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Examples of foods you would never buy again once you learned to make them yourself

I was interested in hearing about foods that you may have once bought at the store already prepared but once you learne how to make at home, you never bought again. For me, the first that came to mind was marinara sauce. Most recently, ravioli ( it took me time to get it right but I would never go back to store bought). What did you initially buy at the store that you will never do again once you learned to make at home?

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  1. Pizza.including the dough. Our favorite spot went under about 2years ago. We tried some other places, but nothing came close. Decided since I enjoy cooking and baking to give it a shot - Dough made 3 days ahead and allowed to rise in the fridge (flour half King Arthur Bread and half KA Sir lancelot). After the first time my wife declared we will NEVER buy pizza again...and now the toppings are exactly as we want them and it's piping hot from the oven!

    1 Reply
    1. re: FriedClamFanatic

      Seconding the pizza dough...it just irks me to spend money on pizza when I make better at home. I tend to avoid eating at pizzerias because of this. Just made it tonight actually - a whole wheat dough with mozzerella, spicy marinara and turkey pepperoni.

    2. Pita/flat bread. I found a recipe for wholewheat pita cooked on the stove top in a pan w/ lid, will never buy pita again.

      4 Replies
        1. re: mpjmph

          I totally agree on the pita bread. It's really not difficult at all, and tastes so much better homemade. In fact. I'm making some today!

          Also, chicken stock, marinara sauce, pesto, roasted red peppers, and pierogi. Although I try to stay away from saying "never" if I can help it!

          1. re: auburnselkie

            would you mind sharing your pita bread recipe

        2. Lemon curd. Mac n cheese. Pancake mix. I'm sure there are others ...

          1. Naan. The spousal unit like mine far better than what you can get at the store, so I end up making it a couple times a month.

            1 Reply
            1. Tomato sauce, marinara sauce, ravioli, lasagne noodles, ground beef, bulk sausage (haven't gotten around to casings yet), chicken stock.

              1. Stock, tomato sauce, hummus, salad dressing, granola, guacamole, cinnamon rolls, hamburger buns, dinner rolls. Pretty much any sauce, dressing or dip. There are items I prefer fresh (ravioli), but sometimes purchase locally made for convenience.

                1 Reply
                1. re: maxie

                  Granola, pasta sauce, salad dressing and hummus. Makes me wonder what else I've put off learning to make that is much easier/cheaper/delicious homemade.

                2. Mexican salsas (99% of the time). refried beans, roasted green chilis, bread and butter pickles, kimchee, smoked fish, iced tea, fudge, some sausages, I'd like to make whisky but I need someone to show me hands on, trying it with just printed instructions wouldn't cut it.

                  1. Ketchup, salsa, salad dressing, marinara sauce.

                    9 Replies
                    1. re: MandalayVA

                      I would love your ketchup recipe, Mandalay, if you don't mind sharing. Thank you!

                      I can't go back to:
                      Pizza, corn tortillas, flour tortillas, bagels, salad dressing, refried beans, lemon curd or hot cocoa packets--gotta use real cocoa, puddings, whipped cream...gosh, lots of stuff I bet I can't even think of it all right now!

                      There are lots of things I don't buy prepared but that is just because I've always made my own and have never really liked store-bought, like tomato sauce, mac 'n' cheese, rice pilaf, cookies, gravies, any kind of sauce except hot sauce, spice blends.

                      There are also lots of things that I sometimes use or wish I could use the store bought or locally made versions. We make our own hummus because I can't have salt but I'd LOVE to have some of that red pepper hummous...nommm. Corn chips, especially the greasy ones, are so much more fun when packaged but, too much salt.

                      1. re: MandalayVA


                        I've made ketchup at home before and found the entire task totally too time and labor intensive and the incremental quality (if that) over store bought just wasn't significant enough to justify the additional costs and the aforementioned time and labor.

                        I'm curious if you do it because of dietary issues or just for the love of it?

                        Ketchup to me is one those things best left to professionals, same with puff pastry.

                        1. re: ipsedixit

                          I do it because I can only have a limited amount of sodium per day, 400mg. I've found that even little things like mustard and ketchup can really add up quickly. Bread and bagels, pasta sauce, jelly/jam, snacks and those addicting snack bars like cliff bars are the biggest suppliers of sodium for me so we make all those too.

                          I do like the salt-free ketchup store bought but it is very sweet and they, unfortunately, do not make a sugar free and salt free version. They only seem to make either or.

                          It can be very labor intensive but I have no patience so I just make it quickly with no-salt added tomato paste, vinegar (balsamic or whatever is on hand), cumin, black pepper, onion powder, garlic powder and allspice. I've been known to add a tiny bit of molasses at times.

                          I totally agree about puff pastry! But, I have tried it before and it isn't that hard although it doesn't quite fluff and crisp the way frozen pastry does. Lots of work for not the same results, at least for me.

                            1. re: edgarallanho

                              I have to say they really aren't like cliff bars but they do keep me from eating cliff, balance and granola bars!!
                              1 cup whole wheat flour, 1/2 cup masa harina, 1/4 cup agave sweetener, 1/4 cup uncooked millet, 1/4 cup unsweetened, finely shredded coconut, vanilla, almond extract, an egg. Blend, roll to 1/3 inch thick (1/4 inch makes them crispy and harder), cut into rectangles, and bake at 350 for eight minutes on one side then flip and bake five minutes on the other side. Made about 12 bars.
                              We always change it up using different flours, cocoa, raisins, nuts or cinnamon or cardamon. It is a fun and easy recipe to play with. My boyfriend made it up because one cliff bar is almost three thirds of my daily sodium allowance. This really does keep me from eating pre-made bars.
                              You'd probably have to tweek it some because we tweek everything due to being at 8250 feet altitude and because we put them in the toaster/convection oven. We use the bake setting.
                              I hope you like them!
                              Edit: I forgot to say that we sometimes use egg replacer (vegan white powder in a box) instead of an egg and they turn out really well. I think it gives them a bit more of a chewy texture.

                            2. re: MinkeyMonkey

                              Your ketchup recipe actually sounds good. I hate store ketchup - anything that sweet and vinegary needs lots of garlic - or less sugar - maybe both.

                            3. re: ipsedixit

                              Sorry, didn't see this until now. My ketchup takes me five minutes to make. Recipe here:


                              I double the recipe and cut down the Splenda to a TB--if you don't have a problem with sugar I would imagine you could use that but you might want to consider confectioner's sugar for consistency purposes. I've served this to people in red squeeze bottles and they've loved it. I started making it due to the sugar avoidance but fell in love with it on first taste.

                              1. re: MandalayVA

                                Thank you! I've bookmarked it. It is very similar to the one I've made only mine had molasses and chili powder. I'm going to try this one with agave. Thanks!

                                1. re: MandalayVA

                                  I'll have to try that recipe made with real sugar! (I don't do sweeteners...) I don't mind buying ketchup but it looks like that would be cheaper and it has less gunk in it.

                            4. Hummus, pizza dough, popsicles, fruit syrup, bar cookies.

                              1. So many of those already listed: hummus, pasta sauces, flatbread, refried beans, roasted chiles and peppers, stock/broth, and macaroni and cheese.

                                Also any kind of soup, and rice pudding, and pre-made bloody mary mix (does that count as a food?). Some spice mixes, as well (once my spice cupboard was stocked, I took greater initiative in researching any type of mix I lacked, and I almost always can make my own from what I have on hand, and found that I prefer tailoring it to my taste).

                                I hope to add Greek yogurt and a larger selection of bread to my list soon.

                                6 Replies
                                1. re: onceadaylily

                                  Second on the soup. Homemade soup rocks and is so easy!

                                  1. re: maxie

                                    Please see my comment below for a soup that is a house favorite.

                                  2. re: onceadaylily

                                    I think Boody Mary mix is one of the major food groups :)

                                    1. re: c oliver

                                      Done with care, it is almost the same thing as a salad. And once the splash of beef stock is factored in, it looks suspiciously like a decent pureed soup.

                                      1. re: c oliver

                                        Ditto on Bloody Mary mix, although the name takes me uncomfortably back to the Tudor dynasty and all those internecine executions.

                                        I propose a new name: Tomato Gazpacho Gimlet.

                                        And if you're not puttin' ground celery seed in there, then life is passing you by.

                                        1. re: FoodFuser

                                          For a time, I had access to a juicer. Fresh cucumber juice started out as a light and refreshing addition, but started to taste a bit cloying before I had finished the drink (I think I added too much). And the celery juice didn't hold a candle to the ground seed.

                                      1. Coirvoissie, Calvados and other French brandies.

                                        3 Replies
                                        1. re: Passadumkeg

                                          You MAKE those??? I'm very impressed. Is it difficult?

                                          1. re: c oliver

                                            No, I would love to make them and never have to buy them again. I make only wines & beers.

                                            1. re: Passadumkeg

                                              See? I actually thought you make them!

                                        2. "Never" is a strong word, and a very long time.

                                          That said, here are things that I have YET to buy since either learning how to make them or starting to make them at home:

                                          - peanut butter
                                          - biscuits
                                          - granola
                                          - gravy
                                          - pie crust
                                          - pizza dough

                                          NO guarantees that I'll never buy those items again (heck, emergencies do arise), but since I started making those things at home, I have yet to buy them from a market.

                                          10 Replies
                                          1. re: ipsedixit

                                            Yeah, I don't like to say "never." Gravy is a good one, though. I don't like store-bought gravy, so if I couldn't make it myself I'd just do without.

                                            1. re: ipsedixit

                                              Gravy is a good addition to the list. I remember my first Thanksgiving, scribbling 'gravy' on that long market list with the utmost sincerity, and scouring the shelf for the brand my mother always bought. I also remember the first Thanksgiving with the boyfriend, and the moment he asked me, "Where did you put the the giblets? And the liver?", my eyes darting to the trash can, and the look of horror on his face when I glanced back at him.

                                              That was also the year I decided that asparagus was 'fancier' than mashed potatoes, and so I failed to comprehend the gravy crisis. Or the mashed potato crisis. I know, I can't believe he stayed either.

                                              1. re: onceadaylily

                                                Oh, wow, he was a saint. And you were serving asparagus in November :(

                                                1. re: c oliver

                                                  Ha. I was waiting for someone to gasp aloud at the season.

                                                  1. re: onceadaylily

                                                    One of the things I like about you is your ability to poke fun at yourself.

                                                    1. re: onceadaylily

                                                      November was not a problem in older times if you used the Green Giant canned asparagus.

                                                      In those days before Chilean imports of fresh asparagus in November, Mom would serve the canned. I still eat at least one can a year in praise of her doing the best that she could.

                                                      1. re: FoodFuser

                                                        Ha. My mother served canned as well, with a sauce made from a packet. She's come along though. Once she realized that she managed to raise three children who loved to cook (and herself had far fewer people to cook for), she started looking at her kitchen with renewed interest.

                                                        1. re: onceadaylily

                                                          Ditto with my Mom & canned asparagus- I was a ten before I ever tasted the real thing. Until then I'd thought I didn't like it. Oddly enough, when I was a kid canned asparagus was the only vegetable my cat would eat, and he loved the stuff! Go figure...

                                                          1. re: eclecticsynergy

                                                            It's interesting and unique stuff. But I fear it will fade away as the generations move on and there is no longer the matriarchal connection with those mom's that served it because it was all that they could get.

                                                            The key to eating the Green Giant canned asparagus is in savoring the nostalgia, and sequestering the desire for the much finer crunch of today's fresh stems gently steamed.

                                                            It's what Mom did. And she did the best she could in those days of the Great American Culinary Desert.

                                                            Should we start a betting pool to wager the year that Green Giant finally abandons the canned product to focus only upon the frozen and the fresh? Put me down for 2019.

                                                  2. re: onceadaylily

                                                    Eh, I make a perfectly good gravy without the giblets. In fact, I prefer it to the one my aunt makes WITH giblets. I little buerre manie and the lovely pan juices and you're good to go.

                                                    I will say that the idea of asparagus in November horrifies me more than the potato or gravy issues. :-) Thanks for sharing your story...everyone needs a few good disaster stories, right? I'm sure we could make an entire thread about Thanksgiving disaster stories.

                                                    As to the original post, my list isn't too dissimilar to others. I would definitely put:
                                                    deli meats
                                                    cookies (except for Nilla Wafers...sometimes NOTHING will do except the real thing!) ice cream
                                                    curry paste

                                                    ...and probably other stuff I can't remember. :-)

                                                2. Salad dressings
                                                  Hot mustard
                                                  Kosher style dill pickles
                                                  Pastry crust
                                                  Pizza, including the dough
                                                  Pasta sauce
                                                  Red or green salsa

                                                  1 Reply
                                                  1. Things I can make and will not buy pre-made/pre-packaged unless there is a dire emergency:
                                                    Chocolate pudding
                                                    Chocolate Chip Cookies (most cookies actually)
                                                    Chicken/Turkey gravy
                                                    Pancake mix
                                                    egg drop soup
                                                    Chinese BBQ Pork (unless I happen to be in Chinatown)
                                                    pizza dough
                                                    cinnamon rolls

                                                    Things I can make but are just so darn hard or time consuming that I prefer someone else to make:
                                                    puff pastry
                                                    apple turnovers
                                                    wontons/Chinese dumplings

                                                    1. Roasted bell peppers. I agree with previous posters that "never" is a strong word, but it's been an awfully long time since I've bought chicken stock.broth-for many things, I'll use homemade veggie broth before canned chicken.

                                                      I wish I could say salsa, because homemade is much better and I do know how to make it, including several kinds that can be made even when tomatoes are easy. I still succumb to the storebought pretty regularly. Such a cheap date when it comes to salsa.

                                                      1. BBQ Sauce
                                                        roasted red pepper dip
                                                        Cole Slaw(s)
                                                        Potato Salad
                                                        Pizza dough

                                                        1. Bread
                                                          - i will go to the store and sometimes think about buying bread and I will be like...ehh, ill just make some instead.

                                                          Tomato Sauce/Marinara sauce?bbq sauce
                                                          - I think I dont buy these at the store mainly out of pride, because I know I can make it myself and generally better

                                                            1. Bread (most types)
                                                              Soups (all types)
                                                              Pasta sauces
                                                              Sausage (most types...but I'm still working on perfecting Hot Dogs)

                                                              4 Replies
                                                              1. re: The Professor

                                                                wow, you really would never buy beer?

                                                                1. re: cassoulady

                                                                  Very rarely. There's no need to, unless I want to try something new that folks are buzzing about (even then, I usually buy only one bottle just to try it, because of past disappointments with commercial beer).
                                                                  I've been brewing a long time (39 years as of last month) and have pretty much figured out how to make the styles I enjoy, and make them with good repeatability. I do it mainly because I like to, but a big bonus is the amount of money saved making my own. With the types of beers I like averaging $8 or $9 a sixpack for the commercial versions, I can duplicate most of them and in a few cases improve on them for a fraction of that cost (especially if I manage to get a good buy on grain).
                                                                  Brewing is my "treehouse".

                                                                  1. re: The Professor

                                                                    Do you have access to an autoclave for bottle sterilization?

                                                                    1. re: FoodFuser

                                                                      No, but actual sterilization isn't necessary...just _really_ good and thorough sanitation.
                                                                      I have bottled strong beers (which have already been aged conditioned in a keg) that are just fine (and in some cases, incredible) years after bottling. Even more normal strength beers that I've bottled to give away as gifts hold up fine for the time that passes betwen bottling and consumption.
                                                                      Of course, If I had access to an autoclave I'd use it, but it would be a luxury, most certainly _not_ a necessity.

                                                              2. Like others, marinara sauce comes to mind - but my big one is roast chicken. I used to stop by Costco or Ralph's and pick one up for dinner when I was fresh out of school, and now I can't imagine it.

                                                                1. Biscotti. How they can get away with charging 2 bucks each for a cookie is beyond me.

                                                                  3 Replies
                                                                  1. re: visciole

                                                                    Would you mind posting your biscotti recipe?

                                                                    1. re: MinkeyMonkey

                                                                      I have used many recipes available on the web but I tend to like less sugar and I usually use at least part whole wheat flour, so I modify it to suit my tastes. Also you can add whatever flavorings or nuts, etc., that you like. But this basic recipe is pretty much it, though I mix the eggs and flour mixture by hand, and often am too lazy to toast the almonds:


                                                                      They are SO easy and comparatively healthy, and they keep a long time. Hope you enjoy making them.

                                                                      1. re: visciole

                                                                        Thanks for posting this! Sounds like you bake the way we do, less sugar, more whole wheat :)

                                                                  2. things that I almost never buy:
                                                                    - mayo and mayo-based salads like coleslaw
                                                                    - cinnamon buns
                                                                    - gravy or some other easy sauce
                                                                    - pie shells
                                                                    - cake mix
                                                                    - frosting
                                                                    - whipped cream
                                                                    - any kind of frozen meal
                                                                    - most pre made stuff like soups or mashed potatos or mac n cheese

                                                                    things I buy when i dont have time to make my own
                                                                    - meatballs
                                                                    - pasta
                                                                    - bread
                                                                    - ice cream
                                                                    - pizza
                                                                    - cookies

                                                                    1. Deli meat (roast the meat myself, slice it up: way cheaper)
                                                                      Pizza dough
                                                                      Mac n cheese (baked and stovetop versions)
                                                                      pie dough
                                                                      whipped cream
                                                                      tomato sauce (marinara)
                                                                      refried beans

                                                                      I could probably go on forever...

                                                                      1. quiche, even with pre rolled frozen pastry it's so much nicer and you can use vegetables or cans of veggies and old bits of cheese up.

                                                                        1. Barbecue -- butt, ribs and brisket.

                                                                          1. Mostly everything already mentioned by others as well as hella expensive marinades, rubs, spice mixtures, pesto, and gravlox. It just boggles my mind when I see people spending their bucks when it's SO much better AND cost effective to make your own! Everyone has to eat but there are those who don't enjoy cooking or eating, or want to spend their time point blank.

                                                                            1 Reply
                                                                            1. re: kemi5

                                                                              There seems to be a burger joint nowadays on almost every commercial block in Toronto, where I live, but I can't conceive of ordering one - either from a chain or its fancy so-called "gourmet" equivalent - when it's so much tastier to put one together yourself from mainly fresh-ground chuck. Then to barbecue or grill it exactly the way you want it. Even the fancy restos can't seem to master cooking a burger medium rare. It's invariably done medium and beyond, the excuse usually being that it's dangerous to your health to cook ground meat less than medium. That's possible, I suppose, if the meat has been sloppily prepared in a busy commercial kitchen, but problem solved when you do it - correctly - yourself.

                                                                            2. Several people have mentioned granola, and I will expand on that.

                                                                              Simply: you can reduce the amount of oil, and honey, to bake up some good breakfast cereal. A Misto sprayer for oil gives us a reduced but complete application of oil.

                                                                              It's really just about baking the oats. Try it a few times and you will perfect that art of toastie oaties..

                                                                              1. Any type of ground meat.
                                                                                Once I got a meat grinder and tasted the difference, there was no going back.

                                                                                1 Reply
                                                                                1. re: CharlieKilo

                                                                                  Yes! We won't even order burgers in a restaurant any more.

                                                                                2. Marinara
                                                                                  Frozen or deli pizza
                                                                                  Fruit Turnovers (i.e. like pepperidge farms)

                                                                                  I've always liked them, but I just like mine better!

                                                                                  1. My list reads much like everyone else's:

                                                                                    *salad dressing
                                                                                    *gravy (I have NEVER in my life bought canned or jarred gravy; it was one of the first things I learned to make)
                                                                                    *roasted bell peppers
                                                                                    *roasted garlic
                                                                                    *Greek yoghurt (I adore it, but all you have to do is strain regular plain yoghurt through cheesecloth - or what's called huck toweling)
                                                                                    *Ranch dressing
                                                                                    *bread of almost every kind
                                                                                    *French fries, because spiced oven fries are a million times better. Well, ok, a thousand times better.

                                                                                    I'm still working on my sauce bolognese and mayonnaise.

                                                                                    Thinking of mastering granola in the solar oven - it's too hot to use the gas oven in the summertime, and given a low liquid content and enough airspace, many things do brown in a solar oven.

                                                                                    1 Reply
                                                                                    1. re: gentlyferal

                                                                                      Oh, and I totally forgot kombucha! Not so much a food as a folk health tonic. But delicious - given black tea, white sugar, and a lively kombucha culture, you can get a cloudy, bubbly brew that tastes of a good light lager, with winy and cidery notes. I've got a gallon almost ready on my kitchen table. A week or two after bottling, it'll be frothy enough to form a beautiful head when poured.