Do It Yourself Convenience Foods

by GettingFreedom on June 9, 2011

Have you ever taken a step back, and thought of your kitchen as a grocery store? A few weeks ago as I was doing my normal grocery shopping, a thought popped in my mind that has really changed the way I view my kitchen.  Not only the contents, but the way it functions–or atleast the way I want it to function.  I want my kitchen to be it’s own little grocery store {well, without the store part!}.  I want those conveniences that the grocery stores offer, without leaving my cushy, comfortable home, because it’s not all that easy with a baby on the loose!

Think of it this way:: Your kitchen cupboards are full of nothing more than what the grocery store sets forth to provide{talking in terms of mostly convenience food here}.  Food.  Quick and Easy Food. If the grocery store sells it, you can grow it, farm it, or make it {generally}. Just exactly how much you do is up to you.

{I know, I know..My mind is a bit crazy at times! :)}

Easy Homemade Convenience Foods

Homemade Applesauce and Apple Butter

Frozen Meatballs

Pizza Pockets/Taco Pockets

Pudding Cups/Dry Pudding Mixes

Remember my grandmother’s cookbook? It is chock full of homemade puddings of all sorts of flavors. From scratch, not the box, using on hand ingredients. When I found them, I was eager to try them–but moreso now that Lynn makes it look easy!

Homemade Hummus

Family Sized Meals/TV Dinners

Freezing cooking is all the rage around blog land.  Many of your favorite meals are freezer friendly.  If you need ideas–take a walk down the frozen section of your grocery store! After all that’s what you’re going for.  You can package them in single serving portions with various side dishes to achieve the modern day convenience of TV Dinners, or as one big Family Sized Entree.

Biscuit/Baking Mix

Frozen Biscuits/Bread Dough

While Pillsbury tries hard, nothing can compare to homemade biscuits, rolls, or bread.  Don’t sacrifice flavor, just for convenience, when you can create convenience without sacrificing! The next time you find some extra time, or you are already making {insert bread product} for dinner–make up some for the freezer.  Most recipes can either be frozen as a finished product, or after the first rise {After shaping, pop in the freezer on a cookie sheet.  Once frozen, toss in a freezer bag.  Thaw completely, let rise, bake as normal.}.

Oatmeal Packets

I buy my oats in 50 pound bags mostly because we go through it like water.  While I don’t make them up quite often enough, oatmeal packets are handy! I take sandwich bags and add about ¼-½ cup of oats, 2-3 teaspoons brown sugar, a handful of dried fruit {our favorite is cranberries} and another handful of walnuts {I don’t always add in the nuts}.  When needed, just add some hot boiling water and let sit until it’s absorbed.

Homemade Poptarts

Frozen Waffles/Pancakes

So easy!  Mix up your favorite recipe.  Let cool.  Throw on a cookie sheet, pop in the freezer and flash freeze.  Once frozen–toss ‘em in a freezer bag and remove all the air.  Put them back in the freezer, and you are good to go! Don’t forget your homemade syrup, too.

Cake/Brownie Mixes

All you’re buying is a box with pre-measured dry ingredients at an inflated price.  Use your own recipes and make them at home! Mix up the dry ingredients, store in ziploc bags and attach a list of the wet ingredients and the instructions.

Hashbrowns/French Fries

When I find a steal of a deal on potatoes, I like to stock up {as with everything else}.  We really don’t eat a lot of potatoes, so before they go bad I like to make and freeze up some hash browns and french fries.

Frozen Smoothie Cubes

We eat a lot of smoothies, especially during the summer months.  We’ve never followed an actual recipe, but instead just thrown some of this fruit, some of that fruit, some yogurt and some milk and blended away.  This method, while easy and wonderful, can create a lot of smoothie!  Instead of throwing it away, we started freezing it in ice cube trays for a quick snack bite, or in single-serve sized containers.

Refrigerated/Frozen Cookie Dough

I’ve been guilty myself of purchasing ready made cookie dough before. But truly?  Nothing compares to homemade!  If you’re looking for convenience, the next time you make cookies, make a double or triple batch and freeze the cookie dough.  I’ve frozen in it one big ball, or as already measured out cookies.  Either way is fine.  Makes a great snack, too! :)

Spice Mixes

Grocery stores have many different spice blends available for purchase.  Really, they are nothing more than various spices mixed together with a new name slapped on the front.  Cut your costs, and make up your own!

The easiest and most popular spice blends to make are Taco Seasoning {or even Fajita Seasoning} and Homemade Ranch Seasoning. This same concept rings true for meat and vegetable marinades, too.  They can easily be mixed up and stored in the refrigerator in a glass jar for a couple days.

Cream Soups/Gravy Mixes

Chicken Broth

You can either throw it in the freezer to use later, or can your chicken broth in a pressure canner.

Granola

We eat a ton of granola!  Whether it be on top of some fruit and yogurt, by itself, or as a cereal.  However, store bought granola is out-right pricey!  Not only is homemade granola easy on the budget, it’s also fun to play around with the ingredients.  You can even make granola bars for a portable treat.

Croutons/SeasonedBread Crumbs

Various Side Dishes

Grocery store shelves are lined with all sorts of side dishes in cans, boxes and even in pouch.  Don’t fall for their inflated price…make them at home.  I rarely purchase canned beans anymore for this very reason!

 

This is only a sample of what you can make at home. Your possibilities are endless {as you can tell by the ever changing grocery store shelves}.

While making your own convience foods may seem like a lot of effort, in the end you benefit greatly.  Not only does it decrease what you rely on the grocery store for {in turn reducing your grocery expenses!}, but it also gives you more control over what your family is putting in their mouth.  I spend less time preparing my grocery list, grocery shopping, and putting away groceries. To me, it’s worth it!

What are your favorite convenience foods? How about your favorite homemade convenience items?

This post is part of Frugal Friday.

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{ 10 comments… read them below or add one }

SnoWhite @ Finding Joy in My Kitchen June 9, 2011 at 10:29 pm

Great list!! I love making foods like this at home.

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Miriam June 10, 2011 at 10:55 am

I *love* making and freezing scooped out chocolate chip cookie dough. It’s so easy to pull out half a dozen and have fresh cookies for dessert. The downside is… *ahem* the mouse *cough-cough* that likes to sneak those frozen cookie dough balls for a cold snack on a hot day. (Me? Never!)

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Rachael June 11, 2011 at 8:20 am

Great list! Here from Finer Things. I was just trying out some ranch dressing mix recipes yesterday and we love our own taco seasoning mix, but your list added a lot I had forgot about, thanks!

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Cindy June 11, 2011 at 8:22 am

I have been looking for a basic muffin mix to make ahead and add extras to when I mix up and bake. Muffin mixes are so convenient! Do you have one? Thanks

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Marci@OvercomingBusy June 11, 2011 at 9:44 am

What great ideas! I need to stop being lazy and do more of this :)

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Stephanie P June 13, 2011 at 11:06 am

I am trying to start stocking my freezer up with my own “convenience foods”. This post gave me a lot more ideas. Thanks! Another thing that I love to do is make restaurant food at home. Basically, just making whatever we are craving from a restaurant at home. Makes it cheaper and a bit healthier while not feeling like we can’t have something we are wanting.

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Cate @ Liberal Simplicity June 16, 2011 at 4:56 pm

Oh, this is a great post! I agree that convenience and cooking from scratch don’t have to be at odds. I’ve had great success freezing all kinds of things, like cooked beans (in 1 1/2 cup portions to mimic the size of cans), breads (quick breads, yeast breads, whatever), soups, vegetables, fruit, etc. Using the freezer is a great way to prevent food waste, as long as you’re not using it as a temporary pit stop before the food hits the trash can.

I’ve still never tried freezing cookie dough, because I’m afraid I might eat all of it before I bake it. :-)

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Daisy B June 17, 2011 at 9:22 am

I love the oatmeal packet idea! We too, eat massive quantities of oats at home. I always thought it was funny how people bought packets of “instant” oatmeal when they can get the exact same thing but cheaper!

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Jessie November 10, 2011 at 12:55 pm

Wow, what a great list!! Thanks, I definitely need to be more savvy with making more foods at home :)

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Hiptobeme January 14, 2012 at 8:24 pm

I love this idea about making fries and hashbrowns for the freezer! I can’t believe I never thought of that, I hate throwing out rotten potatoes!

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