I’m a bit of a DIYer. Let’s blame, I mean thank, my homesteader upbringing. My parents made tofu and soymilk and yogurt and cheese and maple syrup and beer and wine and peanut butter. Our pantry was stocked with canned vegetables, preserves, and pickles of all varieties. Back then, the 1970’s and 1980’s in rural West Virginia, a lot of their effort was out of necessity; the food they wanted to eat just wasn’t available.
My parents rubbed off on me. There are certain things that I always DIY, others that I always buy, and a few that tie.
This is my personal list, I’m sure some of you might think bread is a total DIY but you’d never consider making yogurt.
All of my DIY picks fall under the categories of cheaper than store bought, easy, and more environmentally friendly.
- Yogurt one of the things I like about making yogurt is that I can make it with raw and/or grass fed milk, which provides better nutritional value. Click here to see how to do it!
- Kombucha I occasionally still buy a bottle of GT or one of the great local brands but I’ve come to care for my homebrew more! Click here to see how!
- Beans I cook a big pot once or twice a week then freeze half and put half in the fridge to eat for 5-6 days. Having them in the freezer is almost as simple as having them canned in the pantry. Here’s a post on how I gave up the can.
- Salad Dressing homemade, hands down, just tastes better. On top of that, even the most natural stuff often has stabilizers and stuff I don’t really care for. Check out my Miso-Lime Dressing!
- Fermented Foods I really enjoy making ferments like saurkraut, kimchi, ketchup, they are relatively simple but produce something yummy that lasts for weeks or more.
- Granola ridiculously simple, so tasty.
- Pickles (exception! Cucumbers are a tie. I’ve made some really delicious homemade ones but they are never as crisp and crunchy despite trying all kinds of tricks.) my favorites to make at home are simple refridgerator pickles that require no canning and last for weeks or longer. Two new favorites are califlower and green tomatoes!
Here are a few things that are totally possible to DIY but I personally prefer to leave to the professionals.
- Cheese I had a brief obsession with DIYing cheese but was never thrilled with the results of my soft cheese or mozzarella. And I burned my hand.
- Eggs I don’t really like chickens. We kept them when I was a kid and collecting eggs was my least favorite chore. They can be mean! Besides, there are so many great small businesses making their living this way around town that I’ve happy to support their endeavor.
- Beer I’ve had some awesome homebrew but it’s way too involved for me and not much of a $$ saver, although it is probably more earth friendly.
- Bread good, homemade bread is totally possible but I’ve never managed either the crusty chew or the doughy tenderness that I like in a loaf.
Sometimes I buy, sometimes I DIY. For most things on the list the product is not equal in taste and texture yet both are good in their own right.
- Ketchup Thankfully it’s easy to buy ketchup without HFCS in it these days but it’s still a little sweet for me so I also enjoy making a nice spicy fermented ketchupevery once in a while.
- Garlic I can’t possibly grow all the garlic we eat in a year but the homegrown stuff is sooo good!
- Crackers I’ve made some really awesome crackers at home, especially my Rosemary Crunchers, but they aren’t a staple on my kitchen to-do list.
- Pizza homemade pizza will never compare to a huge, greesy slice of NY pie but its still so tasty and a lot of the appeal to me is in the process and variety.
- Salsa jarred, canned, tomato paste salsa and chunky, fresh, homemade stuff are practically different foods but I enjoy them both!
- Seasoned salts this would fall under DIY except for two exceptions, smoked salt and habenero salt. Herb salts and citrus salts are so easy and so cheap!
How about you? What do you buy, what do you DIY, or both?
Lindsey @ Pas de Deux
What a fun post! I always love the little glimpses into your childhood you offer here…so different than my own, suburban upbringing that featured almost nothing DIYed or home-grown… I still have not mastered homemade yogurt, and really must try it again (it’s the 8 hour incubation time that I struggle with most…hard to manage when I work away from home). My DIY list is very similar to yours: kombucha, beans (though I sometimes grab a can out of convenience), granola, nut milks and salad dressing are my DIY staples. I like to make crackers with almond pulp leftover from making milk. I’m trying to get away from buying snack bars, making my own bars or balls instead. My exception to the rule is local products that I want to try/support–we have lots of great granola, kombucha, bread, etc available here in Charlottesville!
What a great post! Growing up we made yogurt all the time too, have never made it as an adult though. Might need to revisit that. Salad dressing is a definite DIY in our house, pickles too. This post really is food for thought on what my list would be. I want to sit down and get mine listed for each one. Thanks for sharing!
Burritos are a staple here in our home, we eat them 2-3 times a week so we were eating a can of beans every time we made them. One day I was dumping a can of beans into a dish to heat up and it hit me-why am I not making these myself? Now I make a huge batch of beans and they are so much more delicious and way less expensive. And I love that my guys rave over them when we eat our burritos 🙂
Nice! I also like that dried beans are so much lighter, tons of cans can really weigh down a shopping bag!
Fun post! You know where to get your beer and bread!