It’s not exactly news that everyone likes to save money, but if we subscribe to the ‘time is money’ adage, there are definitely times it’s worth it to spend a little more…and sometimes not.
The other day I was sifting through a magazine while waiting on line at the grocery store and came across an article that gave me the idea for this post. (Wish I could remember what magazine so I can give them credit!). I decided to come up with a few food items many of us use fairly regularly and evaluate them based on effort, cost and last but not least, taste.
Effort: I talked about the virtues of making your own salad dressing in this post. Ok, yes, it’s a bit of an inconvenience to chop garlic or shallots and some herbs, but it doesn’t take that long and the dressing lasts a long time in the fridge.
Cost: Store bought dressing costs about 35 cents an ounce on average. If you make your own and you use extra virgin olive oil which costs about 60 cents an ounce, it’s cheaper to buy the store bought.
Taste: There are lots of store bought dressings that taste great, but I’ve yet to find a vinaigrette I like which is my dressing of choice.
Verdict: Make it! It’s a little pricier, but worth it. The store bought versions usually have lots of sodium added and it doesn’t take much time to fix your own. Plus, you can do it in a cute little mason jar and put it on Pinterest :).
Effort: Easy peasy to make. You can mash it yourself if you don’t have a food processor or if you don’t want to get it dirty. They’re such a pain to clean, aren’t they?
Cost: Garbanzo beans are about $2 a can and tahini is about $7 for a 16 ounce jar. The good news is you don’t need a lot. Maybe 1/4 which works out to about 88 cents. The rest is some lemon juice, salt and some spices. The bottom line: it costs about the same to make your own than to buy it.
Taste: Much better than the store bought stuff, so it’s worth the small effort to make it.
Effort: The effort is minimal. You basically buy whatever you like and toast it for a bit and you’re done.
Cost: This is a tough one. There are so many ways to make granola and there are so many different varieties out there it’s really difficult to pinpoint exact cost but typically a 12 oz bag runs around $6.00. You can easily spend $10 or more on ingredients depending on what you buy. Pecans are pricey but raisins and oats, not so much.
Taste: I’ve made my own and I’ve gotten store bought and hands down, homemade is MUCH better and doesn’t have to contain all the sugar that’s typically added in the off the shelf versions.
Verdict: Make it!
Effort: This is a no brainer. Squeezing lemons is a PITA. I won’t go into the fact that tasting along the way while everything is still tangy is awful and you definitely don’t want to do this if you have any paper cuts (ouch!).
Cost: Lemons cost around $1 each in our neck of the woods and store bought lemonade is about $3.50 a gallon. Nuf said.
Taste: The jury is still out on this one, but I personally don’t find the homemade lemonade to be any better than store bought. But maybe that’s just me.
Verdict: Buy it! Your paper cuts will thank you.
Effort: Depends on the kind of soup you make. Yesterday I made some chicken soup simply by adding a chicken carcass into a pot with some stock, water and onions, but this cheese and broccoli soup admittedly was more time consuming.
Cost: A quart of soup costs around $7. I bought the broccoli in the discount bin for $4, which was enough to make about 8 quarts. Huge difference, right?
Taste: I’ve tasted some pretty darn good ready made soups that can rival anything I’ve ever made, but some that were inedible like a borsht type I got the other day that was laden with salt.
Verdict: Definitely make it! Especially if you can get the base ingredients on sale. You’ll save tons of money and you can always freeze most soups successfully.
Speaking of homemade items, did you see my Homemade Mozzarella post? It’s a great activity to do with friends, not to mention you end up with some awesome tasting cheese! And don’t forget to hop on over to my recipe page and have a look see at some of my favorites.
Photo Source 1-4 FoodNetwork