almost never buy their canned counterparts unless I am really crunched for time and have run out of my freezer stash.
  3. HUMMUS. So simple, and made without a ton of sodium and preservatives! And you can add more or less of any ingredient. I like my hummus without tahini, so I just leave it out. Easy easy easy. And of course I use my own chickpeas rather than canned. 😉
  4. SALAD DRESSING. Oil, acid, spices, maybe a little mustard — shake — done! My tip for this: save an empty spice jar or mustard jar and use it to make small quantities of salad dressing. Put everything in, screw the lid on nice and tight, and use those strong pole dancer arms to shake it into submission. So easy!
  5. STOCK/BROTH. I use stock for so many things beyond making soup! I use it as the liquid for rice or farro. I use it to thin sauces. If I have just a little bit left, I sometimes drink it. YUM. It’s so easy to make that you should make a LOT and freeze the excess. For vegetable broth, save the tops and ends of the vegetables you make during the week, then use them in your broth. If you’re a meat-eater, save the bones! Don’t let all that flavor end up in your trash bin!
There are so many other things that could have made this list. Barbeque sauce, marinara, cookies, pizza dough, brownies, mashed potatoes, refried beans… get the picture. Once you start making your own easy-to-do kitchen staples, you’ll wonder why you ever spent your hard-earned money on them! 

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