Homemade granola and homemade almond milk

Even the healthiest of us rely on convenience. It’s not that we’re necessarily lazy, but supermarkets make it so easy to grab a box of this or a bag of that. Blame the bright lights or whirring sound of the cash register for disorienting shoppers, but not only are pre-made foods not the healthiest, they create excessive packaging waste and actually cost a whole lot more in the long run. Here are six “convenient” store bought foods you can easily make at home instead.

  1. Hummus: A small 8 oz tub will cost you over $3 at most supermarkets. For about the same price, you can quadruple the recipe without the packaging. And, it’s actually super easy: Cook 2 cups chickpeas until tender (soak for 4-6 hours before cooking), then blend with 3 tablespoons olive oil, juice of 2-3 large lemons, ¼ cup sesame tahini and your favorite spices (most people add a lot of garlic, but it is my sworn enemy). Add a teaspoon of vitamin C powder to give it an extra tang. Puree in blender and serve!
  2. Salsa: Another dippers delight that is also packaged in ridiculously small containers for the price. If you grow peppers or tomatoes during the summer, making salsa is a great way to enjoy the bounty throughout the year, virtually for free, too. Olé!
  3. Non-dairy milk: You’ll spend at least $2-$4 on a 32 ounce container of almond, rice or soy milk at the store, when you could easily soak almonds, blend and strain at home and avoid the packaging and preservatives (yes, even in the “all natural”). Sweeten and flavor to your liking and save some cash.
  4. Bread: Most every kitchen used to bake bread or tortillas or biscuits. There is something magical about a fresh out of the oven preservative-free whole grain bread that’s never touched a plastic overwrap and costs just pennies to make. Bake several loaves a month and freeze them, or make it a weekly ritual.
  5. Granola: Most cereals are factory machine extruded, sugar-laden, fortified nightmares in boxes. Whole oats, dried fruits and nuts, a dusting of coconut and maple syrup bake up incredibly fast for a hearty and nutritious home-baked granola for a fraction of supermarket prices and a whole lot healthier, too. Try our Super Food Granola Recipe (gluten-free).
  6. Condiments: We buy so many jars of ketchup, mustard, bbq sauce and mayonnaise that refrigerators now come with shelving fitted to hold them all. Make small batches from scratch for a fraction of the cost and an upgrade in flavor without preservatives or gnarly unspeakables allowed in factory made food.

Keep in touch with Jill on Twitter @jillettinger

Image: little blue hen