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What are some foods you have to make homemade becuse you cannot find it comparable in a store or restaurant

For example, I don't like any canned or carton chicken stock. They're all awful, and I have to make my own.

I don't quite think any pasta sauce tastes as good as my own either, even if from a jar. There are some good pasta sauces at fine Italian restaurants, but they're usually too greasy or lacking in meat for me. I like my own.

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  1. Probably just cookies for me.

    1. Pasta sauce, for sure, and also jams and pickles. Stocks as well, are much better made at home. I am sure there is more, as I don't buy much packaged from the store (almost nothing), but that's what jumps to my mind. I know there are some things people buy canned that would never even occur to me to buy. OK, enchilada sauce, comes to mind based on the current DOTM. I have never bought enchilada sauce, and just can't imagine doing it, but apparently people do. It never would have occurred to me, and I am sure there are many more things that it wouldn't occur to me to buy.

      1. Bread, stock, ravioli, lasagna, pesto, pasta sauce--and I basically do not buy any prepared meals./main courses such as stew, fried chicken, chili, soup and such.

        1. Definitely pasta, although I still order it out sometimes for convenience.

          1. While I there are plenty of awesome pies out there I would never use store bought piecrust. Nothing compares to homemade.

            3 Replies
            1. re: Dcfoodblog

              See, and that's one I wouldn't even think to mention, because I've never bought a pie crust in my life. Thinking about it, do I even have the right to say I like my crust better, if I've never even tried a store-bought one?

              1. re: Dcfoodblog

                You haven't had my homemade. It sucks.

                1. re: EWSflash

                  Try the Cook's Illustrated version with vodka. I've found that it's pretty foolproof and straightforward.

              2. Chicken stock
                Shrimp stock
                Pear, peach, strawberry jams
                Sweet pickle relish
                Pancake syrup
                Cookies, cakes and pies
                Pasta sauce

                9 Replies
                  1. re: CanadaGirl

                    I thought the same thing. To paraphrase Joyce Kilmer, "Only god can make a (maple) tree."

                    1. re: roxlet

                      Ok, I have to admit to not being a purist about maple syrup on my waffles. Though I usually have the real thing in the pantry, I'm enough of a cheapskate to not want to waste the good stuff on a toaster waffle.
                      So I started making my own pancake syrup. I've made it with demerara sugar, raw sugar, turbinado sugar..with a bit of vanilla and maple extracts. I haven't decided which I like best.
                      Bottled pancake syrups have some weird burning chemical taste to me, so I started experimenting a few years ago with homemade, and was pleasantly surprised that it was good! I understand that it's not for everyone, but it's fun for me to work out the perfect recipe.

                      1. re: jmcarthur8

                        I don't "make" my own pancake syrup, but I do use only real maple syrup.

                        1. re: escondido123

                          +1. I like some of the Smucker's fruit syrups, but fake maple syrup reminds me of the smell of the upholstery in my dad's 1948 Mercury.

                        2. re: jmcarthur8

                          It seems to me that I have made pancake syrup years ago by melting brown sugar in a double boiler with white syrup. I don't even have a double boiler any more!

                          1. re: sueatmo

                            just nest a heat-safe bowl over a pot of simmering water. instant double boiler!

                          2. re: jmcarthur8

                            I use golden syrup on waffles and pancakes a lot.

                            1. re: Savour

                              That would certainly taste better than pancake syrup, but for me nothing comes close to maple.

                    2. Homemade pie crusts and pies
                      homemade chicken stock
                      homemade pesto
                      homemade tomato sauce of all varieties
                      homemade bread
                      homemade cookies
                      homemade cakes
                      There are probably more things, but that's what I can think of off the top of my head!

                      2 Replies
                      1. re: roxlet

                        I forgot BBQ sauce. My husband makes a fabulous one that friends and neighbors have begged him to have bottled.

                      2. yep, definitely homemade tomato sauce.

                        I prefer my bread, but I just don't have time to bake very often.

                        1. for me, it has to be pizza. i can eat storebought, but its a Totally Different dish! (homemade crust, homemade sauce, mozarella cheese -- and garlic!)

                          5 Replies
                          1. re: Chowrin

                            Never bought a store pizza in the last 20 years, so add that to my list.

                            1. re: escondido123

                              Started to get "serious" about pizza around 7 years ago and have been turning out top-notch pies for the last 6. Now the daughter and granddaughter are doing the same. We all still go out (never delivery!) to try different pizza joints in the area and occasionally they're pretty good. Mostly, I think we do this every now and then just to remind us of how much better we eat at home.

                              1. re: grampart

                                Do you cook your pizzas in a pizza oven, or a regular oven? If you use a regular oven, do you have a method to replicate the high temperatures of a pizza oven?

                                1. re: roxlet

                                  i've done fine with a convection oven (even a Sharp microwave/convection, on top&bottom grill setting)

                                  1. re: roxlet

                                    I cook in electric oven at 550, Fibrament stone on bottom shelf, preheated for an hour AFTER the oven reaches 550. Pies cook in about 7 minutes with some top browning. Occasionally I finish a pie under the broiler for 30 seconds.

                            2. Homemade yoghurt, tomato sauce,bread and pesto. I'd make stock if my fridge were large enough and mozzarella cheese, creme fraiche, sour cream (basically many cream types) if I had all the required ingredients. The store bought mozzarella here is awful but that's all I can get.

                              1. Add candied fruits, ricotta, paneer, spice blends, bbq sauce, mustards, roasted coffee and salad dressings to the list. I love home made mustard. Store bought just doesn't have the same kick.

                                1. Chocolate chip cookies for me too.

                                  1 Reply
                                  1. FUDGE, nothing can compare to homemade.

                                    1. I think tomato- spaghetti- meat-sauce will likely by #1 in this area. Maybe soup will be a close 2nd. Theres nothing like homemade pasta sauce or soup.

                                      Many other items will be store-bought for convenience, but some are better homemade;
                                      Me? Theres a few store-bought italian sausages which are pretty good, but I prefer my own: I make them to MY specs (spice/fennel/fat) which I really like.
                                      Our canned (jarred) tomatoes are much better than store-bought.
                                      Many times our cocktails are much better than store or bar-bought...

                                      1. CLAM CHOWDER! Most restaurant clam chowder, including some that's pretty expensive, is completely worthless--bland, overthickened "library paste" as my dad calls it. :-) Nothing like a broth that's just liquor from fresh-steamed clams and good cream with MAYBE a little flour to thicken, but I don't need it. Also, homemade clam chowder is dead easy to make and much cheaper than getting it out. I don't see any reason to order clam chowder at a restaurant.

                                        And I definitely concur with tomato sauce and stocks. Pretty much with stocks too, although I do think some ready-made stocks have their place--generally in complex, heavily seasoned dishes where the stock doesn't really shine. If the stock is the star, like with a good chicken noodle or matzah ball soup, or a French onion soup, there really is no substitute.

                                        1 Reply
                                        1. re: Lady_Tenar

                                          Of course, they aren't working with my grandmother's correct recipe for clam chowder which depended on when Mr. Weatherbee could get her fresh quahogs. She thought it was a lot of work, which seemed to mean 2 cast iron skillets.

                                        2. It is interesting to see other lists. I guess for some people, I'm in that group for a number of items, non-homemade is not something to even be considered. And then I see comments about yogurt, pickles and sausage--the last of which I have tried to make a number of times with no success--and I feel like a CH failure.

                                          5 Replies
                                          1. re: escondido123

                                            c'mon now, everyone has their strengths & weaknesses. so, yogurt, pickles & sausage may not be in your wheelhouse, but i'll bet you do other things well that some Hounds just can't master.

                                            1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                                              Also, some of us have more limitations than others. Making EVERYTHING homemade is a luxury that depends on available time and money (for equipment, space in some cases, etc.). Not all of us have those things but some of us still like to make and appreciate good food when we can. I'm not making any assumptions about anyone on this thread but I'm just saying, in general, that if you're a well-off, stay-at-home spouse with a large house and plenty of disposable income to buy specialized equipment and ingredients, you're going to be able to pull off more than a young single living in a tiny, urban apartment and working two jobs. Both types of people and everyone in between is represented on CH is my guess.

                                              1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                                                After buying the meat grinder attachment for the KA and having grey ooze be the result, we stuck that sucker back in the cabinet. Then recently I was at our local grocery store and they had lamb sausage, something they don't usually carry. Turns out they'd made a batch for a customer using his recipe and had extra. So my husband talked to one of the butchers and he said they'd make whatever recipe we wanted as long as it was at least a few pounds. My own sausage without the mess!!!!

                                                1. re: escondido123

                                                  Wow, wish I lived in your neighborhood!

                                              2. re: escondido123

                                                Wine & pickles; two things which seem easy enough on paper, but they never quite worked out for me. I made quite a few attempts at both and although drinkable and edible, always left lots to desire. I gave up a long time ago and I quite enjoy the store-bought stuff.

                                              3. Tuna Casserole.

                                                Can't ever find the darn thing on menus.

                                                2 Replies
                                                1. granola
                                                  gluten-free baked goods
                                                  hummus & bean dips
                                                  salad dressing
                                                  nut milks

                                                  i always regret ordering any sort of egg dish in a restaurant because 9 times out of 10 it's not nearly as good as what i make at home...but my breakfast/brunch options are limited when dining out since i can't have traditional cereal, pastries or bread, and i don't eat dairy anymore.

                                                  and i greatly prefer homemade yogurt & ricotta (or used to), meat/poultry/seafood stock, tomato sauce, etc, but i'll use a really good store-bought product in a pinch.

                                                  1. Alfredo sauce. Any time I pay for this in a restaurant (sometimes it's the one of few options - I have multiple food allergies) I end up bitter because it isn't as good as mine.

                                                    1 Reply
                                                    1. re: jw615

                                                      homemade soups
                                                      spaghetti sauce
                                                      cakes from scratch
                                                      homemade rice pilaf
                                                      homemade marinade
                                                      homemade eggplant salad
                                                      potato salad and cole slaw

                                                    2. When I read this thread title all I could think of was what I canned this weekend which was applesauce.. The storebought is godawful!

                                                      I don't buy prepared food at all. I can a variety of tomato sauces, bbq sauce, jams & jellies. Make my own ice creams, sorbets, cookies, pie (I used to make crust for my mother for her Thanksgiving apple pie), and cakes. We have a good French bakery nearby so at this point buy bread there.

                                                      1. BLTs. Never as good as with a decent nearby tomato. I make a solid hummus and and would not buy it from the grocery store, but there are a couple of restaurants around here who can outshine me easily. Pretty much will not order soup, I think it is so forgiving and usually easy to make.

                                                        1. There are a lot of things I prefer to make myself, but the one thing I absolutely "have" to make at home is all things barbecue. There is simply nothing even remotely good when it comes to barbecue in New Jersey.

                                                          1. Macaroni and cheese- I am disappointed 99% of the time with anyone's other than my own.

                                                            Meat sauce- I just recently found a place that delivers that makes a passable bolognese, but other than that, a decent meat/red sauce is very hard to find, even in "good" Italian restaurants.

                                                            1. Mr. Sueatmo loves his canned soup for lunch. I make all my soup from scratch. He eats mine as well.

                                                              1. Tex-Mex cheese and onion enchiladas with chile gravy. I live in Minnesota and there is nothing like that here.

                                                                1. Souffle--never even see it in a restaurant.

                                                                  There are manifold interesting pasta sauces that never appear on menus. I have to make them at home.

                                                                  1. Most of my desserts, actually most sweet baked goods in general, are better.

                                                                    1. If we eat biscuits--very rarely anymore--they have to be homemade. I don't want the sort that comes from a can.

                                                                      Same with piecrust. And, even though I do not make cookies, if we ate any, they would have to be homemade. I haven't bought cookies in almost a decade. Same with pancakes, except I quit making them about 3 years ago. I might experiment with using almond meal if I make them again. But no Bisquick for me.

                                                                      Also, we don't buy orange juice. I do buy oranges, mainly for Mr. Sueatmo. And if I need lemon or lime juice, it will come directly from the fruit, not a bottle. And I always make my own salad dressing. I haven't bought bottled in probably 15 years.

                                                                      1 Reply
                                                                      1. re: sueatmo

                                                                        definitely experiment with the pancakes - they're wonderful. just be sure to use blanched almond flour, not the coarse meal. (coconut flour makes great pancakes as well, or use a combination of the two!)

                                                                      2. Risotto
                                                                        Crab Cakes
                                                                        Sourdough bread/rolls
                                                                        English Muffins
                                                                        Hummus (there is one place in Seattle but other than that they all suck)
                                                                        Chocolate chip cookies (my wife's are to die for, mine not so much.)

                                                                          1. I've been thinking about it, and I've never had pork banh mi as good as the ones I make at a restaurant. Now, I don't know that mine are more "authentic", and my restaurant versions have been few, but my version is better IMO.

                                                                            2 Replies
                                                                            1. re: CanadaGirl

                                                                              The biggest problem I have with home-made banh mi is getting the vietnamese style baguette. There is no bakery around me that makes those like and fluffy pieces of goodness and while I think imho that I have mastered a french style baguette my vietnamese ones are not so good.

                                                                              However you may live by a vietnamese bakery where you can secure those delictable delights and if that is the case I envy you and would love to come over and enjoy a sandwich with you.

                                                                              1. re: RetiredChef

                                                                                Nope, no Vietnamese bakery near me. I know the bread I use is imperfect, but it's the meat that I always find better on my homemade. However, a local grocery near me sells sub buns that are quit excellent after a few minutes in the oven.

                                                                            2. yogurt,bagels,pesto,chutneys,hamburger and hot dog buns,chicken stock,granola,pie crusts,bisquits,bread,paneer,jams,ginger garlic paste,barbecue sauce,fudge.

                                                                              1. Pie crust and desserts.

                                                                                1. Where I live, it is impossible to get freshly made corn tortillas or masa. The storebought variety is inedible, tasting of too much slaked lime and preservatives. Homemade is the only way to go! Same goes for wheat flour tortillas, but the purchased ones are at least palatable. I make them for special occasions only.

                                                                                  1. Salad Dressings
                                                                                    Baked Eggplant

                                                                                    1. There are lots of things that are better homemade but a store bought version is still edible. But here are a few things I HAVE to make from scratch:

                                                                                      Soup -- I cannot abide any canned soups (though I don't mind them as an ingredient in casseroles, actually). There is one tomato soup which is an exception, but otherwise only homemade soup (though I've found a couple of brands of chicken stock I'm happy with so I don't have to make that from scratch).

                                                                                      Homemade style cookies. I still like Pignolis from the Italian bakery, or even oreos or fig newtons from the supermarket, but if you're going with Oatmeal or Chocolate chip they have to be homemade.

                                                                                      Layer cakes. I think most bakeries undersalt and oversugar baked goods, and cake mixes have a weird chemical taste to me. Birthday cakes MUST be homemade.

                                                                                      Salad dressing. I will occasionally tolerate a bottle of ranch or a jar of blue cheese, but every time I buy a premade salad dressing (in hope) it languishes in my refrigerator until I give up and throw it out.

                                                                                      Guacamole. But I live in California, so there is literally never a reason to buy the glop. I do occasionally cheat and make it with store bought pico de gallo and avocados, though.

                                                                                      I prefer homemade pasta sauce, strawberry jam, pickles, granola, cupcakes, but I'm not religious about those.

                                                                                      1. I'd say bacon jam. I sampled quite a few commercial versions and found most had too much "smoke" and not enough actual bacon.

                                                                                        Homemade bacon jam, rocks.

                                                                                        1. I’m going to be an outlier on this thread. Most of the comparisons are to store bought items. The OP asked about restaurants too. I’m an accomplished home cook though early in my life I worked in restaurant kitchens. I can prepare many dishes that are outside the typical repertoire of a home cook. That said, is there anything I can make that can’t be prepared better by some restaurant somewhere? Honestly, no. A talented chef who cooks full time with all the resources he has can easily best my best. That’s one of the reasons I enjoy eating out. To sample, enjoy and sometimes be inspired. Doesn’t mean every place, but for anything I can make, I can come up with a place that can do better. Even the most basic things like bread, pasta, steaks. They have access to ingredients or facilities that I don’t. Prepared items from grocery stores are a whole different matter.

                                                                                          3 Replies
                                                                                          1. re: Bkeats

                                                                                            Agreed on the restaurant front. There are some things a commercial kitchen will have the upper hand on. I would love to see a thread on what is better eaten out/prepared foods over cooking at home.

                                                                                            1. re: olyolyy

                                                                                              "Doesn’t mean every place, but for anything I can make, I can come up with a place that can do better."

                                                                                              That depends on the availability of good restaurants. Not all of us are lucky enough to live close to places we would like to enjoy, so we have to push our own skills to a higher level.

                                                                                              1. re: jammy

                                                                                                Doesn't matter to me if the item comes prepared from a store or a restaurant, if I'm paying someone else that's how I understood this post. Someone other than you...

                                                                                          2. MACARONI AND CHEESE!!!!

                                                                                            It is either dry or bland or both.

                                                                                            1. I pretty much make everything we eat for scratch. I do buy chipotle sauce and canned sardines and jams/jellies bc I don't like 'canning'. Oh and dried pasta.

                                                                                                1. Potato chips. No comparison with storebought. Although an occasional restaurant does them.

                                                                                                  1. For me, there are a few items I make at home rather than order at restaurants for 3 different reasons:

                                                                                                    Availability: No restaurant in town serves bone marrow. I special ordered marrow bones from our local, high end grocer and roasted 3 for dinner yesterday. Yummy! I don't know what they would cost if they were to be served here, but at $1.99/lb, I can't imagine it being better at a restaurant.

                                                                                                    Cost/Preparation: Lobster, steamer clams. I'll eat steamers if I'm with a group where they're ordered to share as an appetizer, but I love my version. And I'm always disappointed by restaurant lobster preparations the couple of times I've decided to splurge on it. I'll keep making it at home.

                                                                                                    Dietary issues: I can't digest anything more than about 5g of sugar per serving of food, and milk/cream/yogurt are out due to the combination of dairy with sugar (cheese is fine). So any desserts and soups with cream or milk I make at home, using Truvia and coconut milk to replace cream, almond milk to replace milk.

                                                                                                    There are many things I'd like to make at home rather than purchase at the store, but I have very, very limited freezer space, and have to eat up items to create space whenever making a small batch of something to keep, like pasta sauce, salsa, beef stock, etc.

                                                                                                    1. Beef stroganoff. I love it, but I can't remember that last time I saw it on a restaurant menu. Most of the frozen meals have a version of it, but the meat is usually crap and the sauce just tastes like cheap gravy.