Growing up in a busy, suburban family, I never gave much thought to growing, producing or making food myself. Supermarket convenience was in full swing and my parents had little interest in cooking combined with minimal spare time after carting three kids around to various after school activities.
But in our search for a more sustainable lifestyle we’ve been experimenting with making things at home and hoping to produce better quality food for less money and also give ourselves that little kick of satisfaction you get when you can say ‘I made it myself’.
As always, all of our ideas need to satisfy our core values:
This one is pretty easy when it comes to making things yourself. Cutting out mass production and not buying a whole lot of plastic packaging makes the homemade version easier on the environment. It also means we cut out a lot of preservatives and flavouring making for a healthier diet!
Ok so it’s one thing to make your own stuff but it’s another to adopt it into your weekly routine and be able to practically produce it on a regular basis. Many of these ideas involve several steps or waiting time and the first couple of tries can take a lot of effort. But with a bit of practice, we’re confident we can continue to make these regularly and not feel like we’re over-exerting ourselves just for the sake of it. We’re also fully aware that popping to the supermarket may happen from time to time.
Besides the deep satisfaction of homemade goods, one of our big motivators is the savings we can make by doing things ourselves. We’re happy to spend our time doing things we enjoy such as baking and if it ends up cheaper than buying it that’s great! As soon as the cost of ingredients is greater than buying the product outright then we start to do some weighing up. It’s possible that we can make a healthier, more ethical version and this is worth a bit more money but all of these ideas easily come in cheaper than their supermarket equivalents.
Time needed: 30 minutes prep, 4-10 hours incubation
I had never considered making my own yoghurt until I read a recipe and discovered how easy it was. I’ve also gotten into the habit of having yoghurt on my cereal every morning and having yoghurt with lemon curd (also really easy to make yourself) for dessert so we go through a decent amount.
Basically, you heat the milk, cool it, mix it with a little bit of leftover yoghurt from your last batch or from a bought one and then leave it to do its thing. The hardest part can be finding a place to keep it at the right temperature but I’ve done it in a warm sunny room and a preheated oven, both worked fine.
Read our full guide on how to make your own Yoghurt!
Time needed: 10 minutes
Peanut butter or any other type of nut butter is incredibly easy to make at home. All you need is a blender and plenty of nuts which you can buy in bulk to cut costs. It’s literally as simple as blending the nuts, the natural oils provide enough moisture and you can blend it to your perfect level of crunchiness. You can even experiment with things like adding cocoa for chocolate peanut butter!
Time needed: 20 minutes prep, 1-3 hours proofing, 20 minutes baking
Nothing beats the smell or taste of fresh bread from the oven! While a loaf of supermarket bread isn’t about to break the bank (although lots of the good ones cost a bit), a loaf of fresh bread costs a huge amount more than the flour and yeast to bake it yourself. Bread requires more time than the other ideas in this post as recipes often require it to be left for a couple of hours, kneaded and left again. If you work from home, have kids and are in and out or even bake on a weekend this can be fine, just set a timer so you don’t forget!
A loaf of bread can last up to a week so it’s fine to do it once on weekends. But if you’re busy or require something in a short space of time there are quick options like focaccia or scones which only need about 20 minutes to proof. They’re a great quick-bake option to go with soups or for lunches.
Read about three super easy bread recipes.
Time needed: 10 minutes
Warm frothy coffee on a cold day? Or the perfect flat white to get you going in the morning? Sounds great right, but what about the $25 a week that goes into the coffee budget? There are so many great coffee brands available for homemade coffee that you don’t have to forgo coffee quality to do it yourself.
If you have an espresso machine then you can go the whole hog but you can also make a frothy coffee by simply using a plunger. Warm up some milk in the microwave or on the stove and pour it into the plunger (the milk will double in size so don’t overfill). Pump the plunger up and down to froth the milk and pour into your coffee to make a café style coffee in your own kitchen!
Time needed: 5 minutes
Salad dressing is super quick and easy to make with some simple ingredients found around the kitchen. Oil, balsamic vinegar, honey, a teaspoon of mustard and some salt and pepper make a great dressing or base to add your own flair.
Try a dash of lemon juice, paprika spice or crushed garlic for some different flavours. You can even try some ginger or soy sauce to add an Asian kick to a fresh salad. Or try this vegan salad dressing option.
Pour all the ingredients into a clean jar and give it a good shake to mix. Simple, cheap and delicious!